Frank B. Stearns (1879-1955) built his first car in the basement of his family's Cleveland, Ohio home at the age of 17. With his father's support, he later relocated his "factory" to the family barn. In 1898, he established F. B. Stearns and Company, producing various small cars that gained renown for their quality. As his market expanded, Stearns' cars grew in size and power.
In a landmark development in 1912, Stearns became the first U.S. manufacturer to license the groundbreaking "Silent Knight" sleeve valve engine design. A stipulation of the U.S. licensing required the inclusion of the word "Knight" in the car’s name, leading to the creation of the Stearns-Knight. Interestingly, European licensees such as Mercedes, Daimler, and Panhard were exempt from this requirement.
Renowned for their remarkable power and minimal noise, Stearns-Knight automobiles, including this model capable of reaching 90 MPH, were proudly advertised as "America’s Most Luxurious Motor Car." Priced at approximately $5000, our 1913 Stearns-Knight stands as the last known operational exemplar of this prestigious model. In a transformative turn of events in 1925, the company underwent a change in ownership, with J.N. Willys, a figure synonymous with Willys-Knight and Jeep, taking the helm. The legacy of the Stearns-Knight endures as a testament to Frank B. Stearns' pioneering contributions to the automotive landscape.