Hershey | Lot 218

1901 Mobile Model 9 Dos-à-Dos Steam Runabout

The Merrick Auto Museum Collection

$35,200 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

10 October 2019

Body No.
  • Rare Mobile steam car
  • Stanley Steamer heritage
  • Quality restoration
Addendum: Please note that this vehicle is offered on a bill of sale.

The Mobile steam car traces its lineage directly back to the famous Stanley brothers’ first vehicle in 1897. Once the Stanleys had gone into manufacture in Massachusetts and had taken some 100 orders, John Brisben Walker, publisher of Cosmopolitan magazine, then a mass-market general publication, tried to buy the twin brothers’ business. Walker did not actually have the cash to close the deal, but he was able to enlist a co-investor, Amzi Lorenzo Barber, the “asphalt king” who was becoming rich by paving the nation’s poorly constructed roads.

By July 1899, the cars were being marketed as “Locomobiles,” and soon a new factory was under construction in Tarrytown, New York, near Walker’s magazine operation. Hardly had they bought the business, though, when Walker and Barber began to argue about business matters. Within a short time, Barber bought out Walker’s share, but Walker kept the new building. Barber went on to build Locomobiles in Bridgeport, Connecticut, while Walker called his near-identical steam cars “Mobiles.” By 1904 production had ended, and the plant was sold to Benjamin Briscoe. Mobile steam cars were built in some 25 different models, but only about 600 in all. That made them comparatively scarce then and even more so today.

This 1901 Dos-à-Dos Mobile steamer has the passengers riding back-to-back, as the translation suggests. Acquired by the Merrick Collection in 1999, it came from the Milton Collection and was previously owned by Wade and Mark Accomazzo of Arizona. Dark green with red pinstriping, it has leather fenders, tiller steering, and chain drive. The seats are upholstered in tufted black leather and there is a fringed surrey top. Fully restored, it is an excellent example of a very short-lived American steam car.

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