The American Car Company was the first to focus on sports car production. This car, which is one of the earliest in our collection, features a 571 cubic-inch engine and 40-inch wheels.
The American Car Company, in 1907, was the first to focus on sports car production. Some argue this subject because sales brochures of a few makes, such as Duryea and Stanley featured “speedy roadsters.” However, the American Car Company only made an automobile specifically for sport, at least in 1907 when they introduced the famed Underslung chassis.
Thus, arguably, America’s first exclusive sports car maker. They designed this chassis to produce a lower center of gravity, improving handling and adding to the racy appearance of the car. With the center section dropped, the top of the hood was in line with the top of the flat fenders, producing a sinister effect. To compensate for the compromised ground clearance, they required 40-inch wheels.
These cars had a history of racing, but with little success, piloted by their Designer Fred Tone. But the cars themselves were among the most attractive ever built. The company continued until the mid-teens, at which time it succumbed to financial difficulties. The 1909 model, as illustrated here, is the pinnacle of the American Underslung sports car idiom.
The history of this car and the others discovered along with it is one of the great tales in the annals of the automotive hobby. Mr. Walter Seeley devoted a decade of his life to the discovery, research, and restoration of four American Underslung automobiles. These cars were affordable to only the wealthy, and, the company advertised that it made them for “the discriminating few”. One such individual who had the finances to afford such a car was coal baron F. C. Deemer of Brookville, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Deemer purchased one of the original 1907 American roadsters when this foresighted company was producing a pure sports car, in the absence of such activity by virtually any other automotive maker in this country. In 1908, he ventured out on his honeymoon with his bride and they stayed overnight in Oil City, Pennsylvania, where their car was stored in a local garage. That garage caught on fire during the night and it almost destroyed the cars stored in it, including the American Underslung.
The remains from the
Years later rear seats of our 1909 American were replaced with a
When he died in 1959, the cars passed on to his two sons, Alex and Frank. In 1960, Mr. Seeley heard of the existence of such cars. Although the cars were not for sale, Mr. Deemer allowed Mr. Seeley to see the cars and the revelation of finding four early American Underslung was intoxicating to Mr. Seeley. A deal was struck whereby Mr. Seeley would restore the cars and could then keep one for himself.
The design of the car