1911 Firestone-Columbus Model 79C Runabout

In 1909 the Columbus Buggy Company of Columbus, Ohio, entered the upper end of the market with the $1,800 Firestone-Columbus, named for company president Clinton Dewitt Firestone. Touted as “The Car Complete,” it was a baby tonneau with a 35-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a 110-inch wheelbase.

The Firestone-Columbus was very advanced for its day, with left-hand steering and a drop-center chassis by 1910, center gear change in 1911, and an acetylene starter when most others were experimenting with compressed air. In 1911 chief designer and engineer Lee Frayer, with an adventurous youngster named Eddie Rickenbacker who had worked with him at Miller-Frayer, took a Firestone-Columbus to the first Indianapolis 500. Starting in 26th place and co-driving the Red Wing Special, they managed to finish 13th. Rickenbacker, initially the chief testing engineer for Firestone-Columbus, became a district sales manager before leaving to join Fred Duesenberg at the Mason Motor Company.

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Story by RM Sotheby’s