Mercer HistoryThe Mercer Automobile Co. was in business from 1910 through 1925, the name coming from the area from where it was based, Mercer County, N.J. Financing came from two wealthy families, the Roebling and the Kusers. The vehicles produced by the Mercer Company ranged from sedans to roadsters to limousines with their primary focus aimed at comfort rather than speed. Throughout its lifespan, Mercer never achieved the status of 'mass producer' such as Ford and Cadillac. Their low production and high costs kept the vehicles exclusive. Their first vehicle, introduced in 1910, cost $1950, a price much higher than most other comparable vehicles.
Through the persistence of Washington Roebling, the son of one of the founders of the Mercer Company, a roadster was introduced. The Raceabout is credited as being America's first sports car. Under the hood was a very large four-cylinder engine that was capable of producing nearly 35 horsepower. There were two spare tires and a twenty-five gallon fuel tank. The 300 cubic-inch engine could propel the 2800 pound vehicle to a top speed of nearly 80 mph. A very impressive accomplishment at the time, especially considering that there were few roads that were suitable of sustaining these types of speeds.
The Raceabout was raced heavily in 1911 where it won five of the six races it was entered. It achieved world record status and lots of publicity for the evolving company.
Throughout the years, the company's popularity, success, and fortune were up and down. Washington Roebling II was aboard the Titanic in 1912 when it sank. The production of the Raceabout continued. In 1914, Mercer's chief engineer and designer, Porter, left the company to begin automobile production on his own. Unfortunately, he was unable to achieve the success ascertained at the Mercer Company.
By 1919, the founders of the company had passed away. Control of the company passed to a Wall Street Organization that attempted to stimulate growth in production. Control was passed back to the Mercer Automobile employees and production continued for a few years before coming to a close in 1925.
There were many reasons for the demise of the company. When automobile production began in the early 1900's, it was possible for individuals to produce only a few automobiles and turn a profit, or at most stay in business. As time progressed so did competition. Designs became elegant, engine sizes continued to grow, mechanical technology progressed, and vehicles were mass produced. To stay in business in this evolving automobile economy, the companies were forced to constantly progress. The public demanded new inventions, new enhancements, and new products. The competition, the inability to constantly introduce new products, a tough economy, and an unstable leadership were a few of the reasons the company was force to fold.