Brooklands will provide the backdrop for the ultimate MPV – built long before the category was even invented – when a 1917 20hp Stanley Mountain Wagon crosses the ‘block’ on Saturday March 9th for Historics’ spring sale.
Having sold their dry plate photographic business to Eastman Kodak, twin brothers Francis E. Stanley and Freelan O. Stanley decided to set up the Stanley Motor Carriage Company in order to manufacture steam powered vehicles.
Proving their project was not just a load of hot air, they produced their first car in 1897, and during 1898 and 1899 produced and sold over 200 cars; more than any other American auto maker at the time.
Production increased in the period up to 1917, with Historics’ 20hp Mountain Wagon one of 500 cars manufactured that year.
This ultimate utility vehicle could accommodate nine occupants and with petrol power unable to cope with both elevation and altitude, this steamer was originally deployed to take holidaymakers from a local railway station up to the nearby mountain lodge.
With the boiler housed under the front seat in early Stanley Steamers, by 1917 it had been moved to the front of the vehicle and a condenser added, but in both cases the boilers were far safer than one might expect, with not one documented case of a Stanley boiler exploding in use.
Steam was generated in a vertical fire-tube boiler with a vaporising kerosene burner underneath. Boilers were fitted with safety valves, and even if these failed, a dangerous overpressure would rupture one of the many joints long before the boiler shell was in danger of bursting.
Equipped with a twin cylinder engine geared directly to the back axle, the Mountain Wagon utilised aluminium coachwork that resembled internal combustion cars of the time but retained many of the steam car features; for example no transmission, clutch, or driveshaft.
Purchased from a private collection in Salem, Massachusetts, USA in 2006, the current vendor commissioned a mechanical overhaul including the installation of an all-important new boiler.
The Stanley 20hp Mountain Wagon is finished in blue with black wings and black seats, and is ready to run, supplied with a V5C registration document and boiler inspection certificate.
A most unusual and very rare car, Historics estimates offers in the region of £58,000 to £68,000 at its spring sale on Saturday 9th March at Brooklands.
For more information call 01753 639170, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or see the website, www.historics.co.uk.