Hershey

9-10 October 2014

Offered from the collection of John Moir

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Lot 108

1911 Brasier 11/15 HP Runabout

  • Chassis no. 284
  • Engine no. 284-11C

Sold for $44,000


11 bhp, 1,551 cc inline monobloc four-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission with sliding gear, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf-spring suspension, solid rear axle with torsion rod suspension, and rear-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 98 in.

  • Offered from the collection of John Moir
  • Purchased new by John Moir Sr. as his first car
  • Formerly part of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum
  • A beautiful, seldom seen French voiturette that is ideal for brass tours


In the years before The Great War, France served as the incubator for the world’s most advanced automotive engineering. Even American manufacturers were not immune to the lure, copying designs by such engineers as Panhard and Renault for their own products. Packard proudly boasted that its engines were cast in France, and when Westinghouse briefly turned from accessories to entire automobiles, they outsourced the car’s production from Pittsburgh to Le Havre.

Wealthy American automobilists turned first to France for imported automobiles, and coffee importer John A. Moir Sr. was no exception.

In 1912, Mr. Moir traveled from his home in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, to New York City, where he paid a visit to the premises of Flandreau & Company, an importer of numerous early French automobiles. There, he found a Brasier, or, as he would pronounce it for the rest of his life, “Brazier.” Its price appealed to Mr. Moir’s Yankee thrift, and the Brasier became his first car. He promptly drove it back to Boston and taught his bride to drive.

Mrs. Moir’s fascination with the Brasier was only a decade long. She eventually grew nervous of carrying her young children in a car that had no doors, so her husband sold the Brasier to Manuel DiFasio, of Framingham, Massachusetts. Mr. DiFasio removed the car’s rear bodywork, which originally contained a “dickey seat,” and lowered the two seats and steering wheel, giving it a more sporty appearance. He also installed an American Schebler carburetor and Model T wheels and tires, which were common modifications to Brass Era cars during the 1920s.

After World War II, the car’s current owner, John Jr., and his father, John, Sr., went looking for the Brazier, which they found in DiFasio’s widow’s hen house; in Mr. Moir Sr.’s words, “The hens had no objection, finding it quite comfortable.” It was all there, but overall, it was tired. The Moirs had soon bought back the runabout and commissioned Joe Knowles, an expert restorer from Concord, New Hampshire, to restore it to its original condition. The missing rear of the body was replaced with a period-correct “mother-in-law” seat, and the mechanical aspects of the car were completely rebuilt. The lowered seats and steering column were found attractive and left intact, and demountable rims were installed, as a matter of convenience.

“The car was driven to Wianno on Cape Cod,” Mr. Moir Sr. recalled, “and did valiant service, going for the mail and newspapers with anywhere from seven to ten grandchildren as passengers, arranged on the seats, the floor, and the fenders.”

When John Sr.’s age curtailed his ability to crank the Brasier’s engine, he offered it to John Jr., who was living in Florida in the time, but he turned down the car due to worries that it would be lost in a hurricane. The car was then offered to the other children, but they did not want it, so in 1978 it was given to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in the Moirs’ hometown of Brookline, Massachusetts.

In 1983, Mr. Moir Jr.’s sister read about a sale of some of the museum’s automobiles in her local newspaper and informed her brother. He wasted no time in contacting the museum and was able to buy the Brasier back, returning it to Moir hands for the third and final time. French car expert John Caperton was able to source a correct French acetylene tank, headlamps, and Zenith carburetor, and he converted the rims and tires back to their original metric size. Photos of another Brasier allowed the original fenders to be recreated as well.

The Brazier has been well kept in years since, and it has a wonderfully authentic appearance to it, with just enough patina to its finish and interior to welcome driving on AACA, HCCA, and VMCCA touring activities. Its brass trim and French Grey paint have polished up beautifully, and the interior is beautifully kept for its age. This car is accompanied by its file from the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, as well as correspondence and documentation from its 1950s restoration, and it has virtually unparalleled provenance among French voiturettes in America, with its history tracing back to the year that the Titanic sank.

Half of this car’s 103 years have been spent with the family of its original owner, relatives of whom have continually sought it out and bought it back each time it has been sold. It is offered here in the hopes of finding a new caretaker, one who will love, appreciate, and enjoy it as much as the Moirs have and for generations to come.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more