John Brisben Walker (editor and publisher of Cosmopolitan magazine) and Amzi Lorenzo Barber incorporated the Locomobile Company of American in June of 1899. Walker had negotiated with the Stanley brothers to sell their steam car business for $250,000, and he had convinced Barber into investing that figure for a half-interest in the new business venture. At the time the Stanley brothers had a single completed car and 199 orders. The Stanley brothers continued to work for the new company and two years later, Locomobile sold the business back to the brothers who then continued to manufacture steam cars into the 1920s as Stanley Steamers.
By 1904, Locomobile had ceased steam car production and switched to gasoline engines. By the 1920s, the Locomobiles had built a reputation for their large, luxurious, powerful, and fast automobiles known for their performance and quality. They were not immune to the Great Depression and were out of business in 1932, after its parent company, Durant Motors, failed.
Between 1900 and 1902, approximately 3,000 Locomobiles were produced and currently only three examples are known to exist. The cars were powerful and fast for the time and had a top speed of around 25 miles per hour. They used a simple motor that was directly attached to the axle sprocket. They were chain driven and featured tiller steering, however they were not that sturdy with the welded bicycle-like frames. The chassis was a wood frame and body with buggy-type suspension, and spidery wire wheels. Another drawback was the water consumption, with the tanks being drained in about twenty miles.
They were well priced at around $600. For 1900, approximately 767 examples were produced. Many consider the Runabout the first mass-produced steam car. by Daniel Vaughan | May 2019
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