This 1914 Simplex 50 h.p. Model “F” Long-Stroke is part of The Collier Collection at The Revs Institute. It was purchased by Briggs Cunningham from Barron G. Collier as a complete chassis at some point before early in 1939 when Barron died. By about 1950, Briggs had Ralph Buckley begin to restore it to a Speed Car configuration as was originally offered by the Simplex Automobile Company.
Buckley finished the car by about 1952 and Samuel E. Baily of Bayla-Cynwyd, PA., another early collector and restorer maintained it for Cunningham. Briggs was busy building and racing his Cunningham cars and sailboats at this time and he had Baily take it to events and drive it on club tours for him. A photo of him with the car is shown (below) in the early fifties on the VMCCA Glidden Tour a the Bedford Springs Resort in PA., with the car. At some point during this period he entered it in the AACA show at Hershey where it received a National First Place award.
- The 1914 Simplex Speed Car cockpit and controls.
The Anglo-American Road Races for vintage cars were organized and jointly sponsored by the VSCC (UK) and the VMCCA (US). The first running of the event was held in England in 1954, and followed by the 1957 version here in the States. The Simplex was such a great performer that it was chosen to run (after the tryouts) in both of the Road Races.
Cunningham was also a serious car vintage car collector and enthusiast. After his retirement from car building and racing, he and his wife Laura soon opened the Briggs Cunningham Auto Museum late in 1966 in Costa Mesa, CA. The facility was filled with important racing and road cars from around the world and had its own highly-skilled restoration team and shop.
- Samuel E. Baily with the car at the VMCCA Glidden Tour at Bedford Springs Resort in PA circa 1952. The angular style fenders are of the same form as used on late Simplex Speed Cars when new.
Twenties years later in 1986 Miles Collier, Jr., the son of Briggs’ friend C. Miles Collier (see his supercharged 1935 MG) and nephew of Sam Collier (see the 1948 Ferrari 166 he raced) and Barron Collier, Jr., bought the collection from Briggs and his wife, Laura. The Simplex and racing cars the Collier family had run in the past, along with the rest of the Collection then moved to Florida were Miles, Jr., established a new museum.
Since then the Simplex has been well-cared for, and regularly exercised at the museum as all the cars are. Always concerned with preservation and authenticity, the Museum sent the car here for a good mechanical look-over and to have the radiator sent out and re-cored. Not having the time to cover the entire project here, we will share with you a few of the highlights soon in the hope that it will help you in the future on your own projects.
- This photo upon its arrival here shows how well Buckley’s 65-year old restoration of Simplex has held up. Behind it is the ex Sam Baily-Peter Helck 1914 Mercer Type 35-J Raceabout to be featured soon.
The British Pathe video of its 1954 film (below) shows the first Anglo-American Road Race in England. Shown on the preview image are Ralph Buckley’s 1914 Mercer Type 35-J Raceabout on the far-right and the Cunningham Simplex to its left equipped with a windshield for foul weather. View interesting footage of both along with all of the American and British Team’s entries in the run.
You can learn more about the Simplex Automobile here on the pages of The Old Motor.