The Splendid Stutz

The Splendid Stutz –traces the many Stutz ventures from 1909 to 1934

The Splendid Stutz

The Splendid Stutz: The Cars, Companies, People and Races
Raymond A. Katzell

The Splendid Stutz combines the efforts of The Stutz Club to bring about a collective history of their marque. Before this book, Stutz history existed only in fragmented articles found mostly in club and hobby publications. Editor Raymond A. Katzell coordinated the work of 17 authors, in addition to numerous other individuals, to form a cohesive account of Harry Stutz and the automobiles he and his successors built. Stutz vehicles include Bearcat, Black Hawk, DV-32, H.C.S., and Stutz fire engines.

During his 30-year trek in the automobile industry, Stutz had a hand in many automobiles that crossed the American landscape of which the Stutz marque is most well known. In late 1905, Stutz designed the inaugural four-cylinder conventional chassis automobile for the new American Motor Car Company. In 1906, Stutz began a four-year involvement with the Marion Motor Car Company as chief engineer and factory manager. In 1910, Marion introduced the Marion Special Roadster expressly for racing. The Special had a number of Stutz-engineered features, one of which was the “transaxle,” which combined the transmission and rear differential, that would form the basis of his next venture.

In November 1909, Harry organized The Stutz Auto Parts Company to manufacture and sell the transaxle he had designed and patented. Early auto manufacturers were making the transition from chain to shaft drive, and some thought it efficient to purchase the whole unit from a specialized manufacturer like Stutz. The 1911 Empire Model 20 reflected Stutz’s influence as consulting engineer with the implementation of new features including the transaxle.

It was during this time that 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. Gil Anderson drove the car to an eleventh place finish, and, thus, Harry coined the advertising slogan, “The Car That Made Good in a Day.” In the summer of 1911, the Ideal Motor Car Company was organized for manufacture of the Stutz Model A, a duplicate of the Indy race car.
The famous Stutz Bearcat sports car appeared in 1912 for a run of 10 years. In June 1913, the Ideal Motor Car Company was reorganized as the Stutz Motor Car Company, with Harry Stutz as president.

Increasing sales prompted Stutz to make the decision to go public in 1915. In 1916, a group of Wall Street investors headed by Allan A. Ryan bought controlling interest in Stutz. Harry sold his remaining interest in the company that bore his name in 1919 to pursue other opportunities.

The Stutz Motor Car Company was no exception to the recessionary events of the early twenties that took its toll on numerous auto companies. Stutz reacted promptly with a price reduction in 1921. Stutz competitors in the luxury field were promoting multi-cylinder models while Stutz’s proven 4-cylinder was aging in the marketplace. In January 1922, Allan Ryan resigned as chairman, and filed for bankruptcy after manipulating the market for Stutz stock.

On August 2, 1922, control of Stutz passed to Charles M. Schwab and his associates. On August 15, Schwab announced a price reduction selected models. The year 1923 would mark a transition for Stutz with the introduction of a 6-cylinder automobile. Management was still facing depressed sales and the perception that its engineering innovation was slipping. On February, 17, 1925, Fredrick E. Moskovics was named president of Stutz, with the provision to proceed with his plans to design, develop, and manufacture a lower European chassis with an 8-cylinder overhead cam engine.

The new Vertical Eight, Series AA, was introduced in January 1926. This car was marketed as the “Safety Stutz,” because of its innovation of safety glass windows. Moskovics resigned from Stutz in January 1929. At the end of 1929 Stutz saw declining sales and higher prices than its rivals in the luxury market. The events of the Depression further compounded Stutz’s concerns in the marketplace.

In May of 1931, Stutz introduced its DV 32, a 156 horsepower, 8-cylinder engine with four valves per cylinder. This refinement of its proven 8-cylinder engine was based on its motor sports experience, and it was hoped to insulate Stutz from the continuing luxury trend to 12 and 16-cylinder engines. Stutz auto production effectively ends with the final six cars built in 1934.

In 1919, Harry Stutz founded two new automotive ventures; the Stutz Fire Engine Company and the H.C.S. Motor Car Company. The Stutz Fire Engine Company was incorporated in May 1919. The first Stutz pumper earned a perfect score in a 12-hour test at a fire chief’s convention against eight worthy competitors. Several cities placed orders on-the-spot for the new units. Stutz grew into a major manufacturer of fire apparatus in the twenties, but it didn’t reach the volume needed. Harry left the fire engine company in 1924, probably to better focus on the H.C.S. Company. After building a total of 302 units, the company expired late in the decade.

The purpose of the H.C.S. venture was to build a quality moderately-priced assembled-car, and was exhibited at the 1920 New York Auto Show. Stutz selected a Weidley 4-cylinder, 50 horsepower engine on a 120″ wheelbase. As has been recounted earlier, the early twenties was a perilous time to launch a new auto maker. Sales of the H.C.S. failed to reach the critical mass to become an enduring make and succumbed along with hundreds of other passenger car makes in 1924. H.C.S. Cab Manufacturing Company was announced in late 1924. The cab firm entered receivership in 1927.

The Splendid Stutz provides an excellent account of Harry C. Stutz, his companies, the people behind the stories and the Stutz racing heritage. Over 530 photographs in the book cover the progression of the various vehicles. Sidebars cover the key characters and events along the way. The authors keen interest and knowledge in their particular areas comes through. It is a great account of some key automobiles and events in the first part of America’s automotive century.

The Splendid Stutz: The Cars, Companies, People and Races, Raymond A. Katzell, Indianapolis, IN, The Stutz Club, © 1996, ISBN 0-9654709-0-3

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