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.