Frank Marriott has several special claims to fame,
particularly when it came to World Land Speed Records,
although like many of his rivals he appears in the
list only once. One of his claims, and this one cannot
be challenged, is that he was the last man to establish
a new world record with a car driven by motive power
other than the internal combustion engine.
was a Stanley Steamer, one of the most successful
of steam designs, still made in the United States
until very much later in motoring history. The venue
for Marriott's steam swan song was the annual Daytona
speed trials in January 1906, where he covered the
kilometre in 18.4 seconds and the mile in 28.2 seconds.
The kilometre speed works out at 121.57, but the
mile speed was 127.66, or approaching 20 miles an
hour better than the standing record. This was such
a big jump that it stood unbeaten for four whole
years. Another of Marriott's claims is that he was
the first man to exceed two miles a minute, and when
you take into consideration this was achieved by “steam” power,
you cannot help but admire his courage.
was impressive because it was so silent in comparison
with the thundering multi-litred contemporary petrol-engined
cars. It was also much lower to the ground, yet surprisingly
less of the driver projected from the cockpit.
fact all that could be seen from the front was Marriott's
head, wearing a close-fitting Belgian-type beret. The body enveloped all the machinery in the modern
manner and had a knife-edge front. Later he tried
to improve on his own very fast speed but lost control
and crashed, but was not seriously injured, even
though travelling at an estimated 120 mph.
deserves a special place as the last steam car to hold
the world record and the last non-petrol driven vehicle
to hold the record until we come to the paraffin-operated
turbines of modern times. Its other claim is that it
was the first car to hold the record at over two miles
a minute, although the 200 hp. Darracq had achieved
this speed but not on a record run.
The Stanley Brothers,
probably the best known and most successful of the
steam-car makers, started up in 1897, sold their flourishing
business to the rival Locomobile Company in 1899 for
250,000 dollars, and later bought it back, apparently
for a bargain price. The Stanleys, F. 0. and F. L.,
were making in 1906 a standard 10 horse-power chassis,
and this Marriott used for his record run. But he used
a 20 horse-power boiler specially made and tested to
withstand much more than the normal pressure. He also
used a stream lined body.
The following year, in a
machine called the Rocket with an even higher boiler
pressure, Marriott reached 190 m.p.h., but crashed.
That would be his last attempt.