1914 Mercer Model J-35
Overall, the 1914 Raceabout was regarded - and still is - as a perfect blended package of speed and finesse for its era. Its crowning achievement came in 1914, when local racer Eddie Pullen drove it to victory in what was then America's most famous road race, the Grand Prix and, in the process, set a course record of 77 mph.
This vehicle was owned and restored in the 1950s by the late Ralph T. Buckley, a Mercer enthusiast.
The Mercer Raceabout's reign as the premier sports car of its era was short-lived. Within little more than a decade, its manufacturing company was defunct, the victim of personal tragedies and bad business decisions. The Mercer was produced for 15 years and the last Mercer was completed in 1925.
In 1910 the Roebling family began building the Mercer Model 35 Raceabout, which is often called America's first true sports car.
This 1914 Type 35 J Raceabout has VIN #1989 and has only had four owners since new. The Mercer Raceabout didn't have much of a body in its 1911-1914 glory years - only fenders and a hood. No more than 150 were sold in any of these years. This example is one of the last Raceabouts built by mercer in 1914.
The car is powered by a side-valve, T-Head, smooth running, 4-cylinder engine coupled to a four-speed transmission. The surprisingly quiet four-cylinder engine was the work of Finlay Robertson Porter, a brilliant automotive engineer with a taste for high performance. An oil-immersed multiple-disc clutch enabled unusually smooth gear-shifting for this era. The 300 cubic-inch (4916 cc - 4.9-liter) engine developed 50 horsepower and has a top speed of 75 mph. The 3,200-pound car sold for $2,250 in 1911.
The Mercer Raceabouts lived up to their name as they set numerous speed records. The second owner of this car modified the engine in order to compete at Daytona Beach in 191 when the car was timed at 112 mph, a world record speed that still stands for Mercer cars. It was restored in 1941 by Pennsylvanian Samuel Baily, a noted car collector.
The first collector of this vehicle was James Melton, an opera singer of the Firestone Hour radio program in 1940's. The car was later given to Mr. Melton by the Standard Oil Company of New York. Mr Foley has owned this car for 36 years. It has been shown with much success including an AACA national winner; Miller trophy winner - Best in Show at the Heritage Classic, Daytona Beach, Fl.
The J-35 models were built from 1911-1914 in Trenton, NJ. The chief engineer was Finley Robertson Porter.
The engine is a T-Head design generating 30.6 hp; t-head; wheel base 108'; 67' tire tread; gear ration 1st-8.58-1, 2nd 4.62-1, 3rd 3.47-1, 4th-2.52-1; bore-4 3/8' stroke 5'. Tire size 32x4; fuel capacity 25 gallons; oil capacity 5 gallons; original price $2600 FOB, Trenton, NJ.
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.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2008
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.