Seal Cove Auto Museum, Antique Autos and Motorcycles from the Brass Era, Mount Desert Island, Maine
1908 Stanley Steamer

The street-version of the 1906 Stanley land-speed record car

  • Manufacturer: Stanley Motor Carriage Company, Newton, Massachusetts
  • Model: K Semi-Racer
  • Body Style: Two-passenger
  • Cost new: $1,800
  • Horsepower: 30
  • Transmission: 66:54 gearing
  • Wheelbase: 108”
  • Tread: 54”
  • Boiler: 26/16 boiler diameter/height 4.5 x 6.5 bore & stroke
  • Fuel Capacity: 13 gallon
  • Water Capacity: 26 gallon

Friday, January 26, 1906, at Ormond Beach, Florida, a rocket-shaped, canoe-bodied Stanley broke the two-miles-in-one-minute barrier in the morning at 121.6 mph. In the one-mile trials that followed, the car did the mile in 28 1/5 seconds, or 127.66 mph. That record so devastated the gas-car world that they boycotted the races the following year, and effectively banned Stanleys from ever competing again at Ormond-Daytona.

The Rocket held the record as “The Fastest Car in the World’ from 1906 to 1910, when Barney Oldfiled broke the record in a Mercedes by barely four mph. Speed trials were held on the sands of Ormaond and Daytona Beach, Florida, from 1903 to 1911, when the Brickyard at Indianapolis took away the spot light of racing – until the origins of NASCAR started up again in Daytona.

The Stanley Model K Semi-Racer is one of three remaining of the 25 built by Stanley from 1906-1908. While the other two have been restored, this one is in original condition. It is thus of exceptional value, quite likely the most valuable Stanley in the world. Plans to preserve this car include full reassembly while preserving what makes it so original.

Model Ks cruise at today’s top highway speeds, and have been timed at 90 mph uphill as recently as the 1990s re-enactment of the Dead Horse Hill Climb races in Worcester, Massachusetts.