Neither F.E. nor F.O. Stanley had any training in engineering, so they perfected their steam car design through trial and error and continual experimentation. In November of 1898, the brothers took their steam-powered horseless carriage to the Charles River Park velodrome in Massachusetts. The car competed in contests of both speed and endurance, showing well in both. After receiving numerous orders and inquiries, the brothers decided to turn their hobby into a business.

Stanley Twins at Charles River Park

The Stanley twins demonstrate their new steam runabout at Charels River Park, Cambridge in November of 1898. (The Stanley Museum Archives)

In 1899 F.O. and F.E. sold their steam car company to John Brisben Walker and A.L. Barber, who renamed it Locomobile. The sale included a stipulation that the Stanley brothers would not make steam cars for one year. The deal also included the Stanley factory, cars, “materials in the process of manufacture” and all the patents and applications. Both F.E. and F.O. remained involved with Locomobile as managers for the company. By late 1899, however, Barber and Walker split to form two separate companies. Barber remained in control of the Locomobile factory while Walker created the Mobile Company of America.

1899 Locomobile advertisement

1901 Locomobile advertisement from an unknown magazine. (The Marshall Steam Museum)

Following the end of the agreement barring them from manufacturing cars, the Stanley twins re-entered the automobile business in 1902, launching the Stanley Motor Carriage Co. with the motto “Power correctly generated, correctly controlled, and correctly applied to the rear axle.” Based in Watertown, Massachusetts, the brothers introduced a new automobile design for their 1903 catalog. Improvements included replacement of the chain drive with direct drive and mounting of the engine directly to the rear axle.

1903 Stanley Type B Runabout

1903 Stanley Motor Carriage Co. sales catalog image of the Stanley Type-B Runabout. (Marshall Steam Museum Archives)