Mar 21 2008

Question of the Day: Searching for Willie K’s Oldest Surviving Car

William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. owned may cars during his lifetime including Mercedes, Moras, Renaults, DeDietrichs and Chryslers. Does anyone know the oldest Willie K car that has survived today?

Stephanie Gress, Director of Curatorial Services at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, reports that William K. Vanderbilt Jr.’s oldest surviving car is a 40-hp Mercedes Simplex that is on display today at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. It is also considered the oldest existing Mercedes in the world and one of the few remaining cars in this series.

The 40 hp Mercedes Simplex was used by Vanderbilt on May 2, 1902 to established a one kilometer speed record of 111.8 kilometers per hour (69.5 mph) between Ablis and Chartres in France.  Vanderbilt also raced the car in the 1902 Circuit du Nord Race. He was leading this race when the car broke down due to a broken sprocket wheel.

The history of the car is reviewed by these websites. Note the matching license numbers of the images in these websites with the car shown above.

Links to related posts on

Willie K.‘s Cars #1: 1900 28-HP Daimler "White Ghost"

Willie K.'s Cars #2: 1901 35-HP Mercedes “Red Devil”- The Fastest Machine in the Country

Willie K’s Cars #3:The 1902 40-HP Mercedes Simplex- The Oldest Surviving Mercedes

"A Record of Motorsport: Racing before World War I"- 1902 Circuit du Nord (page84)

Archives: William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.


Apr 25 2008 phil fish 10:47 PM

there is one down the road from me, and it has been restored once in the 50"s, and has the “V” grille, and is in mint condition…....

May 12 2008 Howard Kroplick 12:27 PM


Can you send me a photo? I will post it on the website.



Oct 23 2008 Varun 2:52 PM

fantabulous to have such cars in 1900’s

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