1902 Rambler Model C Runabout
Now we are looking at a horseless carriage that is OLD. This Rambler was
the oldest automobile in the show and is easily one of the top five oldest
automobiles I have ever seen. As you can see from it's condition , the
owner must love this auto. Every detail was clean and spotless. Even the
From what I can find, Ramblers were not equipped
with steering "wheels" until the 1904 models. Prior, they were
equipped with steering levers (bottom picture). The '02 Runabout is powered
by a single cylinder four horsepower engine. Horsepower figures quadrupled
by 1904. A fine example of a Model C Runabout like this is believed to
be capable of fetching $32,000 today. That seems quiet measly when one
considers its age and history (see below).
Rambler began automobile production in 1897 while
having been the second largest bicycle maker in the United States. Operated
in Chicago by Thomas B. Jeffery and R. Philip Gormully, Rambler entered
into auto manufacture at the urging of Thomas Jeffery and his son Charles.
Thomas built the first Rambler, a single cylider, wire-spoked wheel iteration
that was largely ignored by the motoring press. Charles, a year later,
introduced two more sophisticated machines but still didn't receieve the
press they desired. Finally, in 1900, the Jefferys went to auto shows in
Chicago and New York with their car and were noticed.
At this point they sold their bicycle business
to the American Bicycle Company, as Gormully had died, and moved automobile
production to Kenosha, Wisconsin. By 1902, the year of the Rambler in the
photos, Thomas had decided against using a wheel for steering purposes
as suggested by his son, moved the driver from their original left-hand
position to the right-hand side, and moved the engine from the front of
the vehicle to the back under the seat. Sticker price was reported to be
a steal for $750. 1902 was a great year as 1,500 Rambler Runabouts were
made. These production figures were only beaten by Ransom Eli Olds.