Throwback Thursday: 1928 Stutz Boattail Speedster
Although the Stutz Motor Company was only around for a little less than 25 years, their cars made history with some forward-thinking advances. Early Stutz models featured things like a 4-cylinder flathead engine with four valves per cylinder, safety glass, a low-slung chassis for improved handling and center of gravity, a hill-holding manual transmission, hot-water heating, an oil cooler and a supercharged straight-8 engine. Their multi-valve engine was one of the first of its kind, and was Stutz’ answer to the “cylinder race” of the early 30s, when manufacturers were scrambling to produce V12 and even V16 engines for their cars.
In 1927, a Stutz set a speed record, averaging 68 mph in a 24-hour race. Stutz’s development engineer doubled as team driver, prompting the company to expand their line from large sedans and include sportier models. The Bearcat was their answer, with a shorter, lighter body and a 390-cubic-inch 4-cylinder engine. Introduced in 1912, the Bearcat was advertised as “the Car That Made Good in a Day,” referring to its 11th-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 of 1911. In 1912, Bearcats won 25 of 30 races that they entered, and in 1915 a Bearcat was the car for Erwin “Cannonball” Baker’s record-setting coast-to-coast drive, with Baker making the drive from California to New York in 11 hours, seven hours and 15 minutes.
The Bearcat was not cheap, coming in at $3900 in 1920 (with a 6-cylinder engine available for an extra $250). The ultimate Bearcat, however, was the Boattail, featuring custom coachwork that featured an unusual rear deck that tapered gracefully to a point. Today, the scarcity of Boattails (even compared to other Stutz models) make them a real prize on the collector’s market, easily fetching over $250k at auctions.
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