Automobiles of Arizona

16 January 2009

“The Dr. Barbara Mae Atwood Collection”

Previous Next

Lot 153

1922 Stanley Roadster

Sold for $74,250

Model 740E. 20hp double-acting two-cylinder steam engine with direct drive, suspension via front semi-elliptic and rear full-elliptic leaf springs, solid front axle, live rear axle, two-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 130"

Although F.E. and F.O. Stanley were not the world’s largest manufacturers of steam cars, it is their name that has become synonymous with the breed. This fame began with light steam runabouts and was made permanent when their streamlined steam racer broke two miles a minute, setting a land speed record at Ormond Beach in 1906.

The iconic Stanley is the “coffin nose” non-condensing steamer, introduced in 1904 and successively improved over the next decade. By the early ‘teens, however, it had become anachronistic, its thirst for water limiting range to 30-50 miles between fill-ups. Experimentation showed that a condenser, used for many years by rival steam manufacturers, could vastly extend the range by recycling spent steam into water.

A new condensing car, Model 720, was introduced in 1915. The condenser was, in effect, a radiator operating over a different temperature range. Placed in the conventional location, it made the Stanley look very much like an internal combustion car. Further changes accompanied the condenser, including left-hand drive and replacement of the wooden chassis frame by pressed steel. Semi-elliptic front springs were fitted, though full-elliptics were retained in the rear.

Driving range improved dramatically – upwards of 100 miles if the outside temperature was not too warm. The redesigned car was heavier, though, and its powerplant no larger, so the lightning performance of the coffin-nose cars suffered somewhat. The Model 740, introduced in May 1922, addressed this shortcoming with a larger boiler, which increased the heating surface by a third and water capacity by 50 percent. Additional features of the 740 included a sturdier rear axle and larger brakes.

Despite being restored more than 25 years ago, this Stanley roadster still presents a very nice appearance. Painted in the correct Stanley color of Brewster Green with Apple Green striping, it has black fenders and a black canvas top, the latter in very good condition. The body is straight and the paint high quality with a good shine. The only significant flaws are a kink in the right front fender, a chip on the left side of the hood and a small ding in the right door.

The black leather seat is in fine condition, and under a black carpet are correct gray linoleum Stanley floorboards trimmed with aluminum. The wood dashboard holds the requisite steam instruments, and the odometer currently reads 21,436 miles.

The undercarriage is generally clean and painted black, though without extensive preparation. The car shows evidence of considerable use, but it has been maintained to a high standard. However, it appears not to have been fired up for quite some time – although there are no visible indications that it will not do so. Nonetheless, a recommissioning by a steam engineer will be required before it can be steamed up for the road. RM Auctions can recommend qualified individuals if needed.

Purchased by Dr. Atwood in 1985 at an Owls Head Transportation Museum auction in Maine, it was formerly owned by Richard Riley of Hookset, New Hampshire. Other previous owners are J.H. Babcock and James Weidenhammer of Poughkeepsie, New York, the latter a long-time steam car collector.

The steam car hobby has flourished in recent years, though entry to the community has been inhibited by availability of cars. This is an excellent opportunity to acquire a well-restored example that should be ready for touring after a general servicing.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more