• This Month's Issue

    $38m GTO: All the Drama, Surprises and Head-Scratchers from Monterey's $464m Week

    Komforting Result for Porschephiles: 1988 Porsche 959 Approaches $1.5m

    Torpedos Away: Why the $467k Gap for Two Tucker 48s?

    GT40: Even at $6.9m, Ford Can't Beat Ferrari on the Block

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  • SCM Platinum

    Over 200 cars that sold at auction covered in every issue of SCM. Our market reports include detailed information about the vehicle, including VIN, condition, options, and expert analysis from SCM's auction reporters.

    SCM Platinum is the largest database of collector cars sold at auction. Over 150,000 vehicles, including over 59,000 with detailed write-ups from our auction reporters.

    Now optimized for your mobile devices!

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  • Glovebox Notes

    SCM doesn't just cover collector cars. Every week, SCM reviews a brand new car online and in our newsletters, and there are new reviews every month in the magazine. Thinking of buying a new car? Check out our reviews!

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  • Insider’s Guide to Concours d’Elegance

    The 2014 guide includes a calendar of events and detailed descriptions of 21 featured concours.

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Recent Profiles

  • Chassis 1036 (RM Auctions) A factory report dated October 28, 1948, held in the Tucker archives at the Gilmore Car
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    Tucker vs. Tucker

    By Carl Bomstead / November 2014
  • Chassis number GT108 is one of just six open-top GT40 roadsters constructed, reflecting Ford’s experimentation with the open configuration to
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    1965 Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype

    By John L. Stein / November 2014
  • The Ferrari 250 GT Omologato needs little introduction as the most iconic, most habitable, street-useable, race-winning, World Championship-winning — and
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    1962–63 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta

    By Steve Ahlgrim / November 2014
  • Following the 953’s decisive win at the grueling Paris-Dakar Rally in 1984, Porsche’s chief engineer Helmuth Bott declared his ambition
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    1988 Porsche 959 Komfort

    By Prescott Kelly / November 2014
  • After several years dominating the Can-Am series with a series of school-bus-yellow racers, McLaren Cars stood up to the developing
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    1972 McLaren M20 Can-Am

    By Thor Thorson / November 2014
  • The ultra-rare Alfa Romeo 1900 C SS combined the short chassis with a racing-specification engine, gearbox, and revised final-drive ratios
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    1955 Alfa Romeo 1900 C SS Zagato Coupe

    By Donald Osborne / November 2014
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1913 mercer type 35j raceabout


The legendary T-head Mercer Raceabout was one of the most significant cars produced during the glorious Brass Age. The enthusiasm shared by those fortunate few owners and admirers who have experienced the thrill of a Raceabout has elevated these pioneering sports cars to mythical status.
The 300-c.i. four-cylinder engine had massive 2¼-inch valves, high-lift cams, a high compression ratio, and generous and efficient intake/exhaust manifolding. This was mated to a beautifully engineered Brown & Lipe gearbox, with three speeds for 1911 and 1912, and four speeds for 1913 and 1914, with a multiple-disc clutch. The drive unit was set down in a frame to lower the center of gravity on the already low-slung chassis, which was clothed in long, swooping fenders, raked cowl and steering column, and twin rear spare tires. Is there a better example of form following function?
The T-head Mercer Raceabout was the first mass-produced dual-purpose sports and racing car. Indeed, many Mercers were taken right off the showroom floor to a race track where, with their fenders, runningboards and lighting equipment quickly removed, they would frequently set lap records, defeating cars with much larger engines. As Mercer Chief Engineer Finley R. Porter recalled in an interview with pioneer collector Henry Austin Clark, Jr. in the 1950s, "We sold racing cars to the public."
The best drivers always gravitate to the best cars and Mercer was no exception: Ralph DePalma, Spencer Wishart, Caleb Bragg, Eddie Pullen, Hughie Hughes and Barney Oldfield were a few of the stars of the era-;not to mention the many private amateur sportsmen who were victorious behind the wheels of Mercers.
If the phenomenal race record of the Mercer was not enough proof of its worth, consider the list of respected collectors who have chosen to own a T-head Raceabout: Bill Harrah, Henry Austin Clark, Alec Ulmann, Sam Scher, Peter Helck, James Melton, Ralph Buckley, Ken Purdy, Herb Royston, Miles Collier, David Uihlein, Fred Hoch, George Wingard, Phil Hill, Robert Petersen, Roger Ellis and Briggs Cunningham-many of them owning more than one example.
Chassis number 1281 is one of the most original Mercer Raceabouts in existence. It is believed that this car was converted to electric lighting very early in its life and it is conceivable that the original dealer could have done this. This car was purchased by Oliver Frederick (Fred) Hiscock of Southampton, Long Island in about 1919 from Lawrence Griffen of Northsea, Long Island. There were possibly two prior owners at this stage and one of them had flipped the car over in an accident. However, it is not believed that this Raceabout has any early racing history.
In 1969 Fred Hiscock passed away and his son John inherited the car. Sadly, he lost it in a divorce proceeding in 1981. The fortunate purchaser was William B. Ruger, who leapt at the opportunity to acquire one of the great original Raceabouts.
There are approximately 17 genuine T-head Raceabouts in existence. Chassis number 1281 must rank among the handful of truly great Raceabouts with an almost completely known history from new.

{analysis}{auto}238{/auto} This car sold for $865,500, including buyer's premium, at Christie's Pebble Beach auction held August 18, 2002.
Not only did it sell for $865,500, but it returned to the family from whom Bill Ruger had bought it in 1981, making a neat full circle on its history, albeit at a price. But that's the way people feel about T-head Mercer Raceabouts. Back in April 1999 Christie's auctioned another authentic 1913 Type 35J Raceabout for $926,500. It is now a centerpiece car in the Petersen Automotive Museum. Between these two auction sales, private transactions involving T-head Raceabouts have also climbed well past the half-million mark. The cars are so desirable and scarce that some collectors have ordered "new old" examples built from the ground up by Mercer specialists.
Besides simply being a correct, unmolested T-head Raceabout-with the exception of the addition of a period self-starting system-this car had a well-known history and an owner known for his taste in collecting great cars. Bill Ruger painted this car an incorrect color (it was originally yellow), but otherwise the car was restored exactly right.
The way these cars perform is a large part of their allure. Although rated at just 30.5 hp by formula, it's reckoned the engine actually produced more like 100 ponies. Torque at the rear wheels make throwing a Raceabout into drifts as easy as a quick poke at the outside-mounted throttle. The transmission is a revelation compared to the balky gearshifts of contemporary rivals. You can snap the gear lever up and down like a modern sports car, speed-shifting at will. Steering is direct and arrow-accurate.
Worth the money? If any brass era car is, it's the T-head Mercer Raceabout. It tells you volumes about the esteem in which they're held by collectors when this car brought nearly five times the amount of an equally authentic 1916 Stutz Bearcat at the RM Monterey auction the night before.-Dave Brownell{/analysis}

Recent Blog Posts

  • A Glimpse of Pure Passion +

    The SCM Monterey Insider’s Seminar is always a good experience, but this year it was a great deal better than good — it was fascinating, inspiring, and — of course — highly instructive. This year’s theme, “Preserve or Restore? The Three Tipping Points to Making the Decision” brought out principal Read More
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    The monthly Mystery Photo has been an SCM tradition for 25 years. Each week, we’ll share one of our “greatest hits” photos from the past and give you a chance to provide a new witty and provocative caption. Each week’s winner will be announced in the Newsletter. Share your caption Read More
  • December 2014 Cover Poll +

    Our Art Director, David Tomaro, has created three possible cover concepts, and we'd like to know which one is your favorite. Click here to cast your vote! In addition, please take a few moments and answer some questions about collector cars. It should all take less than a minute, and Read More
  • Drag Racing a Parsnip at the Concours de Maryhill +

    Car shows happen in the most unlikely places. This weekend, the Goldendale Motorsports Association hosted the 16th annual Concours de Maryhill and hillclimb. The venue was the Maryhill Museum of Art, 103 miles east of Portland, overlooking the Columbia River. Entrepreneur Sam Hill built Maryhill and dedicated it to the public in Read More
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Collector Car News

  • $1.1m V16 Cadillac Roadster Leads RM's Strongest Performance in Hershey +

      RM Auctions celebrated the annual AACA Eastern Division Fall Meet October 9–10 with its best Hershey performance to date: $14,074,250 in total sales with a very strong 93% of all lots sold. Top seller was John Moir Jr.’s 1930 Cadillac V-16 Roadster at $1,100,000. Generated by the sale of 157 Read More
  • Buy High, Sell Low — The Keith Martin Audio Interview +

    Find out Keith Martin’s secrets to buying high, spending too much and selling low in this 30-minute exclusive interview with Mark Greene of CarsYeah.com. Martin talks about Sports Car Market was founded, how at its darkest moment he tried to sell it for $1,500 with no takers, and how the Read More
  • 1934 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Heads to Leake Dallas +

      Leake Auction Company will sell a 1934 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix at their November 22 sale in Dallas, TX. The car was consigned from the John Ridings Lee collection and will be a part of Leake’s Platinum Series of cars. People have had a fascination with the Bugatti Read More
  • RM's Hershey Headliners +

    The featured cars at RM's Hershey sale this weekend include a 1930 Cadillac V16 Sport Phaeton by Fleetwood (pictured above, RM estimate: $375k-$450k), a 1915 Stanley Model 820 12-passenger Mountain Wagon ($200k-$250k), and a 1958 AC Ace-Bristol ($225k-$300k). View all the consignments here. Read More
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    An AC-engined 1951 Frazer Nash known as "Toad" and a 1963 AC Greyhound will cross the block at Branson's Fall auction.  The sale takes place October 17-18 at the Hilton-Branson Convention Center in Branson, MO. View an up-to-date list of the current consignments here. Read More
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