The Stanley Motor Carriage Company was an American manufacturer of steam-powered automobiles. That’s all they made in its brief history. The company was founded in 1898 and incorporated in 1901. The cars made by the company were called Stanley Steamers. They were produced from 1896 to 1924.
Bankrolling the Company
The company was founded by twin brothers Francis Edgar Stanley (1849–1918) and Freelan Oscar Stanley (1849–1940). The brothers were born in Kingfield, Maine, and were self-taught engineers. They began their careers in the photographic industry, and in 1886 they founded the Stanley Dry Plate Company. The company was a success, and in 1898 the brothers sold it to Eastman Kodak for $2 million.
With the proceeds from the sale of their company, the Stanley brothers turned their attention to the automobile industry. They had been interested in automobiles since the early 1890s, and in 1896 they built their first car.
Fast Cars and Quick Success
The car was a steam-powered vehicle, and it was a success. In 1898, the brothers founded the Stanley Motor Carriage Company to produce and sell their cars. The Stanley Steamers were reliable, fast, and comfortable. In 1906, a Stanley Steamer set a new land speed record of 127 mph. The company’s cars were also popular with women, who appreciated the fact that they were easy to start and drive.
The Stanley brothers chose steam power over the internal combustion engine for a number of reasons.
Steam engines were more reliable. Steam-powered vehicles were more established in the late 1800s than internal combustion. In the early days of the automobile, internal combustion engines were often unreliable and prone to breakdowns. Steam engines, on the other hand, were much more reliable. They were also easier to start, which was a major advantage in the days before electric starters.
Steam engines were quieter. Internal combustion engines were much louder than steam engines. This was a major advantage for Stanley Steamers, which were often used for touring and pleasure driving. Also, the myth that their steam boilers were liable to explode is false.
However, the Stanley brothers also faced some challenges with steam power.
Steam engines took longer to warm up. This meant that Stanley Steamers were not as practical for short trips.
Stanley Steamers used kerosene to create their steam. The kerosene was burned in a firebox below the boiler, which heated water and created steam. The steam was then directed to the engine, which used it to power the car.
It took about 20 minutes for a Stanley Steamer to be ready to travel from a cold start. This was because the boiler had to be heated up before it could produce steam. Once the boiler was heated, the car could be driven normally.
Steam engines were heavier than internal combustion engines. This made Stanley Steamers less fuel-efficient and more difficult to handle. Having to replace both water and kerosene put steam cars at a disadvantage compared to gasoline cars.
The Stanley Motor Carriage Company was the largest producer of steam-powered cars in the world. At its peak, the company was producing over 2,000 cars per year. However, the company’s success was short-lived. In the early 1920s, the internal combustion engine began to replace the steam engine as the power source for automobiles. The Stanley Motor Carriage Company was unable to compete with the new technology, and it closed its doors in 1924.
After the company closed, the assets were sold to Prescott Warren, a Chicago businessman. Warren attempted to revive the company, but was unsuccessful.
- Year Started: 1896
- Year Ended: 1924
- Origin Of Name: Name of Founders / Descriptive
- Location Sales: United States
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Francis Edgar Stanley and Freelan Oscar Stanley
- Owner While In Use: Francis Edgar Stanley and Freelan Oscar Stanley
- Owner Successor: Prescott Warren
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Lexus
- Naics Code: 336110
- Location Headquarters: Newton, Massachusetts USA