Nov 09 2016

Willie K’s 1909 55-HP Mercedes that Toured From Tunisia to France

Tom Padilla is currently researching a 1913 accident witnessed by William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. and looking for information on one of Willie K's cars.

Tom P:  I’m doing research on a train-automobile accident William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. witnessed involving the death of his friend, S. Osgood Pell, in 1913 outside of Long Beach, Long Island.  Would there be any sources that would identify which auto Willie was driving when he was not racing, but just coming and going?

Tom,  I have forwarded your question to Stephanie Gress, curator of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum. 

Ms. Gress has provided the above photo of his 1909 55-HP Mercedes that William K. Vanderbilt Jr. drove in 1912 and 1913. This Mercedes was featured in Willie K's 1918 book A Trip Through Italy, Sicily, Tunisia, Algeria and Southern France and possibly was driven by Vanderbilt at the Long Beach accident.


Howard Kroplick

The cover of Vanderbilt's 1918 book

A map of Vanderbilt's tour from Tunisia to France.

The tour was made in "my 55 H.P. Mercedes."

Caption: The Motor about to be transferred on Board the Steamer at Palermo.

Caption: Car loaded with Luggage

Caption: W.K.V., Jr. on a camel at Sfax


Nov 13 2016 SydL 10:02 AM

It appears that willie k. did not see the accident - according to papers i have found so far he testified that he came upon the accident shortly after it happened.  Maybe the following will help…

Ny times - june 16, 1915 - page 8 - about his testimony in the lawsuit mrs. Pell had against the rail road - he was in his “runabout”

Ny herald - aug 6, 1913 - page 1 - the reason he was so far behind pell was partly due to lighting his lamps and to his getting a linen duster out

Brooklyn daily eagle - aug 5, 1913 - page 1- delay / why he was so far behind pell was due to lighting his pipe and to waiting for a mechanic to unlock a locked compartment so he could get out a linen duster

Leave a Comment