The American Motor Car Company of Indianapolis, Indiana is fondly remembered for its underslung chassis but it is often forgotten that the company was formed by Harry C. Stutz before he founded his namesake automobile firm. The American chassis and four-cylinder motor were the first to benefit from Stutz's appreciation for a proper touring car. Like other high-quality automobiles of its era, they employed a live axle suspension with semi-elliptical leaf springs and a platform rear setup with a semi-elliptical cross spring.
The American Motor Car Company was established in 1906 and lasted until 1913. Stutz soon left the company and Fred L. Tone became chief engineer in 1906. Under his guidance, the chassis was re-designed with the frame positioned below the axles and the semi-elliptic leaf springs suspension mounted above. The unconventional, upside-down arrangement led to the name, the underslung design. One popular belief on how this design came into existence was accidental, when movers brought a chassis into the workshop and set atop the assembly horses upside down. Intrigued, Mr. Tone had axles and springs mounted above the frame to see how it would turn out. The answer was quite well, birthing the American UNderslung Roadster of 1907. This setup provided a lower stand and ground clearance, and the company proudly advertised that its vehicles were less likely to rollover, and could be tilted up to 55 degrees. Due to the poor road conditions of the time, particular deep ruts, 40-inch wheels were installed, lifting the vehicle a foot off the ground.
Power was initially sourced from a Stutz-designed, side-valve, 336 cubic-inch, four-cylinder engine. Engine displacement grew to 390 cubic inches (6.4-liter) with 40 horsepower, further enlarged to 476 cubic inches (7.8 liter) in 1908, boosting output to 50 bhp. A 571 cubic-inch inline six, introduced near the end of production, offered 60 horsepower and was one of the most powerful available at the time, even featuring an electric starter.
The American's inaugural products were the five-passenger Tourist resting on a 112-inch wheelbase with conventional suspension, and the Underslung Roadster. Internal expanding rear drum brakes retard its advance. The Tourist remained part of the American model line until 1913, just before American ceased production in 1914. During its existence, the company produced approximately 45,000 vehicles.
The 1914 American
The American Motor Car Company's model lineup in 1914 included the four-cylinder Model 422 Roadster resting on a 105-inch wheelbase and priced at $1,550. The Model 642 Roadster and Model 666 Tourister were priced at $4,500, while the Model 646 Tourister listed at $2,950. All three were powered by six-cylinder engines with the Model 666 producing 49 horsepower while the other two had 43 horsepower. The Model 666 and 646 rested atop a 140-inch wheelbase, while the Model 642 was perched on a 132-inch wheelbase.
by Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2023
Related Reading : American Underslung History
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1914 American Underslung
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1914 Vehicle Profiles
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Performance and Specification Comparison
|1919||Ford (820,445)||Chevrolet (129,118)||Buick (119,310)||484|
|1918||Ford (435,898)||Buick (126,222)||Willys Knight (88,753)||749|
|1917||Ford (622,351)||Willys Knight (130,988)||Buick (115,267)||250|
|1916||Ford (734,811)||Willys Knight (140,111)||Buick (124,834)|
|1915||Ford (501,492)||Willys Knight (91,904)||Dodge (45,000)|
|1914||Ford (308,162)||Overland (48,461)||Studebaker (35,374)|
|1913||Ford (168,220)||Overland (37,422)||Studebaker (31,994)|
|1912||Ford (78,440)||Overland (28,572)||Buick (19,812)|
|1911||Ford (69,762)||Overland (18,745)||Maxwell (16,000)|
|1910||Ford (32,053)||Buick (30,525)||Overland (15,598)|
|1909||Buick (14,606)||Ford (10,600)||Maxwell (9,460)|