The Lion

1932 Fowler 10HP B6 Showman’s Locomotive

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | October 30, 2020

Photo – Bonhams

Well here’s a new class of vehicle we haven’t featured before. The Showman’s Road Locomotive. It’s basically a steam traction engine that is made to go down the road, helping transport a circus or carnival. And then once it gets to where it’s going, it’s the powerplant for the show. They are very large and very ornate.

This one was manufactured by John Fowler & Co. of Leeds. The company built four B6 “Super Lion” road locomotives. These were the last such machines built, as steam’s popularity was on the wane. The last road locomotive ceased operation in 1958, and most of them ended up scrapped. This example is the first of the four Super Lions, two others of which also survive.

When new, it was used to power carnival rides until it was retired in 1946. It had two owners between 1950 and 2018, and it was restored over a two-year period in the mid-1990s. Like many other showman’s locomotives, it features a full canopy, a front dynamo, and a lot of brass.

Steam traction engines are impressive beasts in the own right, but once you add this sort of over-the-top glamour to them, they really just become awe-inspiring. This one is expected to sell for between $1,000,000-$1,600,000. Why not? Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $1,195,794.

Grout Steam Car

1902 Grout Model H Steam Runabout

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 10-11, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Grout was built in Orange, Massachusetts between 1899 and 1912. The company was founded by brothers C.B., Fred, and Carl Grout, along with their father William who happened to own a sewing machine business. The company history was full of family drama, and the brothers left town after trying to force their dad out (and failing).

Steam cars came first, and gasoline vehicles followed. The Model H was likely built in 1903 and was the cheapest car they offered that year at $775. This steam-powered runabout is London-to-Brighton eligible and has spent quite a few years in museums.

It should sell for between $30,000-$50,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $52,250.

How Are These Two Cars Different?

1901 Crestmobile Model B 3½HP Runabout

Offered by Bonhams | Los Angeles, California | November 11, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

Founded in 1900 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Crest Manufacturing Company was a supplier to other early automobile manufacturers. They finally realized that they built so many parts that they could just build their own car – and so they did. The first “Crest”-branded automobiles were three-wheelers but by 1901 the four-wheeled Crestmobile was available.

Three models were offered at the start, with the mid-range Model B sporting a 3.5 horsepower single-cylinder engine mounted out front that can be pull-started with a leather strap. This car resembles many other cars from the period, including the Toledo Steam car below.

Part of this particular collection since 1943, the Crestmobile you see here has been restored (though the date is unknown). Crestmobiles were only offered through 1905 before the marque disappeared. This one, perhaps the finest in existence, should sell for between $30,000-$40,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $39,600.


1902 Toledo Junior Runabout

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 3, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

Okay, so maybe this doesn’t look exactly like the Crestmobile above, but you get the idea that they are pretty similar – except that this is a steam car. The Toledo was built by the International Motor Car Company of Toledo, Ohio, between 1901 and 1903. Beginning in 1904, once the company had been acquired by Col. Albert Pope, the cars were known as the “Pope-Toledo.”

Five different steam cars were offered by Toledo in 1902, with this Junior Runabout being the cheapest, costing $800 when new. This was also the last year the company offered steam cars, turning to more conventionally-styled gasoline-powered cars in 1903 before their acquisition.

This car sports an older restoration and it probably hasn’t been used all that much. It will require a little attention (and a boiler inspection) before use. This is a great opportunity to acquire a well-built early steamer at a fraction of the cost of a Stanley. It should bring between $33,000-$40,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $34,673.

Steam Race Car

1901 Milwaukee Steam Racer

Offered by H&H Classics | Duxford, U.K. | October 12, 2016

Photo - H&H Classics

Photo – H&H Classics

The Milwaukee Automobile Company was founded in 1899 by W.H. Starkweather, Herman Pfiel, and W.G. Smith to build cars that were not a “radical departure from all other types” of automobiles… except that they were using steam power. Most of the early American steam car manufacturers built cars that looked relatively similar but this car, while similar, is fairly different.

The first Milwaukee Steam cars appeared in 1900 (here’s one) and they lasted only through 1902. In 1901, they went to the Chicago Auto Show and exhibited this racer – not a body style that many struggling manufacturers would’ve dared to build. Not much is known about what it was used for in period, but it is thought that it competed in a half-mile race in Illinois in 1901.

This car has been restored to 1901 condition and is eligible for the London-to-Brighton run. You really don’t find racing vehicles from this era that aren’t on long term museum display. It’s even harder to find one that is steam powered and from a three-year-only manufacturer. This should bring between $65,000-$90,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Locomobile Steam

1899 Locomobile Style 2 Stanhope

Offered by Bonhams | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | October 3, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Around the turn of the century, Locomobile was among America’s largest automobile manufacturers. In fact, in 1901 and 1902, they were the largest (this was right before Oldsmobile and Ford reinvented mass production). The company was founded in 1899 by John B. Walker and Amzi L. Barber. The two of them purchased a design by the Stanley brothers and sold their first steam cars in 1899.

Costing $600 when new, the 1899 and 1900 Locomobiles were identical and only available in this body style. While they are rare, there are a good number of them still around and we’re amazed we’ve yet to feature one. The steam engine powering this Locomobile develops four horsepower at 150 psi.

This particular example has had two owners from new with the family that currently owns it having acquired it in 1930. It was restored 60 years ago and is used infrequently, thus the decision to part with the car. It’s one of the best examples around with a clear, known history and it should bring between $45,000-$65,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Stanley Steamer

1903 Stanley CX 6.5HP Steam Runabout

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | October 30, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

The Stanley is an iconic American automobile. The Stanley brothers built one of America’s largest early automotive manufacturers and they did it on the basis of steam. While the coffin-nose Stanleys are quite famous, it’s these earlier, simpler-looking cars that helped make the company what it became.

1903 was the third year for Stanley production and three models were offered, with the two-cylinder Model CX being at the top of the heap. The CX was an eight horsepower car and the Model C was the 6.5 horsepower car. Both had identical bodies. So take your pick as to what this car really is.

The car is in great shape and has had work done recently to keep it going. It’s a runner and a driver that can be used with pride. Steam cars take a special sort – as well as $54,000-$62,000. Click here for more info and here for more from one of our favorite sales of the year.

Update: Sold $61,742.

Crouch Steam Car

1899 Crouch Steam Runabout

Offered by RM Auctions | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 9, 2014

Photo - RM Auctions

Photo – RM Auctions

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.

Anyway, this is the only Crouch in existence and it should cost between $60,000-$90,000. You can read more about it here and see more from RM here.

Update: Sold $93,500.

Marlboro Steam Car

1900 Marlboro Steam Runabout

Offered by Bonhams | Paris, France | February 6, 2014

1900 Marlboro Steam Runabout

Photo – Bonhams

The Marlboro Motor & Carriage Company began producing steam cars in Marlboro, Massachusetts in 1899. The company was founded by Orrin P. Walker and existed only through 1902.

The engine is a Mason steam engine and this car cost $700 when new. About 30 were sold in 1900 and production ramped up. But then sales quickly dropped off and the company had all of its capital invested in product that was sitting in showrooms. And that was it for the short-lived company – out of business it went.

It’s amazing that any of their cars survived for 114 years. This one was restored and the current owner acquired it in 2011. It was for sale in St. Louis for $79,500 but is expected to sell at this auction for between $68,000-$96,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Update II: Sold, RM Sotheby’s London 2017, $12,146.

Puritan Steam Car

1902 Puritan Runabout

For Sale by H&H Auctions | Appleton, England

1902 Puritan Runabout

When Albert Locke took control of his father and uncle’s company in Salem, Massachusetts, around the turn of the century, he decided he wanted to do more than just build parts for steam engines. The Locke Regulator Company was getting into the car business.

In 1902, they launched their little runabout (designed in-house by Albert himself) that uses a straight-twin steam engine making six horsepower. Most Puritans were known to be ahead of their time (the cars, not the people) by featuring two things that would become standard on automobiles: a steering wheel and a foot throttle. However, this car has tiller steering. It could go 100 miles on one tank of water and could reach 20 mph.

Unfortunately, the company didn’t last in the car business for long, with production ceasing the following year in 1903. As rare as that makes it, surprisingly, there is at least one other Puritan steam car in England. This one isn’t exactly in concours-level shape, but it is usable – which is the most important thing. Price is not listed but you can check out more here.

Update: Not sold, H&H Auctions Duxford, Fall 2014.

Milwaukee Steam Runabout

1900 Milwaukee Steam Runabout

Offered by RM Auctions | Hersey, Pennsylvania | October 11-12, 2012

The Milwaukee Automobile Company began producing steam vehicles in 1900. There were a bunch of steam car manufacturers in the United States at the turn of the century, and a number of them were producing light runabouts that looked just like this.

Unfortunately, this marque only lasted through 1902 – and not even through the entire year. Quite a few other early makes would shut down just as quickly. It was like a big game of Economic Darwinism Whac-A-Mole. Companies were popping up and shutting down all over the place.

This is a rare example of an already rare marque. It’s two-cylinder steam engine makes six horsepower. It’s only a four-owner car, with all owners and history known – which is a pretty incredible feat considering it’s 112 years old. The car should bring between $20,000-$40,000. For more information, click here. And for more from RM at Hershey, click here.

Update: Sold $44,000.