1928 Stutz BB
William Ruger, Fairfield, Connecticut (acquired in 1953)
Mr. Spotsky, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (acquired in 1958)
Stearns Motor Museum, Irwin, Pennsylvania (acquired in 1969)
Johnny Pascucci, Meriden, Connecticut (acquired in 1982)
Piers MacDonald, New York (acquired in 1996)
Private Collector, California (acquired from the above)
Current Owner (acquired from the above)
CCCA National Meet, San Antonio, Texas, January 1998 (First in Class)
AACA Concours, Hershey, Pennsylvania, 1998 (First in Class)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 1998 (Class Award)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 2011 (Class Award)
Charles H. Schwab of Bethlehem Steel stepped in to save Stutz in the mid-1920s, hoping to revive the glory days of the Bearcat. Mr. Schwab was new to the auto business, so he hired Hungarian immigrant Fred Moskowics to run the company. Mr. Moskowics had worked for Daimler in Europe, and for Marmon and Franklin in the US. As president of Stutz, he sold off inventory and introduced the Vertical Eight, Safety Chassis model for 1926. It was an audacious design: a nearly five-liter straight eight with a chain-driven overhead camshaft. The driveline and coachwork were lowered some 5" due to a worm-drive rear axle, while servo-assisted brakes required little pedal effort.
Three Stutzes won the 1927 Stevens Challenge Trophy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, averaging 68 mph over 24 hours around the track, even in appalling weather. (The trophy was awarded to any manufacturer capable of sustaining 60 mph over 24 hours at the legendary Indianapolis oval.) Stutz won every stock car race it entered in 1927 and the AAA championship, and set a stock car record of 106.53 mph at Daytona Beach, Florida. Despite this success, Stutz quit racing after two devastating setbacks. First, it lost a $25,000 match race in Indianapolis to Hispano-Suiza. Then, tragically, racer Frank Lockhart was killed attempting to set a land speed record in his Black Hawk Special streamliner.
The car on offer is an exceptional Stutz. It received a concours-level restoration in 1996 at New Jersey’s Stone Barn Automobile Restoration, and the interior was re-trimmed by Sharp Automotive Upholstery of Elyria, Ohio. This Stutz debuted with a class win with 99.75 points at the CCCA National Meet in January 1998, then won its class at the 1998 AACA Concours at Hershey, Pennsylvania. It also took a class award at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® that August, and again in 2011, when Stutz was a featured marque.
In 2008, the Vertical Eight engine was sent to Baynton-Jones racing shop in the UK, where Stutz is held in high regard. The crankshaft was stroked, and high-compression pistons and new connecting rods were fitted. Compression was raised to 7:1 from 5:1, and a new camshaft and improved valve train were installed. A Schebler S carburetor improved engine breathing, and a Laycock overdrive unit reduced revolutions to 1,750 rpm at 60 mph. In 2011, new wire wheels and a larger exhaust were added. Most recently, the Stutz BB Speedster has been kept in two private collections in California; it has seldom been exhibited, but has been treated to expert care.
This Stutz was born in an era when the company was at the top of its game. Now, having received thoughtful mechanical enhancements, its new owner will have the opportunity to experience one of the most exciting and capable automobiles of the Roaring ’20s.