The Indianapolis based firm of the American Motor Car Company debuted its first car in October 1905. Designed by Harry Stutz, who later went on to form his now famous company bearing his name, the car was equipped with a four-cylinder engine, shaft drive, and a conventional suspension system. By 1906, Stutz had left, and Fred I. Tone had taken over as chief engineer. Under Tone’s direction, a completely different chassis/suspension system was conceived by reversing the arrangement. This upside down, or underslung, design appeared to be an industry first, giving the vehicle a racy stance, while huge 41″x4 ½” tires gave it more ground clearance than most conventional models. The company produced various model and engine combinations until its demise in December of 1913.
This particular 1910 Traveler is one of 300 total units produced of that year, and only one of two in existence. Equipped with the 50 horsepower 5 3/8″ x 5 ½” four-cylinder Teetor-Hartley built engine, it was priced at $5,000. It was purchased new by Mr. F.C. Deemer, a successful businessman in Brookville, Pa. Mr. Deemer was a huge fan of the Americans; this was his fourth Underslung purchased in three years! When Mr. Deemer passed away in 1959 at the age of 89, all 4 cars were still in his possession.
His two sons inherited the cars and kept them stored in a converted brewery. In 1960, Walter Seeley of Jamestown, N.Y., began an inquiry about purchasing the cars. He was told they were not for sale, but the sons wanted a restoration performed on the cars. After many conversations, a deal was struck between the men. Mr. Seeley would restore the earlier three cars in exchange for the 1910 model. A self-described ‘amateur hobbyist’, Mr. Seeley set off the restorations.
He was able to contact Fred Tone’s son, who procured many factory documents and photographs. This truly a labor of love, as the first car took six years to restore to absolute authenticity. This 1910 Traveler, Mr. Seeley’s ‘payment’, took the restorer 17 years to finish for himself. Later in life, the Traveler was purchased by the Haines family in Ohio, who had also acquired two of the other Deemer cars, as well as 3 other Underslungs. In the summer of 2005, the late John W. Rich purchased the car and added it to his collection of vehicles at the JWR Auto Museum.
The Amercian history and story of this car are courtesy of the JWR Auto Museum of Frackville, PA. The serious of fine photographs of this remarkable car are courtesy of photographer and publisher Michael Furman of Coachbuilt Press.