Charles Duryea was a successful bicycle manufacturer living in the United States. In 1892 he commissioned his brother, J. Frank Dureya to design and build a motor vehicle. The result was successful, becoming the first motor car in the United States. In 1895 a version of the vehicle was entered in the first race held in the United States. The race was sponsored by the Chicago Times. The Duryea built motor vehicle captured first place.
In 1896 the series production began for the Duryea Company, located in Springfield Massachusetts. The president of the company was Frank Dureya, having terminated the business relationship with his brother a year prior. Production continued slowly but steady. Additional capital was raised to expand business development and production. In 1901 Duryea teamed with the Stevens Arms and Tool Company to help expand the evolving business. The union resulted in the production of Stevens-Duryea automobiles, the first vehicle being show in November of 1901 and on sale in March of 1902. The vehicles were powered by 2 cylinder engines capable of producing 5 horsepower. During the 1902 model year, 50 examples were produced. In 1903, the company increased the horsepower to 7 and dubbed the vehicle the Model L. This series continued until 1905 when it was replaced by the Model R. In its introductory year, 300 examples were sold. The Model R was produced from 1905 through 1908. It featured a 20 horsepower engine and sat atop a 90 inch wheelbase.
In 1904, the contract between Dureay and the Stevens Arms and Tool Company was terminated. The Stevens-Duryea Company was formed by J. Frank Duryea where he was appointed chief engineer and vice president.
In 1906, the company introduced the Model S featuring a six-cylinder engine. With 50 horsepower and a 122 inch wheel base, the car was an instant success, with over 900 examples produced in its first year.
From 1906 through 1909, the Model U was produced. It was a lighter version of the Model S, sitting on a shortened 114 wheelbase. The 35 horsepower engine was quick and responsive, and ultimately aided in the sale of over 2000 Model U models. In 1910 the Model AA was introduced as a replacement for the Model U. Featuring a 35 horsepower engine and a 128 inch wheelbase, the vehicle was built from 1910 through 1912.
In 1908 through 1912, the 4-cylinder Model X was produced. It featured a 124 inch wheelbase and a 24 horsepower engine. In 1909, the company introduced the Model XXX using the same 4-cylinder engine but using a 109 inch wheelbase. The result was a runabout that was produced from 1909 through 1912.
In 1909 came the Model Y capable of transporting seven passengers. The 142 inch wheelbase and 40 horsepower engine made it an excellent touring vehicle. Production continued until 1912.
From 1913 through 1914, the Model C was a six-cylinder vehicle built on a 131 and 138 inch wheelbase. It was the first Stevens-Duryea offered with electric lights and starter.
In 1915 the left-hand drive Model D was introduced and like the Model C, was available on a 131 and 138 inch wheelbase.
In 1922 the company was reorganized and the name was changed to Stevens-Duryea Motors Inc.
In 1927, production of the Stevens-Duryea automobiles ceased.
At the age of 97, Frank Duryea passed away in 1967.
With claims of being the first automobile produced in the United States and winning the first automobile race ever transpiring in the United States, the Stevens-Duryea's place in history is forever certain. The company was innovative and its history progressive. It focused its resources on building reliable, beautiful, and economical automobiles. Today, their legacy can be seen at many car shows, Concourse's, and museums.By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2005
The reasons for the demise of the brother's relationship have been lost to time. There has been much speculation throughout the years with evidence that it may have been the direction of the company and the types of vehicles that were produced. The Charles Duryea's vehicles were simple and resembled the buggy design of the horseless carriages. Duryea felt that these vehicles were sufficient and needed little improvement. Frank Duryea's cars were the exact opposite. They were large, luxurious, expensive and powerful. Most were touring cars and limousines with a few roadsters making it into production. Production was low with about 100 examples being produced per year.
By 1906 the Stevens Duryea Company had become independent of the J. Stevens Company. Throughout the years it endured bankruptcies and reorganizations partly due to mis-management and escalating competition. In 1915 Frank Duryea left the company over a conflict dealing with the types of cars that were to be built. Stevens-Duryea went out of production in 1927.
This seven-passenger Model Y touring car had a factory price of $4000 and sat atop a 142 inch wheelbase. It is powered by a six-cylinder engine that produced 54 horsepower.By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2010