What became of the Doble Steam Auto?

| September/October 1971

Rt. 1, Plattsmouth, Nebraska 68048

I was particularly interested in the article by Alva Hulburt of Sterling, Ill., entitled 'I Am Concerned' which appeared in the March-April issue of the I. M. A. magazine, on pages 15-16, in which he touches upon a very important issue regarding air pollution and the present hysteria of a certain segment of our society who are demanding a ban on all forms of smoke, whether produced by steam engines, brush fires, autos or what have you. This is extremely far reaching in its scope and I sincerely hope it will never be carried that far. Though I am thoroughly in favor of pollution control, let us keep it sane.

Mr. Hulbert states he read that changing to steam-driven autos would eliminate 80% to 85% of the pollution, and I do not doubt it. But will any of the auto manufacturers ever have the nerve to make the changeover, especially with the big petroleum companies with their billion dollar gasoline business on their backs.

As I remember the Doble Steam Auto was developed to a very high degree of mechanical efficiency along about 1916-1918. I had a catalog describing it and it appeared to have very pleasing lines, very similar to the conventional gasoline autos of that era. I know the company was taking orders for it, as a cousin of mine in Chicago, had his order in for one. It was never delivered. Why weren't these steam autos completed and put on the market?

Here is the reason as told me by a gentleman from Kansas City, Mo. This gentleman was as Automative Engineer at this time, about twenty years ago; he was with the Army Engineers working on the huge Missouri River project. He stated he had positive evidence that the Doble Steam Auto Company was bought out lock, stock and barrel by one of the big petroleum companies (whose name I shall not mention) just to keep it off the market and thereby avoid the impact, steam driven cars would have on their huge gasoline business.

Now, you can take this information for what it is worth but personally I am inclined to believe it, at least, until I find more positive evidence as to why the Doble Steam Auto was never marketed.


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