10-11 October 2013

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Lot 120

1909 Stanley Model E2 Runabout

$80,000 - $100,000

10 bhp, twin-cylinder double-acting steam engine, front and rear full-elliptic leaf-spring suspension, and rear-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 100 in.

  • Authentic, genuine, original, and respected
  • Ex-Ralph Van Dine, J.D. Van Sciver Jr., D. Cameron Peck, the Jarvis family, and Robert Bahre
  • Fully functional both running and driving
  • Everything that the knowledgeable Stanley expert wants

In the beginning, there were, as one historian dubbed them, the hunter-gatherers. They were the men who knew and loved the cars of an earlier era long before others acquired that appreciation, and they scoured junkyards, barns, and abandoned carriage houses for the treasures within. It was a time when cars that were found and active were genuine articles that were preserved intact with all of their original features, before the fingers of replication and duplication slipped into the hobby.

This is a car that was known to those men.

It is a Model E2, one of six models of the Stanley Steam Car that were available in the 1909 catalogue, and it is powered by a 10-horsepower, twin-piston engine, which was a marvel of simplicity, as it had only 13 moving parts. Once the big front-mounted boiler had been carefully filled with water, fired, and gently tended by the owner’s knowledgeable, careful hands, the Model E2 could hum along and climb steep grades with ease. It was a fun car, combining the eerie silence of steam with the peppy performance that, by the late 1900s, “automobilists” were beginning to appreciate.

Ralph Van Dine also appreciated it, as he rescued this car in the early 1940s, as one of numerous old Stanleys that were resurrected in the gas-rationing days of World War II. A photograph of Van Dine with the car, included in the file, shows him looking deservedly proud of himself while at the wheel of what is a very original, solid, and complete Model E2.

Nonetheless, Van Dine soon passed the car, in 1948, to J.D. Van Sciver Jr., and while it was in his ownership, it was repainted the present shade of chartreuse. Van Sciver and D. Cameron Peck, both important early figures in the Antique Automobile Club of America, had large collections that were known, even in their time, for quality and originality. Peck eventually purchased the Stanley from Van Sciver and brought it to his vast stables in Chicago. Then he sold it on to S.D. Jarvis, of Illinois, who was yet another early enthusiast.

Following Jarvis’s 1953 passing, his son, Vernon, inherited this Runabout, along with the family’s other antique cars. The collection continued to be added to and curated over the years, eventually finding a home in the Early American Museum at Silver Springs, Florida, where the Stanley remained for over 30 years. It was a star of the collection and was featured in picture postcards, as well as on a Cardo trading card. Most importantly, while on display, it continued to be well-known to the AACA community, as it was featured amidst palm trees and well-dressed young ladies on the cover of the August/September 1959 issue of Antique Automobile magazine.

In 1987, the bulk of the Jarvis Collection was sold to respected collector Robert Bahre, who soon thereafter passed the Stanley to its current caretaker. It has been held ever since in a repository of some of the finest surviving steam cars, and in which, it has been treasured and, most importantly, carefully maintained. Seventy years after those original hunter-gatherers brought this Model E2 into the car collecting community, it still remains fully functional, drivable, and roadworthy, as attested to by the knowledgeable owner. It continues to wear its Van Sciver repaint, with more recently refinished fenders and older restored black upholstery, which add only to the charm and authenticity of its presentation. Only the wheels are inauthentic, with good reason; when this car was found in the early 1940s, the current size of tires was not available!

When this hobby began here, in Pennsylvania, originality and authenticity were everything. This Stanley was one of antique car collecting, and one of the AACA’s early stars, and it was treasured by the men who brought cars out of barns, preserved them, and loved them for future generations to enjoy. This Runabout is a very original, complete, genuine, real automobile, and it is offered here in that spirit: in robust running order, in October, in Hershey…where it belongs.


Although the car has run well and recently, at present the boiler is plugged and will not take on water. The seller has agreed to cover the cost to rectify this and return the Stanley to running condition.

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


+1 864 313 6844
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


+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
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


+1 203 912 7168
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


+1 415 302 2247
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


+1 617 513 0388
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


+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

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


+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

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


+1 310 559 4575
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


+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

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


+1 805 231 6410
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


+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
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


+1 519 352 4575
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


+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
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


+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
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


+1 519 784 9300
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


+1 310 559 4575
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


+31 653 84 19 60
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