Stanley Runabout, 1910

Stanley Runabout, 1910

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This is a Stanley Model 60 runabout steam-powered automobile made in 1910. Several companies, notably White, Stanley, and Locomobile (a Stanley spinoff), built steam-powered automobiles in the late1890s and early 1900s. In spite of their drawbacks—they were difficult to start and control and they could explode—sales of steam cars were steady, though modest. During the 1910s, the Stanley brothers continued to tinker with their steam cars, and their company turned out a small number of hand-crafted cars each year until the mid-1920s.
Perhaps more than any other early automobile, "Stanley steamer" conjures up romantic images of popular though obsolescing vehicle technologies at the turn of the twentieth century. Of three competing forms of automotive power—steam, electricity, and internal combustion—only steam was a well-stablished power source for long-distance transportation. As the automobile market grew, it was only natural that inventors, tinkerers, and manufacturers adapted steam power for production cars. The Stanley twins, Freelan and Francis, were pioneers of steam car technology and bridged a gap between technological adaptation and commercial production. Fewer than 1,000 Stanley cars were made each year, but the make developed a lasting reputation for power and speed. Stanley cars were entered in many auto races and held impressive records, including a world speed record set in 1906.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Stanley Motor Carriage Company
Associated Place
United States: Massachusetts
overall: 77 in x 65 in x 139 in; 195.58 cm x 165.1 cm x 353.06 cm
on pallet: 85 in x 75 in x 145 in; 215.9 cm x 190.5 cm x 368.3 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Ruth Dowling Bruun
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
America on the Move
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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