1906 Stevens-Duryea Model U

1906 Stevens-Duryea Model U Five-Passenger Touring

The Duryea name is as important as any in the history of the American automobile. The first American gasoline automobile rolled out of their small workshop in Springfield Massachusetts. Not just tinkerers, the brothers Duryea formed the Duryea Motor Wagon Company and began production of their ground-breaking automobile soon after. The brothers fell out before the close of the century and went off in their own direction. Frank, arguably the superior engineer, wisely teamed with the Stevens Arms Company. The superb capabilities the Steven company possessed allowed Frank's designs to quickly take form.

First generation Stevens-Duryea cars were produced between 1901 and 1906. Built on a 69-inch wheelbase, they were powered by a horizontally opposed two-cylinder engine originally rated at five horsepower. The cars featured an unusual mechanism that permitted the driver to start the engine while seated instead of by direct cranking. Steering was by tiller. After 1903, a three-speed sliding gear transmission was used and the 1904 model, with its engine now rated at seven horsepower, boasted a new three-point engine mounting.

In 1905, Stevens-Duryea produced its first four-cylinder; and a huge six-cylinder model, priced at $5,000, followed in 1906. That same year, Stevens-Duryea became a separate company from J. Stevens. In 1907 to bridge the gap between the 20hp Model R Touring and massive 50hp model S, Stevens-Duryea brought out the 35 hp 6-cylinder Model U.

During the years that followed, Stevens-Duryea cars became increasingly impressive and expensive. Then, in 1915, the Westinghouse Corp. bought the company and used the factory to produce war material. After the Armistice, a group of former executives bought Stevens-Duryea and resumed car production. The new six-cylinder models that they offered were priced as high as $9,500...right up there with Pierce-Arrow's most expensive cars. The company would be sold again at least twice before the final Stevens-Duryea was built in 1927.

Descriptions & pictures by bonhams

Production Start 1906
Country of origin USA