Sold for $85,250 at 2007 RM Auctions
Identical twin brothers Freelan Oscar and Francis Edgar Stanely were one of the first motorcar producers in the United States and one of the more successful in steam powered car production. Freelan Oscar and his wife are credited with being the first individuals to drive an automobile to the top of New Hampshire's Mount Washington on August 31st of 1899. Their Locomobile steam runabout took two hours and ten minutes to climb the slope, excepting the time required to refill the boiler with water. Their journey took about half the time required by a team of horses.
The Stanley brothers had created a successful business in manufacturing photographic plates. When the world was introduced to the motor car, the brothers began to tinker. By the autumn of 1897 they had produced their first motor car, with their automobile business opening in November 1898.
Their cars were shown at the Boston motor show in 1898 but prior to this, John Brisben Walker, publisher of Cosmopolitan magazine, acquired about buying the business. The brothers quickly stated a very high sum of $250,000, which was accepted, to much surprise of the Stanley brothers. The brothers were appointed as General Managers. To aid in the acquisition, Walker took Amzi Lorenzo Barber as partner in this venture. Barber had made a fortune paving America's cities and was known as 'The Asphalt King.' By June of 1899, deliveries of the Locomobiles had begun.
Part of the agreement between Walker and the Stanley brothers was that the brothers would not compete for one year and would serve as general managers for Walker and Barber. During this one year period, the brothers planed a new steam car design. By the close of 1901, their design had been created. On January 29th of 1902 the first mention of the product was in The Horseless Age. The car had four full-elliptic springs, one at each corner, and a small seat in the front and served as a storage compartment for tools when not in use. The new steam engine design resulted in greater steam pressure than the ones sold to Walker and Barber.
A few months after the introduction of their new product, George Eli Whitney sued the brothers for infringement on a patent. Whitney was a Boston inventor and a recent employee of Locomobile. Many of the claims made by Whitney about the brothers infringement were un-true, but the brothers' drive chain tensioner was a matter of contention, so they abandoned the chain entirely. In its place was a gearing that tied directly from the engine to the differential.
Slight design changes were made to the body in 1903. By 1904 the Stanley's had adopted a naming scheme for its models, A, B, and C. The models were distinguished by the seat configurations. The Type 'B' had a solid panel driver's seat and an open front seat.
This 1903 Stanley Solid Seat Steam Runabout Model B was offered for sale at the Vintage Motor Cars sale at Hershey, PA presented by RM Auctions. It was estimated to sell for $20,000 - $25,000 and offered without reserve. Bidding quickly surpassed the estimates with the final bid settling at $95,250. It has a wheelbase that measures 78-inches and its twin-cylinder double-acting steam engine produces 6.5 horsepower. There is a solid front axle with full-elliptic springs and a live rear axle with full-elliptic leaf springs and gear drive. Braking is mechanical and through the differential.By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2007