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1915 Mercer


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I don't currently have a photo of this car, but will attempt to get one and post it. But if you have a copy of Antique Autmobile V1#3 a twin is pictured as part of the Harrah Collection. On page 313 is a yellow 1915 Mercer Raceabout, it looks identical to the one we are working on, except for color, it is maroon with black fenders.

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OK guys here is the story on the photo, it is a 1913 T-35 Mercer, owner Herb Lederer of Riverside, IL. Photo taken July, 2000 on the Milwaukee Mile race track during the Harry Miller Vintage racecar meet. Yes it was doing an easy 70 MPH, note the uneasy look on the riders face, no doors, no windows and nothing to hold onto! I thought 1915's were still T-heads, I have a friend with a nice 1920 L-head car, I'll try to round up a good photo of it to post. Stude8

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1915 was the first year of the 6 cyl motor, called the 22-70 and I think was designed by a guy named Franquist. Very long stroke motor but well balanced and powerful.

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The info on the 1920 Mercer L-Head car photo, the car is one of a group of 5 or 6 built with a Murphy Body Co. cowl. The car is presently owned by Mr Mort Huber in Park Ridge, IL. Photo was taken a few years ago in Boalsburg, PA on a post Hershey Mercer get together at Mercer guru Stan Smith's place. There is another one of the Murphy cowl cars in Philly area owned by John Rendamonti which is known to have been owned by silent movie star Buster Keaton. Keaton was a Mercer enthusiast and they can be seen in several of his films. Funny none of the Murphy cowl cars are seen, they must have had a fleet of them for the movies. The two bear consectutive serial numbers.

Back to the car in the photo, it has had an interesting modification to the ignition system. At some time in the past a second set of spark plugs were installed in the valve access ports to accomplish "Dual" spark plugs for each cylinder. The original magneto was replace with a 1918? Stutz dual head distributor. We are told this was common in those days when the mags lost their "Umph". The Stutz distributor is the 8th wonder of the world mechanically, one head has fixed timing while the other has mechanical advance thus you can actually fire the plugs in an order to sustain improved flame propogation at high speed. They were very far ahead of everyone else at the time.

The car is a fun experience to drive and no hill is too steep. It has a 4 speed trans, the only thing you would want is better brakes than the two on the rear drums and the one on the trans output shaft. Stude8

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This is for "1937HD45", yes the car in my thumbnail is #34 the car driven by Tony Gulotta to 7th spot in 1933 at Indy. It is a factory rebody (Using Rigling body) developed with U of Michigan wind tunnel for 1933. Photo was made in 1996 when I did some restoration on it to prepare it for Harry Miller meet. It was owned at that time by Brooks Stevens Museum, Mequon, WI. Now owned by August Grasis of Kansas City, MO. Grasis has done more than I could afford and the car sees frequent use in events from Harry Miller Meet to Colorado Grand and vintage races at Elkhart Lake WI & Blackhawk Farm Beloit, IL.

Now you want to talk about a FUN car to drive! 337 CID 9 main President 8 with 4 down draft Stromberg carbs. People make comments about the aero dynamic body not being as beautiful as the 1932 shape it replaced, but it was several MPH faster! You do gain respect for Gulotta and 5 hours on the speedway in that car in a year when one driver died from heat stroke. This thread has gone a long way from Mercer but that's what we're here for right?

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Stude8, This is all connected. Stan Smith had a Studebaker Indy car as a stable mate to the Mercer. I get to see that car and the American Twist Drill Special Studebaker at the Vintage Festival at Lime Rock in the Fall. Two great cars, but my friends two man Schafer 8 Buick beats them most times.

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Thank you Peter for posting the above black & white photo. I found this at a flea market this past summer. Note claimed it was a 1915 Mercer on the 1952 Glidden Tour, I have a view from the other side and there is a cast iron exhaust manifold that comes out of the side of the hood, looks to be a four cylinder powered car. Does anyone have any info on it, and present location?

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  • 2 weeks later...

The car in the B/W photo is a 1915 Mercer Raceabout chassis S/N 2549 engine S/N 2270 with a modified body aft of the hood. My research found the first "modern" photo of it in the June 1951 edition of Road and Track pp. 10. It is being driven by then owner Dick Teague (Studebaker-Packard, later AMC chief stylist)at an event in 1947 in California. I have a letter from the late Mercer expert and HCCA pioneer Herb Royston who said that Mr. Teague had purchased a Mercer "racer" in this time period. The seller from San Diego had told Teague that the car was Eddie Pullen's famous #4 racer which had won the Santa Monica Grand Prix. It was in fact a "back yard" modification of an L-head Raceabout with #4 painted on the radiator. When Teague learned the truth from Royston, he drove the car to Chicago and traded it to D. Cameron Peck. The car next shows up in the June 1950 edition of the HCCA Gazette (pp15) where it is being shown at the Fairfield CT spring meet by a Mr. Leslie Taylor. It was then owned by a Mr. G. Fearing of Westwood MA from about 1954 to 1957. In 1959 it was back out in California, owned by Dr. Henry Newman. A year later it was in the Harrah's collection. In this time period, the bodywork may have been returned to it's original form, but I am not sure. After Harrah died, the car was sold out of the collection. Today it is owned by a private individual in Nevada.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">1915 was the first year of the 6 cyl motor, called the 22-70 and I think was designed by a guy named Franquist. Very long stroke motor but well balanced and powerful. </div></div>

All Mercers had 4 cylinder engines until the late 1922/1923 models which came out with a 6 cylinder Rochester Motors engine. It was not an in-house Mercer design and was not as rugged as it should have been, helping to kill off the marque. The 1915 22-70 models (22 HP SAE formula, 70 HP on the dyno) L-heads were designed by ERIK DELLING. Delling had previously been responsible for the Deltal racer (was at Hershey in 2001) from which the 1915-1922 4 cyl. Mercer engine was based. Delling left Mercer soon thereafter and was responble for the Delling steam car.

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21raceabout, Thank you for that detailed history of a "once" unique Mercer. I just looked at a color photo of the car after it was restored at Harrah's, without the above information you would never guess that it was the same car in the black & white photo. This is a great example of documentation that is required in some AACA classes.

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Self correction; There were no production 6 cyl Mercers prior to 1922. A 6 cyl. Mercer T-head racer ran at the 1911 Savannah Vanderbilt Cup race but did not finish due to a serious water leak. Mercer had won the 300 cid and under race at Savannah on the previous day with a 4 cyl. T-head racer.

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