Rides from the Readers: 1899 Reese 3-Wheel Horseless Carriage

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Harold Mermel

Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, tips@hagerty.com. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.

Today’s featured vehicle is a 1899 Reese 3-Wheel Horseless Carriage. It’s among the oldest gasoline-powered vehicles originally constructed in the United States, and was built in Plymouth, Pennsylvania by one Sephaniah Reese, Sr. Reese operated the S. Reese Machine & Tool Works, in addition to the Reese Bicycle Works, and actually built two examples of the three-wheeled carriage: one in 1888 and one in 1899. The 3-Wheel is powered by an air-cooled one-cylinder engine.

This particular 3-Wheel—the second model built—belongs to Harold Mermel, who’s preserved it in its original condition to this day. The photos included in the article date from June, 2019, at the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Eastern Spring National Meet, at which the Reese earned the distinction of oldest car shown. It’s also one of the oldest vehicles registered in the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Agency. Nearly a century and a quarter later, we think it’s looking pretty healthy.

1899 reese 3 wheel carriage
Harold Mermel
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