The Stanley Steamer

The History of the Stanley Steamer

There is a certain romance and nostalgia for a simpler time associated with older model cars. Steam powered motor cars were some of the earliest cars ever produced, and yet they retain a certain beauty in both their design and the way the steam engine powered the car. Designed by the Stanley brothers, the Stanley Steamer motor car was one of these early popular steam cars.

Steam has been used as a source of energy for more than one hundred years before the commonly known internal combustion engines were put into use. Steam powered locomotive trains across the United States, revolutionizing travel for the early Americans. Steam carriages, or motor cars, came into use in the 1890s, and for awhile enjoyed more popularity than the gas engines that were on the road at the same time.

Need insurance for your car? short of brass? You may want to buy cheap car insurance from

Throughout the 1900s, multiple car companies offered steam cars for sale. These motor cars came with many different special features and the buyer had multiple options for add-ons to choose from. One thing steam motor cars all had in common was the quiet steam engine, the ease of use and maintenance and the sense of safety they provided.

Eventually two twin brothers turned the steam motor car into a successful business with the Stanley Steamer Motor Carriage. Their cars were fashioned with light bodies made of wood and had a very stylish and comfortable design for the day. People were taken with the simple engine construction that used minimal moving parts and the driver only needed to monitor water levels occasionally. It was powered by a gasoline burner and boiler that created steam pressure, and although this may sound a bit dangerous, there was never a single case of explosion in the history of the Stanley Steamer.

The Stanley brothers managed to produce 86 different models, each with its own variations of style and design. A popular Stanley model called the Locomobile was the top selling car until 1904. While the Stanley Steamer was enjoying its heyday, the internal combustion engine designs were being improved greatly and as a result, the gas powered car took over the steam car in sales. The motor car owner no longer needed to use a crank to start the engine with a gasoline powered car so it was much easier to use as well. The new internal combustion engines were also capable of higher speeds than the Stanley Steamer motor car.

In addition, fuel efficiency and the cheaper cost to run and maintain the gas powered car became major selling points, so that by around 1917, sales had slowed and the Stanley brothers sold their company. The Stanley Steamer remains a popular steam car to collectors, and is nicknamed The Flying Teapot.

Copyright Potterton Steam Engine Society 2010