The F. B. STEARNS CO. produced automobiles in Cleveland from 1898 until Dec. 1929. Frank B. Stearns and 2 partners—Ralph R. and Raymond M. Owen—established F. B. Stearns & Co. in a shop behind the Stearns family home at Euclid and Republic (E. 101st) St. in 1898. The company made about 50 2-cylinder, 4-passenger automobiles between 1898-1900. After the Owenses left the firm in 1900, Stearns rented a shop at the corner of EUCLID AVE. and Lakeview Rd. and incorporated the firm in 1902 as the F. B. Stearns Co. The firm produced 80 new cars in 1903, all painted red, and by 1906 it had increased production to 300 cars a year. Proud of the cars' performance, Stearns entered stripped-down stock cars in races, endurance runs, and hill climbs, winning several times.

A full-side view of a large 1910 Cleveland-Built  F.B. Stearns sedan. Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, WRHS.
A 1910 F.B. Stearns sedan. Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, WRHS.

By 1910 production had increased to 1,000 units a year and Stearns introduced its first truck. The company also introduced its first automobile with a special British Knight engine in 1911; from 1912-29 the company's cars were known as Stearn-Knights. In 1912 F. B. Stearns had branches and dealers in 125 cities. During WORLD WAR I, the firm produced Rolls Royce airplane engines as well as its own automobiles. Although automobile production reached 3,850 in 1920, the company was almost bankrupt in Dec. 1925 when Willys-Overland Co. of Toledo bought controlling interest in it. F. B. Stearns never recovered its financial health, and the company was dissolved on 30 Dec. 1929.

Wager, Richard. Golden Wheels (1975).

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