The American Underslung Automobile & The American Motor Car Co.

When I was an early teen, I met Walt Seeley, the first professional auto restorer I had yet met, and he significantly altered my life.  He had a very large machine shop, and out front he sold exotic and rare cars, many were antiques already in 1960.  I sat in a 1936 Auburn Boat-tail and drove a Model T for the first time because he allowed me to (after a bit of pushing on may part). A quite, patient man, he was always tinkering and working on some obscure part for car I had never heard of, or had seen before I met him.

 

He had found the American Underslungs in barn that had partially collapsed. I remember him telling us that there were three cars, or more, in parts mostly.  He agreed to restore them, if he was allowed to keep one.  I visited off and on to see the progress and he was a remarkable craftsman; a true artisan.

 

The American Motor Car Co. of Indianapolis, Indiana made an American Automobile from 1905 to 1915. The original American was designed by Harry Stutz. When Stutz left The American Motor Car Co. in 1906, Fred Tone took over as chief engineer and designed the American Underslung.

Early American Motor Car Co. automobiles were made with a conventional chassis. A conventional chassis was very high on the wheels, the side rails above the axles. With an underslung chassis the rails were below the axles. The underslung models became a good selling point and by 1911 all American Motor Car Co. automobiles had a underslung chassis.

 

1907 American Underslung 
1907 American Underslung

The first American Underslung was a two passenger Roadster shown above. Known as a Type 44 this American Automobile was equipped with a four cylinder engine that developed 35 horsepower. Wheel base was 105 inches with 36 inch wheels and tires.

 

1911 American-Underslung 
1911 American Underslung - The American Motor Car Co.

In 1911 The American Motor Car Co introduced the "Traveler" that was equipped with four cylinder 50 horsepower engines and 40 inch wheels and tires. This new 1911 American Underslung Touring Car was priced at $4250.00. By 1912 The American Motor Car Co. reorganized into The American Motors Co.

 

1913 American-Underslung 
1913 American Underslung - The American Motors Co.

In 1912 and again in 1913 The American Motor Car Co introduced the "Scout" that sold for $1,475.00 and the $2450.00 "Tourist". The Scout was a two passenger Roadster equipped with a four cylinder engine made by Teetor-Hartley that was rated at 40 horsepower. Features included a three speed transmission, 105 inch wheel base, 36 inch wheels and tires, self starter, Warner speedometer, mohair top and the color was American wine with black fender.

 

1914 American Underslung 
1914 American Underslung

Six cylinder automobiles were introduced for the final 1914 model year. Over the years the American Underslung went from "A Car For The Discrimating Few" to "American's Prettiest Car" and finally "America's Most Luxurious Car" with a hefty price and too few customers.

Many of “the Americans” were used in competitive touring events and races.  There are only a handful around in collections, most of which were built by Walt Seeley; who sadly passed away four years ago in Florida.

 

Note: I don't take credit for the research and most of the writing (other than remebering Walt Seeley), as most was taken from the Internet with no credits available.  M. Thies

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Comment by Jeff Rutherford on March 26, 2011 at 1:10am
Thanks for the "correction", Mike. Believe it, or not - I am REALLY enjoying my "education". And, NO, that was NOT a sarcastic remark. By the bye - I used to do a lot of bus. with JEEP, and have been through the TOLEDO facilities, several times.
Comment by Michael Thies on March 25, 2011 at 11:57am
The power of American as it is used in corporation names, is huge. The American Motor Company of the Underslung age, went out of buisness before 1920. The American Motors Corporation, if that is what is referred to as "AMC", wasn't formed until 1954. They were never the same company.  AMC was formed by the 1954 merger of the Hudson Motor Car Corporation and Nash-Kelvinator Corporaion. At the time, it was the largest corporate merger in U.S. history. It was a strategic move to try and save both companies, who were suffering from significant corporate debt.  AMC at one point bought out Jeep and fought the major car manufacturers for their share of the market into the 1980s. They partnered with Renault which limped along until Renault bought all available shares of AMC and with a sale of all US activity to Chrysler in 1987, both AMC and Renault brands ceased in the U.S.  Chrysler set the Jeep/Eagle Division from what was left.
Comment by Jeff Rutherford on March 25, 2011 at 10:53am
Never drove a "T", but Dad had a 31 "A", that I drove, occasionally. While familiar with AMC, was REALLY interested in learning about its beginnings. Thanks, Mike.
Comment by Steve Natale on March 25, 2011 at 1:49am
American Underslungs have alway been one of my favorite cars of the era.  Their low profie made them much more sleek and modern in appearance the most cars of the time.

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