1916 Stutz Bearcat
Born in 1876 in Ohio, USA, Harry. C. Stutz worked in the Indianapolis automobile industry before designing a rear transaxle transmission built from 1910 by his Stutz Auto Parts Company. His first car was built in just five weeks and competed in the 1911 Indianapolis 500 driven by Gil Anderson finishing in an astounding 11th place. Motivated by this achievement Stutz established the Ideal Motor Car Company and manufactured vehicles promoted as “The Car That Made Good in a Day”. The fact that only one year into this effort Harry Stutz had built and raced his first automobile at Indianapolis with such success speaks vociferously of his skills and appetite for victory.
Stutz’s Bearcats and The White Squadron tested the worthiness of their ‘stock’ automobiles by racing – bringing life to the aphorism ‘Race on Sunday; sell on Monday’. In 1912 alone, Stutz Bearcats won 25 out of 30 competitions and throughout the following years triumphed with long distance records and numerous race wins across the nation until 1917, when championship racing was suspended during the war year of 1918. Nevertheless, White Squadron’s Earl Cooper continued to race Stutz ‘No 8’, entering 6 races and winning 4 of them while Stutz continued to hotly pursue race victories into the 1920’s.
The first Stutz production Bearcat models featured proprietary 6.4-litre, 60 hp four cylinder Wisconsin engines and Stutz's own rear three-speed transaxle. The twin-camshaft 'T-head' motor was configured with inlet valves on one side of the block – actually two blocks – with exhausts on the other. This was utilised up to 1917 when Stutz began to manufacture its own power units. The Bearcat's competition success ensured that the company enjoyed a high-profile reputation.
The Bearcat, stripped of all but the essentials and offering little in the way of weather protection or comfort, was a pre-eminent sports car of its time. Stutz built a mere 759 cars in 1913 compared with Chevrolet's 5,987 and the Bearcat remained a fixture of the range until the end of 1924.