Featuring a stunning wood dashboard and steering wheel, this iconic 1914 Benz Runabout offers a close-up look at the early days of motoring.
HALTOM CITY, TX, October 13, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — The DFW Elite Toy Museum in Haltom City, Texas recently acquired an elegant and rare 1914 Benz 18/45 Horsepower Four-Passenger Runabout.
The DFW Elite Toy Museum is the brainchild of businessman Ron Sturgeon, who first started collecting toy Mercedes cars more than 40 years ago. Sturgeon expanded his interests to include rare and vintage automobile themed items such as race cars and scale models. As the years progressed, Sturgeon’s interests expanded to include vintage toys, unique signs, automotive memorabilia, and other rare and historic collectibles. As his burgeoning collection grew, Sturgeon hatched a plan to open the DFW Elite Toy Museum, which now houses the Benz Runabout.
“Even if you aren’t a dyed-in-the-wool automobile aficionado, there is just so much to appreciate about this exceptional marvel of machinery,” Sturgeon said.
Manufactured by Benz & Cie from 1914-1921, this model is from the first production year. The 18/45 model was in the upper half of the Benz range, and represented a sweet spot for size and performance. The smooth-running L-Head design contributed to efficient power output. At nearly five liters, it is a substantially sized four cylinder. The motor is made up of two “cast-in-pairs” cylinders mounted to an aluminum crank case. The crown jewel is the V radiator, which has the iconic appearance of the later Mercedes-Benz models.
Inside and out, this car is truly a sight to behold, with myriad features and components working in tandem to create a unique masterpiece. Gorgeous headlamps, side lights, and a swiveling spotlight are wrought of richly burnished brass. Crafted of finely polished wood, the dashboard and steering wheel are warm and inviting, and surround the driver and passengers with an undeniable aura of opulence.
Early cars were built a bit higher off the road, and getting in and out could be difficult without a little boost from running boards located on both sides of the vehicle. The smooth, graceful curves of this Benz Runabout’s running boards lend an air of vintage elegance.
A classic accoutrement, the serpentine bulb horn on the right side features a boa constrictor snake head and tongue, and contains a tapering five-foot-long tube. With a squeeze of the bulb, the horn issues a warning loud enough to prompt pedestrians and other vehicles to get out of the way. And here’s an interesting side note: the bulb horn is actually a wind instrument containing a reed, which works based on the principle of vibration. When the rubber bulb is pressed, it forces air across the edge of the reed, causing it to vibrate, which produces the trademark honk. Volume and pitch are based on the size of the bell, or in this case, the snake’s head. Bigger horns with large bells produce louder, lower tones.
As far as the ride goes, it’s pretty simple: rear-wheel drive makes the car go, drum brakes make the car stop, while four-speed, manual transmission makes the drive fun. Four doors facilitate access for the driver and three passengers. Right-hand drive means the car operates with the driver sitting on the right, typical of European models.
This resplendent Benz underwent a comprehensive restoration in early 2019. Shortly after that, it appeared in the Pre-War European Division at the exclusive Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, which features hundreds of impressive and historically significant vehicles from around the world.
The car originally came from Denmark’s now-shuttered Aalholm Automobil Museum, which was one of Europe’s most famous classic car collections. Founded in 1964, the museum was on Stubberup Farm near the storied Aaholm Castle, on the small island of Lolland. The Aalholm was a world-renowned assemblage of collectible vehicles, spanning more than 100 years of automotive history. The museum closed in 2008, and its contents were auctioned off in 2012.
About DFW Elite Toy Museum
Rare cars, dog antiques, and hard-to-find memorabilia are featured at the DFW Elite Toy Museum, which contains more than 3,000 pieces collected by serial entrepreneur and real estate developer Ron Sturgeon. Admission is free to the dog-friendly museum, which is located at 5940 Eden Drive in Haltom City, Texas. Sturgeon owns the only two museums in Haltom City, a suburb of Ft. Worth, the toy museum and the Salon and Spa Museum.
Featured in the popular book “100 Things to Do in Dallas-Fort Worth Before You Die,” the museum’s current exhibit featuring space toys and robots is available for viewing by appointment. Special events and groups are welcome with advance notice. View this video to discover how Sturgeon started his collection more than 40 years ago, and how that led to opening the museum. Learn more by visiting the website at dfwelitetoymuseum.com. You can also call (817) 834-3625 or follow the museum’s Facebook page.
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