In the first decade of the twentieth century, Detroit, Michigan was awash with pioneering automobile manufacturers. Hundreds of different companies tried their hand at the building automobiles, with wildly varying levels of success. Some did not make it past the first few cars, others did not make it past the first year and fewer still made it past World War I. The Regal Automobile Company opened its doors in 1908 and had shown early promise by building quality, mid-sized, conventional cars. In an effort to promote their reliability, a 1909 Regal 30 HP crossed the US continent multiple times, racking up 22,000 miles and attracting plenty of attention in the process.
In 1911, Regal made a dramatic change with the introduction of the Model N. The Model N featured a stylish “underslung” chassis, giving a low and rakish look, coupled with a two-seat raceabout-style body. With its stylish looks and reliable 4-cylinder engine, the Regal Model N was seen as a “baby Mercer” – a car that cost at least twice that of the Regal. In response to the success of the highly regarded Model N, Regal increased their Underslung offerings the following year to include several models. Regal was not the only manufacturer to offer an underslung design, but the most significant other than the American Underslung built in Indianapolis, Indiana. During the years of production, Regal also built automobiles with conventional frames. All Regals produced between 1910-1914 were powered by four-cylinder engines producing 20 to 40 hp. The Regal Automobile Company could not withstand rapidly inflating material costs related to World War I, and in 1918 was placed in receivership.
‘Underslung’ described the chassis design, where the axles were suspended above the frame. This placement resulted in a lower ride height that presumed to reduce the dangers of skidding or ‘turning turtle’, as early motorists feared. “Underslung construction means ‘safety’”, declared advertising for the Regal Underslung Touring Car. “Here (are) all the advantages of the costly Underslung construction within a reasonable purchase car.” Therein was the unique appeal of the Regal Underslung. The Regal Underslung was offered in choices of three body styles, including a smaller Roadster and a fully enclosed Colonial Coupe in addition to the Touring Car. In 1914 the five-passenger Touring Car was referred to as the Model T with 25 hp, or the Model C with 35 hp. Production of Regal automobiles for 1914 reached 8,136, the highest in the eleven-year history of the marque save for 1915, before ending in 1918 as a result of material shortages owing to WWI. Very few Regal Underslungs are known to survive today. Some of those have been referred to as ‘the only surviving’ examples, but that is simply not the case.
This 1914 Regal Underslung Twenty-Five Touring Car is a wonderful older restoration, very attractively finished in light grey with black fenders. Red coach lines provide distinctive accents to both the body and the fenders. Restrained brass finished accents on the car include the radiator shell, headlight rims and hub caps, as well as the step plates on the running boards. The Artillery-style wheels feature gorgeous natural finished wood centers with black demountable rims and period correct tires. The black leatherette top attaches at the front to the folding windshield frame in a way that allows for the upper portion of the windshield to be folded even when the top is in place. The interior is also black with a button tufted pattern and a high mounted left-hand steering wheel finished with a brass center and wood rim. Wood trim surrounds the upper edges of the body, with a single spare mounted at the rear. The four-cylinder engine is nicely detailed, showing both use and care as to be expected from an older restoration that has been driven and enjoyed.
With its manageable scale and the lower profile resulting from the underslung chassis, this car will make a distinctive impression wherever it appears with plenty of stories to tell about the manufacturer and the underslung construction. This is a very rare opportunity to acquire an unusual, fascinating underslung Brass Era automobile that is gorgeous from top to bottom and that will be welcome at car shows, or enjoyed simply for driving around town.