1920 Auto Red Bug

The Auto Red Bug was one of several names given to this cheeky little buckboard runabout, first appearing as the electric-powered Red Bug in Lafayette, Indiana in 1916. The A.O. Smith Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin put it into series production as the Smith Flyer, later selling the rights to Briggs and Stratton, who in turn sold them to the Automotive Electric Service Company of North Bergen, New Jersey. Little more than a toboggan on wheels, the Auto Red Bug was one of the earliest “microcars”, designed as a plaything for wealthy motorists or for nipping around the city. Both gas and electric versions were produced, and reportedly sold through famous retail outlets including Abercrombie & Fitch and F.A.O. Schwartz. Some late examples even wound up as amusement park rides. This example has been fully restored in its signature red wheels and fenders accenting a varnished wood chassis. The 5-hp, single-cylinder Briggs & Stratton engine powers a single motor wheel, and comments from our road tester describe the performance as being “plenty fast.” This is a wonderful opportunity to add an excellent examples of the rare and highly collectible Auto Red Bug to your microcar or automobilia collection.


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