An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

The American – An Impressive and Stylish Automobile

  • Am5 Prize-winning Americans at the recent Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

The underslung car was featured at the recent Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, which makes for a perfect time for all of us to learn a little more about this unique form of car. The two most widely known vehicles of this type are the American, built in Indianapolis, Indiana and the Regal that was built in Detroit, Michigan. The two companies offered  conventional and underslung models at different times while they were in production.


The subject of today’s post is the 1910 American that was covered in a feature article in the April 21, 1910 issue, of The Automobile, which has been reproduced here. The American Motors Company (1906-1914) that built the cars, claimed two advantages for its Underslung model: they stated the average car would “turn turtle”on a 43 degree angle, while their model would not overturn until 55 degrees; with its large forty-inch tires, on average it had one-inch more ground clearance than conventional cars.

  •                AM2                             Am3
  •                   Full details in “The Automobile” covering both models

The Underslung chassis was designed by Fred I. Tone, and the standard chassis by Harry C. Stutz, who left the company by 1907. The first cars used 35-40 HP four cylinder engines, but by 1910 and 1911, 50 and 60 HP models with up to a 124-inch WB were available. The engines were produced by Teeter-Hartley and other builders.

In 1912 and 1913 a smaller 20-30 HP model named the “Scout” was built on a 102 and 105-inch WB chassis’. In 1914, fifty Scouts were left unsold, and that model was dropped from the lineup. Only the larger cars were to be built in 1914, the last year of production that was cut short by bankruptcy and the end on the company.


All photos below were taken at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance courtesy of Richard Michael Owen of

Ap1      Ap2      Ap3

Ap4      Ap5      Ap6

Ap7      Ap8      Ap10

Ap11      Ap12      AP13

11 responses to “The American – An Impressive and Stylish Automobile

  1. I guess, it’s fair to mention the fact that the 1905 White racing car that competed in the Vanderbilt Cup of that year had an underslung chassis already. Before that Wolseley prepared 2 racers with underslung chassis, which were supposed to compete in the 1902 Paris-Vienna race together with 3 ‘normal’ Wolseleys. The underslung cars remain mysterious however. Some photographs of these cars exist, but they never made it to the start and nothing has been been heard of them since. I don’t know about other earlier attempts, but maybe someone else does?

  2. Regal. There were two Regal underslungs at Amelia. I had the pleasure of judging that class. One of the Regals was the only-known original speedster (looks like a 3/4-scale Mercer) and the other was an unrestored roadster. There was also an American underslung chassis-only on display.

  3. I have drawings, approx. 1/12th scale, to build a model of an American Underslung. These were done by an individual , James Ison, of Sturgis,MI. Jim did a whole series of cars.

  4. With thanks to Richard Michael Owen for the wonderful photos of the Seal Cove Auto Museum’s 1911 American Model 50 Victoria. Some of the ‘old timers’ will remember our car from when it was in the Briggs Cunningham collection at his Automotive Museum, in Costa Mesa, CA. Its been quite a few years since the car has been driven and shown; we truly appreciate having had the opportunity of reintroducing it to the public at Amelia this year.

  5. Hi! I see amongst the responses, of a Mr. James (Jim) Ison of Stugis Michigan had drawn drawings of 1/12th scale of the early American Underslung motorcar, and would like to hear from him Please! Also, I am trying to track down the American Underslungs desiners son, as heard his father (Fred Tone) had left to him all of the American Underslung technical drawings, as I am hoping to locate him to ask if copies can be purchased, so if anyone knows of him, Please write to me! Thanks much! – Don

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *