If the 1911 Mercer Raceabout was the first American car to find success using the “race and sell” philosophy, the Stutz Bearcat was among the first to parlay that supercar status in to celebrity status. After mixing it up with the Raceabout on tracks and winning 25 of the 30 races it entered in 1912, the Bearcat grew into something of an automotive icon, famously finding its way into the hands of George "Cannonball" Baker for a record-breaking 1915 cross-country run. These exploits garnered the Bearcat a name recognition that still holds up 80 years after the company’s demise.
The Stutz Bearcat was born from racing: it started out in 1911 as the Ideal Motor Car Company, and entered a car in its big hometown race, which just happened to be the Indianapolis 500. The car finished in 11th place, and the company’s name was changed to founder Harry C. Stutz’ name. The Bearcat debuted the very next year as the street version of the race car, with very little changed. Stutz took racing very seriously. Baker’s coast-to-coast run was undertaken in response to a Stutz buyer who was miffed about losing to the Mercers. Over the years, the Bearcat became known for its speed and performance, growing into a luxury speedster in the Roaring Twenties.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1912 Stutz Bearcat.