Up to the end of the vintage years America had not produced many sports cars, with a few exceptions such as the Duesenberg and the Stutz, to which mainly from the pre-WW1 period, one might add Lozier, Mercer, Simplex, “Double-Twelve” Studebaker, Stanley steamer and a few others. There is no question, however, that in the vintage years it was the Stutz Black Hawk which represented the closest equivalent to a British or European sports car. Born, it is said, out of the desire of Harry C. Stutz to test the proprietary back-axles he sold to American car makers in the hard field of motor racing, according to my friend David Scott-Moncrieff the first such racing Stutz did so well in the first Indianapolis 500 Mile Race of 1911 that the slogan -The Car That Made Good in a Day” was adopted when Stutz himself went into car manufacture. Be that as it may, the location of the Stutz factory at Indianapolis, where the famous brick Speedway was situated, would have made such testing convenient. By 1913 the racy-looking Stutz Bearcat Speedster with its four-cylinder 1-head Wisconsin engine, giving 60 bhp at a lazy 1,500 rpm, a three speed back-aide gearbox and bodywork consisting of just two bucket seats behind a well-raked steering-column and ahead of a bolster petrol-tank, rivalled the Mercer Model 35-R Raceabout as the “in” auto, as they might say today, for fur-coated American playboys and their admiring girlfriends, even if the 5-litre Mercer was considerably more powerful.
As if to counteract that, the Stutz built up a fine reputation in racing, single-overhead camshaft, ball-bearing 16-valve versions finishing third in the Indy “500” in both 1913 and 1914 and Earl (Christian name) Cooper taking the National Championship before war broke out in Europe. Stutz sold his Company in 1919 but the Speedster was continued, with a conventional gearbox location from 1921 and using Store engines, a four or an ohv six-cylinder to chance, from 1923. The latter power unit, developing 80 bhp in bored-out form, was installed in the Stutz Speedway Six, so by the time when Frederick E. Moskovics took over in 1926 the make cm be said to have had distinctly sporting connotations. From then on the Stutz began to resemble the European-type of fast touring car, which was perhaps to be expected, because Moskovics had signed-up the ex-Metallurgique designer, Paul Bastien, to work for him,with Charles Greeter responsible for the straight eight engines. His Service Manager was Albert Dingley, who had driven a Pope-Toledo in the 1905 Gordon Bennett Cup race in France. The new models, announced around 1926, had a single overhead camshaft, 4.7-litre straight-eight engine which was referred to as the “Vertical Eight” to make it clear it was an in-line power unit, not a vee eight-cylinder. With two valves per cylinder, a nine-bearing crankshaft, and ignition by two plugs per cylinder fired from twin coils, 92 bhp was the power output at 3,200 rpm. The new Stutz was known as the “Safety Stutz”, as it achieved a notably low chassis height through the use of an under-slung worm-drive back-axle and possessed very good hydraulic four-wheel-brakes. Stutz were also pioneers of splinter-proof glass. Centralised chassis lubrication was a feature as were low saloon bodies of considerable elegance, styled and built by Brewster.
Warwick Wright, the well-known motor agent, of 150 New Bond Street, W1, the sole concessionaire for GB for these fine new cars, with their chassis frame swept low between front and-back aides and crossbraced by substantial tubes, exhibited them at the 1926 Olympia Show, the Weymann system of fabric body construction being an innovation on a car from the USA. With built-in radio as an extra, horizontal bonnet louvres and gaily-coloured coachwork, said to be individualistic to each car, the appeal of this fast American car was considerable. It was made in numbers that were regarded as modest in the States, but even after the World financial slump of the 1930s, sales were said to have increased by 25%, and back in 1919 the remarkable number of 8,000 Bearcats is said to have been supplied, mostly to the young-bloods of Yankeedoodleland. . . .
The Stutz with which we are mainly concerned here is the Model AA Black Hawk sports car, introduced in 1927, with its souped-up engine said to develop 125 bhp, the capacity of which was increased in 1928 to 4.9-litres, the model BB. It was to make its mark in Europe at a time when the Stutz Motor Car Co may well have been looking for a boost. For there had been two setbacks in 1928. A bid for the Land Speed Record by a 3-litre twin Miller-engined Stutz had resulted first in a crash from which its driver Frank Lockhart escaped after running off the Daytona beach into the sea, then another, in which he was killed. The little 3-litre LSR so-called Stutz was capable of some 200 mph around the time when it took 45-litres of twin-engined Sunbeam for Segrave to beat the 200 mph barrier, so had the Stutz name broken that record it would have been remarkably good publicity. But it was not to be Then the two friends, Moskovics and C. T. Weymann entered into a Stutz Hispano-Suiza 24-hour £5,000 Match Race at Indianapolis in which the aged Hispano-Suiza was a convincing winner (Motor Sport, November, 1972, pp 1252 / 1258). These two setbacks made a better showing in European motor racing welcome, especially as Stutz sales had been dropping, causing the Company to introduce a cheaper line of cars called simply Black Hawks, although whether the later alleged rise in demand for proper Stutz cars in spite of the slump was due to European racing prowess we cannot really tell, much as I would like to think so. . . .
However, it may well be that the two setbacks just described caused Moskovics or his agents in Europe to enter a Stutz Black Hawk for the 1928 Le Mans 24-hour race. The year before Stutz was declared America’s fastest stock-car, so there was good material to work with. The Stutz drivers were E. Brisson and R. Bloch and they must have been conscious that they would be up against the Bentleys which had won in 1924, and again in 1927. Bloch had, in fact, driven a 3.4-litre Lorraine-Dietrich with Stalter in the 1923 Le Mans race, tying for 19th place with a Berliet, and had competed in 1924 and 1925 in the same kind of car, without finishing, but in 1926 (it was Bloch who drove for Moskovics in the ill-fated Match Race at Indianapolis in April 1928) had shared the winning 3.4-litre Lorraine with Rossignol. Brisson, too, was very experienced at Le Mans, having shared the second-place Lorraine with Stoffel in the 1924 race, and the third-place Lorraine with Stalter in 1925 and repeated the 1925 placing in 1926. The Stutz entrant had chosen well! This 4.9-litre straight-eight Stutz Black Hawk, as run at Le Mans in 1928, was a very impressive car, with its boat-tail four-seater fabric body. It had drawn No. 1 of the 33 starters and it was first away, from the “dead-engine” start, followed closely by the 4 1/2-litre Bentleys of Birkin and Clement. The pace from that moment was fast, with Barnato in the third Bentley setting a lap record of 74 mph, which Brisson in the Stutz upped to 75 1/2 mph, which Clement broke with 76.2.mph. Then Birkin had a puncture and the jack-less Bentley was long delayed, giving Brisson third place, and he moved to second when the first refuelling stops began. The Benjafield / Clement Bentley then broke an oil pipe and the Stutz led the race, ahead of Barnato. The Stutz / Bentley battle enlivened the night hours, and when dawn came Clement’s Bentley was out, with overheating problems. Barnato then took the lead from the Stutz and was 20 miles ahead by noon on the second day, the Stutz drivers hampered because top gear kept jumping out of mesh. But the leading Bentley ran into trouble with a broken radiator mounting, causing loss of water, to which the Stutz pit responded with a “faster” signal. In the end the almost dry Bentley crossed the line only eight miles ahead of the American car in a race of over 1,658 miles, run at 69 mph. What is more, two Chryslers were second and third, before Birkin and Chassagne came in with the second Bentley. Brisson and Bloch covered 1,650.727 miles, at 68.78 mph. It was a very impressive performance by a lone entry playing so far from home. Even Cecil Clutton, although he is not an enthusiast for American automobiles, and does not devote a separate heading to Stutz in his classic book, “The Vintage Motor Car” (Batsford, 1954), says that the car from across the Atlantic “had shown a great deal of fight”. It was a fight which greatly worried W.O. Bentley and his team. . . .
I would think that those visitors to Le Mans in that June weekend in 1928 who wanted a more modern car than the 4 1/2-litre Bentley with the “bloody great thump” it provided, most have been impressed by the Stutz’s showing. The English enthusiasts among them had probably seen the handsome production Black Hawk four-seater at the 1927 Olympia Show, priced at £1,350, at which the saloon version was also offered, both with fabric-covered bodies. A four-speed gearbox was now available for an extra £50. This at a time when the then-new 4 1/2-litre Bentley Vanden Plan tourer was priced at £1,295. The excellent performance of the Stutz at Le Mans no doubt encouraged Warwick Wright to enter two for the much-publicised 1928 Ulster TT. In fact, he entered them as the “Splendid Stutz”. Their 4,888 cc engines just put them in Class C, for cars of three-to-five litres. J. M. Anderson was nominated as second driver to both cars and Richard Watney (who had raced a black 4.9 litre Stutz at Brooklands in 1927, lapping a 96.33 mph) as driver of the second entry. Wright’s failed to start but Watney finished the TT third in the class behind two 4 1/2litre Bentleys, there being no other runners, and 12th overall, at 62.39 mph, the last car to finish. (I assume that Warwick Wright was the pioneer Darracq racing driver and I believe that Richard Watney may have been the son of Gordon Watney, the great Mercedes-fancier of the pre-war years. Watney, entered by Col. Warwick Wright, ran a stripped Stutz at Brooklands before the make began serious racing here. I saw him win the 1927 Sporting Life 90 mph Long Handicap in it at 89.52 mph, and that September he was timed over the fs 1/2mile on a Stutz chassis, at 95,74 mph).
By 1929 the Stutz, with its then fashionable straight-eight engine, was a very desirable proposition. In 1929, at Brooklands, a saloon was able to accelerate from 10 to 30 mph in the three lower gears of the new four-speed “silent-third” box in 5.2, 7.0 and 10.0 sec, respectively, top speed being around 72 mph from this 45 cwt car, which gave 121/2 mpg, with a range of about 200 miles. The close-ratio third gear was good for 57 mph and the gearbox incorporated an automatic sprag, while the vacuum-servo brakes were variable in action by the driver, who could use a dashboard control to reduce or increase the air flow. The price remained at £1,375 but the electrics were six volt. Later in the year a very significant advance was made, the Model M1, with the 5.3-litre DV32 engine. The greater capacity was obtained by increasing the cylinder bore by 3.2 mm and a new twin-ohc head with fou rvalves-per-cylinder was used, hence the model designation, i.e. DV=Double-Valve, and 8×4 is 32 valves. When a supercharger was added you had a really potent sports Stutz, for which the age-old Bearcat name was later revived, and 100 mph guaranteed, and a few Super Bearcats manufactured. Three of these formidable earlier blown 5.3-litre Stutz were entered for the 1929 Le Mans race, to be driven by Brisson / Chiron, Watney and Eyston, and Bouriat / Philippe (the last-named Philippe de Rothschild). This time there was the Speed-Six Bentley to contend with but although the cars from Cricklewood proved invincible, the Barnato / Birkin 61/2-litre winning at 73.63 mph, with the 41/2-litres in the next three places, the Bouriat Stutz was fifth, followed home by two Chryslers. The other Stutz retired, with split fuel tanks. It was much the same in the TT. Brisson did not start and the Watney car, entered by Wright as usual, caught fire and although it restarted it was flagged off after doing only 26 of the required 30 laps. Never again was the Stutz banner flown as high in Europe as it had been in 1928. At Le Mans in 1930 the Brisson / Rigal car caught fire when the jury-rigged exhaust pipe gave way and was burnt out (in common with the Type 43 Bugatti, these Stutz had inflamatory tendencies!) and the Philippe / Bourlier car broke its back-axle. At Le Mans in 1931 there was but a lone Stutz entry, for Brisson / Catteneo, and it retired. Brisson had another stab in 1932 with the same co-driver, but again it retired.
Nevertheless the blown DV32 5.3-litre Stutz was a splendid sports-car. It was usually seen here in later times with rather flamboyant American-styled closed bodywork, but in racing trim with A.l. regulation mudguards and lightweight Weymann four-seater body, it was quite a motor car. The supercharger was a Rootes type, which blew air through the carburetter, at about four lb/sq in boost. It seems that the Stutz engineers used this complicated system because the only place where they could put the supercharger was between the front dumb-irons of the chassis, driving it from the nose of the crankshaft, and they feared mixture condensation if it sucked this from the carburetter through the long, unheated delivery-pipe, although Mercedes-Benz, with the blower up beside the cylinder block, used this air-pressurising method. It necessitates pressurising the fuel tank and float-chamber to match, and was further complicated as Stutz, like Mercedes-Benz, wanted driver-control of the boost. This was achieved on the American car by imposing a plate clutch in the supercharger drive, operated by a cockpit lever (whereas, of course, Mercedes made the accelerator do the trick).
In 1929 TT form the Stutz gear ratios of 13.07, 7.95, 5.07 and 4.0 to 1, compared to the saloon ratios of 15.57, 9.45, 6.03 and 4.75 to I. The bore and stroke remained at 85.7 0114.3 mm (5,274 cc). An American type bumper protected the blower, which sucked through an air cleaner. When the blower was in use pressure in the feed-pipe extremity closed the flap-valve which normally allowed unpressurised air to feed the inlet manifold. If too much pressure was induced, a blow-off valve opened in the ordinary manner. Fuel-feed was by a mechanical pump that exhausted the vacuum chamber of the normal feed, supplemented by a number of electric petrol pumps. The car that ran in the TT had Reg No UV 1906. It had two aeroscreens behind the fold-flat main screen and retained the variable servo braking control. The fascia incorporated the rather standard ornamental pond from a normal Stutz, with an additional panel before the driver, the latter carrying a tachometer, flanked by smaller blower-pressure and fuel-tank-pressure gauges. Before the riding-mechanic was a toggle for the auxiliary two-gallon oil tank, a big oil-temperature gauge, with the oil pressure gauge above it, and on his left the Autopulse fuel-feed control and the air-pressure hand-pump. The fascia also carried normal dash lamp and strangler and the starter-button was on the floor.
The blower in-out lever was on the right of the steering column, the treadle accelerator was between the other smaller pedals, and the central gear lever had the bottom gear position outboard of the gate, to the driver’s left, with reverse opposite second, so that you went “round-the-corner” to engage the latter. Third and top were normal. The steering-wheel carried a large horn-ring and the finger-tip controls on its boss for throttle, ignition and lamps settings. The brake lever was central and Marchal headlamps were used. There was a 45-gallon fuel tank behind the back seat, and the wheelbase was 10 ft 7 in, against 12 ft 1 in of the standard saloon. Stoneguards for blower and radiator and a concealed hood were used. This was a genuine 100 mph car, yet it was docile and rode well, for which the hydraulic shock-absorbers helped. The clutch was excellent, the steering well geared and with good castor-action, which early Stutz lacked. As to acceleration, 10 to 30 mph occupied three seconds in bottom gear and 30 to 50 mph in top gear 12.4 sec, which bringing in the supercharger reduced to 9.8 sec. In a lower gear, a steady 20 to 40 mph took 6.4 sec, which use of the blower dropped to 4.8 sec, the blow-off valve protesting, curiously, whenever the blower was put out of engagement.
Of this interesting Stutz, S. C. H. Davis observed that “cars of its type are wasted on the kind of individual who is not enthusiastic, who lacks the finesse, the number of pleasant little tricks, the gentleness of the expert, and if the ordinary driver were to handle the car first, and subsequently it was to be driven by the skilled man, it would seem, to a casual observer, that, instead of one, there were two totally different cars”. One cannot say that of many modern cars but I saw somewhere that Lawrence Pearce calls the AC 3000ME “a driver’s car for those who like a challenge — it is not a car for limp-wristed poseurs”. Stutz and AC, all those years apart. — W.B.
Terence Barnes has sent us a leaflet showing what must have been the first-ever “hard-top”, as invested by F. S. Barnes of the Beddoes Moore Motor Carriage Works of Stourbridge, would think around 1921/22. It consisted of a top hinged to drop over the cockpit, with roof, side-windows and windscreen in a single triangulated structure. The photographs show this top fitted to what was probably a 10.4 hp Calthorpe. It was claimed that the top could be completely detached in one minute, covered the seats with a single movement, was air resistant up to 70 mph and the cost was 15 gns. The simple body to which it was fitted could be bought for 30 gns and the coupe top was covered by provisional-patent 6076. The Singer OC has its National Day at Weston Park, Shropshire, this year on June 23rd.
We hear that last year a 1936 Standard Flying Twelve saloon that had been bought new for £249 was found in its Dorset garage where it had been laid up since 1952 by the daughter of the original owner, on the death of the second owner. Mainly used only on Sundays, the car was found to be in excellent order when the coats and rugs covering it were removed and tools and self-jacking system were intact. The mileage was 22,982 and apart from some surface rust and worn rear carpets all was in good condition. But thanks to Swansea the original Registration Number was not useable! The car went to auction and was sold to a Dutch bidder for £3,000. Which reminds me that this year’s Standard MC National Rally will probably be held on July 20th/21st at a venue to be announced. The Club is flourishing, with 33 new members elected at the last count, last November.
The 50th Anniversary of the Brough Superior car is being sponsored by the present Brough Superior Motors GB (Nottingham) Ltd company and will happen over the week-end of June 29th / 30th, based on Wollaton Park, Nottingham. Incidentally, it is thought that although the old Brough Superior factory still stands, the logo on the wall is believed to have been painted out. The Brooklands Society’s 1985 Re-Union takes place at the Track on June 30th, with sprints along the airfield runway and runs along part of the Byfleet banking, as last year. It is understood that Gallaher’s offered use of the Test Hill but as arrangements had already been completed no change will be made in the Society’s arrangements. The Brooklands Society Gazette, ever welcome to those who remember the old Track, continues to appear, edited by Cyril Posthumus. Griffith Borgeson makes out a good case for the ohv V16 Cadillac power unit as “the engine of engines to power the car of cars” in the current edition of the American Automobile Quarterly. Rather as I expected, the article in the March issue on the 19/100 Austro-Daimler brought a letter from Peter Gamier, whose father owned one of these cars, pointing out that although the A-D shown in our heading picture had cantilever rear springs, the Short-chassis 19/100 had half-elliptics all round, which I realised I had omitted to mention. In the course of time the Gamier A-D was turned into a sort of “hot-rod” by someone in Newcastle-on-Tyne, who had a great many spares for these cars, but it has long since disappeared. Rumour suggests, however, that the Callingham TT A-D is still about. With reference to the remarks made last month about the possible difficulties of obtaining tyres for old cars at reasonable prices, one is reminded that A7-ists are in the happy position of being able to use those excellent Avon 19 in sidecar tyres.
The NW Section of the VCC tells us that although it has run out of ideas for reenactments of former events, its Twenty Lakes Reliability Run will have observers on the cars, and will include a hill-climb, regularity sections and fuel-consumption marking. It runs from Chester to Llandudno, with a dinner beforehand, and is something to look forward on September 7th/8th for veteran cars, the top prize being the S. F. Edge Bexhill Trophy. Details from: Roger Pritchard, 32 Cleveland Road, Heaton Moor, Stockport, SK4 4BS. The Bentley DC has a West Wales Week-End, based on Tenby, on May 3rd-6th. We hear that the plans for an aviation and racing-car museum at Brooklands are forging ahead, with plans to build a replica of A. V. Roe’s shed opposite the Paddock and put a reproduction of the 1907 Roe I biplane therein, and the Clubhouse has been restored by Gallaher’s and will provide museum facilities.— W.B.
VSCC Pomeroy Trophy Competition
Silverstone — March 2nd 1985 THE good news this year is that the 1965 2-litre Ginetta G4 which won this year’s Pom should not be impossibly expensive to buy on the secondhand market like most of the Pom winners of the past. Laurence Pomeroy’s formula to find “the ideal touring car” involves a timed wiggle-woggle, braking and acceleration tests, followed by a 40 minute high speed trial under a formula where all cars must be over 1,950 cc (1½ litre if Vintage), and taking into account age, capacity and the distance between the clutch pedal and rear axle the longer the better from the handicap point of view). All cars must be taxed for the road, and lack of a hood in the acceleration tests involves a penalty. Several people fitted hoods only designed to last during the 1/4 mile standing and flying start test, and some of them blew away during even that short distance.
Those looking for the ideal touring car amongst the award winners should be warned that Giles’s 1924 AC engined ON was a single-seater, suitable for an anchorite only, and definitely “Piccolo Turismo”. Another welcome single-seater present was the late Sir Henry Birkin’s Brooklands Outer Circuit blower 41/4 Bentley driven by George Daniels, though for touring we believe Sir Henry himself preferred a Mulliner bodied 8-litre saloon — and who can blame him? Once again a chain-drive Frazer Nash won the prewar award, in this case Martin Stretton’s, although at the end of the day it turned out that neither his hood nor his engine would have stood up to very much more prolonged touring. He was only narrowly beaten in overall results behind the Ginetta by Garland’s desirable Porsche Carrera, which would have benefited as a touring car if it had been fitted with a decent silencer. By the way Needham and Garland do their normal touring in a 30/98 Vauxhall and 3-litre Bentley respectively. Despite your reporter’s rude remarks, this was as usual a most enjoyable event, attracting nearly 90 entries. Incidentally, the distance between the brake pedal and back axle on two apparently identical 1983 GTV6 Alfa Romeos proved to be different. Are Alfa Romeos being hand made again? — P.H.
Pomeroy Trophy: T. N. Needham (1964 Ginetta)
Densham Trophy: M.J. Stretton (1929 Frazer Nash)
Pomeroy Edwardian Trophy: R.A Collings (1903 Mercedes)
V-E-V Odds & Ends
The Midland AC has changed its address to Woodbridge, Upper Sapey, Worcester, WR6 6EX. A reproduced advertisement in the newsheet of the Pre-War A7 Club reminds us that Ewart wheel discs for A7s were once sold for 30/- (£1.50) each! We learn that Harold Marshall, who founded G. T. Foulis & Co, pioneer publishers of motoring books, died last February, aged 90. His cousin, Miles Marshall, tells as that Harold owned a number of interesting cars, such as a single cylinder 8 hp Rover which Miles’ father purchased when Harold went to war in 1914, and after the Armistice there were a Riley Redwing, a Hillman Husky, an open four-seater Delage, a Weymann-bodied French Talbot remembered for its delightful steering, and a Rolls-Royce Twenty which he sold on being called up in 1939, when he was to serve as a Lt-Col in Europe and S. Africa. After the war Harold Marshall had a black 20125 hp Rolls-Royce coupe and later a Mk VI Bentley, on which he prided himself on changing gear without his passengers being aware of it. Both Harold and Miles Marshall retired in 1973, when they sold out’ to Haynes of Yeovil, and at 77 the latter says he is still a keen reader of MOTOR SPORT. If rumour is correct old racing cars are still turning up. It is said that a Riley which was built up by Freddie Dixon to the order of an enthusiast in the 1930s has come to light in Oxfordshire and that the Young Special, with a long-stroke 1½-litre engine of unknown make in what is believed to be a Frazer Nash chassis, which was entered for one Brooklands race in 1935 but non-started, is in being further south. We are sorry to hear that the old Bentley factory buildings at Oxgate Lane, Edgware, were destroyed late last year, when the site was wanted for redevelopment. Julian Majzub now has the original cylinder blocks, cambox, manifolds, etc back on his Bugatti, having done a swap of the top-half of the engine with Geoffrey St John.
We were sorry to receive a note to the effect that D. J. Hylan, who was an RAF pilot in WW2 and a close friend of Dick Shuttleworth and W. B. Scott, died at the age of 70 in Palm Springs last March and that one of our staunchest readers, another pilot, Philip Gordon-Marshall, who was once employed in the Hon Brian Lewis’ Aviation Department,died last winter.
The Yorkshire HCC’s Annual Rally takes place at Calder Holmes Park, Hebden Bridge, on August 11th. One of the largest gatherings in the North with over 250 entries last year, from 1906 Cadillac to 1954 Triumph TR2, details are available from Billy Lane, Old Town, Hebden Bridge, W. Yorkshire HX7 8RY. For the record, in last month’s Austro-Daimler article the engine dimensions of the Sascha were reversed and the carburetters on the 3-litre car were on the off-side. T.A.S.O. Mathieson has reminded me that Eggar’s Christian name was Kenward, not Kenneth, and he recalls the Bugatti bought by Rolls-Royce Ltd in 1929 as the ex-Glen Kidston Type 35, Jack giving him a ride in it, when it proved sufficiently flexible to trickle along in top gear at 10 mph. The Armstrong Siddeley OC’s National Day is at Woburn Abbey on July 14th. The Rhayader MC & LCC is again having a display and parade of veteran and vintage cars and motorcycles at the Royal Welsh Show at Builth Wells on July 22nd to 25th. Sunbeam cars and especially motorcycles are invited to Arbor Day Fair on May 26th, to link with John Marstons Association with Aston-on-Clun, Shropshire. Details from Jim Reynolds, 4 Childe Road, Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire, DY14 8AP. — W.B.