Admired by Ford: 1910 Hupmobile Runabout

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Henry Ford was not a man that tended to heap praise upon his opposition, but when reflecting upon his first look at the 1909 Hupmobile Type 20 he said, “I recall looking at Bobby Hupp’s roadster at the first show where it was exhibited and wondering whether we could ever build as good a small car for as little money.” This 1910 Hupmobile Type 20 is a car that will need to be restored, but for those of you who like cars of this era, it certainly offers an interesting alternative to Mr. Ford’s Model T. You will find it listed for sale here on eBay. The car is just sitting in Elkton, Maryland, waiting for a new owner.

The car looks to be a solid example and does appear to be complete. There is no obvious major rust, and the wheels and windshield look good. I do like the 11-gallon gas tank mounted on the back of the car. This sits higher than the engine, as the fuel supply is gravity fed.

The interior of the Type 20 is about as basic as motoring gets. Restoration isn’t really that complicated, simply because there isn’t a lot to restore. I don’t think that the little seat upholstery that is visible is original because I think that the car originally was upholstered in black leather. The benefit of keeping the car this basic was that the sale price of the car was extraordinarily low. The Type 20 was exclusively available as a Runabout, and in 1910 a new example would cost you $750. In the same year, a Model T Runabout would cost you $900. This is the reason why Henry Ford was so impressed with the Hupmobile.

The Hupmobile is equipped with a standard 4-cylinder engine and 2-speed sliding gear transmission. The owner doesn’t state whether the car runs, but I would say that it’s been sitting unused for a while. Hopefully, it won’t take too much work to get the car running so that it can unleash its 16.9hp upon our roads.

This represents an interesting restoration project because it is an unusual car from a manufacturer who was trying to take on Ford when the company was becoming a powerhouse. Good Type 20 Hupmobiles are selling for upwards of $25,000. This one looks like a solid and easy restoration, so it should be worth taking on.

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  1. Jeff Versteeg

    Looks like a large drum 26/27 Ford rear end under it. Side lights are much later also. There might be more work here than meets the eye

    Like 2
  2. Jeff Versteeg

    Looks like a later 1926/27 Model T rear end and later side lights. Once you dig into it, there may be more work here than meets the eye.

    Like 0
  3. Brent

    $750.00 in 1910 is equal to $20031.00 in today’s money. Come a long ways haven’t we.

    Like 1
  4. Bob

    I am old, but not old enough to relate to this beautiful car.

    Like 3
  5. gbvette62

    One of the first cars we bought in the late 60’s, when my father and I started restoring antique cars, was a 1910 Hupmobile Model 20 Runabout (the Hupmobile was known as the “Model 20”, not “Type 20”). I think I still have a spare Model 20 rear axle and trans somewhere in the shop.

    Unfortunately, I think this car has a body that has been cobbled together. The Model 20 Runabout had a taller wood dashboard (firewall), and a two piece windshield with the lower portion mounted at a 45 degree angle. There was a Model 20 known as the Torpedo, which had a body with a metal cowl similar to this car’s, but Torpedo had higher doors and a rounded, enclosed rear body and gas tank. Other than the door handles, not much of what’s between the wood firewall and the gas tank on this car, appear to be Model 20 parts.

    The Model 20 was a great little car. As basic as they were, they were still more sophisticated than the similarly priced Model T. I love Model T’s and have owned and driven quite a few, but the Model 20 Hupmobile is still one of my favorite brass era cars.

    A funny side note to the Model 20 is that Hupmobile advertised the Model 20 as being “Guaranteed for Life”. The cars actually had a brass plaque on the firewall that stated that the car was “Guaranteed for Life”.

    Like 9
    • Al

      But, whose life?

      The car or the owner, that is the question?

      Thank you for your comments gbvette62.

      Like 4
    • Janet brooks

      We have one of the beautiful torpedos you are talking about. Restored by my father in law in the late 80’s a beautiful family heirloom just taught our 16 yr old grandson to drive it. Wish I could post a picture

      Like 0
  6. Chevelle guy

    someone will do an LS swap to it …
    thats what all the cool kids are doing now ! 😆

    Like 3
  7. Nick G.

    I’m trying to figure out, what I guess, is the water pump on the side. If it is, is it driven from something coming out of the side of the engine? And are those oil lines running to the bottom of it?

    Like 2
    • Peter

      Nick, someone else will probably accurately answer your question but I think the cast housing on the side of the engine might be a carburettor of sorts. If you look just at the front of it the water hose uses a cast bend to go into the block. I don’t think water pumps were invented yet in 1910.

      Like 0
  8. LCL

    Carbide headlamps?

    Like 0

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