Our pals over at the Petersen brought over a bunch of treats from their collection for everyone who's sick of new cars. And in that batch of old lovelies was the oldest lovely of them all: a 1900 Smith. It's the oldest car at the show, and the most local as well: it was built right here in downtown LA.


The 113-year old car is a very recent acquisition for the Petersen — they've only had it about a week. The car was in a private collector's hands, and that collector got the car way back in the 1940s, when he found it on a pile of rubbish that was about to be burned.

It's a really interesting vehicle — it has a mid/rear mounted air-cooled flat-twin that's, weirdly, transverse. It's sort of like a 2CV or BMW motorcycle engine stuck sideways in a wooden box. It uses an unusual belt-drive transmission, and the whole thing was designed and built — engine included — by the remarkably talented Mr.Smith.

Leslie Kendall, curator of the Petersen, was nice enough to tell me about it. Watch it, it's fascinating!

Share This Story

Get our newsletter