Stutz’s illustrious history on racetrack and road has become legendary among automotive enthusiasts. By entering a new and untried car in the first Indianapolis 500 race, brilliant engineer Harry C. Stutz, the car’s creator, immediately gained fame for the powerful new marque by placing it eleventh in the contest. For many years afterward, the Stutz would be known and promoted as the “Car That Made Good in a Day.”

Stutz’s racing and sales successes continued through World War I. In 1919, Harry C. Stutz lost control of his company to a group of Wall Street raiders headed by Allan A. Ryan, whose financial machinations ultimately led to the de-listing of Stutz stock by the New York Exchange. Harry Schwab of Bethlehem Steel, whose subsequent mismanagement of Stutz nearly led to the marque’s demise, then acquired the company.

Salvation came with the arrival of Hungarian-born Frederick E. Moskovics, a veteran of Daimler, Franklin, Marmon and Remy Electric. He had, as the saying goes, gasoline in his veins and proved it with the introduction in 1926 of the Stutz Vertical Eight, an engineering and styling tour de force which included a SOHC straight-eight engine, hydrostatic brakes, safety glass and worm drive for a lower body profile. It was the progenitor of the Model M, which is the car shown here, and surely the most European of the US auto designs of the era.

This particular Stutz is even more “European” than most, having been originally sold by the company’s main UK dealer, Warwick Wright, Ltd. of London, which also supplied the supercharged cars for Stutz’s assault on the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1929. It is one of only two complete supercharged Stutzes known to exist.

The dramatic, low-slung, one-off coupe coachwork is by Lancefield and one of only twenty-four supercharged cars ever produced by Stutz. Prior to the current ownership it was an important part of the astonishing Stutz collection of the late A.K. Miller. Miller was the eccentric collector and devotee of the marque whose rural Vermont barns yielded over thirty unrestored examples of Stutz-built cars and whose 1996 estate auction, where this car was sold, has become a part of automotive collecting legend.

After purchasing the car at the Miller auction, the owner of this exceptional automobile subjected it to a meticulous restoration. He chose to finish the Stutz in its attractive original color scheme of black with red. In August, 2000, the car shown here was invited to be present at the Pebble Beach 50th Anniversary Concours d’Elegance, where its stunning style and rakish appearance attracted throngs of spectators and aficionados. So well-prepared was this Stutz, the judges awarded it a Best in Class in addition to the Briggs Cunningham award for most exciting car present (as chosen by a special committee). The owner of this automobile will be in possession of a true thoroughbred, equally welcome at concours, shows, and vintage rallies both here and overseas. Its spectacular, almost sinister design and rare supercharged engine make it one of the most significant Stutz cars in existence.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1929 Stutz Model M Supercharged
Years Produced:1929
Number Produced:all Model M: 2,320 (24 supercharged)
Original List Price:N/A due to overseas custom coachwork
Tune Up Cost:$1,500
Distributor Caps:$500
Chassis Number Location:Plate on firewall
Engine Number Location:Right side of engine near cylinder head
Club Info:The Stutz Club, Inc., 7400 Lantern Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46256
Alternatives:Bentley Speed Six, Hispano-Suiza H6C

This car sold for $348,480 at the RM Auto Salon & Auction in New York City on September 23, 2000. The pre-auction estimate was $250,000-350,000. The new owner is highly qualified to drive this powerhouse: it’s Skip Barber, founder of the successful racing school which bears his name and a long-time SCM subscriber. This Stutz was one of the stars of the RM sale just as it was at the Miller auction in 1996, when it brought $151,000 (with premium) in totally unrestored condition.

I’ll remember the first time I saw this car until the day I’m overwhelmed by Alzheimer’s. It was in A. K. Miller’s shed, during an appraisal of the collection I was doing for a bank prior to the auction of the cars from Miller’s estate. Even then, covered in dust and dirt, squatting on half-flat tires on the shed’s dirt floor, this car had a presence—almost an aura—that no closed car I’d seen had ever matched. As I got closer, I looked down and saw the enclosure below the radiator. Not only was this a spectacular-looking car, it was supercharged! Step plates, a sliding sunroof and cycle fenders completed the sporting appearance, while huge Zeiss headlamps were provided for night driving.

Further research revealed that the Lancefield body had originally been fabric-covered over wood á la the Weymann body building method. Miller had the car re-skinned in aluminum and the new owner chose to restore it this way. As the description in the 1996 Christie’s catalog correctly predicted: “. . .this striking motorcar holds the potential to become one of the premier entrants on the international concours d’elegance circuit.” Now that the restoration is complete and Pebble prizes have been won, those words are still quite true.

Worth the money? Based on its fantastic style, its supercharged powerplant, performance potential, undeniable rarity and international desirability, we’d say Mr. Barber actually got himself a bargain.—Dave Brownell

Comments are closed.