Formerly of the William F. Harrah Collection
1914 AMERICAN UNDERSLUNG MODEL 646 FIVE PASSENGER TOURING
Chassis No. L600
Engine No. S-1106
Forest green with kelly green pinstriping, chassis and running gear with dark green leather interior and a black canvas top
Engine: six cylinder, in-line, Teetor-Hartley L-head, 43bhp; Gearbox: four-speed manual; Suspension: front and rear semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: rear two wheel mechanical brakes. Right hand drive.
This car represents the final year of production for the American Motors Company of Indianapolis, Indiana. Beginning in 1907, the American Motors Company had offered the distinctive Underslung chassis in various body and engine configurations. Though today commonly known as the Underslung, during their heyday they were actually separated into three different model lines, the Tourist, Traveler and Scout. With its road-hugging appearance, huge 38 x 4½ tires and distinctive radiator and body styling American motor cars were both recognizable and well liked. Throughout its relatively short history a number of four and six cylinder proprietary engines ranging from 20 to 60 rated horsepower were used. However, the sixes were only made available in the company's final year of production.
The cars looked fast and spirited and indeed they were. Although the company had no formal racing program, local agents demonstrated their quickness on numerous occasions. For instance, in 1907 at Lowell, Mass, the American Boston dealer put 45 seconds into the mile with an Underslung roadster: an extraordinary turn of speed for a stock automobile at that time. The conventional-chassis models also enjoyed the cachet of being designed by Harry C. Stutz before he struck out on his own to build and sell his innovative transaxles and his race-winning cars. American motor cars were also quite expensive; even the addition of a relatively low-priced, modestly powered Scout model in 1912 failed to turn the dwindling sales results around. What had been marketed as The Car For The Discriminating Few found itself with fewer and fewer discriminating buyers, and finally called it quits in the spring of 1914.
The American offered here is, according to its serial number, the very first Model 646 built in 1914. It has been the subject of a careful and thorough restoration from a sound original car and presents a striking appearance in its two-tone green livery. The American was added to the Browning Collection in 1978 and was purchased from the William F. Harrah Collection. When initially purchased by Mr. Browning the American was in presentable condition. Years later, Mr. Browning submitted the American for a complete restoration. Noted restorer, Mr. Eric Rosenau was commissioned to carry out the task. In a recent phone conversation with this author, Mr. Rosenau intimated that the amount of work done on the car was quite extensive. This was largely due to the color change from white to its current two-tone green livery as the chassis and running gear were refinished in Kelly green.
The American features many lovely accoutrements including a sporty folding windshield, exterior handbrake, Klaxon horn and C.M. Hall Model 299 headlamps with green painted drums. This 646 also possesses its original gas tank. A very desirable accessory is the 75mph Warner autometer and clock combination which is wisely mounted on the windshield frame for quick reference by the driver. The American is also fitted with a Weston ammeter and a Rayfield carburetor as well as being equipped with an Isco electric self-starter for ease of operation. The drivetrain shows some signs of road use, which is to be expected of such a capable and distinctive brass-era automobile, for it can easily cruise with modern traffic and should prove a pleasure to drive for the next owner. It would be welcome at all 'brass and gas' tours and other events and activities of the Horseless Carriage Club of America, the Veteran Motor Car Club of America and the Antique Automobile Club of America.