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Original Buckboard: 1926 Auto Red Bug

The Concours D’Elegance at Pebble Beach is coming up in a couple months and having been to the festivities, we can attest to what a great time it is. We just wish we could display a car at this prestigious event, but sadly we doubt we could ever afford an eligible entrant. Or could we? Wecame across this unrestored 1926 Auto Red Bug electric buckboard, that might just be eligible for the Prewar Preservation class. The best part is that its being offered here on eBay where it has a current bid of only $4,500.

The Auto Red Bug was a very popular form of transport in the early 1900’s, especially amongst wealthy industrialist, who often used them to travel across their estates. Because these buckboards, as they were often called, were so affordable they quickly became a popular form of transportation in rural parts of America. This car might not look like much more then a really old go kart, but these wooden two seaters are an important part of automotive history. They helped give rise to affordable automobiles and they also played a huge role in the success of Briggs and Stratton, who bought the manufacturing rights to the Red Bug in 1919.

This particular Red Bug is one of only a handful that are still in operation and of those it is the only one that hasn’t been restored. In 2010 it received its Historical Preservation of Original Features certification from the Antique Automobile Club of America and it just received its certification once again in May 2012. Amazingly this is a 2 owner car, with the original owner having had it for 83 years. It’s original electric motor still works perfectly and the seller claims it drives as it should. The only things not working on this 86 year old vehicle are the lights and the horn, but both could be fixed with new wiring.

It’s hard to say what this car will end up selling for, but we don’t imagine it will be as high as most cars in the Prewar Preservation class on the 18th hole this August. But then again it is just a wooden sled with wheels and a motor. It’s unlikely that this car would win anything at the show, but it would be amazing to be able to say that you had a car on display there. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that the reserve is set low and that the next owner appreciate it enough to preserve this piece of American history.


  1. kevin

    bang bang chitty chitty bang bang, my fine and faithful friend

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  3. Rick Stratton

    I believe the Buckboard started life as an AO Smith model and was then produced by Briggs and Stratton. These are the ones with the “Motor Wheel” fifth wheel.

    Then Briggs sold it to Automotive Electric Services, which converted it to electric and sold it as the Red Bug.

    Very cool.

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  4. Wiley Robinson

    Yea, I work at A.O. Smith and we have all sorts of inspirational company posters on the wall with this car on it. You can find the motor wheels on ebay every once in a while and build the rest of the car (which is probably why all the rest of them are “restored”).

    Pretty cool but to be honest you don’t need to bring a trailer, it will fit right in the back of your pickup.

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  5. scot c

    ~ @ Rick Stratton; from the family archive ? if the electric technology had survived the petroleum marketing we might be thumbing our noses at OPEC.

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  6. Catfishphil

    Even golf carts have a great, great grandfather. For what it’s worth, this is automotive history. Have never, ever seen one…

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  7. Grant

    Lovely alternative to the golf cart for the golfer with a love of old cars! This will really stand out from the crowd!……… but period plus fours will be a definite must!

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