The Stutz Motor Company was founded by Harry C. Stutz in 1911, and quickly earned a reputation for building some of the most advanced cars of the era. When Stutz’s revolutionary chassis was mated with Fred Duesenberg’s engines, the Stutz automobile earned numerous race wins on circuits around the world, including a famous victory at the 1911 Indianapolis 500 mile race, an event where Stutz was coined “The car that made good in a day”. Stutz became known for building innovative and superbly engineered road-going automobiles with highly advanced engines. A 32-Valve inline-8, a V12 and a V16 were all part of the Stutz portfolio in the days before the great depression. The original Black Hawk of 1928 was a compact sports car featuring a 322 cubic-inch overhead valve straight-eight that gave exceptional performance for the day, and rightfully earned Stutz fabled status in American automotive history.
As with many of its contemporaries, financial woes, internal management struggles and a massive economic depression created the perfect storm that killed off Stutz in its original form in 1935. But in 1968 the Stutz brand was revived by an ambitious American banker named James O’Donnell. He partnered with famed industrial designer Virgil Exner to create a unique American luxury car that was worthy of wearing the Stutz nameplate. Exner, the stylist responsible for the DeSoto Adventurer and Chrysler 300 and many others, was one of the most prolific and influential designers of the 1950s and his signature is clear on the Blackhawk: A bold grille and headlight arrangement harkens back to the pre-war era, while the sweeping tail and deck mounted spare tire give the Blackhawk unmistakably flamboyant looks.
It is important to distinguish that the Blackhawk was not a kit car or fiberglass neo-classic but rather it is a handmade, all-steel coachbuilt machine constructed with the highest grade materials and outstanding build quality. Stutz initially contracted Ghia in Italy to build the first prototype, and production cars were hand built in steel by Carrozzeria Padone in Italy. For the earlier cars, Pontiac Grand Prix running gear was fitted to the hand-build body – with a tuned version of Pontiac’s 7.5 liter (455 cubic inch) V8 giving very strong performance. Later models were fitted with a variety of American V8s from GM or Ford. In spite of costing the equivalent of $120,000 when new, the Blackhawk proved quite successful, enjoying a sixteen year production run with about 500 examples built. Popular with celebrities at the time, notable Blackhawk owners included Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball – as well as the Shah of Iran who reportedly owned twelve of them.
This exquisite example is a very late production Blackhawk, built in 1985. It has covered a mere 2,308 miles from new, is magnificently presented and is surely one of the finest of its kind extant. The two tone champagne paintwork is showroom new and accented with excellent quality chrome and a set of flamboyant chrome wire wheels and of course that signature, stylized outside exhaust. Paint, body fit and detailing are all as one would expect from an example with such low mileage and the build quality of this particular example is superlative. The GM 5.0 liter motor appears as-new in the engine bay, with all decals, labels, fittings and fasteners intact. Likewise, the undercarriage is virtually untouched. The opulent cabin is trimmed in beautiful tan leather with contrasting brown piping, with excellent carpets and Mouton wool rugs. A plaque proudly displays the names of the 20 craftspeople that hand built this fine Stutz. Such a detail epitomizes the attraction of this car; it is one of the last handcrafted, coachbuilt cars to be sold in America built in a traditional, old-world style. We have owned several of these unique cars over the years, and this is far and away the finest, best built, and lowest mileage example we have ever come across. This is a serious, collector quality automobile that is worthy of the legendary Stutz name.