1899 Crouch Steam Runabout
Offered by RM Auctions | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 9, 2014
It’s incredible that cars like this survive. W. Lee Crouch began in a machine shop in New Brighton, Pennsylvania in 1895 when he built a gasoline-powered automobile. In 1896, he tried again, finishing the car and entering it in a race (where it did not finish). A few years later he was back at it, this time with steam.
It is thought that Crouch only built three cars – the last two being steamers and this one being both the only survivor, and the only one built by the Crouch Automobile Manufacturing & Transportation Company in Baltimore. It is also thought that all of his previous creations were cannibalized for parts for this car, which uses a twin-cylinder steam engine that puts out eight horsepower (that was probably adapted for an automobile from some sort of marine engine).
It features tiller steering and runs and drives great. It’s a usable, pre-1900 steam car. The story is that this car was discovered in the basement of the original Baltimore Crouch factory during WWII, long after Mr. Crouch had moved on (he was in Ohio by 1914 trying to get a cyclecar company off the ground). It was sold to scrappers, who saved it. Stuff like that just doesn’t happen anymore.
Update: Sold $93,500.