6-7 October 2011

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Lot 222

1913 Stevens-Duryea Model C 5-Passenger Touring

  • Chassis no. 564

$200,000 - $300,000

44.6 hp, 460 cu. in. L-head inline six-cylinder engine with dual ignition, three-speed manual transmission, semi-elliptic front and three-quarter-elliptic rear leaf-spring suspension, and two-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 131"

- From an important private collection; one of as few as 10 remaining

- Show-quality restoration completed in 2008

- Well maintained with recent mechanical work

J. Frank Duryea is rightfully recognized as the father of the American automobile industry. After making a pioneer journey in a car built with his brother Charles in Springfield, Massachusetts in September 1893, the two formed the Duryea Motor Wagon Company and turned out thirteen near-identical cars. By 1898, however, the brothers had split, and in 1900, Frank designed another automobile he called the Hampden, after a nearby town. The following year, Duryea’s prototype Hampden came to the notice of the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company of nearby Chicopee Falls. The name of the car was changed to Stevens-Duryea, and production began toward the end of 1901.

A light two-cylinder, five horsepower runabout, the Stevens-Duryea featured a three-speed sliding gear transmission and wire wheels. A four-cylinder model arrived in 1905 and a six the following year. Stevens-Duryea automobiles were always quality cars with prices to match. Initial models were priced from $1,200 at a time when popular runabouts sold for half that amount. The 1905 Model R four-cylinder touring listed for $2,500, and the six-cylinder Model S of 1906 at double that figure was right up in Packard territory.

The late automotive historian Beverly Rae Kimes described the Stevens-Duryea approach as “prestigious conservatism,” echoed by the company’s motto, “There is No Better Motor Car.” Production hovered at around 100 cars a year for much of the company’s history, with most of them being large touring and limousine models. Though purchased in the early 1920s by a syndicate headed by Ray M. Owen of Owen Magnetic, the company continued to build the same cars in tiny quantities as orders were received. When orders ceased around 1927, so too did the Stevens-Duryea marque.

The Stevens-Duryea product line was consolidated for 1913 and 1914 along the Model C, which offered a six-cylinder engine with nearly 45 hp and two available wheelbase lengths measuring 131 and 138 inches respectively. The 131-inch chassis was the basis for six different bodies including Touring, Roadster, Coupelet, Convertible Phaeton, Demi-Berline, Limousine, and Berline styles. The 138-inch Model C chassis was reserved exclusively for 7-Passenger Touring, Convertible Phaeton, Limousine, and Berline models.

Despite staunch conservatism and lofty pricing, Stevens-Duryea nonetheless managed to cultivate an elite clientele, including none other than George Vanderbilt, whose long-wheelbase Model C 7-Passenger Touring is the only automobile purchased by Mr. Vanderbilt to remain within his estate’s artifact collection. Very few Model Cs remain today, with estimates numbering as low as 10.

Following the completion of a restoration in 2008, this Model C has remained in show quality condition. Light grey pinstriping and black accents complement the finish, and the black canvas top has a grey cloth liner and a glass rear window. A set of side curtains is stored within a rear-mounted trunk. The excellent brightwork is correctly nickel plated. Headlamps bear the Stevens-Duryea script, as does the accessory Boyce MotoMeter.

The seats are upholstered in black diamond-tufted leather and are virtually flawless. The five-spoke wood-rim steering wheel is beautifully restored, and there is a “Triumph” fuel gauge located between the driver and passenger, as well as a Warner Autometer, which contains a speedometer, odometer, and a trip odometer. Other instrumentation includes a Westinghouse voltmeter, a pressure gauge for the Kellogg air-starting system and a Boston Clock Company timepiece. The engine is likewise impressive and show-quality in presentation, and an electrical starting system has been fitted as well.

Since acquiring the car in July 2010, the current owners have treated the car to careful mechanical attention including the fabrication and installation of a new rear axle and a new driveshaft. In addition, the carburetor was gone through, all-new tire inner tubes were installed, the engine dampener was rebuilt with new clutch material, the transmission was disassembled and cleaned, the bushings were polished, and it was filled with correct lubricants.

Despite being shown at the July 2010 Eyes On Design event in Michigan, the Model C was in fact shown competitively for the first time at the July 2011 Concours d’Elegance of America. Handsomely restored and well maintained, this exceedingly rare Stevens-Duryea Model C is likely the best example available today.

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


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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


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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

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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

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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


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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

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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


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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


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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


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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


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

Michael Squire


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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