36/40 hp, 255.4 cu. in. L-head inline four-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle, 3/4-elliptic rear leaf spring suspension, and power-assisted rear disc brakes. Wheelbase: 118 in.
In an era when Indiana truly did challenge Michigan as the motoring center of America, the Cole Motor Car Company of Indianapolis built very high-quality automobiles between 1909 and 1925. They were especially noted for the quality of their construction and engineering, often compared to Cadillac, especially after the introduction of a similar V-8 model in 1916. They were also a pioneer of offering a large roster of options and accessories.
Earlier Coles were successful in American competition, especially the four-cylinder Series 30 models of 1910. Indeed, Cole followed in the footsteps of other Brass Era automakers by offering a sporty and rakish roadster, the 30 Model L, introduced halfway through the 1911 model year, which was advertised as being capable of success on both road and track. It was reportedly the only car of its class to have successfully completed a twenty-four race, a feat that it twice achieved at Brighton Beach.
Only three factory-bodied 30 Model L Roadsters are known to have survive, one of which is in long-term institutional ownership. It was acquired in South Carolina by longtime enthusiast Skip Carpenter of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, who undertook its original restoration. The car was seen by the current owner’s father at Hershey in 1983; a month later, the Cole still unforgotten, Mr. Carpenter was contacted, and the car purchased. The owners refinished the car cosmetically and overhauled the engine, after which the “Little Red Cole” was very actively toured all over the country until its owner’s passing in 2009. It was awarded the Glidden Tour Trophyawarded the Glidden Tour Trophy during that prestigious event in 1995, and also completed the AACA Reliability Tour.
Recently the Cole was fully recommissioned by its now-second-generation of owners. As the car was restored for touring, it has been set up appropriately with a modern clutch, power-assisted rear disc brakes, Carter BB-1 Carburetor, and turn signals, headlights and brake lights run from a 12-volt electrical system. The engine was rebuilt with one jug fully remade and machined from steel, not cast, and is fitted with a modern alternator and starter, while the original magneto and coil were rebuilt by the specialists at Mark’s Magnetos in 2020. An auxiliary radiator, under the car, provides additional cooling capacity for hot-weather driving. While the car appears sportiest in its fully open guise, a windshield and top, as were optional from the Cole factory, are included. It is accompanied by copies of several articles that have featured the car over the years.
A Brass Era Cole is a great rarity, of superb quality and truly thrilling performance – as has been experienced by one family for the last 36 years, and as awaits a new owner.
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