We recently ran across an image that called our attention to 21st-century automotive body designs. If one examines 23 current brands of automobiles offered to the American driver, and we imagine equivalent models all painted in light gray, there’s not really a lot of diversity in basic appearance, as the image to the right attests. Images of individual vehicles for the composite image were digitally “painted” light gray as the color is not offered by all manufacturers.

If one examines the Marshall Steam Museum Stanley collection, you will note that starting with the 1916 Model 725 and continuing through to the 1924 Model 750, Stanley cars lost styling diversity that the earlier cars before 1915 possessed. As readers know, the materials and methods Stanley used were pretty common in the industry, and while there were distinctive car designs after the 1920s, automotive design was trending to manufacturers choosing a basic “look” and not making major changes to it year to year. In the 21st century, the consolidation of multiple makes under a single manufacturer means even more consistency in overall car appearance.
Stanley’s earliest cars, those sold under the Locomobile and Mobile names, had their metal frames constructed by the American Waltham Manufacturing Company, a bicycle maker. Stanley used the same wooden and eventually aluminum body manufacturer throughout a large portion of their production from the earliest all-wooden-bodied cars up until near the end of production’s aluminum-bodied cars. What was the name of that manufacturer? For extra credit, what year did Stanley begin the transition to offering aluminum bodied vehicles?
According to Kit Foster’s The Stanley Steamer: America’s Legendary Steam Car, in April 1898 the Stanley twins contracted Currier Cameron Company to construct the wooden bodies that were then sent to the Shields Carriage Company for lacquer application and finishing. Both businesses were located in Amesbury, Massachusetts, and shared common organizational roots. Locomobile assembled their cars in Watertown, which required the finished bodies to be shipped in boxcars by rail between the two cities.
In 1911 the Currier Cameron Company made the first aluminum body for the Stanley Model 85. Currier Cameron would continue to make Stanley bodies through Model 735 production, ending in 1922. With the introduction of the Model 740 in May 1922 and the revised body styles to come, Stanley moved to other body manufacturers, including Baker-Rauch & Lang!