This delightful 1907 Victor Auto Buggy is believed to be the only example existing in running condition and an endless source of fascination. A surprising number of different companies manufactured automobiles with the Victor name in early years. This car is believed to have been built by the Victor Automobile Manufacturing Company of St. Louis. This was not unusual, and there are other multiple examples with high-minded names like Columbia and Washington.
This is a very surprising – and rare – early automobile, something between a light car and a cycle car, utilizing a 15 hp horizontally-opposed ‘boxer’ two-cylinder air-cooled engine mounted at the front of the chassis, with a flywheel attached at the front of the engine cast with angled spokes that also function as a cooling fan. Power from the engine is transported to the rear axle through a two-speed transmission, plus reverse, with a driveshaft and differential – this at a time when chain drive was still widespread in the industry. Steering is by rack and pinion. Full elliptical springs attach both the front and rear axles to the chassis, while the rear axle and differential are prevented from moving from side to side by a multi-leaf transverse spring mounted above the axle. Mechanical drum brakes are mounted only on the rear axle. Very, very narrow wood spoke wheels are mounted with solid rubber tires.
A rounded hood fitted to a ‘false’ radiator presents a familiar front profile, in spite of the fact that the engine is air-cooled. The hood, body, springs and wheels are finished in a dark bottle green highlighted with yellow coach stripes and fenders finished in black. Highly polished brass work includes the windshield frame and supports, coach lamps, the steering wheel center, controls and steering column, as well as various accessories mounted on the engine and the ‘Victor’ name mounted on the false radiator. The high seat is upholstered with black, button-tufted leather in good condition. Controls are minimal, with levers for spark advance and throttle mounted behind the steering wheel and a shifter mounted on the right side of the chassis. A horn bulb is mounted easily in hand for the operator, with a long brass conduit carrying the charge to the horn mounted on the right side of the cowl. A wicker basket, not original to the car, is placed in the small, open rear bed.
Documentation indicates that its earliest known owner was Charles Lauter, of Brooklyn, New York, whose New York State registration for 1915 is on file. Later that year, it was sold to A.E. Brauer, of Orange, New Jersey, and is strongly believed to have remained in New Jersey since. It was acquired in 1966 by Robert Havell, of Morris Plains, and it was acquired later that year by noted car collector Richard Roy. A fascinating photograph on file shows the Victor arriving back at the Roy Company in Branchville, stuffed rather inelegantly into the back of a Dodge pickup!
The Victor was fully restored by Mr. Roy’s good friend and trusted restorer, the late Lawrence Stilwell, of Goodville, Pennsylvania. Correspondence regarding the work on the car is on file, as is a detailed composition book kept by Mr. Roy, with notes on the car’s condition when purchased and what was done in connection with the restoration. The restoration was completed in 1966, first shown at Hershey in 1967 and has held up very well in spite of being completed 50 years ago. The known history, registration and receipts provided with the car date back to 1915 – over 100 years! The engine starts easily, runs strongly and doesn’t smoke. Work undertaken since January 2016 includes draining and inspecting the crankcase, transmission, differential and fuel tank. The carburetor has been rebuilt and new fuel lines fabricated, adding a fuel filter. New linings have been installed to the clutch and the brakes have been relined and adjusted. Wheel bearings have been cleaned, inspected and greased; the rear axle keys have been inspected and found to be like new and new rubber has been mounted on all wheels.
While never a high-level concours quality car, a complete cosmetic refreshening has just been completed, bringing this interesting Victor to a very presentable level that would be welcome at many shows and events. Together with the ease of operation and recent mechanical freshening, this is a car just waiting to be enjoyed by an owner who appreciates the history of the car and the fun it promises.