New England Motor Sports Museum


Stanley Steamer at the museum
Stanley Steamer at the museum


            The Stanley Steamer was the most successful steam powered car in history. A New England story epic achievement, the Stanley was the product of identical twin brothers, F.O. and F.E. Stanley of Kingfield, Maine.

A car they built in their Watertown, Massachusetts factory was driven in 1906 to the world speed record on the sands of Ormond Beach by Newton, MA driver Fred Marriott. Averaging 127 MPH, the record stood for four years. Called “The Rocket,” it was correctly called the fastest car in the world. It was the only New England-built car to ever hold that distinction.

            Stanley Steamers also won many hill climb events in New England and beyond.

In 1899, F.O. drove his Stanley to become the first car to ever make it to the top of Mt. Washington.

            In late July, Limerick, Maine’s Coburn Benson (pictured) graciously loaned his car to the museum. The car is only lacking a boiler which will be installed while it is in the museum. Benson raced the car up Dead Horse Hill in Worcester, MA, finishing second in 1997. Stanley Steamers won seven Dead Horse competitions in the early 1900s.

            The Stanleys were successful in many indeavors. F.E. invented a method of creating dry plate negatives which he sold to Kodak in 1904, a transaction that made him fabulously wealthy. F.O. made violins. F.E. developed and patented the first airbrush. F.O. built a hydro electric plant in order to bring electricity to the hotel he built in Colorado. F.E. drew museum-quality portraits with crayons.

            It’s believed only three cars like this one were built by the Stanleys. They were created to compete in Long Island’s Vanderbilt Cup race and raced on the sands of Ormond and Old Orchard Beach.