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Fast Traveling Stoddard-Dayton Speedster

Today’s feature image takes us back in time to Hanford, California, for a view of a very sporty-looking Stoddard-Dayton stripped of its coachwork and converted into a speedster. In an era when speed equipment was only available for racers on a factory team, and aftermarket offerings were still a few years away, the quick and easy way to go fast was to lighten a car and at the same time make it more aerodynamic.

This circa 1910 to ’12 Stoddard originally built in Dayton, Ohio, is fitted with a set of bucket seats and a large gasoline tank behind it with both mounted on an angle, a toolbox is attached to the frame at the rear. The front and rear axles were fitted with leather rebound straps. The radiator appears to be mounted on a piece doubled over leather strapping which was also used to cushion and help hold it and the steering column down.

Behind the car is the Hanford Mfg. Co. and the middle line of the sign on the structure in the foreground may read “Pumps” on the end, but the bottom clearly reads “Motors Gas & Oil Engines.” Located in the Central Valley of California, the firm may have been involved in manufacturing and selling irrigation systems needed there for farming. This fast traveling Stoddard speedster may have been used for quick service calls.

Tell us what you find of interest in the expandable photograph below courtesy of the Michael J. Semas Collection.

14 responses to “Fast Traveling Stoddard-Dayton Speedster

  1. Sign reads “centrifugal pumps”, if that helps. That material under the radiator looks a lot like a folded inner tube..
    Regardless, what a ride! I can imagine some rough lanes out in orchards or between fields.

  2. Could it be that the inner tubes and leather straps are just draped across the radiator, perhaps to aid the horse pulling him out of a local irrigation ditch?

  3. Interesting non auto buggy details:
    A tie and tie clip. The buggy in the back (auto?) with parasol
    While looking over the speedster I wonder what a quarter car wash cost:-)

  4. Based on the license plate, this is the car of Benn Duffield of Hanford. The registration records indicate the Stoddard-Dayton was originally a roadster of 22 1/2 HP, and it was factory number 10H597. With this factory number, it would have been a Model 10-H with a 4-cylinder 30-HP engine on a 108″ wheelbase.

    Duffield was born in Pittsfield, Illinois in 1883, by 1908 he was living in Hanford. He was a member of the California National Guard, and during WWI he served with Company D, 5th Engineers. It’s likely he received his Civil Engineering degree from the Polytechnic College of Engineering in Oakland, California.

    By 1915 he was the County Surveyor for Kings County, California where Hanford is located. He was a civil engineer for the rest of his life, and he and his wife, Dana, also owned a farm in Kings County. He drowned on May 3, 1940 in the waters off of Morro Bay, California while on a fishing trip. At the time he was an engineer with the Works Projects Administration (WPA) for Kings and Tulare counties.

    The Hanford Manufacturing Company buildings were destroyed by fire on August 20, 1917 with an estimated loss of $42,000. Rendered useless were machinery used to repair harvesters, other agricultural implements, the plant, garage, and a dozen automobiles. The blaze was likely incendiary in nature as the fire was preceded by an explosion.

    • Ace, your research is impressive and I would like to learn how you find the sources. I have some Moons that were CA cars and would to know more about their history and owners. How can we connect to discuss?

  5. I understand Stoddard Daytons used a pair of interlocking long tubes for valves – as they rotated it opened and closed intake and exhaust holes. If such is the case I would guess that is why there are not more survivors. ?????

  6. Okay, nice photo and all that info from Ace is impressive. A few things I don’t understand though. First, what is that seemingly toothed ring on the left front wheel. Next, what is that rod protruding on the right with the big ‘plus’ slot in it. Finally, is that a water bag on his right. I would imagine so as the Central Valley can be awful hot and cooling systems not top effective in 1914. Wonder, though, if he had another one on the let as only one would seem to inadequate after most of the water turned to steam! Finally, there is no protection whatever for the driver, so outside of being baked to death in the fields, he may also have been stoned/dusted to death as well and any rain would ruin an otherwise pleasant (sic) day!

    • Good day; I believe the gear was for speedometer, the plus is the end of the steering tie rod where the threaded adjustment was made and held by a cotter pin. The ” Desert water bag ” as we called them in the 50’s as people still would hang them when crossing the ” desert ” on rt 66 into California. It kept cool water through evaporation

      • Thanks Jack, we did the Rte 66 thing as well, but dad never used a ‘water bag’. Saw them a lot, but cars in the 50’s were much better than in 1914 so that is why I asked. We did the Route in a ’56 Chevy in the summer, no A/C, single driver, 3 or 4 screaming kids….great fun, but not for dad!

    • The gear on the inside of the left front wheel is a speedometer drive… very common on cars of this vintage. The “plus” shaped slot in the end of the rod on the driver’s right is the means of adjusting tension on the drag link… or that is what we would call it now. It connects the Pitman arm to the front axle. The slots were for a cotter pin. The end screwed in, putting pressure on a spring and a hardened “cup shaped” plug. These were intended to be tight but still allow some movement in response to bumps in the road.

      The water bag is just that… maybe the cooling system leaked a bit. I’ve never been involved with a brass era car that didn’t leak a little water.

  7. That California license plate looked familiar, but it’s not quite the same as the one on this similar speedster, make and year unknown. (David, am sending you the photo by email.)

  8. We did Rt. 66 on the move from Walteria (now Torrance, CA) to Monkton, VT, in 1948 with 3 kids, one 8 weeks old, single driver, pulling a large trailer with all family belongings, in a 2-door 1941 Chevvy. Took 9 days, but we didn’t have a water bag, though many did.

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