No fewer than five companies bore the surname of the ambitious industrialist Col. Albert Augustus Pope; a man who created a short-lived but prestigious empire of automobile manufacturers which offered a wide variety of vehicles between 1904 and 1914. Col. Pope set up shop in Hartford, Connecticut where, in 1903 he built his first prototype single-cylinder car. Production began in earnest the following year with two body styles offered on the common chassis. Larger engine options came quickly, with a 16hp twin following the single, as well as a 20/25hp four. Ever-increasing engine sizes were met with ever-inflating prices, with the largest of the Pope-Hartford line topping $5,500. Pope-Hartford models were built at the company headquarters in Connecticut, though other brands soon followed as the Colonel and his family extended their reach in the automobile business. Pope-Waverly offered electric cars built in Indiana; Pope-Tribune focused on small, cheap cars, Pope-Robinson was a very brief foray that produced just 59 cars, and the most prestigious of them all was Pope-Toledo.
Pope-Toledo grew out of the International Bicycle Co., another of Albert Augustus Pope’s businesses. From 1904, the company offered first steam, and later petrol-powered cars. The petrol versions proved quite successful in motorsport, with a Pope-Toledo coming in 3rd in the highly competitive and popular Vanderbilt Cup in 1904 and winning the America’s first-ever 24 hour endurance race in 1905. Pope-Toledo cars grew swiftly in size and price through the coming model years, culminating in the 50 horsepower limousine of 1907. This prestigious and beautiful machine sold for a robust $6,000 and was among the finest automobiles on offer to wealthy American buyers. As with much of the Pope empire, growth came quickly and with little regard to the market demand. While cars like the Pope-Toledo were beautifully built and returned excellent performance, the market was crowded and only a finite number of buyers could afford such extravagant motorcars. Pope-Toledo went into receivership in 1909; with the parent company Pope-Hartford following shortly after in 1913. While its sister company Pope-Hartford enjoyed moderate success over the course of a decade, the much rarer Pope-Toledo was experienced by only a handful of fortunate (and wealthy) clientele.
This 1907 Pope-Toledo Type XV 50hp touring car is one of just a handful known to exist and was once part of the famous William F. Harrah collection.