• Believed to be the only surviving 1912 example
• Meticulously restored to concours standards
• Shown at the Pebble Beach and Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
• Desirable American-made vehicle with highly polished brass accessories
199 cid T-head four-cylinder engine, Rayfield Updraft carburetor, 22.5 HP, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic springs, rear transaxle with semi-elliptic springs, internal expanding mechanical rear drum brakes; wheelbase: 122”
Founded in 1906, The American Automobile Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, in its brief eight-year history, produced a variety of cars, although none are more highly regarded or memorable as their revolutionary Underslung models. Starting with a clean sheet for design, Fred Tone came up with a totally new idea, basically flipping the chassis upside down and placing the leaf springs above or beside the frame with the axle suspended from them. Assisting on the project was Harry C. Stutz who worked on the design of the rear transaxle which added to the low silhouette of the car; this was before he would leave American in 1907 and start his own automotive company. For 1912, The American Automobile Company offered three basic lines: Traveler, Tourist and Scout. With prices starting at $1,250, these cars offered a lot of bang for those hard-earned dollars. The Scout’s engine had plenty of pep to drive these cars over almost any terrain and were reported to be quite nimble and responsive on the few good roads that existed, and resilient to getting bogged down on the bad roads found almost everywhere. As with most early car makers, their smaller introductory models helped build their reputations which would lead to the development of bigger and more powerful machines, which in turn would hopefully generate larger revenues and higher profits. As popular and reliable as Underslungs were, the hoped-for well-heeled customers looked to more conventional and less expensive makes and models for their basic transportation needs and, in 1914, The American Automobile Company filed for bankruptcy seeing their assets sold off before the end of the year. Unfortunately, time forgot these beautiful cars and in the course of two world wars, the price of scrap, especially brass, meant many of these pioneering vehicles would be sacrificed in the name of freedom.
Factory production records no longer exist so production numbers for the Underslung cars are unknown. The earliest recorded history for this Scout dates to July-August 1972 when an issue of the AACA’s Antique Automobile magazine published a listing of known American Underslungs. Compiled by historian and marque enthusiast Walter Seely, at that time, this car was the only example of a 1912 Scout. At the time it showed that the car had been previously owned and was restored by a Mr. L. Stillwell. This charming Scout was acquired by our consignor in 2008 and while complete, it needed a lot of attention. It was decided that nothing short of a full concours level restoration would be undertaken. All metal parts were removed and cleaned to bare metal after which body panels were finished in brilliant white with black accents on the body and fenders with these lines traced with hand-applied red pinstriping. The chassis, wood spoke wheels and all major suspension components are finished in vibrant red with the top of the frame rails and leaf springs carrying pinstriped accents in black. Both bucket seats have been fitted with red leather in a diamond-tufted pattern and protected under a tight-fitting black folding top. This car features plenty of brass. Starting with the massive radiator shell, mounted atop the filler cap is a majestic spread wing eagle mascot, on the front of the radiator is a brass cut-out of the company logo with a colorful cloisonne badge affixed to the front. Flanking either side of the shell is a pair of Gray & Davis headlamps complete with a Prestolite acetylene generator. There are electric lights also included such as two cowl-mounted driving lights, a single rear taillight plus a light to illuminate the vintage Warner speedometer. Other appointments include the brass shift and brake levers, surrounding trim, wheel hubs, and a whimsical bulb horn. In the center of the rear-mounted spare tire is a hinged metal storage compartment perfect for storing tools and supplies needed on a vintage road trip. An electric start will save your wrist, but the hand-crank up front is still operational. This car is fresh and ready to be shared.
When introduced, it was a new idea and a brilliant concept, one that is still marveled at and sought-after for its cutting-edge ideas. Sure to be the recipient of numerous invitations to the most prestigious events, look deeply into the large headlight reflectors and you are sure to find many awards and trophies in this car’s future.