1906 American Tourist

1906 American Tourist 1906 American Tourist 1906 American Tourist
Roi-des-Belges Touring
Chassis #: 1783
Sold for $612,000 at 2008 The Richard C. Paine Jr. Collection.
Harry Stutz
Harry Stutz would have a splendid career in the automobile business. But before his name would adorn the automobile, his talents and designs were used by the 'American' company. Harry Stutz's American Motor Car Company of Indianapolis would produce around 45,000 vehicles from 1906 through 1914.

Harry Stutz, only 22 years old, built his first internal combustion engine powered vehicle in 1898. It was a belt-drive buggy powered by a 2 horsepower single cylinder engine of his own design and manufacture. He sold his Dayton engine manufacturing company in 1902 to Lindsay Automobile Parts and moved there to oversee Lindsay's manufacture of the Stutz-designed engines. In 1903, he was employed through G&J Tire Company and in 1904, introduced F.H. Wheeler to George Schebler to form the Schebler Carburetor Company. Schebler brought with him the designs while Wheeler provided the financial backing. Stutz managed sales of the Schebler-designed carburetors.

Though still a young individual, Stutz formed the American Motor Car Company in 1905. The vehicle's that followed employed Stutz's mechanical designs and experience. In January of 1906, the first American models were completed and ready for sale.

Stutz remained with the American Motor Car Company for only a short time, moving to the Marion Motor Car Company as chief engineer in 1906. At the same time, Fred Tone, who had been employed at Marion, joined American. A few years later, Stutz began the 'Stutz Motor Car Company', after 'The car that made good in a day' finished the 1911 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

American Car Company
The American Tourist was powered by Harry Stutz's original American engine, with variations in the bore and stroke. The engine would also provide power to most other American automobiles, including the Underslung, until the company's demise. Originally, the American was to be powered by a Continental four-cylinder engine. However, Continental was unable to meet American's production demands. Wanting to not offend an influential client, they offered to give American access to Continental's vendor base to build engine parts to Stutz's design.

The engine found in the Tourist has a 4.625-inh bore and a 5-inch stroke resulting in a 336 cubic-inch displacement size. The side-valve four-cylinder engine was rated at 35 ALAM horsepower. The maximum crankshaft speed was 1,450 RPM.

Fred Tone was the created the underslung chassis design which has become synonymous with the company. Years later, it name 'underslung' was adopted as an integral part of American's name. Though lesser known, Harry Stutz's original conventional chassis layout is largely overlooked in history. It has live axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs at all four corners and a semi-elliptic cross spring in the platform rear suspension setup. Internal expanding rear drum brakes were used to keep the vehicle in the driver's control.

Rois des Belges Tourer
This 1906 American wears Roi des Belges style touring coachwork finished in Dark Red with black fenders and upholstered in red leather. There is a black cloth top and a roll-up windshield. In the front a Rushmore acetylene headlights, Gray & Davis kerosene sidelights, a Castle kerosene taillight and a Rushmore acetylene spotlight mounted on the dashboard/firewall. There is a single spare wheel with a rear view mirror strapped to its top installed on the right running board. There is also a Rubes-style trumpet bulb horn.

The vehicle has an updated AACA National First Prize plaque. The doors bear the stylized 'S' monogram of Dr. Samuel Scher. It is believed that Richard Paine acquired the car in 1967 from Dr. Scher's collection. John O'Quinn acquired it in 2008.

In 2011, the car was offered for sale at the Quail Lodge auction presented by Bonhams. It was estimated to sell for $300,000-$400,000 but bidding fell short of the estimate and it would leave the auction unsold.


By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2011
The American Motor Car Company was founded in 1906 and based in Indianapolis, Indiana. It produced its first car in 1906 and the first 'Underslung' in 1907. However, the name 'Underslung' was not derived until 1912.

The underslung design was an attempt to make the car as low as possible. Harry C. Stutz, an engineer who would later produce cars under his own name, is credited with creating the design. Although Stutz created the chassis design, it was American's chief engineer, Fred I. Tone, who turned the chassis upside down. Tone decided to place the frame below the axles, instead of the traditional design of placing them above. The semi-elliptic leaf springs were mounted above the frame. Due to achieving such a low ground clearance, 40-inch wheels were needed to give the vehicle ample space between the frame and the ground.

The Underslung models provided safety that many other early manufacturers could not guarantee. The Underslungs were virtually impervious to roll-overs. Sales documentation stated that the vehicles could be tilted up to 55 degrees without rolling over.

The Underslung featured a four-cylinder, 6.4-liter engine capable of producing 40 horsepower. In 1908, the engine was enlarged to 7.8 liters and now produced 50 horsepower.

Even with the ground clearance advantage, the Underslung was not as competitive as other vehicles that featured larger engines. This was proven in 1908 when American Motor Car entered an Underslung Roadster in the Savannah Challenge Cup Race. The four-cylinder engine was not enough to keep pace and as a result, it finished last. Also, due to large wheels, and high center of gravity created partly by the raised engine subframe, the car suffered from poor handling and frequent tire changes.

Around 1909, American introduced a four-passenger Underslung dubbed the Traveler.

In 1910, the horsepower rating for the engine was increased to 60 by enlarging the cylinder bore and adding pressurized lubrication.

In 1911, the company faced financial difficulties. It's named was changed to American Motors Co.

In 1912, the entire model line now used the underslung chassis. As a marketing ploy, the vehicles were named the American Underslungs. Due to the size of the Traveler, a larger engine was required to make it more competitive in the market place. A six-cylinder engine was used.

In 1913, electric starters and lights became available on the Underslungs. The company still was suffering from financial problems. The company was having trouble competing with other manufacturers that were more efficient and produced bigger, faster vehicles at lower prices. Fred Tone departed from the company for other automotive opportunities.

In November of 1913, the company went into receivership. Over an eight-year period, the American Motor Company had produced over 45,000 vehicles. They had introduced creative designs, effective marketing, and brilliant automobiles. Like many other manufacturers during this era, they were plagued by ineffective assembly processes, a tough economy, the onset of World War I, and an evolving market place.


By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2013



Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

$250-$3,000
1906 Tourist
$3,000-$12,250
1906 American Tourist Base Price : $3,000

Model Year Production

#1#2#3American
1911Ford (69,762)Overland (18,745)Maxwell (16,000)
1910Ford (32,053)Buick (30,525)Overland (15,598)
1909Ford (17,771)Buick (14,606)Maxwell (9,460)
1908Ford (10,202)Buick (8,820)Studebaker (8,132)
1907Ford (14,887)Buick (4,641)Maxwell (3,785)
1906Ford (8,729)Cadillac (3,650)Rambler (2,765)
1905Oldsmobile (6,500)Cadillac (4,029)Rambler (3,807)
1904Oldsmobile (5,508)Rambler (2,342)Cadillac (2,319)
1903Oldsmobile (3,924)Cadillac (2,497)Locomobile (1,897)
1902Locomobile (2,750)Oldsmobile (2,500)Columbia (1,583)
1901Locomobile (1,561)Columbia (1,427)Winton (686)

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