Project Description

1911 Stanley Steamer Model 62 Runabout

Originally from Maine, identical twin brothers Francis and Freelan Stanley were born inventors. Their Newton, Massachusetts-based Stanley Motor Carriage Company produced the most popular steam-powered passenger cars ever built. Steam cars were quiet, clean, powerful, and fast, but were also very complicated to drive.

After going through the 17 steps necessary to start this car and then waiting 30 to 40 minutes for enough steam pressure to build, a driver could expect to travel about 35 to 45 miles before needing to stop and refill the 28-gallon tank with water. The water was heated by vaporized kerosene.

By the time this car was produced, gasoline cars were beginning to overtake steam cars in popularity. This was primarily due to the invention of the self-starter for gas cars, which eliminated the need for hand-cranking. Once this step was no longer needed, gasoline-powered cars were clearly easier to operate and steam fell out of favor.

  • MANUFACTURER: Stanley Motor Carriage Company, Newton, MA (1901-1924)
  • PRICE NEW: $1,000
  • PRICE TO BUY 2020: $27,075
  • ENGINE: 2-cylinder double acting locomotive type, 550 lbs. steam pressure, 70 cu. in./1.1 l.

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In our current exhibit, From Carriage to Classic: How Automobiles Transformed America, we present the origin story of the American automobile through 23 cars from Heritage’s permanent collection of antique and classic automobiles. Come along for a ride from the late 1800s to the 1960s and watch the car evolve from a horseless carriage to a streamlined symbol of freedom and independence.

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