c.1900 Locomobile Model 5 Locosurrey Engine no. 1494
Founded in 1899, Locomobile began by building steam-powered cars - essentially re-badged Stanleys - before switching to gasoline-powered automobiles in 1904. The Stanley brothers had sold out to John Brisben Walker who, together with business partner Amzi Lorenzo Barber, continued production under the Locomobile name at the existing plant in Watertown, Massachusetts. The partnership soon dissolved however, Barber retaining Locomobile while Walker went off to build the same car as the Mobile. By early 1901 Barber had relocated production to Bridgeport, Connecticut and by May 1902 more than 4,000 Locomobiles had been sold. These early Locomobiles were among the fastest road transport of their day - in 1902 S T Davis Jr drove a specially prepared racer over the measured mile at an average speed of 48mph. For all its speed, the writing was on the wall for the Locomobile; gasoline-powered automobiles had become increasingly refined and the steamer could not match them for range. In 1904 the company bowed to the inevitable and the Locomobile steamer was discontinued.
Dating from a time when the internal combustion engine's universal hegemony had yet to be established, this Locomobile steamer was acquired in 1949 by Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry from the pioneering Chicago collector D Cameron Peck. The transaction's bill of sale describes it as a '1900-1901 Locomobile Model 5 Locosurrey', the latter being the factory name for the four-passenger open model. Subsequent research has determined only that the steamer was produced between 1900 and 1904. The current vendor purchased the vehicle at Bonhams' sale at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts in October 2008 (Lot 501).
The MSI staff had conserved the Locomobile for many years. According to their reports, it appeared to have been the subject of an earlier restoration. Key original components remain essentially intact, including the period-correct engine, what is probably the original frame, and the front and rear chassis assemblies including the steering components and suspension springs. An original brass manufacturer's tag is fixed to the body. Much of the four-passenger body's wood is believed to be original, though the upholstery material is incorrect. Other modified elements, mostly of later manufacture, include the boiler's plumbing and a set of gauges mounted on the dashboard. The Locomobile rides on rare, original wheels incorporating the original single tube rims that have been fitted with an adapter to take clincher tyres. This rarest and most desirable of all Locomobile steamers is eligible for any number of prestigious historic motoring events and gatherings. The vehicle is offered with UK Import Entry Acceptance Advice confirming duties paid.