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Stutz Vertical 8
Stutz Bearcat 


Stutz Bearcat (1912 - 1935)

Bearcat Series B, 1913

The best known of all Stutzes, the Bearcat, was introduced in 1912 and would turn out to be a fierce competitor for its arch rival, the Mercer Raceabout. The Bearcat had a huge four-cylinder T-head (inlet valves in one side of the cylinder block and exhausts in the other) Wisconsin engine that displaced 6.4 litres (389 cu in.) and produced 50 horsepower.

The Bearcat was the starkest of sports cars. Along with the fenders there was a "doghouse" hood over the engine, two seats, a round barrel-like fuel tank, a trunk that really was, and a couple of spare tires. The driver peered through a monocle windshield; the passenger got no protection.

Despite minimal bodywork the Bearcat weighed a healthy 2,041 kg (4,500 lb). Its wheelbase was 3,048 mm (120 in.) long, it rode on giant 4.50 by 34 inch tires, and it stood 1,219 mm (48 in.) high at the hood.

Tom McCahill, Mechanix Illustrated magazine's car writer, tested a mint condition 1914 Stutz Bearcat in September, 1951. He reported that it would reach almost 129 km/h (80 mph) and accelerate from zero to 96 km/h (60 mph) in 29.2 seconds.

He also pointed out that Bearcats required rugged drivers. "They would go where you headed them, and keep going, but you still needed lots of arm moxie to turn them. And plenty of beef to throw out the clutch and push down the brake. You couldn't ride those old-time clutches, Buster. It takes a good 75 to 100 pounds of pressure to throw them out." He said the two-wheel mechanical brakes took "... enough pressure to squash a rock."

Harry Stutz continued in competition, with the Indianapolis 500 a sentimental favourite. Stutzes finished third in 1913 and 1915. A Stutz racing team, called the White Squadron, was the scourge of the American racing circuit during the teens.

The Stutz's exploits weren't confined to the race track. The owner of a new 1916 Bearcat apparently brought the car to his New York dealer complaining that it was so slow that the Mercers were trouncing him in the streets.

The Stutz public relations department, smelling an opportunity, arranged to have the car driven coast-to-coast by an Indianapolis record driver named Erwin George Baker. Baker didn't disappoint them. He flogged the car across the continent in 11 days, 7-1/2 hours, earning a new transcontinental speed record for Stutz, and the nickname "Cannonball" Baker for himself. He loved the name, and had it copyrighted. Baker went on to become the premier cross-country driver, eventually setting 143 distance records.

Founder Harry Stutz lost control of the company and left in 1919. Although the Bearcat was continued, sales went into a slide and by 1924 the Bearcat name was dropped, although it would return later.

1921 Bearcat

The Stutz company continued to build some high-performance cars, including the Black Hawk speedster, which was the American Automobile Association champion in 1927. In 1928 one was second in the famous LeMans, France, 24-hour endurance race, the best American car showing until the Ford GT40s of the 1960s. The Bearcat was the only car that could give the Bentleys a run for their money. Oddly, when pushed hard, the cam drive would fail, which was also the weak point of the Bentleys.

In the early '30s, unable to afford a huge multi-cylinder engine like the Cadillac, Packard and Marmon V-12s and V-16s, Stutz fitted double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder to its Vertical Eight, creating the fabulous 156-horsepower, 32-valve DV-32. The car was also supplied with others bodies.

It was guaranteed to exceed 161 km/h (100 mph). A shorter version, the Super Bearcat, with a 2,946 mm (116 in.) wheelbase rather than the standard Bearcat's 3,146 mm (134-1/2 in.), was even faster.

1931 Bearcat

1931 Bearcat

1931 Bearcat

Unfortunately the Depression finished Stutz, causing the company to cease production in 1934. The Stutz Bearcat remains, however, the supreme embodiment of that swashbuckling, romantic era of bathtub gin and a dance called the Charleston.

Bearcat 1930s



3390 mm


133.5 in

Track front 1435 mm 56.5 in  
rear 1435 mm 56.5 in  
Kerb weight 2220 kg 4894 lb  
Manufacturer Stutz
Type S-8
32 valves total
4 valves per cylinder
Main bearings 9
Bore stroke 85.70mm 114.30mm
3.37 in 4.5 in
Bore/Stroke ratio 0.75
Displacement 5275 cc
(321.9 cu in)
Unitary capacity 659.38 cc/cylinder
Fuel system 1 Schebler carb
Aspiration Normal
Max. output 158.2 PS (156.0 bhp) (116.3 kW)
@3900 rpm
Coolant Water
Specific output 29.6 bhp/litre
0.48 bhp/cu in
Top speed 145 km/h
Power-to-weight 70.27 bhp/ton
Engine location Front
Engine alignment Longitudinal
Suspension Front LA.SE.
Rear LA.SE.
Tyres F 18 x 7.00
Tyres R 18 x 7.00
Brakes F/R Dr/Dr-S
Brake ∅ F/R / mm
Transmission 4M
Drive RWD
Top gear ratio 1.00
Final drive ratio 4.75