The Stutz Bearcat was produced from 1914 through 1924. The first version was produced from 1914 to 1917 and was powered by a 6388 cc four-cylinder engine. The Bearcat was a creation inspired by an Indy sports car racer built by the Stutz Motor Company in 1911. It was powered by a 361 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine that produced 50 horsepower. The Bearcat continued the tradition of lightweight construction, a potent engine, and superior performance. The vehicle utilized an 'underslung' design which allowed the vehicle to be constructed lower than most vehicles, sitting closer to the ground. They were void of any unnecessary amenities, had no doors, and only a small 'monocle' windscreen to protect the driver. It weighed just 4500 pounds and rested on a 120-inch wheelbase. There was usually seating for two and no top to protect the driver or passenger from the elements.
In 1912 the Stutz Bearcats proved their potential by winning 25 out of the 30 races in which they were entered. Their slogan was 'The car that made good in one day'. This was a popular slogan and is still remembered by many even to this day. The title was adorned on Harry C Stutz in 1911 when his driver, Gil Anderson, placed 11th at the Indianapolis 500, an amazing accomplishment and one that immediately inspired sales. The car had been built in just five weeks and was the first automobile to bear the name 'Stutz'. At Indianapolis, it had averaged 110 km/h (about 68 mph) and was only beaten by vehicles with engines much larger than its own.
A disgruntled buyer of a Stutz complained to the Stutz Company that Mercer's were beating his car. In response, the Stutz Company set out to be the coast-to-coast record. In 1915, Erwin George 'Cannonball' Baker drove a Bearcat from San Diego to New York in 11 days, 7 hours, and 15 minutes. This broke the previous record. Baker went on to set 143 distance records. Sales continued to climb. A Wall Street investor spear-headed by Allan A. Ryan bought a controlling interest in Stutz. This allowed more capital and allowed Stutz to expand its manufacturing facilities. Harry Clayton Stutz sold his interest in the company in 1919. He turned his attention to two new endeavors, the Stutz Fire Engine Company and the H.C.S. Motor Car Company.
The production of the Stutz Bearcat continued until 1924. The car continued its tradition of being a sports car. It was fast and had excellent performance for the era. The clutch was said to be so stiff that it prevented women from driving the vehicle - many said this was a 'man's car.' The two-wheel mechanical brakes also required much force to operate.
The Stutz Company stayed in business until 1935 when it was forced out of business due to the Great Depression. In 1923, Frederick Ewan Moskowics became the president of the Stutz Motor Car Company. Under his direction, the company was repositioned as a company that produced elegant sedans renowned for safety. Essentially, he turned the he-man cars into luxury beauties. In 1929 Moskowics resigned and was succeeded by Edgar S. Gorrell.
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2006