To be offered at Bonhams' The Amelia Island Auction 5 Mar 2020, 12:00 EST, Fernandina Beach Golf Club.
Formerly in the Curt Blake Collection
1908 Stanley Model F 20HP Touring Car
Chassis no. 3899
Engine no. F-862
2-Cylinder Double-Acting Steam Engine
Chain-Driven Rear Differential
4-Wheel Leaf Spring Suspension
2-Wheel Mechanical Brakes
*Recognized as a highly authentic example
*Known ownership back to the 1950s
*In use in recent years
*Eligible for HCCA Tours
STANLEY STEAM CARS
Certainly the best known, if not the most common steamers, came from the Massachusetts workshops of former photographic equipment makers F.E. and F.O. Stanley. The earliest cars were buggy-like, with their boiler and valve controls under the seat, but eventually came to look much like conventional automobiles, having the boiler and motor under a boxy, coffin-like nose and the drive taken to the rear wheels.
When the early 10hp models were found to be limited in their performance if fully laden, Stanley responded with the scaled-up 20hp Model F in 1905. Form 1906 their wheelbase was extended slightly to 100 inches allowing for more coachwork capacity and the boiler enlarged to 23 inches. The model was a great success, remaining in production through to 1908 and being the basis for successive 20hp cars. A five passenger side entrance tonneau as that offered here could run then and today at 50mph, and would have set its owner back a mere $1,500 when new, which was terrific value compared to other cars, be they steam powered or gasoline. It led Stanley to claim that 'there is no American gasoline (sic) stock car, at any price, which is so speedy on road, hill or track'! The Model F actually was the fastest stock touring car in the word, as it won the honor at Ormond Beach alongside the Stanley Land Speed Racer.
THE MOTORCAR OFFERED
Stanley steam cars have always had a devoted following, many sharing the fascination of this bygone era before the world became fully dominated by cars powered by internal combustion engines. The curiosity and love of the concept and indeed the performance that a steam car offers has meant that long after their day enthusiasts would piece together spares and revive, resuscitate or indeed build cars from scratch. In the modern collecting era which has become more educated on purity, originality and authenticity of an automobile, this has made a quest for a truly original steam car become quite a challenge and even more so if one wants one of the larger horsepower examples.
It was exactly that conundrum that the late owner of this car faced when wishing to satiate his desire to add a 20hp Stanley to a well honed stable of the finest and purest pre-war automobiles. Finally in 2016, his attention was drawn to the example offered today, which in his the current idiom 'ticked all the boxes'. In its last ownership it has resided for a decade or more in the well-respected, but now disbanded Wells Auto Museum in Maine.
Stanley number 3899 could trace its ownership back to the 1950s or earlier always being known as a wonderful example of its breed. According to the online published Stanley Register and information kindly provided by Mark Herman, the car was owned by a Webster Knight in 1951, who is understood to have found it in Rhode Island. The car was suspended on the upper floor in an old mill building when Mr. Knight recovered it! In 1986 it joined the collection of Curtis Blake, one of the two car collecting brothers who owned the famed Friendly's chain of restaurants, and it was sympathetically, but extensively restored for him by Calvin Holmes, a pioneer steam car restoration specialist. The top currently on the car was a gift from noted steam car collector Frank Gardner and is said to be from his father's 1906 Model F, purchased new from the Stanley factory. It then went to Brent Campbell, a major collector and historian of the Stanley marque, and later the Gould family who ran Wells.
The car operates as originally outfitted with a single fuel gasoline burner and pilot, which is a notable original feature. The 1908 F is coveted for its updated Oil pump system and the graceful cowl that replace the earlier flat dashed cars of 1905-07. As purchased the Stanley was in running order, it has continued to be maintained in the last 3 years and has been taken to HCCA events.
Gurus of this genre and era, such as Mark Herman and Stu Laidlaw, cite this car being one of the very best of the surviving 20hp cars, high praise indeed!
It offers tour car potential and a truly collectible example of the marque and model, which is rarely found.Footnotes
Estimate- US$ 180,000 - 220,000
£ 140,000 - 170,000
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