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Winfield Scott Libbey’s Stanley Model K 30-hp Semi-Racer

Of the many different types and makes of steam cars built at the dawn of motoring, without a doubt the car built by the Stanley Motor Carriage Company is the most well-known of all. The 1907 and 1908 Model K 30-hp Semi-Racer, of which only twenty-five were built, is the one model that has emerged as the most highly-coveted of all. It was built by the twin Stanley Brothers at their the Newton, Massachusetts factory.

The Semi-Racer has all the three key ingredients that are usually present with any car that is highly desirable: speed, looks, and power. The Model K was loosely based on the famous Stanley Rocket that Fred Marriott set a world land speed record of over 127 m.p.h. with in 1906. The styling and appearance of the car with its attractive coffin nose hood, beautifully-curved seats, gracefully-shaped fenders and large diameter wheels would be hard to improve on. A Model K Stanley in good form is a powerful and fast car, piloted by a skilled operator it is capable of close to 90 m.p.h.

  • Stanley Rocket that Fred Marriott set a world land speed record
  • Fred H. Marriott and the Stanley Rocket, on an Oilzum Oil postcard courtesy of Fast is Fast.

This particular Semi-Racer is one of the only three surviving factory-built cars, and it includes a colorful and completely documented history. It was purchased when new in 1908 by Winfield Scott Libbey founder of the W.S. Libby Company of Lewiston, Maine. Upon his death in 1914 it was passed onto Paul R. Libbey, and it is believed to not have been run since that time. It is unrestored, with the exception of an older paint job. Collector Richard Paine, the third owner and founder of the Seal Cove Auto Museum acquired it for his collection and after his passing it has remained as part of the core collection at the Museum.

This past summer at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in a special exhibit for steam cars, the Model K had its day in the sun so to speak. While on display with a number of other important steam-powered cars, it was photographed by Richard Michael Owen who has shared his work with us here. Thanks also go out to both Tim Martin and Kelly Williams, keeper of the Stanley Register for their help with this article. You can learn about another Stanley Steam Car that set the all-time record at the Dead Horse Hill Climb and view many others here on The Old Motor.  

Stanley Steamer Model K 30-hp Semi-Racer

Stanley Steamer Model K 30-hp Semi-Racer

Stanley Steamer Model K 30-hp Semi-Racer

Stanley Steamer Model K 30-hp Semi-Racer

Stanley Rocket that Fred Marriott set a world land speed record

5 responses to “Winfield Scott Libbey’s Stanley Model K 30-hp Semi-Racer

  1. David… Our thanks to you for featuring the K, and to Richard Michael Owen for the gorgeous photography from all of us at the Seal Cove.

  2. T Clarence Marshal of Yorklin DE was a Stanly dealer before the first World War. Around the time of WW2, he started collecting Stanleys, including a K, which I believe that he had also owned previously. He and a friend used the car on a trip to West Virginia, and at some point the car had some mechanical engine trouble, So he disconnected the cylinder that had problems, and drove home on one cylinder! Upon T Clarence’s death, the car, along with a rather large collection of others, mostly steam, passed to his son Thomas, also a Stanley enthusiast. Tom has probably driven Stanleys more miles than any other person, other than Brett Camble. Tom generously donated his collection to a group of enthusiasts, who use and maintain the cars as part of the Auburn Heights “Steam Team”

    I’m guessing that the car pictured is an ’05, because it has the exposed rear. I wonder if all the extra coil springs in the rear suspension aren’t a later addition. The ex Marshal K is an ’06 (as I recall), with the later enclosed rear (and outboard service brakes), and has no such springs.

    Herb

    • Herb, Thanks for all the info. The Model K 30-hp Semi-Racer was only built in 1907 and 1908. The rear end of the car is exposed because the cover is not on it at the present time.

      The coil spring shackle appears to be from one of the many accessory makers that sold these in the period.

  3. I’d say the coil spring mounted centrally within the full ellipticals acted as a snubber – something rubber is usually employed for.

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