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Please note that this vehicle’s chassis number is S-1173, not S-1743 as stated in the catalogue; the vehicle is titled as S11743.
From the Robert W. Valpey CollectionRobert and Eva Belle Foster, Gadsden, Alabama (acquired new in 1918)Miles Coverdale, Glen Head, New York (acquired from the above in 1951)Robert W. Valpey (acquired from the above in 2000)
FIVA World Rally, 1983
The Stutz Bearcat, first introduced in 1912, is among the most collectible of all American antiques and one of the quintessential pre-WWI sports cars. Powerful and fast, with sparse two-seater bodywork, the model remained popular for well over a decade. When Stutz went public in 1916, the Bearcat was redesigned to incorporate the new 16-valve engine and more refined bodywork, yet it still possessed a shortened 120” wheelbase, right-hand drive, and 80 mph top speed.
The Stutz Bearcat presented here is an early Series S model with a fantastic, well-documented history that can be traced to April 1918. As noted on the original retail order form, this Bearcat was first sold by Elliott Motor Company in Gadsden, Alabama, to Robert Foster, who traded in his 1916 Studebaker Roadster against the $2,700 Stutz. Over the next two decades, Robert and his wife Eva Belle toured the US in the Bearcat, even taking it on long-distance trips to New York and Los Angeles. Back at home, Mrs. Foster was frequently seen driving the bright yellow sports car around town, usually accompanied by her pet monkey. In the mid-1920s, the Fosters brought the Stutz with them when they temporarily relocated to Florida, and in the 1930s, the car was retired from active use.
In 1951, following her husband’s death, Mrs. Foster sold her beloved Stutz to Bill and Miles Coverdale, whose father, William, was a prominent industrialist, with interests in railroad, steel, and engineering companies. The Foster Bearcat was so well known that its sale made headlines in the local newspaper, which noted that the car “had not been used for 12 years, yet it was in almost perfect condition.” The Bearcat was eventually joined by many other significant classics in Miles Coverdale’s collection, including a Bugatti Type 55, Stutz Super Bearcat, and Mercer Toy Tonneau. In 1967, the Stutz was borrowed for the filming of The Night They Raided Minsky’s and, in 1983, it participated in the FIVA World Rally. The Stutz remained a fixture in Mr. Coverdale’s impressive stable until 2000, when it was sold to Robert W. Valpey, in whose care it has since remained.
Today, this 101-year-old machine remains in remarkably original order, a testament to the limited use and extraordinary care it has enjoyed. With the exception of its early 1950s paint and upholstery, the Bearcat is a fundamentally unrestored example – the likes of which are seldom seen. Accompanying the sale is a remarkable history file that includes the original retail order form, Alabama and Florida registration records, a 1923 bill of lading from Luckenbach Steamship Company, as well as correspondence, purchase invoices, and newspaper clippings.
Presented here is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire an exceptional Bearcat with tremendous originality and a rich, fascinating history. Gooding & Company is honored to offer this extraordinary Stutz on behalf of its third long-term owner and knows that its fourth caretaker will be acquiring a truly special automobile.