Historic Car Brands
The Ideal Motor Car Company, organised in June 1911 by Harry C Stutz with his friend, Henry F Campbell, began building Stutz cars in Indianapolis. Harry had been building cars for 14 years, including the ultra-low-chassis American Underslung in 1907 and had developed his own-design three-speed transaxle.
1912 Stutz racer- Gil Anderson – Illinois Chicago Historical Society
To prove the worth of his integrated gearbox and final drive, he and Henry built the first ‘Stutz’ in five weeks, in 1911 and entered it in the first Indianapolis 500. Driven by Gil Anderson, the Stutz Auto Parts Co car, ‘Bear Cat’, finished 11th and earned the moniker: ‘The car that made good in a day’.
1914 Stutz Bearcat – Autoworldmobilia
Orders came in for replicas of the Stutz racer that was given the name ‘Stutz Bearcat’. They were powered by 6.4-litre, four- cylinder, side-valve, cross-flow, T-head, 60hp Wisconsin engines and the transmission and final drive assembly was Harry Stutz’s three-speed. A smaller Wisconsin six-cylinder engine was also available.
In June 1913 Ideal Motor Car Company changed its name to Stutz Motor Car Company and Stutz Auto Parts Company that made transaxles was merged into it.
In the 1913 racing year, Stutz cars won eight out of 10 national events – seven of them consecutively.
Wisconsin four-cylinder engine
In 1914 came the Bearcat Speedster that was little more than a bonneted rolling chassis, with two leather-trimmed bucket seats, a transverse cylindrical fuel tank, ‘monocle’ windscreen, portable ‘trunk’ and a spare wheel and tyre.
It sold off the back of racing successes by the Stutz’ ‘White Squadron’ race team won the 1915 national championship and scored third, fourth and seventh at Indy, before withdrawing from racing in October 1915.
Like its great rival the Mercer Type 35R Raceabout, the Stutz Bearcat Speedster was among America’s first true sportscars and drew patronage from the likes of Barney Oldfield and Erwin `Canonball’ Baker; the latter using his to shatter the existing coast-to-coast record by seven-and-a-half hours in 1915.
There was reportedly good-natured banter between Mercer and Stutz afficiandos: ‘ You’d be nuts to buy a Stutz’, was apparently countered – ungrammatically – by: ‘There’s nothing worser than a Mercer’.
1915 Stutz White Squadron
The White Squadron Stutz cars were different from production cars in being powered by five-litre engines that complied with the new 300 cubic-inch maximum capacity racing rule. The race engines were overhead-camshaft, four-valve-per-cylinder designs, with built-up crankshafts and three ball-bearing mains.
Keen to expand the company, Harry Stutz allowed Wall Street financier Allen Ryan to float the Stutz Motor Car Company of America Inc on the New York Stock Exchange in 1916.
However, Harry Stutz was an engineer foremost and a reluctant company director, so he left Stutz on July 1, 1919 and together with Henry Campbell established the H C S Motor Car Company and Stutz Fire Apparatus Company.
1926 Stutz Sedan Nemor
Allen Ryan was left in control of Stutz , but when he and some friends attempted stock manipulation, in April 1920, it proved disastrous. The Stutz Motor Car Company was delisted. Ryan went bankrupt in August 1922, as well as being disinherited by his outraged father.
Thereafter, the marque drifted somewhat and, having failed to meet Allen Ryan’s ambitious projections, was taken over by Bethlehem Steel magnate, Charles M Schwab.
Schwab wanted Stutz to become known for luxury cars rather than sports cars and to this end he hired the ex-Daimler, Marmon, Franklin and Remy Electric engineer Frederick Ewan Moskovics.
Moskovics counted Louis Delage, Gabriel Voisin, Charles Weymann and Ettore Bugatti among his friends. When he was appointed president, on February 17th 1925, he soon recruited the Swiss-born Charles Greuter and ex-Metallurgique prodigy Paul Bastien to instigate a Eurocentric design philosophy.
1929 Stutz Model M LeBaron – Larry D Moore
Looking for a unique selling point with which to enter the luxury car market, Moskovics decided upon safety. Thus, the `Vertical Eight’ or `AA’ model that was launched at the January 1926 New York Motor Show was promoted as the `Safety Stutz’.
This new Stutz had a low centre of gravity, thanks to its use of a `double dropped’ chassis frame and Timken worm-drive back axle. Sitting some five to eight inches closer to the ground than the class average endowed the `Vertical Eight’ with superior handling and roadholding capabilities.
Safety measures included wire-reinforced `shatterproof’ glass and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes.
The Stutz straight-eight, 4.7-litre engine had a nine-bearing crankshaft, single, chain-driven, overhead-camshaft and dual-ignition. It developed 92hp at 3200rpm and drove through a three-speed manual transmission and ensured that the `Safety Stutz’ was one of the fastest luxury cars that money could buy.
1929 Stutz Roadster – Rex Gray
Seeking some racing ‘cred’ as well for his new creation, the Stutz President had none other than Ettore Bugatti rework the Vertical Eight’s cylinder head in 1927.
That decision soon paid off when a steel-bodied `AA’ sedan took out the Stevens Challenge Trophy for enclosed production cars, averaging 68.44mph for 24 hours at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Then the newly introduced Black Hawk Speedster won every race it entered to be crowned AAA Stock Car Champion.
Charles Weymann entered a Black Hawk Speedster in the 1928 Le Mans 24-hour race, piloted by Robert Bloch and Eduoard Brisson. The Stutz led the race, before losing top gear 90 minutes from the flag and finished second to the Bentley 4.5 Litre of Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin.
1930 Stutz SV16 Monte Carlo by Weymann – German Medeot
That same year brought another AAA Stock Car Championship and a new American Production Car Speed Record of 106.53mph, but was marred by Frank Lockhart’s death aboard a Stutz-powered Land Speed Record car.
The Lockhart car was powered by a Miller ‘U-16’ engine: two, supercharged, in-line, 1.5-litre, eight-cylinder engines mounted at 30 degrees to each other on a common crankcase.
Stutz’s assault on the 1929 Le Mans 24-hours netted a fifth place overall, behind a quartet of Bentleys.
However, Stutz could not beat the Great Depression and, as sales plummeted, Moskovics made way for a new president, Colonel Edgar S Gorrell. The new Stutz president decided to follow Duesenberg’s lead, by adopting a twin-overhead-camshaft cylinder head.
1932 Stutz DV-32 engine – 27Stutz
The DV32 was launched in May 1931, with 155.8hp from 5.28 litres, where Cadillac managed only 185hp from 7.4 litres and Marmon needed 8.0 litres to achieve 200hp. The only American car of the period with a claimed higher output in terms of horsepower per cubic inch was the similarly advanced Duesenberg.
The fastest DV32 – the short-wheelbase Super Bearcat – could exceed 100mph with ease, but even the limousine bodied long wheelbase derivatives were said to be able to cruise at 70mph and touch 90mph on occasion. As well as being more exclusive and aesthetically adventurous, the Custom cars benefited from plusher upholstery and lustrous Carpathian Elm veneers.
1932 Stutz Convertible Coupe SV-16 – Greg Gjerdingen
However, the Depression was relentless and production was only 310 cars in 1931 and 206 cars in 1932. That slumped to 80 cars in 1933 and petered out the next season, after only six had been made.
Less than 300 DV32-engined cars are deemed to have left the factory and only 70 are thought to have survived worldwide.
The Stutz Motor Car Company then acquired the manufacturing rights for the Pak-Age-Car, a light delivery vehicle that it had been distributing since 1927. The delivery vehicle was put into production by Stutz’s Package Car Division in March 1933 and the production of automobiles stopped.
When production ended in 1935, some 35,000 cars had been manufactured. Stutz Motor was charged with stock manipulation again in 1935 and filed for bankruptcy in April 1937.
1988 Stutz Bearcat II -Source144
Designer Virgil Exner revived the Stutz name in August 1968, in conjunction with New York banker, James O’Donnell. The Stutz Motor Car of America’s prototype of Exner’s Stutz Blackhawk was produced by Ghia and the car debuted in 1970. (Some would say, ‘unfortunately’.)
Exner had given Chrysler its ‘Forward Look’ and Studebaker its aircraft-inspired styling in the 1950s and maybe he should have retired before he attempted to resurrect the Stutz name.
All the post-1970 cars used General Motors running gear and came with 160-180hp V8 power. Despite – or perhaps because of – their distinctly odd styling these reincarnations of the Stutz brand had reasonable sales success, with Blackhawks, Bearcats, Royale Limousines, IV Portes and Victorias.
The new Stutz was marketed as the ‘World’s Most Expensive Car’, with a Royale limousine priced at US$285,000 in 1984. Production was limited and an estimated 617 cars were built. Sales began to wane in 1985, but continued until 1995.
Elvis Presley bought the first Blackhawk in 1971 and later purchased three more. Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Evel Knievel, Barry White and Sammy Davis Jr all owned Stutz cars.
Stutz Bear HS05 – Stutz Registry – Husam Al Maliki
Another weird Stutz development was the 1984 Defender/Gazelle/Bear armoured SUV range that was based on the Chevrolet Suburban. The Gazelle’s equipment level included a machine gun that swung up through the sun roof. Of course it did!