The Stanley Steamer Model R Roadster was the creation of a famous American automobile design team : The Stanely twins, Francis and Freelan. The enterprising brothers operated a photographic dry-plate business in Massachusetts when they developed their first steam car in 1897. Competitive and wîth a passion for speed, the Stanleys entered their vehicles in races around the country. In one famous tournament at Ormond (Daytona) Beach, a streamlined Stanley Rocket Racer set the record for fastest speed on land, 127 mph. The record held for four years - remarkable in an era when automotive records were frequently set and immediately surpassed.
Capitalizing on their racing fame, Stanley steam cars enjoyed modest sales. While many early Stanley models were racers and roadsters, later models also included touring cars and a truck/bus, the Mountain Wagon. The Stanley brothers were known to 'tinker' wîth their cars in the factory, leading to the notion that no two Stanleys were exactly alike. The brothers famously resisted change to their vehicles, which restricted the car's ability to compete in the market. The Stanley's limited availability also limited its popularity. Fewer than 1,000 Stanleys were made each year, yielding a total of around 12,000 vehicles when production ceased in 1924.
While Stanleys and other steam cars were destined to fade from the automotive scene, they have never faded from popular memory. As early as the 1930s, the Stanley was adopted as a symbol of turn-of-the-century life and representative of the early automotive era. The 'Steamer' has been referenced and romanticized in film, literature, and song, and remains a nostalgic icon today.
The Model R roadster is a smart high-powered car, for two to four people. The price of $1350 includes a choice of rear seats-a single rumble; a double rumble: a duplicate of the front divided seats: or a full undivided two passenger seat. Without a rear seat the car has a neat plain artillery box.
This roadster is on the same 20 horsepower plant as the model T touring car. It is quite the same car except as to the body and tires. The tires are 36x3-1/2 inches all around.
The speed of this car is all that anyone can require in a road car. It is for those who wish to hit a speed of 60 to 70 miles an hour on a good road, and still be able to run through city streets without danger of overheating or 'stalling.'
There is no changing of gears, speeds from a creeping pace to a mile a minute or more can be had by simply opening or closing the throttle that's sub-imposed on the §teering wheel.
The Model R is a valuable also to those who live in hilly districts (as Pittsburgh) and find that the average gasoline car at twice or three times the price will falter on the hills and fail in the times where a little reserve is needed.Source - Frick Car Museum
Sold for $104,500 at 2010 Gooding & Company
This Stanley Steamer Model R 20 Roadster (Chassis # 5003) is a relic of the by-gone era of steam power. It sports a 20-horsepower two-cylinder, 4' bore 'wet' engine (actual output up to 60 bhp), full elliptical springs, and a wheelbase of 112 inches. The car is a wonderfully restored example of steam-powered early transportation, sharing the road with horses and buggies.
This car is one of only eight factory-produced Model R Stanley's known to survive. It has double buckets and a 'mother-in-law' seats in the rear. In the 1970s, the car was restored by Tom Marshall. It is believed that during that time, a larger condensing boiler and motor were fitted tot he car. Ownership later passed from Mr. Marshall to Brent Campbell and, more recently, Edwin 'Ted' Jameson. In 2005, the car was purchased by the present owner.
In 2010, this Model R 20 Horsepower Roadster was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company Auction held in Scottsdale, Arizona. The lot was estimated to sell for $125,000 - $175,000 and offered without reserve. As bidding came to a close, the lot was sold for the sum of $104,500, including buyer's reserve.
George McKay Schieffelin and Laurie Graham Scheiffelin found this 1909 Stanley Steamer Model R Roadster in 1961. They had the car restored the same year, and toured it in the United States and Europe for many years, until George's death. The car was restored a second time in the late 1990's by Charles Johnson at the Stanley Shop, Inc. In 1999, Laurie Graham donated the steamer to the Frick Art & Historical Center in Pittsburgh. Her final ride in the Steamer and the transfer of ownership was documented on film, and shown in the theater at the Car and Carriage Museum at the Frick.
The 1909 Stanley Steamer Model R was powered by a 2-cylider steam engine that produced 20 horsepower. It had a roadster body-style and a wheelbase that measured 112-inches. It was joined by three other models in the Stanley line-up for 1909, which included the Model E2 Runabout, the Model M Touring car, and the Model Z Mountain Wagon. The Model E2 had a 10 horsepower engine and a 110-inch wheelbase platform. The Model M rested on a 114-inch wheelbase and was powered by a 30 horsepower engine. The Model Z also had a 30-horsepower engine but a larger, 118-inch wheelbase.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2009
This car is one of eight Stanley Model Rs left in the world. Properly called the Stanley Steam Car (the Stanley brothers hated the name Stanley Steamer), the Model R Gentleman's Speedster was one of five models listed in the 1909 Stanley catalog. It sold for around $1,500 with or without an optional convertible top. Its 2- horsepower, twin-cylinder engine is simplicity itself with only a dozen or so moving parts. It will cruise at 50 mph and climb steep hills with ease. Steam powered cars were simple to drive with no changing gears and impossible to stall, but the biggest disadvantage was the starting process which could take 30 minutes and involved a blowtorch rather than a key. This Stanley has been cared for in the current owner's collection for 16 years and is used often.