1918 STUTZ SERIES S ROADSTER
Registration No. DS 8828
Serial No. 1355
Engine No. S 1264
Red with black mudguards and black leather upholstery.
Engine: 4-cylinder monobloc, 16-valve T-head, 43/8" x 6" bore and stroke, 353 cu. in. (5780 cc), Stromberg carburettor, Delco dual head distributor. Gearbox: three speed and reverse gearbox mounted on black axle with right-hand change, shaft drive. Chassis: pressed steel, 130" wheelbase, 56" track; Suspension: semi-elliptic springs front and rear; Brakes: rear wheel; Houk detachable wire wheels, twin spares, tyres: 32 x 41/2ins. Right hand drive.
In the motoring world, say "Stutz" and an almost automatic response is the utterance of the work 'Bearcat'. The general public could be forgiven for thinking that the Stutz Bearcat was the only model made by the company. However, since 1911 when Harry Stutz had set up his own firm, there had always been two-seater Roadsters and Touring cars to keep the limited number of Bearcats made each year company. Mechanically there was no significant difference between the stark Bearcat and the far more practical Roadster, simply a 10 inch shorter wheelbase and less bodywork for the former.
Up to 1917 Stutz used bought-in Wisconsin engines, but in the later part of the year the firm introduced its own 16-valve, twin spark engine for all models. The efficiency of the 'breathing' and ignition arrangements meant that the engine provided outstanding torque, notwithstanding its 5.8-litre capacity. Thus three forward speeds in the gearbox were not only adequate, but were something of luxury, giving a dual personality to the cars. They could be driven from walking pace to a speed approaching 100mph all in top gear, or, if the lower speeds were used, the performance was sparkling. It is therefore not surprising that Stutz cars were highly successful in racing from the day of their inception and achieved public recognition way beyond the limited numbers made.
The Branham Automobile Reference Book published in 1920 lists the Stutz Series S as being available for the 1918 season only, with Serial Numbers from 1 to 2396. Since Ben Branham obtained his figures direct from each manufacturer it is reasonable to conclude that they are correct and, with Serial Number 1355, this car can only be from the model year 1918 that actually commenced production in September 1917.
The early history of this Stutz is not known, but at one time it was owned by the well known Rolls-Royce collector, the late Rick Carroll. In 1975 it was bought by Herbert W Watts who undertook a complete and meticulous restoration of the car. It was completely dismantled and all parts were re-painted or re-plated as appropriate. Items such as the fuel tank, pipes, battery box, water pump and water hoses were replaced and the car was re-wired. The upholstery was renewed in appropriate black leather and a new hood (top) made. Virtually all the other parts of the car needed only straightforward restoration and so this Stutz is essentially in the condition that it was when it left the Indianapolis factory in 1918, down to such detail as the correct Boyce motometer with Stutz transfer that adorns the radiator cap. The quality and authenticity of the restoration resulted in the car becoming an award winner in many Antique Automobile Club of America events from 1976 through to 1980.
The car was imported into the UK in the late 1980s and has since been used for British rallies such as the Bristol-Bournemouth and the Daffodil Run, with a continental excursion in 1991. It has proved to be completely reliable and the owner describes it as a pleasure to drive, whatever the excuse! Currently the car is fitted with direction flashers, modified rear lights, a water temperature gauge and an oil pressure gauge, all in the interest of practical use in present day road conditions. These items could easily be removed if it is wished to return the car entirely to its original form.
In British terms the car is a 'late-Edwardian' and therefore suitable for Veteran Car Club rallies. It would also be usable in the Edwardian class in Vintage Sports-Car Club competitions and can realistically be driven to and from such events. This Stutz Roadster is an attractive and practical motor car in fine condition that achieves instant recognition wherever it goes.