Auctions and Brokerage
The American Motor Car Company
While the American Motor Car Company was but one of the many Indianapolis- based automotive manufacturers active pre-WWI, it was certainly among the most innovative, leading the charge in design beyond horseless carriages. Established in 1906, American’s inaugural products were the five-passenger Tourist, based upon a 112" wheelbase length with conventional suspension design, and the rakish Underslung Roadster.
The 1906 American Tourist was the first production automobile designed by Harry C. Stutz, who would leave the company shortly after and eventually gain fame with the company of his own name. American’s Stutz-designed, side-valve, 336 cid, four-cylinder engine was quite conventional in design, perfectly suited for the touring-car application with a wide, useful operating range from 120 to 1,450 rpm. Priced from a considerable $3,000 when new, the Tourist remained part of the American model line until 1913, just before American ceased production in 1914.
While the early history of this 1906 American Tourist Roi-des-Belges-style touring car is currently unknown, recorded history of the car begins with its tenure with Dr. Samuel Scher, one of America’s pioneering collectors of early automobiles, who commissioned its restoration during the early 1960s. According to correspondence and a Bill of Sale on file, the Tourist was part of an impressive 41-car package of classic automobiles sold by Dr. Scher to another noted early collector, Richard C. Paine Jr., during the mid-1960s.
Within the 1965 offer letter from Dr. Scher to Mr. Paine – a copy of which is included in the document file – the Tourist was listed as an AACA National First Prize-winning example; the undated AACA plaque affixed to the vehicle’s dash confirms the award was an early one from the organization. The vehicle was then displayed for many years at the Seal Cove Auto Museum on Mount Desert Island, Maine, which Mr. Paine founded in 1968. It remained there, with the facility long regarded as one of America’s premier Brass Era automobile collections, until after Mr. Paine passed away in August 2008. Late the next month, the Tourist was acquired by John O’Quinn of Houston, and it remained within his vast collection until the consignor’s acquisition in October 2012.
This car, bearing chassis no. 1783, is one of precious few American Tourists surviving today, and perhaps the oldest known example of the marque. Handsomely finished in red with black mudguards and complemented by red button-tufted leather upholstery and a black cloth folding top, the Tourist also retains the stylized “S” monogram of Dr. Scher on the doors, a patriotic American eagle mascot, plus yet another eagle perched atop the earth with “THE AMERICAN” scripting adorn the radiator. Brass Rushmore acetylene-gas headlights, Gray & Davis kerosene sidelights, a swiveling cowl-mounted Rushmore acetylene searchlight, a Stewart speedometer, and a Rubes-style brass bulb horn provide further period charm. Striking in presentation notwithstanding the passage of some 50 years since its restoration was completed, this American Tourist remains a great but little-known and rare early American automobile. It stands ready to take pride of place with a new collector, who will join an exceptional roster of owners who have cared for and enjoyed this truly engaging and undeniable piece of living history.