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Efforts to Buy Historic Car Stalled Amid Dispute Over Where it Was Built

September 18, 1990

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) _ A dispute over where an automotive pioneer built a three-wheeled car has stalled a campaign by historians to raise $125,000 to buy the unusual vehicle.

Michael Rucker, co-chairman of the Bring Home the Duryea Committee, announced Monday that the campaign is on hold pending verification that the vehicle was built around the turn of the century in this central Illinois city rather than in Reading, Pa.

″We’re so shaken by this,″ Rucker told a news conference. ″We want to make sure the public knows we’re not trying to take advantage of them.″

The three-wheeled Duryea Motor Trap is viewed as a monument to two area men considered the fathers of the American automobile: Charles Edgar Duryea and his brother, J. Frank Duryea.

The car was the brainchild of Charles Duryea, who along with his brother built the first American gasoline-powered automobile in 1893. That car is in the Smithsonian Institution.

Fund-raising for the Trap was halted after David Kolzow of Yorkville said the car was really built in Pennsylvania.

The Peoria group has raised $72,000 and has until Nov. 1 to raise the balance.

″He’s alleging the car is not what it’s being held out to be and is being sold for a price in excess of what it’s worth,″ said U.S. Attorney Lee Smith who is investigating Kolzow’s allegations.

Kolzow, who says he’s affiliated with the Horseless Carriage Club of America, could not be reached for comment at the Caterpillar Inc. factory in Aurora where he works. He did not return telephone calls.

Duryea moved his production operations to Pennsylvania after falling on hard times in Illinois, Rucker said. But he added that the car’s owner, L. Scott Bailey of Gloscester, England, told him he can provide records proving the vehicle was built in Illinois.

Rucker said 12 Traps were built in the Peoria area in 1898-90 but only two still exist.

One is in the Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield Village, Mich. The other is owned by Bailey, founder of Automobile Quarterly Magazine.

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