Jan 12 2016

Hemmings Motor News Needs Your Assistance in Solving This Mini-Old 16 Mystery

Hemmings Motor News is looking for assistance in solving this Mini-Old 16 mystery found in their hometown of Bennington, Vermont.

David Conwill, Associate Editor, writes:

I’m hoping you can lend your expertise as an historian of the Vanderbilt Cup races . I recently encountered the attached copper sculpture of Old 16 in an antique store near the Hemmings offices here in Bennington, Vermont. The owner told me he had acquired it in Palm Beach, Florida, and that the unsubstantiated story of the piece was that it was commissioned by the Vanderbilt family as a wethervane to commemorate the first running of the Vanderbilt Cup.
The piece is all copper and is about five feet long. It’s quite detailed—right down to the pedals, controls and instruments (so much so that it seems odd that it was intended to be stuck atop a building). I was wondering if you or viewers of your website knew anything about it.


I have never heard about this Old 16 model, but doubted it was built as a weathervane or for the Vanderbilt family. I did check in with Jerry Helck, who owned Old 16 prior  to the Henry Ford Museum.


Jerry Helck writes:

Thanks, Howard, this is fascinating.  I hardly know where to begin, so, in no particular order:
  1) It doesn't look like any actual weathervane that I've seen, which are essentially two-dimensional, of necessity.
  2) I can't think of a reason why anyone, especially a Vanderbilt, would select OLD 16 to commemorate the first Vanderbilt Cup Race
  3) If Locomobile Co. had wanted this, for any reason, they'd have built it themselves (and done a much better job).
  4) It's not really old. I don't recall OLD 16 having a step originally, this looks like the one I made in the 1950s.
The builder did get some details absolutely correct, eg; the distinctive design of the radiator and oil tank caps, but he  didn't get the "radiator shape" quite right ( that may be "picky", but subtle differences were how we differentiated manufacturers in the good-old-days.)
Please keep me posted


Does anyone have any information on this Mini-Old 16?


Howard Kroplick


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