Lot 343

1911 Stanley Model 70 Touring

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$156,750 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

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language
Chassis No.
6164
Documents
US Title
  • Iconic “coffin-nose” non-condensing Stanley
  • Car of Record in the Stanley Register, with lengthy known provenance
  • Favorite of former owner and noted steam enthusiast James Melton
  • Previously owned by collector and former Arkansas governor Winthrop Rockefeller
  • Offered out of over 50 years of dedicated long-term ownership

The renowned Stanley brothers had established a sporting legacy by 1910, beginning with the dramatic 126.6-mph world land speed record set at Ormond Beach, Florida, four years earlier. In that same vein followed sports model Stanleys for public sale: The Model H Gentleman’s Speedy Roadster in 1906, Model K Semi-Racer in 1907, and Model R Roadster in 1909.

The 1910 catalog, then, was somewhat of a surprise. Gone were those sporty models, the principal offering being roadsters and touring cars in 10- and 20-horsepower configurations. Most popular were the 10-horsepower cars, because of their lower cost, but for those with deeper pockets the 20-horsepower models offered more passenger comfort as well as much better performance. Production of the Model 70 Touring car, built from March 1910 to February 1912, reached 259 cars, second only to the 10-horsepower Model 60 tourer in that period.

The car offered here is distinguished by its listing among “Cars of Record” on the Stanley Register, a listing of all known surviving Stanley cars. Cars of Record are those whose provenance has been known and documented for many years. Some have been in the care of one family for generations; others have had many owners, many of them steam car stalwarts or celebrities.

This car was a favorite of “America’s Favorite Tenor,” James Melton, who had an extensive collection of vintage cars. He created a museum for them in Connecticut, where he lived, later moving them to Florida. He acquired this car around 1940, and drove it extensively during World War II, in part because it used kerosene, not gasoline, as fuel. In his 1954 memoir Bright Wheels Rolling, written with co-author Ken Purdy, Melton summed up his enthusiasm: “…steam cars. I love ’em. I’m a steam maniac…”. When Melton finally closed his museum, he sold the collection, including this car, to Winthrop Rockefeller, who moved it to Petit Jean Mountain, Arkansas.

The car was acquired by a Midwestern collector in 1971, and subsequently completely restored. In the decades of ownership that followed it has traveled some 80,000 miles, providing, in his words, “the greatest motoring pleasure of my life.” In the 1990s it was outfitted with hydraulic brakes and wheel bearings were replaced with sealed, modern equipment for safe and reliable touring.

Now offered out of over 50 years of long-term ownership, this rare and highly appealing Stanley Model 70 Touring will no doubt delight its next caretaker—just as it has the dedicated enthusiasts in its past.