10-11 October 2013

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Lot 208

1903 Stevens-Duryea Model L Stanhope

  • Chassis no. 693

Sold for $15,400

Harley-Davidson V-twin-cylinder engine, chain-drive transmission, fully elliptic leaf-spring suspension, and rear-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 69 in.

  • Offered from the Estate of John O’Quinn
  • One of the earliest extant Stevens-Duryeas
  • Converted to Harley-Davidson power in the early enthusiast era
  • A fascinating restoration project

The car on the AACA seal, which is so prominent this week in Hershey, is the 1895 Duryea; it is widely considered to be the first automobile built in America with the intent to mass produce. Brothers J. Frank and Charles Duryea eventually had a falling out over who, exactly, was most responsible for the car, and they went their separate ways. Each was involved with numerous early automakers, but it was J. Frank’s partnership with the Stevens Arms & Tools Company, of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, that was the most fruitful and enduring.

While it would eventually become a large, grand, powerful tourer, the original Stevens-Duryea of 1901 was a sprightly runabout with an opposed twin-cylinder engine, a three-speed sliding-gear transmission, and steering by tiller. This basic design was utilized for three years, and it was noted for its outstanding build quality and charming good looks. One of the body’s most interesting features was a front apron that opened into a second seat, allowing a pair of passengers to be carried ahead of the driver, at the very front of the car. While not necessarily NHTSA-approved today, in the 1900s it was a fun, albeit breezy, way to double-date.

The Stevens-Duryea offered here is one of the earliest automobiles built by the company that is known to survive. It was acquired many years ago by the late collector LeRoy Healey, who displayed it at his Horseless Carriage Museum in Rapid City, North Dakota. Later, it was acquired by Harrah’s Automobile Collection and was sold in 1986 to a collector in the western United States. Twenty years later, Mr. O’Quinn eventually purchased this Stevens-Duryea from that collector.

The car’s body and most of the original chassis appear complete, solid, and presentable for display, even with its older red paint, brightwork, and button-tufted upholstery. It appears that many years ago the Stevens-Duryea lost its original engine, and in the 1940s or 1950s, as a means of making it run under its own power again, a Harley-Davidson V-twin engine, transmission, and frame from the 1910s were modified to fit under the original bodywork. They remain intact today and represent an amazing bit of ingenuity, as they were born out of tough times.

This charming little Stevens-Duryea would be a fascinating restoration project for the passionate enthusiast of veteran automobiles, as it is one of only a handful of early models surviving from this pioneering American manufacturer. It harkens back to both an era of “horseless carriages” and to the early roadside museums that preserved them.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver


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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat


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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht


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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig


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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose


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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould


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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff


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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach


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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry


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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut


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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire


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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn


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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin


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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill


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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher


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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers


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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden


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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more