No fewer than five companies bore the surname of the ambitious industrialist Col. Albert Augustus Pope; a man who created a short-lived but prestigious empire of automobile manufacturers which offered a wide variety of vehicles between 1904 and 1914. Col. Pope set up shop in Hartford, Connecticut where, in 1903 he built his first prototype single-cylinder car. Production began in earnest the following year with two body styles offered on the common chassis. Larger engine options came quickly, with a 16hp twin following the single, as well as a 20/25hp four. Ever-increasing engine sizes were met with ever-inflating prices, with the largest of the Pope-Hartford line topping $5,500. Pope-Hartford models were built at the company headquarters in Connecticut, though other brands soon followed as the Colonel and his family extended their reach in the automobile business. Pope-Waverly offered electric cars built in Indiana; Pope-Tribune focused on small, cheap cars, Pope-Robinson was a very brief foray that produced just 59 cars, and the most prestigious of them all was Pope-Toledo.
Pope-Toledo grew out of the International Bicycle Co., another of Albert Augustus Pope’s businesses. From 1904, the company offered first steam, and later petrol-powered cars. The petrol versions proved quite successful in motorsport, with a Pope-Toledo coming in 3rd in the highly competitive and popular Vanderbilt Cup in 1904 and winning the America’s first-ever 24 hour endurance race in 1905. Pope-Toledo cars grew swiftly in size and price through the coming model years, culminating in the 50 horsepower limousine of 1907. This prestigious and beautiful machine sold for a robust $6,000 and was among the finest automobiles on offer to wealthy American buyers. As with much of the Pope empire, growth came quickly and with little regard to the market demand. While cars like the Pope-Toledo were beautifully built and returned excellent performance, the market was crowded and only a finite number of buyers could afford such extravagant motorcars. Pope-Toledo went into receivership in 1909; with the parent company Pope-Hartford following shortly after in 1913. Of all surviving Pope cars, it is the powerful and prestigious Toledo that commands attention from collectors.
We are truly honored to offer this outstanding 1907 Pope-Toledo Type XV 50hp touring car. One of just a handful known to exist, this grand and imposing motorcar was once part of the famous William F. Harrah collection and has since been treated to a very high-level restoration, and presenting in concours condition. The striking color combination of deep maroon with bright red highlights and black accents is period appropriate and magnificently presented. The paint quality is excellent, with deep gloss on the bodywork and equally beautiful finishes on the chassis wheels and ancillaries. We are particularly fond of the unusually curvaceous bodywork that defines and highlights the shape of the passenger compartment. The effect is quite stunning and unusual from the era before “styling” was a fully embraced concept.
An array of beautiful brass accessories features prominently on the body. Huge, exquisitely detailed Solar De Luxe projector headlamps flank the proud Pope-Toledo radiator shell, finished in highly polished brass. Matching Solar cowl lamps are fitted, all powered by the gorgeous acetylene tank mounted on the left running board. Large wooden-spoke wheels are finished to the same high standard as the body, painted maroon with bright red coach stripes and wrapped in all-white tires for a magnificent, elegant look. The running boards and driver’s compartment floor are properly fitted with gray battleship linoleum and a beautiful wicker trunk sits atop the trunk rack, held in place with lovely bridle-leather straps. The huge top is in excellent order and rather unusually, is lined with red fabric for additional protection. Full removable weather equipment includes side curtains and a soft windscreen.
The cabin is trimmed in black leather in front and rear, appearing quite fresh and showing almost no use. Front seats are individual affairs, separated by a central bolster. The driver stays informed via exquisite Joseph W. Jones speedometer and clock. Correct button-style upholstery is accented with lovely embossed patterns on the leading edge of the seats. Below the seats, beautifully finished wooden cabinets provide storage for spares, while a similar cabinet below the rear seat houses the weather equipment. Also in the rear, a folding jump seat provides accommodations for an additional passenger or two. Maroon carpets are in excellent order and the whole cabin is trimmed in lovely, high quality woodwork and brass trim. The detailing on the restoration is impeccable, found in places like the pyramid-pattern brass “Toledo” sill plates and perfectly clocked hardware on the fittings. It most certainly conveys a sense of opulence that defines the era.
All of the opulence and luxury up top is motivated by a huge T-head four-cylinder which was originally rated at 50 horsepower. The engine is correctly and meticulously detailed with correct wiring, brass clamps and hardware and polished copper cylinders and assorted plumbing. It is very tidy and clean, showing a few signs of light use, remaining very correct and conveying the magnificent quality of the restoration. Power is sent rearward via a chain-drive rear axle, a system renowned for its strength and durability.
While its sister company Pope-Hartford enjoyed moderate success over the course of a decade, the much rarer Pope-Toledo was experienced by only a handful of fortunate (and wealthy) clientele. This example’s beautiful restoration has been carefully preserved, and it would surely be welcome at virtually any concours event in the world. Being a large, high-horsepower car, it would likewise make a magnificent choice for touring. Once part of the most famous car collection in the world, this Pope-Toledo stands proudly as one of the finest examples of its kind.