Mar 30 2010

Austin Clark, Joe Tracy, Otis Chandler and the 1904 Sports Touring Mercedes

The always reliable Walter McCarthy has identified the mystery parked A.L.A.M. car posted last Wednesday as a 1904 Mercedes. As proof of his identification, Walter forwarded photos of another 1904 Mercedes with this amazing history. (As always with photos, click on the image to enlarge it).


Around 1950, Henry Austin Clark found this long-abandoned car believed to be a 1904 sports touring Mercedes.Note the front of the car matches the 1904 A.L.A.M. Mercedes car seen to the right.


Clark called on his friend, part-time employee and veteran Vanderbilt Race Cup driver Joe Tracy to examine the car.


Joe confirmed that the car was an authentic 1904 Mercedes.


The engine delivered 40-45 horsepower.


With Joe Tracy's "thumbs-up", Austin Clark purchased the car for $500 (equivalent to $4,500 today) and brought it back to the Long Island Automotive Museum in Southampton.


The car was exhibited at the museum for a brief period of time.


Soon after arriving at the museum, Clark sold the car to his friend Bill Hoffman for the same $500. Walter McCarthy remembers, "Austin often sold cars to friends for what he paid. His favorite was a 1924 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost that he paid $87 for and a bottle of whisky. Sold it to a friend years later for $87 and a bottle of whisky, but said he got a better bottle of whisky!" Walter McCarthy also commented; "Bill restored it the first time and used it a lot. Even drove on the New York State Thruway with it as it would go 55-60 mph with no trouble."


According to Car Collector's Market Journal, the car's ownership history included Harrah's and Barry Hon. In 2003, the car was purchased by Los Angles Times owner Otis Chandler at RM's Arizona auction for $770,000. With the passing of Otis Chandler in 2006, the car was auctioned by Gooding & Company on October 21, 2006. Gooding estimated the car would sell for $1.4 -$1.7 million.


Further confirming the great find by Austin Clark and Joe Tracy, the car was sold for $2.255 million. The November 1, 2006 issue of Car Collector's Market Journal described the car (Lot #22) in this article.

Walter, thanks again for sharing another piece of Long Island automotive history!


Apr 04 2010 Art K. 6:06 PM

Very interesting.  I’m looking for another car - but the $2.225 million is a bit beyond my reach.  Keep up the good work.

Apr 25 2010 Howard Kroplick 2:10 PM

Hi Art:

Austin Clark managed to find quite a few gems for his museum.


Jun 22 2010 DGM 12:13 AM

Does any information or history exist as to where the 1902 Curved Dash Oldsmobile that was on the roof of the museum came from?  I’m looking for the history of it prior to 1950.

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