Stanley SV 252-A Fixed Head Tourer



Private Sale

Cambridge, UK


Hydraulic Exp:

Steam Test Exp:


June 2022

Year Built:


The Stanley brothers began building steam cars in the late 1890s before selling their fledgling business which would be split to form the Locomobile and Mobile car concerns. The Stanleys re-entered the market in 1902 with a wholly new design incorporating direct drive from the engine to the rear axle (rather than chain drive as utilised in their earlier models). Stanleys were the most largest manufacturers of steam cars and enjoyed great success, however by the 1920s internal combustion was well established and the days of steam were all but over. Steam Vehicle Corporation acquired the Stanley company in 1924 and launched one final model, represented here in 25018.

The later model Stanleys were largely a continuation of the design practices from the coffin nose era, with the addition of a system for recovering condensate from the exhaust and returning it to the water system for re-use. This gave the later Stanleys a much-improved range on a tank of water, making them to an extent a more practical proposition. A notable improvement to the SV Stanleys was the addition of Hydraulic Brakes, one of the first cars to which they were fitted as standard.

This car is a model 252-A Fixed Head Tourer and was one of two SVs shipped new to New Zealand in 1925, and sold via H H Stewart, Stanleys NZ Agent. It eventually ended up being used as a taxi on the South Island before being sold to George Gilltrap in 1952 and driven 300 miles back to his home (the last time the car steamed before restoration).

25018 was the first car purchased by George Gilltrap and he subsequently opened a small museum in Rotorua in 1954 before relocating Australia’s Gold Coast in 1959. The collection become one of great significance and included the famous Darraq ‘Genevieve’ from the film of the same name. Gilltrap died in 1966 and his wife continued to run the museum until her passing in 1988, leading to the famous sale in 1989.

The Stanley had sat untouched for the entirety of its ownership by the Gilltraps and was purchased at the sale (Lot 375) by Peter Lumsden of Kent. A copy of the auction catalogue forms part of the extensive history file, which includes copies of the original trading agreements between Stanley & HH Stewart, as well as correspondence with the decedents of the firm, and the original rusty registration plate from its time in New Zealand.

On arrival in England the car was subjected to a complete no expense spared restoration, the quality of which is still evident today. It is believed this restoration was completed in 1995.

Peter owned two steam cars, the other being an 1899 Locomobile which appears to have been his car of choice, the Stanley seeing little use other than a new Gould boiler being fitted in 1999 after which it was hardly used. The boiler is still in excellent condition showing little sign of use. In Peters ownership an alternator was discreetly fitted for battery charging purposes and also, a digital water gauge, which has shown to be surprisingly accurate in service.

The car was acquired by its present owners in 2018 and has undergone significant recommissioning work. The brake system (hydraulic) has been fully refurbished with wheel cylinders rebuilt at Past Parts and a new master cylinder. Steam automatic serviced and new diaphragm fitted, fuel system disassembled cleaned and fuel pump rebuilt. Water system disassembled, cleaned, pump rebuilt with new balls and reseated, Air system similarly rebuilt.

The car has been extensively tested and is a delight to drive on the road. It is not currently set up to return condensate to the water system, this being exhausted however all pipework is believed present to switch this over with minimal effort.

25018 is offered for sale as it forms part of a large collection and sees very little use. It is sold ready to go, complete with full weather gear for inclement weather, a dedicated on board tool box, a large history file, various spares, and a full steam test. The car is ‘all together’ and ready for many years of enjoyment.


Important Note: We recommend when purchasing any steam vehicle to employ the services of your own boiler inspector for independent advice and not solely rely on previous test reports.