1899 Columbia Electric Landaulet

It's a bit of battery-powered history, the 1899 Columbia Electric Landaulet. And now it's in the vintage electric vehicle record books.

Back in 1896, Colonel Albert Pope had become the nation's leading bicycle manufacturer and he aimed to blaze a path in the automotive industry. By year's end, Pope had completed an experimental electric vehicle and, in 1897, hired Hiram Percy Maxim to head Pope Manufacturing Company's motor carriage division. By 1899, the Columbia Electric Landaulet had emerged.

Purchased from the James Cousen's Cedar Crossing Collection in 2008, this Columbia Electric Landaulet (pictured) is believed to have been the sole example built with a three-way adjustable top. Of course, as with most vehicles 100-plus-years old, documentation is scarce and restoration was necessary.

The Columbia Electric Landaulet, sold by RM Auction on August 19, is truly an extraordinary example of engineering from the turn of the 20th century. Bidders at the auction must have thought so, too, for, as the gavel dropped, the final bid came in at $550,000, meaning this 1899 electric has found a home with a new – and we'd assume quite wealthy – collector. More important, at $550,000, this 1899 Columbia entered the record books as the most expensive vintage electric vehicle ever auctioned.

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