Tag Archives: Harry C. Stutz

Harry C. Stutz the quintessential automotive pioneer.

Harry C. Stutz the quintessential automotive pioneer had a hand in developing five motorcars. The Stutz automobiles are his most well-known are in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit. Visit the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit today.

1914 Stutz Bearcat
1914 Stutz Bearcat

Five weeks before the Inaugural 500-mile race on Memorial Day 1911, Harry C. Stutz built his first car. Capitalizing on the publicity generated by its eleventh place showing in the first outing, Stutz formed the Ideal Motor Company to build a production version of the racer later in 1911. Its slogan was “The Car that Made Good in a Day.” The sporty roadster made the company profitable.

In 1912, the Ideal Motor Company and the Stutz Auto Parts Company merged to form the Stutz Motor Car Company. Harry C. Stutz’s most famous passenger car was the Stutz Bearcat speedster. It followed the usual Stutz recipe of a low-slung chassis, a large four-cylinder engine, producing 60 hp at 1,500 rpm, and other bare necessities like, hood, fenders, raked steering column, two bucket seats, with a fuel tank behind them, and wire spoke wheels. A Stutz made three speed transmis¬sion was integral with the differential; an uncommon feature at the time.

The Stutz Bearcat was the most popular car despite its $2,000 price tag. Its ap¬peal was boosted by Stutz’s success at the race track. Bearcats finished fourth and sixth at the Indianapolis 500 in 1912 and won 25 of the 30 races in which they were entered that year. The next year a Bearcat finished second at the Indianapolis 500. In the years, preceding World War I, Stutz’s sales increased nearly tenfold-from 266 cars in 1912 to 2,207 five years later.

In 1922 Charles M. Schwab, the flamboyant chairman of Bethlehem Steel, became chairman of Stutz.

Late in 1924 Schwab installed Frederic E. Moskovics, formerly with Marmon and Franklin, as president. Moskovics’ team quickly prepared a new design. The result was the 1926 Vertical Eight, or Safety Stutz. The base of the car was a 92-horsepower straight-eight engine with chain-driven single-overhead cam¬shaft, and dual ignition. The chassis featured four-wheel hydraulic brakes, an underslung worm drive differential, and centralized chassis lubrication. This configuration allowed the fitting of low built, attractive bodies with safety glass. A year’s free passenger insurance was included with each Safety Stutz.

The company introduced another new model the Black Hawk speedster, in 1927. These low and short open types had reduced coachwork with scant cycle fenders and step plates replaced the running boards. Their fast looks proved no illusion when they won the American Automobile Association Stock Car Championship in 1927 and 1928. A Black Hawk placed second at Twenty-Fours of LeMans after leading the Bentley team cars much of the way.

In 1931, Stutz introduced the dual overhead-camshaft, four-valves per cylinder, 156 horsepower, straight-eight engine, designated the DV-32, to compete with the new multi cylinder cars being brought out by Lincoln, Cadillac, Marmon and others. With the DV32 a new Bearcat was listed in speedster form, and on a shorter chassis, as the Super Bearcat.

After recording their record sales of 5,000 cars in 1926, their business declined to 110 autos in 1933 and 6 in 1934.

Harry Stutz’s creative spirit continued on through the late 1920’s.

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1912 The Mission of the Sturdy Stutz

This article is about the advertisement titled “The Mission of the Sturdy Stutz” by the Ideal Motor Car Company the predecessor of the Stutz Motor Car Company.

1912 Stutz photo 2

“In the introduction of the Stutz Car a little less than a year ago, Harry C. Stutz determined to place on the market a car designed to embrace all the best features of his previous creations and constructed and equipped in each part with the best that money could buy, and to sell same at a legitimate manufacturing profit. He was able, through long experience in the buying of motor car parts and the personal attention he gives to this work, to purchase materials advantageously. After calculating our costs and our small overhead expense, we found we could produce the Stutz car, to be equal in mechanical perfection to any car built, no matter what the price, at a price of $2,000.00.”

“Our claim is that, as far as mechanical construction is concerned, it is not possible for anyone to build a better motor car than the Stutz. The wonderful satisfaction the car has given the many Stutz owners has fully substantiated this claim. If a 50 H.P., four-cylinder car is large enough there is absolutely no necessity of paying more than $2,000.00: you can buy nothing better that the Stutz.”

“Our wheelbase of 120 inches is ample for either a two, four or five passenger car. Our engine with large valves, develops full fifty horsepower. Our Stutz rear transmission system has long been recognized as a phenomenal success.”

“The graceful body designs appeal to the most discriminating buyer.”

“The strong sturdy design, so devoid of complications, is a revelation in motor car construction.”
“We can safely leave the decision to your own judgement after comparison with other cars. It is not simply a good car, but as good as it is possible for anyone to build.”

It is interesting to note Stutz’s advertising claims in this early era in automotive advertising. The first Stutz automobile was built in just five weeks in 1911, and competed in the Inaugural Indianapolis 500-mile Race. Gil Anderson drove this first Stutz to an eleventh-place finish. Stutz began advertising “The Car That Made Good in a Day.” Later that summer, the Ideal Motor Car Company was organized to manufacture the Stutz Model A, a duplicate of the Indy racer. A Stutz Model A torpedo roadster served as the pace car at the 1912 Indianapolis 500.

The famous Stutz Bearcat sports car appeared in 1912 for a run of 10 years. It followed the usual Stutz recipe of a low-slung chassis, a large engine, and other bare necessities—hood, fenders, a right-hand raked steering column, two bucket seats, a fuel tank behind the seats, and wooden spoke wheels. The Stutz Bearcat was a popular car in the $2,000 price range. Its ap¬peal was boosted by Stutz’s success at the race track. Bearcats finished fourth and sixth at the Indianapolis 500 in 1912. During the summer the company entered 30 different racing contests and won 25 of them.

Harry C. Stutz enjoyed many accomplishments in the early automotive industry. Later, he founded the H.C.S. Motor Car Company and the Stutz Fire Engine Company. His success started with the Stutz Motor Car Company.

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Schedule an Indianapolis Auto Tour

If you are an auto enthusiast looking to do something that is truly unique in Indianapolis, then scheduling an Indianapolis Auto Tour fits the bill.

Stutz Motor Car Company
The Stutz Motor Car Company

Did you know that at one time Indianapolis had more automobile manufacturers than Detroit?

Fortunately, Indianapolis still has over 30 manufacturing buildings and homes from this era to document this heritage. Did you know Indianapolis’ auto heritage is much more than auto racing.

Dennis E. Horvath is a “genuine car nut,” who enthusiastically shares his obsession for autos and touring. With a 20-year background sharing auto history, many have said that “Dennis brings the story of Indianapolis’ automotive heritage to life.”

Have Dennis travel along with you and learn about the Indianapolis auto leaders who had a significant impact on the American transportation experience. For example, find out about how Louis Chevrolet became the first builder to win two Indianapolis 500’s with cars built in Indianapolis. Hear about the Duesenberg brothers building their prestigious luxury cars and race cars on Washington Street. Learn about Carl G. Fisher, one of America’s forgotten promoters, starting as a bicyclist in the 1890’s and going on to promote auto racing and develop transcontinental highways and leisure destinations. Discover tidbits about Harry C. Stutz who accomplished an amazing feat with his first Stutz automobile that finished 11th in the 1911 Indianapolis 500-mile race.

These and many more unique stories allow you connect to our transportation heritage. It extends from our everyday car, to luxury cars, and modern highway systems. Indianapolis Auto Tours transport you back to the era when autos were more about the journey than the destination.

Testimonial
For anyone with even a passing interest in the auto industry, Indianapolis Auto Tours, conducted by Dennis Horvath, provides a fascinating look at how pervasive the industry once was in the city of Indianapolis. There are a surprising number of buildings still standing that help tell the story of the auto industry’s early days in Indy. Buildings that once housed legendary marques, such as Marmon, Stutz, Duesenberg, and numerous others still have a physical presence in the city, but many people unknowingly drive right past them every day. Dennis relates fascinating stories about not only the companies, but also the leading industry personalities who once occupied those buildings whose success in the formative years of the auto industry ensured their rightful place in history.
Ted Woerner,
Co-Owner, Miles Ahead

Click here to Plan Your Visit.

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.

Harry Stutz’s Last Hurrah

With the boom following World War I in full swing, Harry C. Stutz sold his interest in the Stutz Motor Company and left to form H.C.S. Motor Car Company in 1919. The H.C.S. was a moderate-sized, quality-assembled automobile similar to its predecessor, the Stutz. The H.C.S. factory was constructed at 1402 N. Capitol Avenue in Indianapolis, just across the street from another newcomer, the Stutz Fire Engine Company. The H.C.S. Indianapolis showroom was in the Charles E. Stutz Sales Company premises at 848 N. Meridian Street.

1920 H.C.S.
1920 H.C.S.

In late 1919, a H.C.S. prototype was built. The car had an upright nickel-silver radiator, drum-style headlights, cycle-type fenders, aluminum step plates in place of traditional running boards, and self-supporting side-mounted spare tires. A modified 50 h.p. Weidley four-cylinder engine was standard equipment. The prototype used a Delco generating, starting, and lighting system. The valve cover, side covers, bell housing, and finned oil pan were all of cast aluminum. The initial offering price of a roadster was $2,725 with a top price of $3,650 for the sedan.

H.C.S. was selected as the pace car for the 1921 Indianapolis 500. Then in the 1923 Memorial Day classic, the company-sponsored, straight-eight race car obtained the pole position and finished in first place.

1921 H.C.S.
1921 H.C.S.

Stutz’s timing on the H.C.S. was unfortunate because of the economic recession of 1921-1922. In 1921, prices on H.C.S. open cars were reduced to $2,400, and the sedan dropped to $3,150. About 800 cars were produced in 1920 and around 650 cars in 1921.

Then in 1923 Stutz introduced the new six-cylinder Model 6 on a 126-inch wheelbase. A roadster was priced at $2,250. Early Model 6’s also used Weidley engines, while later models used Midwest engines. Both were rated at 80 h.p. An interesting feature on the 1923 models was the use of 10-inch diameter drum headlights with six-inch tilting reflectors. A switch mounted on the steering column permitted deflection of the headlight beam. This was an early application of headlight dimming. In 1923, four-cylinder production amounted to about 500 cars, with another 500 of six-cylinder cars.

The H.C.S. was virtually an all-Indiana automobile, with the Weidley engine from Indianapolis, Ross steering gear from Lafayette, Delco ignition from Anderson, and standard production bodies from Connersville. It was also a fairly expensive with prices running from $2,725 for a roadster to $3,650 for a sedan, and that contributed to the company’s insolvency in early 1927 after a 1920-1926 production run of approximately 2,500 automobiles.

The H.C.S. was meant to be Harry C. Stutz’s triumphant return to the world of automobile manufacturing, a competitive arena in which he had been one of the kingpins as founder of the Stutz Motor Car Company. But, unlike the dawn of the industry, the 1920s were a different world. It was a decade which would see the demise of many auto makers in the U.S., and one of them would be the car that Harry built.

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