The Mercer Raceabout Model 35J T-head was constructed from 1913 through 1914. Under the hood was a 300 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine and mated to a Brown & Lipe gearbox. In 1911 and 1912 there were three speeds. Beginning in 1913, a four-speed unit was offered with a multiple-disc clutch. To improve the vehicles handling characteristics, the drive was placed low in the frame. Mounted on the rear were dual spare tires.
Many of the T-Head Mercer's were taken from the showroom floor and driven straight to the track. All that was needed to have these cars ready for the track was the removal of the fenders, running boards, and lighting equipment. After the race, the cars were driven home which made these one of the first mass produced dual-purpose vehicles.
These were designed mostly for racing. They had a ladder-frame with very little bodywork (only a hood and vestigial fenders). They had a 25-gallon gas tank mounted directly behind the two-seats. There was little needed to prepare them for racing; some owners added a monocle windshield to provide mild protection from the elements and harsh roadways of the era.
It is hard to imagine that these were very advanced vehicles of their day, but they were. Their T-head engine offered 60 horsepower and their finely-tuned gear ratios and four-speed transmission gave them a competitive edge over their rivals. Though the body and frame seemed minimalist and crude, it was lightweight and rugged. With no body, no starter, and a lack of amenities, these Speedsters weighed a mere 2300 pounds.By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2008