1917 Stanley Steamer
This is a steam powered car. At the dawn of automotive production, there was no clear path on which technology was superior; electric, gasoline or steam. Therefore, in those early days, there were many manufacturers producing “horseless carriages” with a range of propulsion and price. The Stanley Motor Carriage Company was one of those manufacturers. Founded in 1902, Stanley produced steam powered vehicles from their plant in Newton, Massachusetts.
Founded by twin brothers Francis and Freelan Stanley, the premise of steam propulsion was certainly familiar and in use everyday via the railroads. Steam powered locomotives had been around since the 1800’s so the transition from horse drawn carriages to steam powered automobiles seemed to be an easy adoption. To prove the convenience and power of a steam powered automobile, a Stanley Steamer set the world record for an automobile in 1906 by covering a 1/4 mile in 28.2 seconds at a speed of 127 miles per hour. That record held until 1911, when a gasoline powered car broke the record.
During the late 1910’s, internal combustion engines were beginning to capture the public’s attention, particularly when manufacturers started supplying the cars with electric starters instead of cranks. To combat this, Stanley produced advertisements trying to steer the public clear of gasoline powered automobiles, calling them “internal explosion engines”. By 1918, the Stanley’s sold their company and in 1924, the company was out of business.
By that time, a Ford Model T sold for $500.00 and a Stanley, $3,950. Henry Ford’s dream of making a car for the masses was working and the short lived era of steam powered automobiles was gone forever.
Make: Stanley Steamer
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