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End of an Era

1918 Stanley Touring Model 735 beside Marshall Steam Museum carriage house shop, 2009.

1918 Stanley Touring Model 735 beside Marshall Steam Museum carriage house shop, 2009. (Marshall Steam Museum Archives)

1918 Stanley Touring Model 735
A Mini-Revival

The last car designed by the Stanley twins, the Model 735, was produced from 1918 through 1922. With an estimated 1,100 built, this model was one of the most successful of the late Stanley models, constituting more than 10 percent of the company’s total output.

Using the same 20-horsepower power plant that remained fundamentally unchanged from 1915 through 1924, this car featured new electric systems, including an electric heater to make lighting the pilot easier. This was a far cry from the days of heating up the burner tubes with a handheld blowtorch only a few years earlier.

 

Piping diagram for 1918 Stanley Touring Model 735.

Piping diagram for 1918 Stanley Touring Model 735. 

1922 Stanley Touring Model 740 beside the Marshall Steam Museum, 2009

1922 Stanley Touring Model 740 beside the Marshall Steam Museum, 2009. (Marshall Steam Museum Archives)

1922 Stanley Touring Model 740
A Steamer not of the Stanleys

In 1922, the Stanley Motor Carriage Company was one of the few remaining steam car manufacturers, but the company’s production remained steady, with more than 450 cars produced that year. The Model 740 featured improvements that included a taller boiler (18 inches instead of 14), which increased the water capacity by 50 percent.  

The condenser was larger as well, increasing condenser capacity by 10 percent. The car also rested closer to the ground, with smaller diameter wheels than previous designs. Unfortunately these improvements resulted in a bulkier car without an increase in power. Weighing more than 4,000 pounds, the Model 740 used the same power plant as the 2,000-pound cars from more than a decade earlier.

 

Stanley Seven-Passenger Touring Car, 1922 Stanley Motor Carriage Co. catalog

Stanley Seven-Passenger Touring Car, 1922 Stanley Motor Carriage Co. catalog. (Marshall Steam Museum Archives)

F.E.’s son, Raymond, in his 1911 Stanley “Special.”

F.E.’s son, Raymond, in his 1911 Stanley “Special.” Although Ray grew up in the factory and participated in the business (assisting with the initial design of the condensing Stanleys), he had no interest in taking over the company. When asked by his father, he declared, “There is no future in steam.” (Stanley Museum Archives)

Retiring from Steam

By the 1910s, the Stanley twins’ interest in the auto industry began to wane. F.O. spent more time in Colorado, where he opened the Stanley Hotel and focused on enlivening the social and business life of the town of Estes Park. 

F.E. continued to manage the Stanley company’s Watertown factory, frequently consulting with his brother; however his interests changed, and he threw himself into other projects. He officially retired from the company in 1917, after which it was sold to relatives and reincorporated in Delaware. In July 1918, F.E. suffered a fatal car crash in his Stanley Model 735.

Despite attempts to modernize in the absence of the twins who had defined the business, the Stanley Motor Carriage Company suffered lagging sales by the 1920s. In 1924, the recently incorporated Steam Vehicle Corporation of America took over the Stanley production line in Newton, Massachusetts, and made a few dozen Stanley vehicles. However, the company proved unsustainable and filed for bankruptcy in 1926. On September 14 of that year, the company’s assets were sold at auction.