Tag Archives: Mercer
After a little time spent looking at other motor-head sites we found some very interesting photos to share with you. The Chicane has this photo (above) of a motorcycle and sidecar rig at the Brooklands track in England.
At Charlie Beesley’s motor life.blog , he has up a series of photos he calls “Wild Youth” at the (left below) is a l-head Mercer with a custom boat-tail body. It is captioned “Bob Biggs Balboa Beach Spring 1928 ” Balboa is in Southern California and you can read up on the famous Balboa Pavilion and view many photos. The Auto Red Bug in the (center below) was every child’s dream in the teens and is also on Charlie’s site.
And the last photo is from Ivan P. Wheaton’s Early Bird site, were he is telling us all about his grandfathers pursuits in early aviation. The last photo (below) shows the second gull wing plane built Lewis G. Young he called the Gull Bat after he had crashed it in 1916.
The l-head Mercer was a new model the firm introduced in 1915 after a sensational run with the t-head Mercer, which was produced during the years of 1911-1914. The t-head Mercer in our opinion, is one of the finest preform-ing and well built cars of the time. It has gone on to become a legend, due in part to its racing success and the handsome looking Raceabout model.
The new model, designed by engineer Eric Delling, hired after master engineer Finley Porter resigned in 1914, was a much more modern car in keeping with the times. The company had also moved away from from the racing arena and Delling laid out the basic design, Mercer would stay with until the end in 1925.
The new cars were offered on longer 115″ and 130″ wheelbases with a more modern l-head, long stroke 70 h.p. four, with all four cylinders contained in one high quality iron casting on top of an aluminum crankcase. The company backed it up with a four speed gearbox, that as in the t-head, shifted extreme-ly well and is a joy to operate, as opposed to some other units, built in a time of somewhat unruly clutches and transmissions.
The conventional chassis Delling designed was in keeping with the Mercer reputation of being a good handling high-speed automobile, in part because it was one of the first to use Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers. In 1920 when the Series 5 Mercer seen here was built, the company offered the following models; The famous Raceabout on the short 115″ w.b., and the 6-pass. Touring, the Sportabout or Sporting, a 4-pass. Runabout, and the 6-pass. Limousine all on the 130″ w.b.
The fine Mercer Sporting seen here is from the JWR Auto Museum in Frackville, PA., which was owned by the well know, late John W. Rich Sr. Mark Lizewskie, curator and restorer of the collection provided the interesting history of this particular car.
John Gillette, of Wadsworth, Ohio purchased the car in 1991 with 93,156 miles registered on it, from the Mount Vernon, Ohio estate of Mr. Charles G. Jackson, a dedicated enthusiast, historian and Mercer expert who had driven the car for 47 years. In the process of conducting a complete body off-restoration of the rolling chassis, engine and body, Mr. Gillette learned a great deal about Mr. Jackson. He had purchased the car from the original owner in Bellville, Ohio in 1946 and, as an early automobile historian, had authored a three-part article for the March, June and September 1951 issues of Antique Automobile entitled “Mercer, A Technical History.” Later, he partnered with others to write the Mercer instruction manual for L-head engines made between 1915-1923 and also penned an article detailing his Mercer engine rebuild with 63,000 miles on the odometer, which appeared in the June 1949 issue of Antique Automobile.
As Mr. Gillette embarked on the restoration, small treasures from Jackson’s ownership appeared – everything from an invoice from Lincoln Garage in Trenton, NJ to Jackson’s homemade tools and the original Billings & Spencer tools that came new with the car. Dismantling began in 1995, with parts and pieces being distributed to numerous professionals. Many Mercer enthusiasts contributed much-needed pieces and information. Perhaps most amazingly, Mr. Gillette even uncovered a photograph he took as a young teenager in the 1950s of a car he liked at an old car rally near Canal Fulton, Ohio. It was the very same Mercer, still in Jackson’s ownership!
Working alone, the assembly process was quite time-consuming, but everything was refurbished, replaced or rebuilt. The black long-grain leather upholstery proved to be particularly challenging, but was finally sourced from Trenton, NJ and perfectly matches the original. The car presents beautifully with its dark brown top, which was listed as an option in the Mercer parts book. The car retains the original storage locks and keys, complete side curtains and the original Mercer tools.
The previous Mercer racing history photo from the Peter Helck collection we showed you here, was of the Roebling – Planche racing car. The photo above is close to a year later and shows one of the three Mercer Racabout team cars at the Savannah Challenge Trophy Race, possibly in practice but it is not know exactly which car it is as it is not numbered.
Well known Mercer driver Hughey Hughes won the 223 mile race at a time of 195 min-utes averaging 68.34 mph. W. Barnes driving one of the other team cars finished in 4th behind two Marmons and Billy Knipper driving the third Mercer went out but finished 6th with engine trouble.
Mercer had a fine season during 1911, Charles Bigelow won the AAA Panama Pacific Road Race in Oakland, CA. Two Mercers driven by Hughes and Bigelow finished well at Indianapolis during the 500 in spite of being overpowered by the larger cars, they finished in 12th and 15th.
At the Elgin Road Races in the 231 – 300 c.i. class, Kane County Race, Hughes and Barnes pulled off a 1 – 2 finish. Hughes also ran his Mercer the next day in the big Elgin Nation Road Race and managed an incredible third place finish against the larger cars. Hughes also won the 231 – 300 c.i. class in the 200 Mile Philadelphia Road race. Photos from the Peter Helck Collection courtesy of Racemaker Press. Thanks to historian Jim Dillion for the Mercer racing results.