1913 Pope-Hartford Model 33 4-Passenger Touring
VMC Stock ID: 132278
VIN: Chassis 00662, Engine 1790
Engine: 389 cubic inch OHV inline-four
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Gear Ratio: N/A
Wheelbase: 124 inches
Wheels: Wooden artillery wheels with demountable rims
Tires: 37x5 BFGoodrich Silvertown Cord
Exterior Color: Red
Interior Color: Black leather
1913 Pope-Hartford Model 33 4-Passenger Touring
Finish quality is excellent throughout, with only very minor signs of wear and use, a testament to the quality of the restoration work and the care it has received since it was completed.
J. J. Best Banc & Co.
Even in the early days of motoring, there were cars for transportation and there were cars that were designed to be better in every way expressly for those who cared about such things. Pope-Hartford was well-known for their quality and innovation, and despite Colonel Albert Pope’s disinterest in racing, the automobiles bearing his name were remarkably effective. Since automotive technology was evolving by leaps and bounds every year, engineers at Pope-Hartford were quick to realize that making their engine bigger was not the only way to make horsepower, and by 1911, they were building a thoroughly modern overhead-valve engine that was every bit the equal of its larger competitors. Sadly, the company did not survive and went into bankruptcy (for the second time) in October of 1913.
This 1913 Pope-Hartford Model 33 4-passenger touring is one of just 228 Model 33s built before the company closed and is one of only three 4-passenger touring models to exist today. Discovered in Puerto Rico in 1962 by the late Ralph Dunwoodie, who acquired it for the Harrah Collection from Humberto L. Lieva. Harrah’s owned the car for more than twenty years, and started a full restoration just prior to the massive dissolution auction following Bill Harrah’s passing. It was acquired in a complete but unfinished state by the Evans Collection of San Diego, who completed the Harrah’s restoration under the guidance of Pope-Hartford expert Temple Baldwin. The process and finished product was documented in an extensive article on the marque in ‘Automobile Quarterly’ in 1996. The car remained with the Evans Collection until 2008, when it was purchased by Magee Collection, who outfitted it for touring and continued to enjoy the car until it was sold in 2011 to the current owner.
The massive Pope-Hartford is an outstanding example of big horsepower brass performance, with its 50 horsepower overhead-valve engine and sporting 124-inch wheelbase. Imposing and delightfully finished in bright red coachwork, it stands in marked contrast to many of its contemporaries in its restrained use of brass (think: less polishing) and sleek 4-passenger bodywork. From the horseshoe-shaped radiator shell to the wonderfully curved fenders, the big Pope-Hartford is one of those rare brass cars that looks competent and sturdy, as well as fleet. Finish quality is excellent throughout, with only very minor signs of wear and use, a testament to the quality of the restoration work and the care it has received since it was completed. The car retains all of its authentic bits and pieces, from the headlights to the delightful rack-mounted wicker basket, and the vivid red paint stands out in a sea of somber antiques. Single gold pinstripes outline each of the body panels, including the running-board mounted tool box, giving it a wonderfully ornate look up close. It has been fitted with period Gray & Davis headlights, as well as a starter/generator for trouble-free starting and operation without the need to hand crank the massive engine. As you would expect, it is all fully functional.
The black leather interior remains in exemplary condition, again with only the most minor signs of wear and age. Front seat occupants are treated to body-hugging black leather barrel-style seats that are most welcome in a car with the performance potential of the Model 33, and the driver is treated to a beautifully refinished wooden firewall with an array of gauges, levers, and knobs that offer a delightfully retro-tech look. The controls require some familiarization, with the accelerator pedal positioned between the brake and clutch pedals and the shifter for the 4-speed manual gearbox located outside the bodywork. In practice, it is simple to master and thanks to both the upgraded electrical system and the engine’s state of tune, it is easy to start and quite user-friendly on the open road. Rear seat occupants are treated to more button-tufted black leather, plus doors with built-in map pockets, and thanks to stadium-style seating, they have a commanding view of the road. A folding windscreen gives the massive car a sporting, low-profile look and all the hardware is detailed with brilliantly polished and manicured surfaces. A full complement of weather equipment, including a folding top with matching boot, side curtains, plus front and rear tonneau covers, means that it ready to enjoy immediately. Other welcome upgrades include an on-board fire suppression system, built-in battery charger, brake and signal lights, and a period-correct temperature gauge. Even the leather straps for the top and hood have been recently replaced.
Mechanically, the Pope-Hartford 389 cubic inch OHV inline-four is a wonder of engineering. With a forged steel crankshaft, pushrods with low-friction ball sockets at both ends, and roller camshafts made of case-hardened nickel steel, it is thoroughly modern in specification and operation. The exposed valve gear is delightful to watch in operation and the big four has a deep baritone quite unlike anything else you’ve heard recently. Beautifully finished with black enamel, polished brass and copper fittings, and wonderfully ornate cast aluminum, the engine bay is a visual treat for fans of the era and surely an inspiration for future restorers. Even the vintage magneto system is fully operation and allows the engine to chuff to life with ease. Major components are easy to identify thanks to their remarkable similarity to modern equivalents, and the reliability of the Pope-Hartford machinery has never been in doubt.
Underneath, the chassis has been detailed and painted to match the bodywork. More raw aluminum and painted steel gives it a purposeful look, and you will note that every component has been restored to original specifications, not replaced with a convenient modern equivalent. The transmission’s straight-cut gears make a wonderful mechanical symphony and it’s easy enough to master, and thanks to smart gearing and those tall tires, it’s a legitimate 50 MPH automobile. A full set of belly pans are still intact and the rear end looks substantial enough to live under a fire truck. Recent service work includes new tires and batteries, so it is ready to tour immediately.
Big brass era cars remain enormously popular with enthusiasts, and road-going locomotives like this Pope-Hartford are delightful examples of why that is the case. Thundering horsepower combined with a mechanical sophistication that few of its peers could claim, this Pope-Hartford Model 33 is a superlative example of a seldom-seen marque. With an impressive history, this is a very rare opportunity to own a very special brass automobile.