The Marlboro was a typical New England steam car in appearance, although it used a 5 hp horizontal engine in place of the more usual vertical one. Final drive was by single chain, and four-passenger bodies were available, in addition to the standard two-passenger buggy.
Not surprisingly, the Marlboro Steam Stanhope looks a lot like a Stanley or Locomobile of the period. Built in the more remote suburbs of Boston, Orrin Walker could not have been unaware of the Stanley brothers or their successful steam cars. He turned to William B. Mason in Dorchester (a less-remote Boston suburb) -- who had built his own steam car in 1898 to demonstrate the superior performance of his pressure regulating valve, successful enough that the company he founded is still in the pressure-regulating business today, quite possibly on the heating system in your house -- to supply the Marlboro's engine as Mason also did for Stanley and Locomobile.
The chassis employed full elliptical springs located by perch rods in common with the other buggy-based steam cars chugging around New England at the time. Lightweight and endowed with impressive torque, steam was a realistic challenger to gasoline and electrics in the fading days of the nineteenth century but eventually lost out.
This 1899 Marlboro Steam Stanhope was restored to AACA National First Prize condition in 1975. Fitted with white rubber tires on wire spoke bicycle-style wheels, it seats two, up high and proudly in its early Stanhope coachwork. Its information file includes a copy of the original instruction manual. Prior owners in California are known back nearly two decades and it has a recent service in 2009.
Steam is one of the fastest growing collecting categories and few steam cars offer the quality, rarity and history of this 1899 Marlboro which is ready to used and enjoyed.