Tag Archives: Stutz Bearcat

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.

For more information on Indiana-built automobiles follow this link.

Mileposts in Indiana automotive history-Part Two

In this series of posts, I’m sharing some of my list of Indiana’s mileposts in automotive history. I share this automotive heritage to energize and excite auto enthusiasts to get involved with collectible cars.

1906 American Motors Company of Indianapolis develops the American Underslung car, one of the first examples of low-center-of-gravity engineering.

1906 Maxwell-Briscoe, (predecessor of Chrysler Corporation), builds its plant in New Castle. It is the largest automobile plant in the nation.

1906 National Motor Vehicle Company introduces a six-cylinder model, one of the first in America.

1907-American-Underslung
1907-American-Underslung

1907 Willys-Overland Motors is established by auto dealer John North Willys, who takes over control of Overland Automobile of Indianapolis and moves it in 1909 to the old Pope-Toledo plant in Toledo, Ohio.

1909 Carl G. Fisher, James A. Allison, Arthur C. Newby and Frank H. Wheeler pool $250,000 in capital to form the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Company and transform an Indianapolis west side farm into a two-and-a-half-mile oval that becomes synonymous with automobile racing. The Speedway is designed as an automotive testing ground for U.S. manufactured automobiles to establish American auto supremacy. After the August motorcycle and auto races, the macadam track is repaved with 3,200,000 ten-pound bricks.

1911 The first Indianapolis 500 Mile race is held May 30. A Marmon Wasp averages 75 miles per hour to win. The Wasp employs streamlining via elongated front and rear sections and adds the innovation of a rearview mirror.

1911 Haynes Automobile Company is the first to equip an open car with a top, a windshield, headlamps and a speedometer as standard equipment.

1912 Stutz Motor Car Company is founded by Harry C. Stutz, who merges his Stutz Auto Parts with Ideal Motor Car.

1912-Stutz-Model-A Roadster
1912-Stutz-Model-A Roadster

1912 The Davis car is the first to have a center-control gearshift and the Bendix self-starter.

1912 The Stutz Bearcat is introduced with a design patterned on the White Squadron racing cars that won victories in 1913. Stutz also produces family cars, while the Bearcat provides lively competition for the Mercer made at Trenton, New Jersey.

1913 On July 1, the Lincoln Highway Association is created with Henry B. Joy (president, Packard Motor Company) as president and Carl G. Fisher as vice president. The Lincoln Highway is conceived as America’s first transcontinental highway.

1913 Premier and Studebaker concurrently introduce a six-cylinder engine featuring mono bloc engine casting.

1914 The Haynes is one of the first autos to offer the Vulcan Electric Gear Shift as standard equipment.

1914-Haynes-Model-28-Touring-Car
1914-Haynes-Model-28-Touring-Car

Mileposts in Indiana automotive history -Part One

To learn more about Indiana’s automotive innovation, I invite you to pick up a copy of Indiana Cars: A History of the Automobile in Indiana click here.

America sees first sport cars in Indiana?

Could it be that America’s first sport cars were built in Indianapolis? Looking back over 106 years of American automobile styling, that seems to be the case. The 1907 American Underslung Roadster debuted American sports car styling.

The American Motor Car Company of Indianapolis began offering conventional automobiles in 1906. Fred I. Tone’s first assignment as the new chief engineer and designer was to design a completely “All-American car from American-made materials.”

1907 American Underslung
1907 American Underslung

Interestingly, the inspiration for this low sports roadster design came serendipitously. One day in 1906, when the frames were delivered to American, they were unloaded upside down. Tone seized upon the idea to mount the frame under the axles. The “underslung” was born. From that day on, American built all roadsters underslung while continuing to make touring cars and sedans on conventionally overslung chassis.

On the underslung, the engine and transmission were also drastically lowered between the frame rails. The roadster also used 40” wheels with the fenders about even with the top of the hood and body to enhance the styling.

Tone and the entire staff worked non-stop to bring the American Roadster to market.
When the 1907 Roadster and the conventional Tourist–both selling for $3,250 were announced in November 1906, American stated that output would be limited to 150 cars for the year. The American Roadsters that garnered numerous headlines in races during the summer of 1907 inspired building a more powerful roadster. American suspended operations in 1914.

1914 Stutz Bearcat
1914 Stutz Bearcat

At American’s cross-town rival Stutz Motor Car Company, the famous 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 and won numerous other races that same year. The next year a Bearcat finished third at the Indianapolis 500, and by late fall Stutz driver Earl Cooper was crowned the National Champion after winning six consecutive races.

So, that’s the story of America’s first sport cars being built in Indianapolis over 100 years ago. The next time you spy an American sports car think back to the American Underslung and the Stutz Bearcat beginning this sports car evolution.

For more information on Indiana cars & companies follow this link.

Stutz Motor Car Anniversary

This summer marks the 104th anniversary of the first Stutz Motor Car. Yet, at least equally significant is Harry C. Stutz’s involvement in developing many other vehicles that crossed the American landscape.

He designed a transaxle that combined the transmission and the rear differential in one unit. This transaxle became standard equipment on many other automobiles besides Stutz cars.

1912 Stutz Model A
1912 Stutz Model A
Copyright © 1912 Stutz Motor Car Co.
Photo courtesy of the Stutz Club

His own manufacturing commenced in early 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 was immediately taken to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the inaugural running of the 500 Mile Race. Gil Anderson drove the car to an eleventh place finish.

Later that summer, the Ideal Motor Car Company was organized for manufacture of the Stutz Model A, a duplicate of the Indy race car. New Stutz models were offered as a two-passenger roadster, four-passenger toy tonneau, and a five-passenger touring car. Each was priced at $2,000. Lighting was provided by a Prest-O-Lite system. Stutz emphasized its 1911 record of competing without any adjustments in two additional “great races” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Santa Monica, California. A Stutz Model A torpedo roadster served as the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 in 1912.

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 and won numerous other races that same year. The next year a Bearcat finished third at the Indianapolis 500, and by late fall Stutz driver Earl Cooper was crowned the National Champion after winning six consecutive races.

In June 1913, the Ideal Motor Car Company was reorganized as the Stutz Motor Car Company, with Harry Stutz as president. The Stutz White Squadron racing team did extraordinarily well in 1915 (its last under factory sponsorship), with victories at several tracks. Also in 1915, Cannonball Baker drove a stock Bearcat cross country from San Diego, California, to New York City, New York, in a record-breaking time of 11 days, 7 hours, and 15 minutes.

In the years preceding World War I, Stutz’s sales increased nearly ten-fold—from 266 cars in 1912 to 1,873 five years later.

Harry sold his interest in the company that bore his name in June 1919, and founded two new automotive ventures—the Stutz Fire Engine Company and the H.C.S. Motor Car Company. The Stutz Motor Company went on to manufacturer many cars of distinction like the Safety Stutz, the Stutz Blackhawk, the Stutz DV-32 and the Stutz SV-16 through 1934.

So take a few moments to celebrate the contributions of Harry Stutz 104 years ago.

For more information on Indiana auto pioneers follow this link.

Bring Indianapolis automotive history to life

It is interesting that relationships which started over 120 years ago are responsible for so much of our life, jobs, community heritage, and car culture. I’ve found a way to bring Indianapolis’ automotive history to life.

A few years ago I developed Indianapolis Auto Tours to provide a look at the people and sites representing Indianapolis’ innovative role in our automotive heritage. Indianapolis was a commercial producer of automobiles and taxicabs from 1896 to 1937. The Circle City, with 91 different vehicles manufactured here, ranked second to Detroit as the chief rival for the title of the nation’s auto capital.

For example, let’s take a look at Harry C. Stutz’s involvement in developing many vehicles that crossed the American landscape.

1915 Stutz Bearcat
1915 Stutz Bearcat sports car

Copyright © 1915 Stutz Motor Car Co.

Photo courtesy of the Stutz Club

In 1910, He designed a transaxle that combined the transmission and the rear differential in one unit. This transaxle became standard equipment on many other automobiles besides Stutz cars.

Next, 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 in early 1911. The first Stutz was built in just five weeks and was immediately taken to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the inaugural running of the 500 Mile Race. Gil Anderson drove the car to an eleventh place finish.

Later that summer, the Ideal Motor Car Company was organized for manufacture of the Stutz Model A, a duplicate of the Indy race car. New Stutz models were offered as a two-passenger roadster, four-passenger toy tonneau, and a five-passenger touring car. Each was priced at $2,000. Stutz emphasized its 1911 record of competing without any adjustments in two additional “great races” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Santa Monica, California. A Stutz Model A torpedo roadster served as the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 in 1912.

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 and won numerous other races that same year. The next year a Bearcat finished third at the Indianapolis 500, and by late fall Stutz driver Earl Cooper was crowned the National Champion after winning six consecutive races.

In June 1913, the Ideal Motor Car Company was reorganized as the Stutz Motor Car Company, with Harry Stutz as president. The Stutz White Squadron racing team did extraordinarily well in 1915 (its last under factory sponsorship), with victories at several tracks. Also in 1915, Cannonball Baker drove a stock Bearcat cross country from San Diego, California, to New York City, New York, in a record-breaking time of 11 days, 7 hours, and 15 minutes.

In the years preceding World War I, Stutz’s sales increased nearly ten-fold—from 266 cars in 1912 to 1,873 five years later.

Harry sold his interest in the company that bore his name in June 1919, and founded two new automotive ventures—the Stutz Fire Engine Company and the H.C.S. Motor Car Company. The Stutz Motor Company went on to manufacturer many cars of distinction like the Safety Stutz, the Stutz Blackhawk, the Stutz DV-32 and the Stutz SV-16 through 1934.

I would like to offer you a personalized tour of our automotive heritage. An auto tour can bring some of these experiences to life. Why not experience some of this legacy today with an Indianapolis Auto Tour? Contact us today to schedule your tour!