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The Vintage Steam Cars

Updated on February 4, 2009

Amedee Bollee Passenger Steam Vehicles

Between the years of 1873 to 1883 Amédée Bollée of Le Mans built passenger vehicles able to carry 6 to 12 people powered by steam. These vehicles were able to travel up to speeds of 38 mph.

The Stanley Steamer

The best selling and best well known steam car was called the Stanley Steamer and these cars were built from 1896 to 1924 by the Stanley Brothers. The Stanley steamer set the speed record for the fastest car at 28.2 seconds per mile and this record remained unbroken until 1911 by a V8 powered motor cycle which reached speeds of up to 136 mph.

America's Best Loved Cars in 1902

Stanley's Gentleman's Speedy Roadster

In the USA the steam cars were far more popular in 1902 than internal combustion engine cars. But there were two main problems with steam cars that eventually led to their demise. The first problem with these cars was that it would take them a long time to warm up before they could be driven. In fact it would take up to 10 – 15 minutes before the engine had enough steam. This most definitely was a draw back and the other point to mention is that until 1914 when the cars were fitted with a condenser they would need frequent refilling. This was especially true of the Gentleman’s Speedy Roadster which could travel at 75mph but needed filling up after every 50 miles.

Foot & Mouth led to the Steam Cars Demise

One of the reasons for the steam cars lack of popularity and its eventual end was because of the foot and mouth breakout in 1914 in the USA as all the horse water troughs from the side of the road had to be removed.

By 1920 after the death of one of the Stanley brothers the steam car industry had been taken over by the gas motored industry.

America's Favourite Car


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