Category Archives: Steam Powered

The Larz Anderson Collection Automobiles, 1901 Winton Heavy Racer, 1903 Gardner-Serpollet

This is the second pair of cars from the Larz Anderson Auto Museum that have survived which we are featuring. The 1901 Winton Heavy Racer is one of the two most important cars in the collection. It is one of only four of this Winton model racing car that were produced, with a large 40 h.p. horizontally opposed engine equipped with Alexander Winton’s unusual pneumatic carburetor controls and valve actuating mechanism.

Anderson bought the car to try his hand at racing and used it to compete in the first race meeting of the Massachusetts Auto Club in 1901. He never had much luck with this car in race meets, as it would usually stop running during the race and fail to finish. A bit later on Anderson had the rear entrance tonneau seen above built for car. He is known to have enjoyed racing meets and with this tonneau he would back the car up to the track fence and have a seat close to the action.

The 1903 Gardner-Serpollet the Anderson’s purchased, was the most advanced steam car available at the time. It was designed and produced by a collaboration of well know French automotive steam engineer Leon Serpollet and a American business man Frank Gardner. Serpollet was able to perfect the flash tube boiler which gave his machines excellent performance and allowed him to set a speed of 75.06 mph with his “oeuf de Paques” (called the Easter egg because of its shape) at Nice, France in 1902.

The Anderson’s were to find that they had to hire a skilled chauffeur was to tend to and operate this early machine for them. It is one of very few of the makers cars to survive.

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The Pesha 1910 White Steam Car

In an era when most families did not have cameras, post cards of automobiles were an alternative.  In this case, we have a post card maker to credit for these views of a fine White steamer.  The location was Marine, Michigan, just outside the studio of Louis J. Pesha (August 11, 1868 – October 1, 1912).

This is a 1910 White model MM (40 hp), of which only five examples are known to survive to the present, including one we have written about before. In the view below, we see the same car outfitted with electric headlights and tail lights.  This is an unusual modification, as White steam cars were produced with no such lights, or electrical system.

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*Update* A Very Early Steamer in Competition?

This photo like many early photos, tended to get labeled incorrectly back in their day and we believe this is one of them. Many thanks to reader John Kelm, who sent us this photo, one of a number of great early glass-plate negatives he obtained that we will be sharing with you in the future.

This was labeled as a curved dash Olds, but based on the looks of its axles, springs and perch poles, we believe that it maybe an early Stanley, or possibly an early Locomobile built after the Stanley brothers had sold the company. What is interesting, is the large tank on the top of the dash, that maybe an extra water tank, possibly used for competition?

The car appears to have been in some type of competitive event, and this may possibly be the braking test part of it, judging by the marks laid out across the road and the two men who seem to be taking a measurement. The other clue leading us to think this, is the crowd on the left all seem to be looking down the road possibly waiting for the next car?

We are confidant that some of our readers who are steam car experts, will be able to tell us all about the car, the scene and maybe even the driver. But if not, we would like to hear from anyone who has information about this photo, to help John Kelm to ID this wonderful glass plate negative.

*UPDATE*  Kelly Williams has found that it indeed is a Locomobile:  It WAS an endurance trial!  I can hardly believe the coincidence, but I was paging through the June 1902 Cosmopolitan on Google books and found the attached.


Which led to this text from Victor Hugo’s “The Overland Monthly”,
July-December 1902, page 14

The next endurance contest held in the United States was under the auspices of the Long Island Automobile Club, and was held on Long Island April 26, 1902. The contest was only one hundred miles, there being three classes of vehicles were provided for.

The text is garbled in the scan of “Story of the Automobile…” but it indicates that the Locomobile Co.’s entry covered the 100 miles in 7 hrs 7 min – almost dead last.  Fastest car was also a steamer at 6 hrs 14 min, though there was apparently a minimum time and maximum speed for the run which disqualified several cars.

New York Times for April 27th said “The hill-climbing contest at Roslyn had about twelve entries. Awards were made for the different classes. The best time of all was made by a steam vehicle in 1 minute 42 seconds.”

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