Rene Hopf's 1915 Model 15

1915 Milburn Light Electric
Photo - once black, then purple, now black again
Photo: Hyman Limited

Owner: Rene Hopf
Location: Germany
Serial number (frame stamp): 15-307
Motor number (title): 424625
Body number (square plate):  
Model: Milburn Light Electric Coupé (Model 15)
Wheels: Wood
Color: Gloss Black.  Was light purple in 2009.  Before that, 2002+ it was black, with black running gear and natural wood wheels
Seating capacity: 4 -- Rear seat for 2; auxiliary, fold-down front seats for 2 additional under the windshield
Steering control: Lever (tiller)
Speed control: Lever
Top speed: 20 mph
Range: 50 miles
Forward speeds: 4
Reverse speeds: 2
Length overall:  
Width overall:  
Height overall:  
Wheelbase: 100 inches
Track: 50 inches
Tires: All-white Universal 30 x 3½ pneumatic
Brake systems: Contracting and expanding on rear wheels
Curb weight: 1,400 pounds
Instrumentation: Volt meter, amp meter, speedometer with trip odometer, 7-day clock
Heater: No
Motor: General Electric 2 hp
Drive train: Worm gear
Controller: Non-arcing rotating drum, 4 speeds forward, 2 speeds reverse
Springs: Chrome vanadium steel; front is semi-elliptic; rear is cantilever ("found only in expensive European gas cars.")
Batteries: 22 cells, 15 plate
System voltage: Originally 42 volts, now operates on 36 volts
Charger: New 36v Lester golf cart charger
Price, new: $1,485 f.o.b., Toledo, Ohio
Earlier Owner's remarks: From Rick Lane (circa 2004?):

I had been searching for an antique electric vehicle for some time as you may have noticed by the adds in the back of past EV Circuits. After a long search, an antique electric car was found right here in Ontario. By chance I was tipped off that an antique electric car had been sold at an auction in Orangeville, Ontario. After some quick e-mailing I obtained the phone number of the Auctioneer who had sold the car. Just by chance again there had been a problem for the person who had purchased the car at the auction and he could not come up with the money to pay for it. Now the car was for sale again to the first one there with the money. To add to the pressure there was already somebody else who was interested and was going to see the car. At this point I dropped everything and headed to Barrie where the car was moved to. One look convinced me that this car was well worth the asking price and I made a deposit. Now came the heavy travelling. I had to return to Toronto where I was working to complete a job and then travel back to Ottawa that night. The next morning I went to the bank to arrange the money, picked up my trailer and headed back to Barrie some 600 km away. That evening I picked up the car and started home again. Stopping overnight in Bowmanville at Eric Jelinski's house provided some time to rest and have a small showing for some of the Durham EV Club members to see the car. I finally returned home just before the freezing rain started. Luckily the car fit into my garage with only one inch to spare.

I was not able to find out any of the history of the car or it's previous owners but I am working on this. The Auctioneer did not even know the year of the car although he insisted that it was a 1912 because some antique collector said it was. However the Milburn Wagon Company only started producing cars in September of 1914. It has been traced through the serial number to be a 1915 model, one of about 650 produced for the year and probably in early January of 1915.

I was amazed at the condition of the armature and brushes. I thought I was looking at a new motor when I opened the inspection cover. The rotating contactor assembly is also in good condition. This car is overall in very good condition. It will be completely restored to original over the next couple of years. Watch for this one at antique shows down the road.

Update 04Aug2010:

Rick sold this car to Tom Harrington of Paris, France, in August, 2007. Tom evidently sold the car through H&H Group Holdings Limited on April 16, 2009.  The car had been painted a light purple color and still had black tires.  Now, the car is for sale thru Hyman Limited and sports a new gloss black body color and all white Universal tires.  The interior appears to be unchanged and may be 100% original.

Update 06Sep2011:

Hyman Motors bought, then sold this car to Rene Hopf of Germany in late 2010.

Update 21Mar2019:

Jeffrey Hammers from PennDutch Restoration in PA posted this on Facebook:
”We did some work on a Milburn several years ago. The owner had us paint it Heliotrope which really is a light purple. We shipped it to the owner in France along with an unrestored Detroit we did a bit of mechanical work to.. He played with the cars a bit then shipped them  to Hyman Classic Cars. I believe they repainted the Milburn and then sold both cars. Does anyone know what happened to them? The Milburn came to us from Ottawa. The Detroit from the Pittsburg area.”