J. Frank Duryea founded Hampden Automobile & Launch Co. in Springfield, Massachusetts, after parting ways with his brother Charles at the Duryea Motor Wagon Co. Soon after setting up shop, the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company acquired a controlling interest in the business, renamed Stevens-Duryea. The original Hampden prototypes were basic 2-cylinder runabouts with tiller steering, which sold for about $1,200 under the Stevens-Duryea name. Rapid development saw Stevens-Duryea offer a 20hp four-cylinder engine with a unique three-point engine mounting system in 1905. The company touted the design as key to their success at hill-climb events against cars of twice the horsepower and claimed, “In order to get all of your engine power to the rear wheels, you must have a STEVENS-DURYEA THREE POINT SUSPENSION.”
Stevens-Duryea rapidly moved up-market, offering six-cylinder models by 1906, with the colossal 50-horsepower, 9,147cc Model S as the flagship. It shared the catalog with the 20hp Model R four-cylinder and the 30/35hp “light six” Model U from 1907. In 1913, Stevens-Duryea simplified the range, dropping the four and combining the six-cylinder range into a single model, the C-Six. Stevens-Duryea had become one of America’s premier automakers, with quality, luxury, and cost rivaling Packard and Pierce-Arrow. The C-Six came in two wheelbase lengths to suit a variety of open or closed coachwork, which, unusually for the time, was constructed entirely of aluminum. Power came from a robust 490 cubic-inch inline-six rated at 45 horsepower, with a three-speed sliding gear transmission. Unfortunately, Stevens-Duryea soon hit financial trouble, and the company’s creditors demanded J. Frank Duryea offer less expensive models if he were to receive any more capital – a condition that he refused to accept. As a result, Westinghouse purchased the plant to support domestic efforts for World War I, and despite a brief revival in the 1920s, Stevens-Duryea closed for good in 1927.
This fabulous 1913 Stevens-Duryea C-Six 5-passenger Tourer is one of only ten known survivors of its type and is a stunning example of this prestigious American marque. This car boasts a fascinating history and a world-class restoration, benefitting from numerous carefully engineered yet fully reversible improvements for safe, reliable touring. Unusually for motorcars of this era, the original owner is known: In this case, a California rancher. The story goes that in 1917, his son crashed the car while out chasing rabbits, damaging the front fender, radiator, and one headlamp. The rancher parked it up in their barn after only 3500 miles, where it sat until the 1940s. In the late 40s, a family friend purchased the ranch, acquiring the Stevens-Duryea along with it. In the early 1950s, Mr. Neale Kemble took the C-Six as partial payment for work he did on the ranch’s irrigation pumps. As an automobile enthusiast, Kemble was excited about this astonishingly well-kept car and began a careful restoration.
Since Stevens-Duryea used aluminum coachwork, the car was free of corrosion, and the dry California climate helped preserve the chassis and mechanical components. Unfortunately, health issues meant Mr. Kemble couldn’t complete the project, and he sold it in the late 1980s. In 1988, the highly respected restorer Clay Cook and his wife Rhonda of C. Cook Enterprises discovered the car at an auction. Clay immediately recognized its significance and potential and made the winning bid to take it home.
Once back at his workshop in Kentucky, Clay Cook and his team began carefully disassembling and evaluating the car. He found it extraordinarily well-preserved, down to the chassis number stamps in the frame and wooden floorboards and the visible honing marks in the cylinders backing the claim of 3,500 original miles. The body was stripped, and the tweaked fender straightened, but it was otherwise as it emerged from storage in the 1940s. In speaking with Mr. Kemble to piece together the history, Cook acquired several early photos of the car. Kemble had carefully noted the layout of the colors and pinstriping before he stripped the car, and his records proved invaluable during the restoration.
The Cooks chose a striking shade of medium blue paint, accented with black reveal lines, plum pinstripes, and brightly polished nickel accessories. Clay and Rhonda Cook took the mighty Stevens-Duryea on the concours circuit, taking First in Class awards at Meadowbrook and Pebble Beach in 1989 and an AACA Cup and VMCCA Birmingham Award. The Cooks enjoyed the car for several more years, and subsequent owners have kept it in superb condition. Since acquiring the Stevens-Duryea over a decade ago, the most recent owner has gone to extraordinary lengths to discreetly update it for reliable touring while preserving the car’s exquisite cosmetics.
As offered, the Model C-Six is resplendent in its exquisite paintwork, highly polished nickel accessories, and rich button-tufted black leather upholstery. Exterior fittings include Stevens-Duryea branded nickel headlamps with complementary cowl lamps, twin spares, a moto meter, a wicker trunk, and a marvelously whimsical Le Testophone trumpet bulb horn, made in France by Cicca. Exhaustive work has gone on beneath the alloy bodywork, including refreshing the engine in 2020 with new Babbitt bearings, new valves, guides, and springs. Custom Arias pistons were fitted during the initial rebuild by Clay Cook. Other updates include 12V electrics, pressurized oiling with a remote filter, a high-torque electric starter, and a fully rebuilt gearbox with new bearings and bushings. Perhaps the most significant update is the braking system, which utilizes an exquisitely engineered hydraulic disc system on the rear axle and the driveshaft. In addition to the mechanical updates, there is also a full tonneau cover, a complete set of side curtains, and front “gypsy curtains.” The owner was such a stickler for details that he ensured all the gauges worked down to the original clock. For the purist, all the take-off components are included should the next owner wish to return the car to its original factory spec.
Thanks to the extensive, superbly engineered updates, this fabulous Stevens-Duryea is tour-ready and a magnificent automobile to enjoy on the open road, and with a roster of significant awards to its credit, it is still fit for the concours field.
Offers welcome and trades considered