Remember the old silent film gag where the steering wheel comes off in the driver’s hands? Something like that happened all the time in 1905, as cars went out of control because the steering gear failed; in an article that year in Horseless Age magazine, Dr. L.M. Allen griped, “Up to the present time I do not know of a car on the market that is reasonable in price and strong enough in all its vital parts to be reliable enough for the doctor’s use. During the three seasons I have used my car the steering gear has broken twice…when the steering gear is made so light that it cannot hold, and faulty in construction besides, it is criminal, because it places the lives of the occupants in jeopardy…”

Although the Press Democrat story doesn’t specify how many people were in the party, it’s safe to assume that they had hired a touring car with chauffeur. And since Mr. Lumsden was a wealthy man – owner of the Belvedere as well as several race horses – it was probably similar to the model shown at right. This 1906 Pope-Toledo (the automobile model year began the autumn before) was one of several luxurious 1905 touring cars that were the limousines of their day.

William H. Lumsden of This City Hurt Near Yountville

While on a trip to Napa Sunday to look over a vineyard with some friends William H. Lumsden of this city was hurled from an automobile and was quite severely injured. The accident occured just as the party was coming into Yountville and was caused by the steering gear working loose.

The machine was thrown clear over and landed in the ditch wrong side up. All escaped with slight bruises except Mr. Lumsden who had his right thumb broken, both wrists sprained and his right knee cap injured. He was picked up unconcious and taken to the Yountville Home where Dr. F. A. McMahon dressed his injuries and cared for him until the afternoon train arrived which brought him back to this city. He was taken to his home where he is resting easily, although sore and badly bruised.

The auto was hired at Napa by the party. Mr. Lumsden feels grateful that the accident was no worse than it was and it will be sometime before he takes another auto ride. Mr. Lumsden is the well known manager of the California Wine Association’ big winery and interests here.

– Press Democrat, October 17, 1905

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