You’d Be Nutz Not to Love a Stutz: A Freshly Purchased, Unrestored 1921 Bearcat

1921 Stutz Bearcat

After sitting in a Georgia garage since the 1950s and spending a year and a half in the hands of television’s Wayne Carini, this 1921 Stutz Bearcat has found a new home. The initial run of Bearcats started in 1912, as sort of a reverse homolgation car: Stutz basically made a roadgoing version of its Indianapolis competition machine and sold it to the public. Ultimately more famous than the Mercer Raceabout it competed with, it could be said that the Bearcat predated the Corvette as America’s Sports Car.

1921 Stutz Bearcat

Last year, Carini found this particular 1921 Bearcat in Georgia, documenting the experience on his show, Chasing Classic Cars. According to a person posting on the H.A.M.B. message board—who was attempting to purchase the car before Carini flew in and picked it up in April 2015—the asking price was $30,000. After some cleanup and repair by Stuz specialist Evan Ide, including new plugs and wires, a new water pump, and fresh pushrod guides, the unrestored beast rolled onto the lawn at Pebble Beach in August. This year, Carini put the car up for sale at the Bonhams auction. Jan and Meredith Voboril—longtime fixtures at Laguna Seca’s historic races—wound up with the high bid when the gavel dropped. The price? $594,000, including premiums.

Meredith told us that the idea of purchasing the car was initially a “wouldn’t it be nice” fantasy, which turned into a reality during the bidding on the Friday night of Monterey Car Week. On Saturday, it was parked next to their 1935 Alta race car in the paddock at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

1921 Stutz Bearcat

A late K-series car, the Voborils’ new Bearcat features an 88-hp DH engine, their first to feature a removable cylinder head. Take a look at a DH block here and gander at the strangeness of the T-head engine design. Stutz’s take on the configuration used four valves per cylinder, having proved the soundness of the configuration in their four-valve White Squadron racers. A plug centered in the top of the combustion chamber lights the mixture, while gases enter through a large “alcove” on one side and exit through another, with the valves opening and closing from below on either side of the block. The rationale for the design is based on longevity, not performance. So much surface area in the combustion chamber helps prevent detonation, a real problem in the days before tetraethyl lead was adopted as a fuel additive. The design also allows for water jackets around the exhaust valves, further keeping combustion-chamber temperatures in check.

1921 Stutz Bearcat

Standing next to the old thing is intoxicating, the air ripe with the whiffs of oil and metal that only an aged machine offers. Carini limited the work on the car to mechanical and electrical repair with an eye toward preservation. As the fuel tank retained a coat of original paint, a three-gallon aluminum unit was hidden under the seat and plumbed into the original fuel system to allow the car to move under its own power. Up on blocks since it was socked away for repairs that were never completed, the car still rolls on period Firestone tires.

The Los Angeles–based Voborils plan to leave the Bearcat alone, keeping it at their winery up in Paso Robles. With the car’s provenance now established, it’s unlikely ever to see a full restoration. After all, there are plenty of extant Bearcats, refreshed and kept buffed to within an inch of their nine lives. This one’s just barely had a start on its third, and it’s still wearing what’s left of its original coat.

from Car and Driver BlogCar and Driver Blog

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