Project Description

1912 Mercer Raceabout

This Car Runs!The Mercer Raceabout is considered the most-prized original American sports car. Known for its advanced design, magnificent handling, and high speed, these cars won five of six races they entered in 1911. Mercers came with the unheard of guarantee that each Raceabout would achieve a minimum of 70 miles per hour without modification on public roads, at a time when most cars had trouble reaching the 45-50 mile per hour range!

It is believed that this Mercer was originally owned by Barney Oldfield, America’s best-known early racecar driver. He was always photographed with a cigar in his mouth while he was racing, not because he was smoking it, but because he used the cigar as cushioning for his teeth.

Fierce competition existed among the early American sports car producers, especially between Mercer and another early sports car, the Stutz Bearcat. Mercer owners would taunt “You must be nuts to drive a Stutz,” while Stutz owners would retort, “Nothing’s worser than driving a Mercer.”

The Mercer Raceabout is considered the most-prized original American sports car. Known for its advanced design, magnificent handling, and high speed, these cars won five of six races they entered in 1911. Mercers came with the unheard of guarantee that each Raceabout would achieve a minimum of 70 miles per hour without modification on public roads, at a time when most cars had trouble reaching the 45-50 mile per hour range!

It is believed that this Mercer was originally owned by Barney Oldfield, America’s best-known early racecar driver. He was always photographed with a cigar in his mouth while he was racing, not because he was smoking it, but because he used the cigar as cushioning for his teeth.

Fierce competition existed among the early American sports car producers, especially between Mercer and another early sports car, the Stutz Bearcat. Mercer owners would taunt “You must be nuts to drive a Stutz,” while Stutz owners would retort, “Nothing’s worser than driving a Mercer.”

  • MANUFACTURER: Mercer Automobile Company, Trenton, New Jersey (1910-1925)
  • PRICE NEW: $2,500
  • AVERAGE ANNUAL INCOME 1912: $592
  • PRICE TO BUY 2020: $66,291
  • ENGINE: 4-cylinder T-head configuration, 300 cu. in./5 l.
  • HORSEPOWER: 58
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In our current exhibit, From Carriage to Classic: How Automobiles Transformed America, we present the origin story of the American automobile through 23 cars from Heritage’s permanent collection of antique and classic automobiles. Come along for a ride from the late 1800s to the 1960s and watch the car evolve from a horseless carriage to a streamlined symbol of freedom and independence.

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