1901 Locomobile Style 2 Steam Runabout
deceased estate; restored in 1996/97 and regularly used since; potentially
London- Brighton eligible; bespoke trailer included
Owners of a dry plate photographic business in Newton,
Massachusetts, the Stanley twins, FE and FO, produced their first steam car in
1897. Capable of 27mph it proved a great success and over 200 were sold in the
first year of production. Among the customers was Al Barber who was so impressed
with this new-fangled machine that he bought the manufacturing rights and from
1899 it was sold as the Locomobile, the Stanley twins proceeding to evolve an
entirely new design which appeared in 1902.
Made in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Locomobile ‘steam
runabout’ had a welded bicycle-type frame, a carriage body, a simple
twin-cylinder engine and a petrol-fired 14in steam boiler under the driver’s
seat which ran at 150psi. Producing 6hp it had direct chain-drive to the rear
axle and could cruise happily at 15mph – 20mph with tiller steering.
Several versions were offered but the most popular model
was the Style 2, an open two-seater which had a 5-gallon petrol tank and a
21-gallon boiler. At $600 - $900 depending on body style, the Locomobile sold
like hot cakes, remaining in production until 1903 when production switched to
petrol car manufacture. Exact production numbers are hard to come by, but it
seems that around 5,000 were sold in total.
It proved particularly popular in the UK where over 400
were sold by local agent WM Letts, sales helped along when a Locomobile Style 2
successfully completed the Land’s End to John O’Groats run in 1901, doing 15
miles to a gallon of petrol and one mile to a gallon of water.
Dating from mid-1901, this Style 2 comes with no early
history but was completely rebuilt in 1996/97, as documented in photos on file.
Boiler certificates and other documents on file show that it was in regular use
from 1998 until 2003, during which time it was owned by a Mr J Tilley of
Leicestershire. Its first outing appears to have been on the Baie de Somme Steam
Festival in France in April 1998 where it covered a fair few miles and performed
In 2003 ownership transferred to a Mr A Hamlin of Somerset
who also seems to have used it regularly, with boiler certificates from 2004,
2005, 2006 and 2007. Our vendor acquired the car in 2007 to join a collection of
interesting cars but we are told by the family that it was only driven a couple
of times early on during his ownership and has not been driven for the last 10
years at least.
On offer here from a deceased estate, it appears to be in
good order throughout but will need a new boiler certificate and a thorough
check-over before steaming forth once more. It comes with its own bespoke
trailer to make transport easy and enable loading/unloading by a single person.
Photographs of both the trailer and the car itself in action can be viewed on
The history file contains a wealth of useful information
about steam car regulations/codes of practice in general and about the
Locomobile in particular, including a 55-page book on the Locomobile model range
produced by the Stanley Museum of Maine in America. There are also technical
drawings of the boiler and a handy guide to driving and maintaining the vehicle.
There are also documents from The Steam Car Club of Great Britain and from The
Science Museum in London confirming the authenticity of this particular car.
Potentially eligible for the London – Brighton run, this
Locomobile is an extremely rare and interesting machine. It could be a long time
before you see another for sale.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or