The Tesla is currently one of the hottest passenger vehicles in the world, yet the idea behind it – an automobile that runs on electricity – is hardly new. Over a hundred years ago, Larz Anderson purchased the electric automobile shown here. The engine and mechanical core of the 1905 vehicle were manufactured in England by the Electromobile Company of London. As he did for most of his autos, he ordered a custom-designed chassis and body from another firm, in this case Kellner & Sons of Paris.
Larz also gave each of his cars a name and a motto and called this one “Porte Bonheur” (Bringer of Happiness), with the motto “Ça va sans dire” (It goes without saying). The motto was a clever play on words. Not only does the motto allude to a certain nonchalant feeling one might have driving such a sporty car, it is a direct reference to its virtually soundless engine. A car like this would have cost between $2,000 and $2,600. In today’s economy, that equates to around $50,000 to $65,000 dollars. The price range for a new Tesla runs from $70,000 to $85,000.
This automobile, and several others once owned by Larz, are on display at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Mass.
More information about Larz’s automobiles will appear in Larz and Isabel Anderson: Wealth and Celebrity in the Gilded Age by Stephen T. Moskey, scheduled for publication by iUniverse LLC in late winter 2016. If you haven’t already done so, please join the book’s mailing list by CLICKING HERE.
Photos Copyright © 2011 by Skip Moskey
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