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Video – Trial Run of the Collier Collection Simplex Speed Car

Collier Collection Simplex Test Drive 1

Long-time readers will be familiar with the Collier Collection 1914 Simplex 50 h.p. “Speed Car” mechanical rebuild that has been featured here in a ten-part series. Eric Matt and myself have put together the video below of a day of road testing it this past December. The presentation is the first in a series of videos of “Vintage Supercars” that we will be sharing with you in the future.

Today you can watch as this early thoroughbred equipped with a 589 c.i. four-cylinder T-head engine is shown out in its element at speed on Vermont rural roads. Also included are a check of the drive chains followed by a lubrication with chain wax and the starting procedure.

Collier Collection 1914 Simplex Speed Car

  • The Collier Collection 1914 Simplex 50 h.p. Model “F” “Speed Car” at rest.

Due to finishing this project very late in the year after snow had already fallen, road testing time was limited due to the arrival of very cold weather. The Simplex was taken out earlier on a slow paced run for a number of miles to seat the piston rings and run in the new bronze-backed and babbitted crankshaft, connecting rod, and cam bearings.

The video was shot of the “Speed Car” on a cold and damp 36° day with a bone-chilling 20° wind chill factor at 50 m.p.h.; it was first run moderately followed by a look over in the shop. For the afternoon run, the exhaust cutout was opened, the pace was turned up, and the car was run at speeds as high as 55 m.p.h. On the 2.5-hour drive it performed very well and demonstrated that it race track-proven ancestry had not diminished with the passage of 102 years.   

Enjoy the video and afterward view the informative ten-part series of rebuilding the Simplex to learn more about the car and the project. Follow that with an interesting visit to Simplex’s home at The Revs Institute in the Collier Collection.

  • Included below for new readers are overhead views of the 1914 Simplex chassis.



41 responses to “Video – Trial Run of the Collier Collection Simplex Speed Car

  1. My Stars !
    And to think that only 100 or so years ago your kind of misbehavior was the norm, not the exception. At least you didn’t have to dodge the horse clods all over the road. No wait a minute, I know where you live, probably you did.

    • Misbehavior LOL? The Vermont DMV law says that it is suggested you stay behind a double line but passing and crossing it are not breaking the law.

      A number of surprises were left behind by the dairy cows that had to be avoided!

    • Horse clods here aplenty too – and dropped nails! Put a new beadie on my Lancia’s clincher rim 3 months ago, picked up a horseshoe nail at 15 mph after 15 miles and ripped the stem out of a new tube – wrecked it. The cover survived. Come to horsey UK and live the motoring life as the originals lived it!

  2. Lovely. And it looks like lots of fun.

    I meant to ask when you’d posted the pictures of the chassis the first time. I note the transmission is set back a ways from the flywheel. Is that for the sake of weight distribution? It looks like the distribution would be pretty even.

  3. Wonderful Video! It’s great to see the first run after all your hard work. A leather ‘barnstormer’ hat might be advisable:)

  4. You guys are living the good life. What is better than driving such a glorious machine? How could you be more fortunate than to drive cars with personality and quirks and real smells that call for your attention, skill, and empathy? If you are this lucky just once in a lifetime, you are blessed.

    Carry on!

  5. The Colliers will surely exercise this car regularly and well. With any luck, they might even be persuaded to take it on the Colorado Grand (hint, hint).

  6. David, congratulations. May I say I much value the work done with knowledge and good taste. The Simplex sounds very happy indeed.

    • I’m reminded of a line by J. L. B. Matekoni, the master mechanics from Alexander McCall’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books.. “Anyone who describes a smooth running motor in terms of happiness is a born mechanic.”

  7. Wondering if this car will be shown at the Naples Fl. Depot car show in March 2017. The Collier collection usually had one or two fabulous cars there. BTW, are the “fun Friday fifties and sixties images” postings finished for now?

  8. Wow!!! I could listen to the sound of that engine all day long. Thanks for sharing that fantastic video. I felt that I was along for the ride.

  9. Thank you So Much for this wonderful video! Such a fabulous car. I relished the “pre-flight” routine. The ever so slow idle with retarded sparks is a joy to hear. I think that I might almost recognize one or two of the roads you were on. The soundtrack is beautiful without being obtrusive; I savor the exhaust notes. The editing is nicely done, it shop work ever dwindles you would find employment as a videographer. Bravo. Siskel and Ebert would have bestowed two thumbs up.

  10. Thank you for sharing the experience. I can imagine the satisfaction when everything finally came together on a road test. Sounds great with the open pipes!

  11. With all the sweat and tears, and skinned knuckles, “GOOD JOB” David. Running the roads of Vermont looks like loads of fun.

  12. The video production was spectacular. The startup prep was wonderful. I love barreling around the back roads of New Hampshire like that but I have not ever tried to make a video but I will have to do it soon. Eventually I will be selling Grandpa’s 101 year old Marmon and I will need to document the sound and the cornering for reinforcement of my foggy memories.

    I noticed that your tires “drift” around corners too. Scary at first, but it’s predictable and fun. Great car, great video.
    Thank you.

  13. David,

    The music, the preparation, the dawg, the motoring scenes out and then back all combined to produce a delightful story. I don’t think following the same routine with an early Model T would elicit quite the same sense of admiration. Something about the Simplex makes it stand apart. Well done!

  14. This is wonderful. Thanks for sharing this big jewel. Cars like this, Loziers, Chadwicks, Locomobiles, have a visceral pull you either get or don’t. We’d visit Ed Jurist’s wonderful Vintage Car Store a little further up the lazy river in Nyack in the late ’60s. He’d always have one or two examples of these gutsy, beautifully wrought symphonies in iron, steel, brass, oak, ash, maple on his showroom floor; such were then the holy grail of car collecting, Duesenberg Js and Packard Twelves still second-tier, if impressive.

  15. Wonderful video!

    The car does seem to be quite happy traveling at a decent speed. How effective are the brakes at stopping the car from 50+ mph?

    • Both the hand brake and the foot brake on this car work better than most when compared to other cars of this era. That being said, since both operate on the rear wheels braking power is limited at higher speeds. One has to be very careful to modulate the input of the brakes and not lock up them up as the wheels will slide and most of the braking power will be lost.

      On a long downhill run with a rear wheel brake car one needs to downshift to help hold the car back as the brakes will fade and overheat followed by a loss of braking power.

  16. I just watched this video again and noticed something. When it’s slow-idling, each detonation has a slightly different note. This makes sense, since each exhaust valve is a different distance from the exhaust. Essentially, when you cut out the muffler, each cylinder is firing into a different-length organ pipe. The lowest note would be the no. 1 cylinder.

    These old T-heads really did sing to you.

  17. I love seeing cars like this that have been in the hobby for 60+ years. Is the history on this car known before Briggs Cunningham was its caretaker? Bob

  18. Old cars like this are simply a delight for me to have the chance to examine. This excellent video of the unique Simplex is much appreciated.

    • Yes, it has a Bosch Dual ZR4 Magneto – the switch for the system on the dashboard gets turned to the battery position just before the engine was started. Once running the switch gets turned to the left to run on the mag.

  19. I miss driving my 1911 Cole on nice days. I was always exciting and full of adventure. My wife stopped going after the first ride. She thought she would fall out of the car. No doors on my Cole. LOL
    Keith Korbut

  20. Great Suff. I’m in Minnesota wainting for the that don’t you folks have snow? Wonderful car peserved by wise folks and not sitting static, 100 years from now this will still work, more than can be said of todays stuff…
    Bill Heptig

    • Yes, 1914 was the second year that a starter was available. All early Simplex cars were also equipped with a compression release which made starting the large engines somewhat easier than most.

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