Lot 12

2014   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2014

1920 Mercer Series 5 Raceabout

SOLD $308,000


$300,000 - $400,000| Without Reserve



Car Highlights

The Definitive L-Head Mercer
Long-Term Single Family Owership
Largely Original Urestored Example
Ideal for Brass and Nickel Era Tours
An Iconic American Sports Car

Technical Specs

298 CID L-Head Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
Single Updraft Carburetor
72 HP at 2,000 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
2-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes with Foot Brake on Driveshaft
Live-Axle Suspension with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs and Shock Absorbers

Saleroom Addendum

*Please note this vehicle is titled by its engine number.

Register to Bid

Single Family Ownership Since 1945C.F. Greiner, Springfeld, Ohio (acquired circa 1944)John M. Roberts III, Sewickley, Pennsylvania (acquired from the above in 1945)William D. Roberts (aquired from the above in 1975)Current Owner (aquired from the above in 1996)

VMCCA Glidden Tour, 1949Sewickley Antique Car Show, August 23, 1996Ault Park Concours d’Elegance, June 2010 (Jim Ibold Preservation Award)Ault Park Concours d’Elegance, June 201 1Ault Park Concours d’Elegance, June 2012 (Award of Distinction)

Following Finley R. Porter’s brilliant T-head engine design, which was used from 1911 through 1914, Mercer’s second generation of motorcars transitioned to a long-stroke L-head engine developed by Eric Delling, designer of the Deltal Racer. This new model continued in the tradition of the already legendary early Mercers, compiling an enviable racing record that included wins at Chicago Speedway and Giant’s Despair Hill Climb.

The L-head Raceabout, produced from 1915 until 1923, was equipped with notable features such as staggered semi-bucket seats, lightweight aluminum coachwork, and clamshell fenders. For the sporting driver, there was no other American car available at the time that gave the same thrill as a yellow Mercer Raceabout on an open country road, rowing through all four speeds with the cut-out open.

In his essay on the L-head Mercer, published in the July–August 1959 issue of the Horseless Carriage Gazette, Dr. Henry Newman accounts for 29 surviving Raceabouts, approximately half of the known L-head Mercers. All that remain to this day are prized by discerning collectors.

This lovely Series 5 Raceabout is being offered for sale for the first time in almost 70 years. In 1945, John Roberts, an antique car collector from Sewickley, Pennsylvania, bought the Mercer from a gentleman in Ohio, and it has been a family heirloom ever since.

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the Mercer participated in various classic car events, from the famed Glidden Tour to a ceremonial ribbon cutting at the opening of the Sewickley Bridge. In the early 1960s, the Roberts family and their automotive treasures were featured in a Gulf Oil advertisement that ran in major publications including The Saturday Evening Post.

In the ad, Mr. Roberts is quoted as saying, “For having fun, and meeting new friends, Mrs. Roberts and I are convinced that no hobby compares with the collecting of antique cars…This 1920 Mercer Raceabout is our favorite, and we protect its rare engine with Gulfpride H.D.” Pictured below the quote is their son Bill, posing with his newly acquired Mercedes-Benz 540 K.

In 1975, Bill acquired the Mercer and retained it until 18 years ago, when it passed into the hands of his son. Benefiting from three generations of appreciative stewards, the Raceabout has always been dutifully maintained, regularly exercised on weekend drives, and, in more recent years, admired at local shows.

According to the consignor, the Mercer is “original with the exception of paint, upholstery, and floor boards,” the paint being refinished in the 1960s by Earl Scheib who charged Mr. Roberts $19.95 – “any car, any color.” Today, the Raceabout possesses a delightful and consistent patina – a reassuring testament to its authentic character.

Available for the first time since 1945, this Series 5 Raceabout is an outstanding example of an iconic American sports car, a lasting tribute to the great Mercer marque, and a significant opportunity for collectors.