The statue of Stanley marks the very spot where Radiator Springs was founded. As he was traveling west searching for a place to settle and make his fortune, Stanley stumbled upon a natural spring coming up from the earth. He stopped to fill his radiator and never left. Soon afterward Stanley met Lizzie, the love of his life, and together they founded Radiator Springs, which soon became a legendary resting spot for travelers making their way across Route 66.
When Mater leaves Taillight Caverns after time traveling, he can't find the town, but he sees Stanley by a nearby spring. Stanley was refilling his radiator, then he met Mater. He showed Mater his collection of radiator caps that he sells to customers. He asks Mater if he wants a cap. Mater says no, so Stanley left to go to California to look for more customers.
Mater realizes that if Stanley doesn't stay, Radiator Springs won't exist in the future! So, he gets Lightning from the present, goes back to 1909, and removes Lightning's radiator cap. He calls out to Stanley, saying that their was a car who needs a radiator cap. Stanley comes, and gives Lightning a radiator cap. Then, 2 more cars needing radiator caps arrived. Stanley took those 2 cars to the spring, where they both got a drink. Mater tells Stanley to build a town "right next to this here radiator spring." Stanley likes the idea, and decides to name the town Radiator Springs. He starts planning how the town should be built. Mater and Lightning go further into the future, because they think it will take a while for the town to get built.
Next, they arrive in 1927. Stanley finds them, wondering where they had been. He shows them the town, which included a radiator cap store and a water fountain. Then, all three cars see a Model T, who breaks down. Mater comes to help the car, who turns out to be Lizzie, to the town. Lizzie appears to be falling in love with McQueen. Mater realizes that if Lizzie falls in love with McQueen, then she won't fall in love with Stanley, and then he will leave, and there won't be a Radiator Springs! However, Lizzie asks Lightning to step aside, revealing she had her eye on Stanley. Lightning introduces Stanley and Lizzie to each other. Stanley takes Lizzie to the fountain to get a drink of water, then into the radiator cap store to get her a new radiator cap. Lizzie likes her new cap, then she and Stanley drive away together.
A few years later, Stanley and Lizzie got married and honeymooned at Comfy Caverns.
- A vehicle similar to Stanley is featured in the Pixar short Boundin'.
- Stanley was a steam car, directly based on the Stanley Steamer.