What’s a Mercer? Why, that’s simple. During the automobile’s brass era, the Mercer was nothing less than an American supercar. Mercers were setting speed records and winning races before Ferrari and Porsche were even thought of.
Formed in 1909, when the Walter motor car company was bought out by industrial magnates Ferdinand and Washington Roebling and financier John L. Kuser, Mercer was focused from the start on using racing to promote its high-quality vehicles. Engineers, designers and race drivers worked hand in hand to develop a real performance vehicle, and the Raceabout was the result. The two-seat speedster was designed to run 70 mph all day in an era where paved roads were few and far between, and would top out a 90 mph if conditions permitted. The Mercer Raceabout entered many road races from 1910-1914, and won consistently. Victory at the Indianapolis 500 eluded Mercer’s grasp, but the performance-bred Raceabout became an icon nevertheless.
Squaring off against literal giants from FIAT, Itala and Benz, the Mercer depended on light weight and nimble handling, where its competitors threw everything into large-bore, large-displacement engines. It won five of the six races it entered in its inaugural year, and racked up dozens of racing victories over the next three years. In 1914, a Mercer won the American Grand Prize, at the time the most prestigious long-distance road race in America, and averaged 77 mph over the 403-mile course. Mercer was the first American manufacturer to win this race.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1911 Mercer Raceabout.