Are Stanley Steamers still being built here?
When brothers F.E. and F.O Stanley began producing steam-powered cars in the late 1800s, they never imagined that the craft would be carried on more than a hundred years later in a carpentry shop in Redding, Connecticut.
In the late 1890s, the Stanley brothers of Massachusetts began building high-quality, steam-generated automobiles and by 1897 were turning out such elegant and powerful cars that they were unable to meet demand. The vehicles became status symbols and record setters—a Stanley Steamer was the first car to climb Mt. Washington (but the brothers didn’t get a bumpersticker for their 1899 feat!), and car-racing organizers banned the vehicles from events because no one could keep up.
In the 1960s land developer Stuart Herman of Redding took a liking to the cars and began restoring them. The love of the cards gathered—ahh—steam with Stuart’s son Mark, a 51-year old restoration carpenter who at first worked out a large space in the old wire factory in Georgetown.
“It’s the smoothest car on the road,” says Herman, whose MS Herman & Co. now restores and builds Stanley Steamers. “The ones we get are 100 years old. They are still in good condition, but quite often parts are missing and the wood needs replacing.” Today Herman’s tidy, austere space along Topstone Road houses rows of seats, fenders, and other parts. Of course, he would build a new one from scratch. The cost? “Oh,” says Herman, scratching his head. “A really nice one could be close to a half a million dollars.” The Stanley Brothers would be proud.