Harry C Stutz is one of the great automotive pioneers who may be considered among the greats such as Ettore Bugatti, Harry Miller and the Deusenberg Brothers. A farm boy from Ohio with a natural gift and fascination with machinery, Stutz earned a local reputation as the boy who could fix anything. He left his home at 18 to pursue a career in engineering and quickly made a name for himself in industry as an innovative, creative perfectionist. One of his first forays into automobile manufacture was the design of an engine for the American Motor Car Company’s Underslung model. Harry Stutz soon left American to form his own company, the Ideal Motor Company, in 1911. Right from the start, Stutz saw the importance of marketing his automobiles through racing – in fact, the very first car that left the Indianapolis plant was delivered straight to the track to compete in the Indianapolis 500 mile race! That car finished 11th, suffering no mechanical issues or failures. It earned the slogan “The car that made good in a day”. Quite!
One year later, the company was renamed Stutz Motor Company. Stutz was respected by his employees, but they knew that if a single tool was left out of place or a work bench was left untidy after closing, they would hear about it the next day. They strove to build the best they could and their efforts paid off on race tracks around the world. The Stutz was seen as one of the finest cars money could buy. In 1919, facing a need to raise capital to fund production, he sold a portion of his business, but quickly grew disgusted with his lack of control over the business and he soon departed. Following a stock scandal, bankruptcy and another change of ownership, Stutz Motor Company executives struck gold when they hired an equally gifted engineer by the name of Frederic Moscovics.
Moscovics quickly refocused the floundering company and developed the “Safety Stutz” chassis for 1926. His new chassis had a double drop that gave a low center of gravity, excellent handling and stability as well as a rakish look. Four wheel hydraulic brakes were fitted as well as a worm-drive rear axle. The new “Vertical Eight” straight 8 engine had a single overhead camshaft driven by a link-belt chain, and twin-plug ignition. It was smooth, powerful and very quiet. Under Moscovics’ direction, Stutz regained much of the success they enjoyed under the leadership of Harry C. Stutz. For 1927 a Vertical Eight equipped model AA set a 24 hour speed record, averaging 68 mph over 24 hours – it was a test that proved its worth in 1928 when a Stutz finished 2nd to the Bentley Boys at the 24 Hours of LeMans.
This magnificent Stutz AA Black Hawk Vertical 8 features a beautiful, sporting boat-tail speedster body. The boat-tail design debuted in 1927 as the very first American car with this style of coachwork. This example still wears its original ID tag, displaying number AAS570575. It has been carefully restored to a high standard, presenting very well and ready for touring or show. The body is finished in a subtle two tone light beige/tan which is set off by dark red painted wheels and a red cockpit. The result is quite attractive, particularly with the sporty black wall tires. Minimalist cycle fenders with fabric mud guards up front, simple alloy step plates and dual side mounts complete the look. Paint finishes and panel fit are excellent, and chrome trim and detailing live up the quality of the rest of the car. The body is well detailed with drum headlights, wind wings, dual tail lights and of course the wonderful Stutz mascot on the radiator.
Inside the sparse cabin, newer red upholstery is in excellent condition and features matching red carpeting. The simple dash features comprehensive instrumentation and an utterly fantastic wood steering wheel is mounted to a chrome column. For touring, luggage can be stowed either via the side mounted golf club door or the small trunk in the rear of the body. The Vertical Eight engine is a strong runner and has been very nicely detailed. It has been color keyed with a beige painted block and an evocative red cam cover. Thanks to the overhead cam and dual ignition, the 298 cubic inch mill is good for a strong 95 horsepower. This particular example also wears a period Wall Oil Rectifier, an early oil filtration device that heats the oil to rid it of unwanted moisture and fuel. The engine bay of this Stutz is a fascinating lesson in clever engineering and fine restoration work.
Moscovics-era “Safety Stutz” cars are highly renowned for their robust performance and excellent handling for the period, and today remain highly collectible. This particular example has been lovingly restored to a high standard, suitable for showing, but has not overdone. This wonderful Stutz invites regular use and would be a delightful touring companion for CCCA events or weekend enjoyment.