A popular History Channel’s American Pickers episode features a Merz Cyclecar made in Indianapolis. I’d like to share some facts about this cyclecar, which was produced for a short time in 1914.
Charles C. Merz, a former driver of Indianapolis-built National and Stutz racing cars and a member of the engineering and experimental department of the National Motor Vehicle Co., developed the Merz Cyclecar. The vehicles were a two-passenger tandem car and a light delivery commercial car with a capacity of about 30 cubic feet.
The Merz featured 84-inch wheelbase and a 40-inch tread, with a short V-belt drive train and a friction transmission affording a speed variation from 5 to 45 m.p.h. The engine was an Indianapolis-built Spacke DeLuxe two-cylinder V-type air-cooled engine rated at 9 h.p. Other features were a pressed steel frame with drop forged I-beam front and rear axles and a pressed steel streamline one-piece body and hood. The body was strongly reinforced throughout and upholstered in black. It was of the torpedo foredoor with streamline effects.
The engine was mounted across the width of the chassis behind the front windscreen and drove a short drive shaft to the friction disc under the front seat connecting the jackshaft to the rear wheels. This provided a comfortable body on the short wheelbase. All running parts were in annular or roller bearings. Both the front screen and the side ventilating doors on both sides of the hood give easy access to the engine. The five-gallon fuel tank was located under the cowl dash, thus providing plenty of capacity for up to 225 miles of running. An oil tank with sight-feed lubrication was located under the top of the hood. The muffler was connected to the engine by flexible tubes.
The complete car weighed 525 pounds and sold for $450, with standard equipment including 28×3 inch non-skid tires, a high-tension magneto, head and tail lights with Prest-O-Lite tank, horn, set of tools, tire pump, and tire repair kit.
Charles Merz aimed the car for quality rather than low cost. Merz claimed that extended road tests had demonstrated an operating expense of less than one cent a mile for gasoline, oil and tires. Merz felt that lending a “luxury” air to a budget product had a certain sales appeal.
Unfortunately, the company entered receivership in summer of 1914. The volume of production is not known.
For more information on Indiana cars & companies follow this link.