1928 Stutz BB Black Hawk

By the middle of the 1920s, the fate of the Stutz Motor Car Company was in the hands of Fredrick Moscovics, who had only just taken over the helm in the wake of company founder and namesake Harry C. Stutz’s unpleasant departure amidst a shakeup with the board. Normally, the departure of an intrepid leader like Stutz would spell the end for a company, but his brilliance was matched by that of Moscovics, a deeply talented engineer who would design some of the finest and fastest motorcars of the era.

For the 1926 model year, Stutz introduced the Series AA which featured Moscovics’ Safety-Stutz chassis with power courtesy of the new 287 cubic inch “Vertical Eight” engine. A highly advanced power plant, the Vertical Eight earned its nickname thanks to its rather tall height – courtesy of a long stroke and a sophisticated new overhead cam cylinder head. The lack of tappets, rockers and pushrods translated into silent and smooth operation – as well as class leading horsepower and torque. The Safety Stutz chassis was strong and rigid, featuring double drops to keep the center of gravity low and give a sporty, aggressive ride height. The series AA was a critical success as well as a sporting one – taking the AAA-sanctioned Stock Car crown in 1927, winning every race it entered along the way.

For 1928, the AA became the BB with a number of improvements to the engine and chassis. Now displacing 299 cubic inches, the “Challenger” Vertical Eight was offered with three different compression ratios, ranging from 5:1 to 6:1. Power was up to a reported 145 horsepower – at a time when Packard’s eight made 106 hp and Cadillac’s V8 barely 90 hp. The chassis was the same double-drop type, with Delco-Remy Lovejoy shock absorbers and improved steering. The previous Timken Hydrostatic braking was replaced with a powerful Lockheed hydraulic system, giving the BB impressive braking ability which came in handy on track, with a Stutz BB Blackhawk scoring an impressive 2nd overall at LeMans behind the Works Bentley 4 ½.

A number of bodies were available on the 131” wheelbase BB chassis, ranging from formal sedans to the sporty Blackhawk, which could be had in four-seat or two-seat configuration. Lightweight and powerful, the Millspaugh & Irish built two-seat boattail BB Blackhawk was known as one of the fastest, best driving cars of the era, with powerful brakes, exquisite steering and that smooth Challenger Vertical Eight engine.

Sporting handsome two-seat boattail coachwork, this striking 1928 Stutz BB Blackhawk is a lovely example of this quintessential pre-war American sports car. Finished in cream with contrasting ochre fenders and chassis, this car wears a good quality older restoration that is attractive and well-maintained. Paintwork is in good order, with a few areas of wear from use but overall remaining quite presentable as a tour car. The body is straight and tidy, and features interesting details such as the leather skirts for the front cycle fenders, a golf bag door that follows the contours of the boattail body, and an integrated trunk in the tail. A full complement of weather equipment is included to keep occupants cozy and reasonably dry should the weather turn foul on the road. Accessories include fashionable dual side-mount spares, a winged Stutz radiator mascot, wire wheels, dual Pilot Ray driving lamps, and a spot lamp for the driver, as well as a folding windscreen for the full road-racer effect. The correct original bolt-on aluminum steps plates were preferred by Stutz in place of heavier full running boards.

Brown leather seats complement the color scheme quite nicely, and present in excellent order with just a light patina from use. The dash is simply arranged, with a cluster of good original instruments centrally mounted in the fascia. The instrument bezel features a beautiful relief depicting the Sun God Ra, the long-time Stutz mascot. The tan weather equipment is in good condition, with nice clear plastic side curtains and sound canvas.

The powerful Vertical Eight engine is nicely presented with good quality finishes on the painted surfaces and correct polished intake manifold. The engine number - 90038 HC – is consistent with a BB Blackhawk and indicates this as one of the rare high-compression models. It retains correct type Delco electrical equipment and a period appropriate Stromberg carburetor. Having come from out of long term ownership in a large collection, it runs well though it may require some additional sorting to engine and chassis before any serious miles are added. Frank Moskovics’ brilliant machine was years ahead of its time in terms of handling and road manners, making the BB Blackhawk an excellent choice for touring and rally enthusiasts. As a CCCA Full Classic it is approved for CARavan touring, and thanks to the marque’s success in 1928, is eligible for a coveted entry into the Le Mans Classic.

BB Blackhawk boattail speedsters can be found in world-class collections such as the Simeone Foundation Museum and the Revs Institute. Needing little to be enjoyed to the fullest, this car represents an outstanding opportunity to acquire a sound and attractive example of this highly important pre-war sports car.

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