This 1915 F.R.P. is named after the man responsible for its unique design - Finley Robertson Porter. In 1910, this 38-year-old, with no formal training, worked at Mercer and created the captivating T-Head mercer Raceabout. Under his management, Team Mercer attracted the best drivers including Barney Oldfield, Ralph DePalma, Spencer Wishart and Hughie Hughes and defeated specially prepared cars with engines of twice the cubic displacement. By 1914, Mercer had become successful with the Raceabouts but knew it had to be updated and modernized. Porter was discouraged by the direction Mercer was going and resigned his position.
Porter insisted on performances, sophistication and quality and, thus, designed the F.R.P. At the heart of this vehicle is a 454 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine, fitted with a single overhead camshaft and eight large 2.5 inch diameter valves in a cylinder head with hemispherical combustion chambers boasting 170 horsepower, the highest power figure listed for production cars at that time. It is capable of 88 miles per hour. Without the advent of World War I, Porter might have been able to secure the financial backing he needed to continue, but went under in 1918.
This is the only F.R.P. known to exist. In 1975, it became part of the William Harrah Collection
F.R.P., short for Finley Robertson Porter, was the designer and engineer of the T-head Mercer. After the decision was made to switch to an L-head design for the 1915 models, Porter resigned and began his own company - the Finley Robertson Porter Company on Long Island, New York. The company was intent on producing an automobile powered by the Knight-engine. Three examples were built and were to be entered in the 1914 edition of the Indianapolis 500. All three cars experienced engine problems prior to the Indy 500 and did not compete at Indy.
Falling back to his time at Mercer, Porter built a chassis similar to the Mercer and was powered by a single-overhead-camshaft four-cylinder engine offering 100 horsepower. It boasted speeds of 80 mph, had good fuel economy, superb performance, and were exceptional vehicles. The cars were available as touring and sporting two-seater bodystyles, and were constructed in limited quantities.
With the onset of World War I, the F.R.P. plant was taken over by the government. It is not clear how many examples were produced, but it is estimated as high as 12 were built. The company was in business from 1914-1916.