A letter to The Horseless Age: Volume 15
January 1, 1905
Horseless Age Company


Expense of Operating a Steam Runabout
Having read with much interest the expense accounts of different car owners in your recent issues I thought perhaps my experiences in the expense line might interest others here they are:

In April 1903 I purchased a second hand steam runabout. During the summer I used it as a touring car myself and wife making a trip to Monterey over the Santa Cruz and San Juan mountains, and side trips 430 miles the round trip. In the late autumn we made a tour through Lake County one of the many "Switzerlands of America," over some rough mountain roads running in all 2,058 miles for the season. Early this spring we toured to the Giant Forest in the Sequoia National Park and return, 625 miles and were the first to negotiate that mountain road with an automobile. Some idea of the climb can be obtained from Geological Survey mark of 6,400 feet elevation at Camp Sierra -- enough to convey the idea that we are not patrons of the park boulevards. Being a machinist by trade and occupation has reduced my expense account, I believe very much. I have run the car 1,551 miles this year, or 3,609 miles in two seasons.

Depreciation 15 per cent of cost per season $56.25 $112.50
Gasoline 420 gallons average price $21.94 92.15
Repairs spring burner chain balls etc 62.90
Tires vulcanizing inner tube repair outfit etc 50.50
Miscellaneous supplies lamps horn robe etc 16.90
Transportation by boat ferry etc 14.05
Stabling on road alterations in stable etc 18.80
Insurance first season $300 2 per cent 6.00

A total cost of $373.8

Or 10.35 cents per mile. Ignoring the all important factor depreciation the bill would be $261.30 or 7 1/4 cents per mile The average mileage per gallon of gasoline was 8.35
The following list shows a percentage of cost of the different expenses

Without Depreciation
Depreciation .30
Gasoline .25
Repair .17
Tires .14
Stabling .05
Miscellaneous supplies .04
Transportation .04 .07
Insurance .01


As to present condition of car it is At ready to run on ten minutes notice.
WG Luper Introduction Card

W. G. Luper's "First Car in Sequoia National Park" feat is recorded in NPS 1936 Sequoia - National Park Service History

Some interesting comparison facts from "U.S. STATISTICS IN THE YEAR 1905.":