When many old car enthusiasts think of the Mercer, the first thing that comes to mind is the famous 1911 to ’25 Mercer Raceabout. But the story like that of many early car companies goes back even further and started in 1908.
There have been many earlier articles here on The Old Motor that have covered the Mercer in the past, but for this new series on 1910-’14 cars we have decided to do something a little different. Being such a popular car from its first introduction, it warrants thorough look through automotive magazines of the period to see if more can be learned about the legendary machines.
- The lead photo shows a 1910 Mercer Model 30 “Speedster” owned by Fred Hoch at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Mercer gathering. Photo courtesy of Richard Michael Owen.
- Mercer ad in the “Motor” June 1909 issue showing the “Briarcliff” later renamed the “Toy Tonneau.”
The 1910 Model 30 Mercer was the first car made by the Roebling (builders of the Brooklyn Bridge) and Kuser families after the Roebling – Planche cars were built starting in 1908. The new Mercer was named after Mercer County, New Jersey and the Company was incorporated by the two families in June of 1909.
- Side view of the attractive Toy Toneau model – “Automobile Trade” Journal June 1910.
Announcements in the auto trade magazines tell of William T. White being appointed as the General Manager of the new Company with Charles G. Roebling in charge of the new Mercer’s design. Charles laid out a chassis design that utilized a four cylinder Beaver L-head engine, a wet multiple-disc clutch and a smooth shifting Brown and Lipe three speed transmission all mounted in an attached inner subframe.
- “Automobile Trade” Journal June 1910 overhead view of the 1910 Mercer Model 30 chassis.
Initially, the chassis was offered with either five passenger touring car, toy tonneau or speedster coachwork followed by additions of limousine and landaulet bodies. Two different speedsters were offered during the year; the first (below) offered a flat dashboard and a later more modern model with a sheet metal cowl as seen in the lead photo.
Talented engineer Finley Robinson Porter was hired by the Mercer Management in 1910 and he made a few minor changes to the car including the substitution a Continental engine. Porter then went to work on the Type 35 that was first offered as the new 1911 model. Automobile Topics reported in its June 18, 1910, issue that the entire 1910 production run had been “sold and shipped” and the Company had an “unusually successful season.”
When we return the new Type 35 Raceabout will be covered along with other models offered that year.
- “Automobile Trade Journal” April 1910 advertisement for the “Speedster.”
- 1910 Mercer Model 30 touring car owned by Fred Hoch at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
- Beaver Motors advertisement – “The Automobile” February 1910.
- Brown and Lipe transmission (below) illustrated in the “Automobile Trade Journal” June 1910.