Lot 173

Hershey 2021

1909 Stanley Model Z Mountain Wagon


$132,000 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania



Chassis No.
US Title
  • Iconic steam-powered Mountain Wagon
  • Daryl Kendall restoration
  • AACA Junior, Senior, and Preservation award-winner
  • Great American Race veteran

The Stanley Mountain Wagon was born of F.O. Stanley’s sabbatical to Colorado following his affliction with tuberculosis in 1881. By 1903, he had taken up residence in Estes Park, the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, to take advantage of the dry air. He would spend much of the rest of his life there.

Estes Park was, then as now, a tourist destination with hotels and resorts. By 1907, the Loveland-Estes Park Transportation Company began operating a fleet of Model F Stanley steamers from the railhead at Loveland. The Model F, however, carried only five passengers. F.O., a stickler for efficiency, conceived the idea of a larger vehicle, propelled by a 30-horsepower engine similar to that of the 1906 Stanley speed record car at Ormond Beach.

In the fall of 1907, F.O. returned to Massachusetts and saw to the construction of the first Model Z Mountain Wagon, an open, nine-passenger vehicle on a long, 118-inch wheelbase. The rear axle was given lower, 1.75:1 gears to cope with the steep mountain inclines. Mountain Wagons soon became popular at other mountain resorts, including in New England. A 12-passenger Model 86 appeared in 1911, and production continued through 1917.

According to Stanley historians, no nine-passenger Mountain Wagons are known to have survived intact, a commentary on the conditions under which they worked. A number have been re-constructed over the years, so popular is the iconic meme of a nearly silent tour bus with passengers riding high in an open body. This one was built by the late Carl Amsley of Greencastle, Pennsylvania, in time to be shown at Hershey in 1987. Amsley, a legend in the steam hobby, was a skilled restorer and constructor, as adept at high quality restorations of known cars as he was in building “new” old Stanleys from remnants of barn-finds and exhumations from the wild. These high-quality productions undoubtedly afforded more enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the steam hobby than would otherwise have been possible.

Understood to be the only steam car entered in the Great American Race, it completed the Disneyland to Tallahassee course in 1987. One year later, with sponsorship from Culligan Water, it completed the GAR from Disneyland to Boston.

A new owner had Stanley specialist Darryl Kendall restore it in the 1990s. Shown at Hershey in 2001, it received a National First AACA award, medallion W14539. It received Senior certification the following year and has repeated Preservation awards. It also participated in the Stanley Land Speed Record centenary celebration at Ormond Beach, Florida, in 2006. With unobtrusively installed hydraulic brakes on the rear wheels, for greater safety, and a new boiler installed by Kendall in 2009, it is worthy of consideration for show or cross-country touring.