The early years of America's car industry is a captivating story with numerous entrepreneurs vying for dominance. As automobiles became more sophisticated, 1912 witnessed William P. Snyder Jr., from Sewickley, Pa., procure a brand-new automobile, the Simplex 50 HP Toy-Tonneau. Impressively, 111 years later, this car still belongs to the Snyder family and is set to be a highlight at the Gooding & Company's auction in Pebble Beach on August 18 and 19.

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It's rare to find a century-old car in the hands of its original owner or their heirs, making this Simplex an extraordinary gem. Beyond its unique ownership lineage, the Simplex was a revolutionary vehicle of its era.

In 1907, affluent textile trader Herman Broesel founded the Simplex Automobile Company, taking over S & M Simplex. This included facilities in Manhattan and innovative engine designs by Edward Franquist. Soon after, the pioneering Simplex 50 HP car was launched, gaining acclaim by winning at various racing events.

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On the streets, the Simplex 50 HP boasted speeds up to 80 mph, making it popular among America's elite drivers. Numerous affluent customers chose bespoke bodies from renowned coachbuilders. However, by 1914, financial magnates, including descendants of B.F. Goodrich, acquired the company, leading to significant changes, including relocation and engine modifications. With the onset of World War I, the factory pivoted to aircraft engine manufacturing, eventually leading to the closure of Simplex after producing around 1,460 vehicles.

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Automobile enthusiast Henry Austin Clark Jr., a known Simplex owner, once described the power and thrill of driving a 50 HP as unmatched, further illustrating why these cars commanded high prices.

In 1911, William P. Snyder Jr. approached J.M. Quinby & Co., a renowned body maker for Simplex, to craft his car. The specifications included a shorter chassis, two-seater design, and unique color combinations. However, after a mishap on the road, the vehicle was returned for modifications, intending to promote safer driving habits.

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The car, which is now up for auction, still retains its 1912 bodywork. Passed down through the Snyder generations, it even bagged an award at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The vehicle, accompanied by a plethora of original records and images, is expected to fetch a top bid of around $4 million.

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