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Mass Appeal: This Brilliant Brass Era Relic May Be the Last of Its Kind

This brilliant 1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer is one of a very small number of surviving Mass automobiles. It may very well be the last remaining vehicle of its kind.

This historic Brass Era beauty features a four-cylinder T-head engine with separate cylinder castings and electric cowl lamps to augment the headlamps. The gas-fed headlamps are fueled by an acetylene-gas generator mounted to the driver’s side running board. The Model B also has a crank start and hand throttle. The Torpedo, able to cruise comfortably at 45 mph and navigate inclines with relative ease, is also equipped with a hill-holder skeg for extra safety on unpaved roads.

A small anchor logo stamped into numerous brass fittings on the engine names Ballot as the manufacturer, and the vehicle’s torpedo-style touring coachwork bears the coachbuilding tag of the heralded Shaw Bros. of Sydenham, located south of London.

The coachwork, in concert with the vehicle’s white-over-red leather presentation, is outfitted with scores of polished and gleaming brass components and fittings. This striking Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer is a shining and important relic of the Brass Era.

1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection

Brass Era Beginnings

Mass automobiles took its name from the guiding force of the project, Mr. Masser-Horniman. A member of the Horniman’s Tea producing family in London, Masser-Horniman produced a limited number of Mass automobiles starting in 1903 with London’s Lancaster Motor Garage as his base of operations.

Starting around 1907, the automobile chassis were constructed in Courbevoie, Seine, northwest of Paris, before many were shipped to London to receive their splendid coachwork. The Mass was a well-known make in the UK before the Great War but was short-lived thereafter. It was a straightforward, solid vehicle that often performed well in early competitions. The company sourced engines from various makers, but in the years before the war, Ballot became the sole engine supplier.

A History All Its Own

Benjy Kuehling, the former owner of this vehicle, was the benefactor of the Ouray County Museum in Ouray, Colorado. The museum displayed local curiosities, antique musical instruments, a particularly impressive collection of gas-fired brass automobile lamps, and numerous early cars, including this very vehicle.

With its tan folding top, side curtains, and tufted red leather complementing the coachwork, this surviving Mass Model B Torpedo is a beautifully preserved testament to the remarkable quality, detail, and design of early Shaw Brothers’ coachwork.

Exterior Details

1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection

1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer Specs:

  • 3,260 CC Inline T-Head 4-Cylinder Engine
  • Single AG Carburetor
  • 3-Speed Manual Gearbox
  • Estimated 30 HP
  • 2-Wheel Drum Brakes
  • Front Beam Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
  • Rear Live Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
  • Coachwork by Shaw Bros.
  • Constructed in France and Bodied in the UK

Interior Details

1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection
1909 Mass Model B Torpedo Tourer - The JBS Collection