1904 GROUT STEAM RUNABOUT ''LIGHT TOURING CAR''
1904 GROUT STEAM RUNABOUT "LIGHT TOURING CAR"
Chassis No. 2180
Original red paint with gold pinstriping and black leather upholstery
Engine: Steam powered two-cylinder, 7-10hp; Brakes: "double action"; Suspension: semi-elliptic leaf springs front and rear. Right hand drive.
At the turn of the century, the gasoline engine was not the clear power source of choice. Many early manufactures were experimenting with steam electric and gasoline to find the superior means of locomotion. Clearly up to that time the steam engine was the most popular power source worldwide, as it was used for railroads and shipping. Steam powered cars were far quieter, simpler and often times more reliable than their gasoline powered counterparts. They offered control and flexibility without the bother of a clutch and a noisy gearbox.
The Grout Brothers began building steam cars in Orange, Massachusetts in approximately 1900. The early Grout cars were tiller steering horseless carriage type vehicles. By 1903, the Grout Steam Carriage had developed in many respects with the addition of headlamps and mudguards. Grout steamers were always recognized for their quality, receiving many accolades including first prize for "Best Construction" at the Philadelphia Motor Show, a first at the Nelson Hill Climb, and a Gold Medal award in the 500 mile endurance run from New York to Boston. The Grouts success was not limited to the United States, it won its class in the Dashwood Hillclimb, and did a kilometre in one minute 28.25 seconds at the Welbeck Speed Trials.
This particular Grout Steamer was in the careful ownership of a museum in the Northeast for many years until it was discovered by noted west coast collector and Horseless Carriage Club member, Bob Trepanier. Mr. Trepanier was enamored by the Grout's incredible originality. The paint, leather interior, and even the floor mats had remained intact since 1904. Following Mr. Trepanier's ownership the Grout was sold to another enthusiast whos hobby was antique furniture restoration. After many long hours, a brew of chemicals and extensive careful polishing, the brown looking paint eventually revealed its original shade of red. Even more dramatic was the discovery of the beautifully ornate gold pinstriping that was previously covered by years of dirt and oxidation.
A careful mechanical restoration was also performed by the owner to bring the Grout back to fully operational condition. Since the rebuild, it has been used on a few HCCA touring events. This remarkably original little steam car is eligible for the London to Brighton Run, as well as many HCCA, VMCCA or Steam car tours and events. It comes complete with two different original sales brochures, one of which states that it is &ISimple in operation, having one lever control, giving the operator any speed from one to forty miles an hour. It is very rare to find a car of this era so well preserved in its original condition.