The Moline Plow Company manufactured agricultural tools and coaches in Freeport, Illinois, but business was slumping. The demand for coaches was decreasing, but at the same time the demand for motorcars was growing. Because the company had a large permanent clientele, Stephens Motor branch was founded especially for the production of motorcars in 1915. The company was named after the first managing director Mr Stephens. In early 1916, a few early prototypes were built and at the end of that year the first car was delivered. The first Stephens was powered by four-cylinder engines made by Continental. In 1917, the company presented its own six-cylinder, over-head-valve engine, the Salient Six. For the first few years, everything went according to plan, but at the start of the twenties the turnover decreased dramatically. In spite of the fact that the prices were lowered, the company did not manage to stimulate sales. In 1924, the last Stephen rolled off the assembly line. In total some 35,000 Stephens had been sold.
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The following information is submitted by Richard E. Stephens who refers to ‘ The Rise and Fall of the Stephens Automobile’, available at the Stephenson Co. Historical Museum, Freeport, IL.
‘The first Stephens Six produced in 1916 was a 6 cylinder model with a 7W Continental engine. They produced no 4 cylinder models’.