Harry C. Stutz the quintessential automotive pioneer

Harry C. Stutz

During his career, Harry C. Stutz had a hand in developing and designing many cars, such as the American, Marion, Empire, and Ideal. The one bearing his own name, the Stutz, is the most well-known.

One of his early innovations developed in 1908 was the transaxle, a device that combined the transmission and rear differential. In 1909, he organized The Stutz Auto Parts Company to manufacture and sell his patented transaxle.

In 1911, Stutz formulated his dream of a quality sports car built from assembled, high-quality components manufactured by outside suppliers at a price below $2,000. The first Stutz was built in just five weeks and garnered an eleventh-place finish in the inaugural Indianapolis 500. The Ideal Motor Car Company was organized to manufacture duplicates of the Indy race car for passenger use. The famous Stutz Bearcat sports car appeared in 1912 for a run of 10 years. The Ideal Motor Car Company was reorganized as the Stutz Motor Car Company, with Harry Stutz as president in June 1913.

In 1919, Harry Stutz founded two new ventures, the Stutz Fire Engine Company and the H.C.S. Motor Car Company. His creative spirit continued through the late 1920’s when he developed a revolutionary, horizontally opposed, four-cylinder aircraft engine. However, he died in June 1930 before this Stutz-Bellanca engine could be commercialized.

Stutz’s innovations brought wide appeal to Indiana automotive history. Today, you can visit the Stutz Motor Company building at 10th and Capitol in Indianapolis, to see some of his cars in the Turner Woodard Collection.

For more information on Indiana auto pioneers, follow this link.

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