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The 1911 Mercer Toy Tonneau revisited

The legendary T-Head Mercer.

Since publishing our review of the forthcoming Dragone auction last week, we have received some comments which demonstrate the passion with which enthusiasts unravel the history of old cars. The 1911 Mercer Type 35 Toy Tonneau deserves a more close attention. Alan Ballard is a knowledgeable man with a 1911 Mercer catalogue in his collection and believes the Dragone car to be a Type 30M. The catalogue only lists the 35 in 'Raceabout' and 'Runabout' form, but there must have been more. For example, this December 1911 Mercer advertisement shows 4 and 5-seater torpedo bodied cars. We understand that type 30M was the 1910 model designation for the Toy Tonneau with the L-head beaver engine and this car is in fact, according to Austin Clark, a type 35 because of its T-head four cyclinder engine and identical chassis components as in the raceabouts. Mercer originally carried over their advertising from the previous year designating this as a type 30M, but this car is in every way a type 35 and Mercer may not have taken the time to create new advertising for the 1911 model year for the Toy Tonneau. Finally the Standard Catalogue of American Cars (Beverly Rae Kimes/Henry Austin Clark) lists for 1911 the Model 35 Raceabout and Toy Tonneau. So like always there's more under the sun.

Alex Dragone has shared salient facts about engine and wheelbase which satisfy him that his car is indeed the only known Toy Tonneau with Model 35  specification. The other Toy Tonneau known has the much smaller L-head engine. The car pictured above has exactly the same engine as the Raceabout with its Flechter updraft carburetter allowing 200 rpm tick over and 1800 rpm "on occasions when it becomes necessary to obtain maximum speed quickly" (Mercer owner's manual). Ignition is twin-spark Bosch magneto firing on two plugs per cylinder . It is effectively the Raceabout yet with 4 seats and a 6 inches longer wheelbase.

The car was found in 1948 by Henry Austin Clark who said that ‘the Mercer was the finest car produced in America.’ It was the legendary Mercer Raceabout that brought the name to such prominence and at the heart of the car is the legendary 60HP T-head engine. Designed by Finlay Robertson Porter, a self-taught engineer from Ohio, he struck a perfect balance with 300 cubic inches – anything smaller and it would not have achieved the extraordinary racing successes and anything bigger would have sacrificed reliability.

(Text Robin Batchelor, pictures courtesy Dragone auctions)

Thursday, 21 May 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

The butterfly 5000 Mystery (Update: Renault Camionette ADV max 500 kg.)

Mystery panel van 5000

This can't be a big mystery. A fine, not so large delivery truck which is in a parade, summer festival or carnival, who can say? We found the photo some time ago at a fair and have no background at all. Just that the H-36221 is a dutch registration from the province of Zuid-Holland. And that you can read "5000" in the middle section of the bumper. The car is so obvious, but this 5000 - or is it 500B ? - is puzzling. Help us out! And now that you're here, give a glance at the second car as well.

Editor: thank you Robert Hafner, based on your note we found this publicity picture (Renault Camionette ADV).

Wednesday, 20 May 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Too large for the photo Mystery

too large_for_the_photo_mystery_470

Paul van Banning writes: "On a collectors market I found this photograph showing an impressive landaulet, probably around 1910. The photograph was large ( edit.: too large for his scanner), so front and rear are shown separately. The owners had probably no financial sorrows and could afford to pay a  private chauffeur. The question is the make of the motorcar. On top of the radiator a star can be seen, but is not the Mercedes type.  Who knows the exact answer?"

Editor: Well, Paul is giving the correct answer himself already without knowing. The star on the radiator he refers to is of course the logo of the british marque Star from Wolverhampton (not to be confused with the american brand marketed by the Durant Motor Company). Still following Paul, the exact answer is something else. We like to know what the exact year and type is and of course who is the builder of this fine Landaulet? 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

On the way home from Montlhéry

A french Special Mystery

Remember the remains of a French built special that were found by Paul Kuster? He came to meet us at Montlhéry last week and told us that he was planning to meet the earliest owner on the way back. The now 86 year-old man - Guy Henaut - proved most forthcoming and invited him to his home. "The car has a beautiful story with wonderful and funny anecdotes. After a search during nearly a year in which literally nothing was known about our car, we finally managed to discover nearly the full history. The car was registered in Orleans as a one-off and has been on the road in France. The basis has many Mathis parts, but the original engine is lost, so we are looking for the right Mathis machinery now. The car that was created in his father's garage was a great success, and even the basis of his marriage (see below). Our enthusiasm and a bottle of Bokma (Dutch gin) as lubricant has made that he promised to further sort out things related to the car. He was moved to tears that his car was still around. At that time he was very young and the car meant a lot to him. It was well after midnight that we finally went home again after a very successful weekend." It is Paul Kuster's dream to return to the bankings of Montlhéry with his Guy Henau special rebuilt to former glory.

Monday, 18 May 2015 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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