1903 Stevens-Duryea Model L Runabout

1903 Stevens-Duryea Model L Runabout

J. Frank Duryea made a pioneering journey in a car built with his brother Charles, in Springfield, Massachusetts. In September 1893, the two formed the Duryea Motor Wagon Company and built 13 near-identical cars. J. Frank Duryea was come be recognized as the father of the American automobile industry.

By 1898, the brothers had gone their separate way, and in 1900 Frank designed another automobile which he called the Hampden, after a nearby town. In 1901, Duryea's prototype Hampden was noticed by J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company of nearby Chicopee Falls. The name of the car was changed to Stevens-Duryea, and production began near the close of 1901.

The Stevens-Duryea was a two-cylinder, 7 horsepower runabout that had tiller steering and a three-speed sliding gear transmission with reverse. Priced at $1,250, it was twice the price of a Curved Dash Oldsmobile. In 1905, the Stevens-Duryea became even more expensive and moved to four-cylinder engines. A 50-horsepower six-cylinder engine was introduced the following year. By 1910, a Model Y limousine sold for $5,000 which was a sizeable fortune in that era.

Racing was important for most automobile manufacturers, as it helped improve the breed and showcase their product. From 1902 to 1904, Stevens-Duryea Model L cars set six records in competitive events, including at races in Providence, Rhode Island, and Ormond Beach, Florida, a 500-mile New York to Boston trek, and hill climbs at Eagle Rock Hill in New Jersey, Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, and New Hampshire's Mount Washington.

The Stevens-Duryea Company built around 100 cars a year with most being limousine and large touring cars. The company continued to build cars until 1927, even though the company had been purchased in the early 1920s by a syndicate headed by Ray M. Owen of Owen Magnetic.

This particular example is a Stevens-Duryea Model L Runabout. It is powered by an L-head horizontally opposed two-cylinder engine which displaces 159.5 cubic-inches and produces 7 horsepower. It has a three-speed manual transmission and two-wheel mechanical drum brakes. The wheelbase measures 69 inches.

This car spent many years, and later in storage, on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. It was first owned by Dr. Arthur B. Coffin of New Dorchester, Massachusetts. It was allocated Massachusetts Automobile Register number 2747 on 22 September 1903. The car was used by Dr. Coffin in his practice until June of 1910. It was then put away, using ropes and hoisting it to the rafters in his barn.

A Cambridge mechanic purchased it on October 25th of 1941, who then used it as an advertisement for his business. An individual from Boston became the car's next owner, who later put it into storage. Mr. and Mrs. George E. Felton, of Boston, acquired it in 1948 and had it restored. The next owner was the Speedway Museum.

In 2012, the car was de-accessioned by the Museum.

Descriptions & pictures by conceptcarz & bonhams & rmsothebys & other

Production Start 1903
Country of origin USA