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Competing Technologies

1908 Stanley Model EX, 2012 Photo

Photo of 1908 Stanley Model EX beside Auburn Heights Mansion, 2012. (Fred Rosenberg)

1908 Stanley Model EX
A “Best Value”

The Stanleys considered their 1908 Model EX to be the “best value we have ever offered the public,” stating that “there is, we believe, no gasoline car in the world listing at less than $2,500 which can beat it on the road; and it has the same famous ability to dash up a hill which is common to all Stanley cars.” The 1907 and 1908 Model EXs were the best and second-best selling models, respectively, in Stanley Motor Carriage Company history at the time. 

As far as accessories, or sundries as they were termed in the catalog, the Model EX came with oil lamps, gauge lamp and horn. Other accessories available for purchase included tops, tire chains, additional lamps, odometers and speedometers. This car’s sundries include acetylene-powered headlights and a toolbox. 

 

2014 Photograph of 1914 Ford Model T outside carriage house of the Marshall Steam Museum.

1914 Ford Model T outside of Marshall Steam Museum carriage house shop. Photo taken 2014.

1914 Ford Model T
A Car for the Masses

The earliest automobile owners were often wealthy due to the high purchase price of an auto as well as the cost to maintain and operate it. Many owners employed a chauffeur to drive and maintain the vehicle.  

As Henry Ford entered the auto manufacturing business, he set his sights on the “working man” as his target market. His first attempt to create a car for the masses resulted in the Model T, introduced in 1908. By using new materials and interchangeable parts, he designed a car that was easy to drive and repair — but it still remained fairly expensive. That year the Ford Model T cost $850, the same as the Stanley Model EX.  

Ford’s introduction of the assembly line in 1914 changed the game entirely, cutting the time to build a single Model T from 12 hours to 90 minutes and allowing Ford to build hundreds of thousands of cars while other companies rarely exceeded 1,000. 

 

Early Model T assembly, Highland Park, Mich., ca. 1914

Early Model T assembly, Highland Park, Mich., ca. 1914. (Ford Motor Company)

Photo in front of Auburn Heights Mansion, 1909 White Model O, 2013 photograph

1909 White Model O in front of the Auburn Heights Mansion. Automobile is on loan to the museum. Photo taken 2013.

1909 White Model O
Steam versus Steam

More than 100 steam car manufacturers competed to supply a growing market in the United States during the early days of the automobile industry; yet none of them make cars today. The better known makers included Stanley, Toledo, Locomobile and White. Steamers had the advantages of smooth operation, consistent power and quick acceleration.  

To meet consumer demand, the White Sewing Machine Company of Cleveland, Ohio, which produced White steamers beginning in 1901, introduced innovative designs and options much sooner than the Stanley Motor Carriage Co. As early as 1902/3, White steam cars featured a condenser, allowing the vehicle to reuse the water in the boiler. White steamers also adopted the “flash” boiler, which was less bulky and could produce usable steam faster from cold. 

More Whites were sold than Stanleys during the 10 years when both were produced, yet Stanleys remain the most well-known of surviving steam automobiles.

 

White Sewing Machine Company advertisement for a White Steam Tonneau, 1903

White Sewing Machine Company advertisement for a White Steam Tonneau, 1903. (www.periodpaper.com)

1916 Rauch & Lang Electric Car by Auburn Heights Mansion, photo 2006

Photo of 1916 Rauch & Lang Electric Car beside Auburn Heights Mansion in 2006. (Fred Rosenberg)

1916 Rauch and Lang Electric Brougham
Space Age Technology 1900

In 1881, French inventor Gustave Trouvé combined electricity with motive power when he demonstrated a battery-powered tricycle at the International Exposition of Electricity in Paris. Advantages of the electric car included quiet operation, ease of starting and a smooth ride. It was also free of the odors common with steam or internal combustion vehicles. However, most electric cars could only travel 30–40 miles before needing to recharge, typically an overnight process, and their top speed was limited compared to other types of cars. In addition, access to electricity was scarce and uncommon outside of cities. The high price, often $1,200 to $3,000, also prevented electric cars from outpacing the competitors.  

The Rauch & Lang Carriage Company emerged from a partnership between Charles Rauch, a skilled and successful carriage maker, and Cleveland bookkeeper Charles E. J. Lang. The company prospered in the early 1900s, producing 500 vehicles in 1908, with price tags as high as $3,500.

 

Rauch and Lang advertisement, early 1900s

Rauch and Lang advertisement, early 1900s. (Marshall Steam Museum Archives)