Monday, August 13, 2012

Biddle Restoration - On to Pebble Beach!

by Nancy DeWitt

Five years ago we purchased a very rare 1918 Biddle Series H Town Car from Charles "Chuck" Riker. Mr. Riker, who was instrumental in designing circuitry for General Electric, was friends with legendary automobile collector Henry Austin Clark, Jr. It was Clark who discovered this Biddle in 1952 in a two-car garage at the Southampton estate of Henry Huddleston Rogers, Jr., son of a Standard Oil executive and railroad magnate. Rogers had given the car to his gardener, who intended to turn it into a truck. Apparently a broken cylinder thwarted that plan and the car sat deteriorating after the garage's roof was blown off during a devastating hurricane in 1938.

Clark had Bill Hoffman perform a restoration on the Biddle, taking it from this:

To this:

Clark displayed the Biddle in his Long Island Automotive Museum before selling it to Riker in 1979. By the time we purchased the car it was in need of a full restoration, so we sent it to Allan Schmidt's Horseless Carriage Restoration in Escondido, CA (more on that here). The Biddle is now ready to ship north, but first we will be showing it and our 1919 McFarlan at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance (CA) on August 19 and the Kirkland Concours d'Elegance at the new LeMay Museum in Tacoma, WA on September 9. Please stop by and visit us if you are at either event!

Aimed at luxury car buyers "who cared not for the larger, more imposing varieties dominating the market," the fashionable Biddle featured a blend of elegant and sporty lines, along with exquisite interiors. It was one of the Biddle's first customer prospects, Miss Miriam Hubbard Webster, who suggested the vee'd, Mercedes-like radiator and several other design elements. Is she perhaps America's first female automobile stylist?

Our Biddle is powered by a 4-cylinder Buda engine (#1061-A) rated at 24 hp. Later models carried a 70 hp, 4-cylinder walking-beam Duesenberg or Rochester-Duesenberg engine. 

Of the slightly more than 1700  Biddle automobiles produced between 1915 and 1922, only four are known to survive. Ours is the only Town Car left, and we are looking forward to seeing it arrive in Fairbanks by mid-October.
*Update* Photos of the restored Biddle are here and a video of it is posted here.


  1. Can't wait to see it!

  2. This is a big f***ing deal!

    Oh wait, it was Biden, not Biddle, who said that!

  3. It was a wonderful surprise to find Henry Austin Clark Jr's 1918 Biddle right here in Fairbanks today! Henry is my husbands uncle. We live in Fairbanks. However, we just visited Henry's grave site in NY, two days ago!

  4. That car is gorgeous! thanks for sharing.


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