Ex-Dr. Samuel L. Scher,1922 Mercer Series 5 Raceabout  Chassis no. 17740 Engine no. X6312

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Lot 840
Ex-Dr. Samuel L. Scher, 1922 Mercer Series 5 Raceabout
Chassis no. 17740 Engine no. X6312

Sold for US$ 238,000 inc. premium
Ex-Dr. Samuel L. Scher
1922 Mercer Series 5 Raceabout
Chassis no. 17740
Engine no. X6312
If ever there was object, irrefutable proof that the concept of the sports car originated in the United States it is the Mercer Raceabout. First built in 1911, Mercer’s Raceabout, with its thundering T-head four-cylinder engine, standard exhaust cutout, round bolster tank, monocle windshield and rudimentary seating for only a driver and a brave passenger, was the first automobile successfully built in series for the sole purpose of going fast and winning races.

Between 1911 and 1915 the Roebling brothers (whose father had designed and built the Brooklyn Bridge) and their engineer Finley Robertson Porter built some 800 Raceabouts which their customers could take straight from the factory to the race track with a good chance of winning and an even better chance of finishing well. Barney Oldfield and Ralph de Palma raced Mercers. Spencer Wishart bought one, drove it right to a dirt track in Columbus, Ohio and won the 200 mile feature. He set four dirt track records in the process.

Mercer continued to build T-head, four-cylinder cars through 1914, then introduced a new line of L-head fours designed by Eric H. Deiling. When the Roeblings died within a year of each other ownership of the company passed to a New York investment syndicate which put Emlen Hare, former manager of Packard’s New York branch, in charge. Hare proceeded to add Locomobile and Simplex-Crane to the company which, in the post WWI recession, proved to be more distraction than his management skills could handle. By 1921 control of Mercer was back in the hands of the founding families.

Through it all Mercer continued to build high quality, fast cars in its Trenton, New Jersey factory (in Mercer County, from which it took its name.) Production estimates vary, but none exceed 1,000 per year and some sources believe fewer than 5,000 Mercers in all were built between its inception in 1911 and the end of production in 1924.

The Deiling-designed Mercers introduced in 1915 were powered by a 298 cubic inch side-valve four-cylinder engine with single ignition and drove through a 4-speed transmission. The 3 3/4” bore engine was rated 22.5 NACC horsepower and its earliest versions were said to make 70 brake horsepower. Later Mercers made 80 bhp. Brakes were installed only on the rear wheels. Suspension employed live axles at both ends, suspended from semi-elliptical leaf springs. Deiling was one of the first American designers to add Houdaille lever action friction shock absorbers to the suspension, a feature that vividly illustrates his desire to enhance Mercers’ ride, comfort and handling.

The new Raceabout body also gave its occupants more protection from the elements and the vicissitudes of the generally marginal roads of the time. The body now had sides protecting the driver’s and passenger’s legs although the seat back still formed the back of the passenger compartment and the fuel still rode on the rear deck in a round bolster tank. Fenders were enclosed to the frame to keep stones and dust from being kicked up onto the bodywork and occupants and a full-width flat glass windshield gave added protection, although it folded down for high speed runs. In effect, the Model 22-70 Mercer Raceabout was refined, improved, more comfortable and easier to own and drive, applying the lessons learned in five years of production of the Mercer Type 35.

The Paine Collection’s Mercer Raceabout is one of the ultimate developments, the 1922 Series 5 with about 80 bhp and electric starting. It is finished in light yellow with black leather upholstery and body color centerlock wire wheels mounting blackwall tires. Its only accessories of note are the Guide Tilt Beam electric drum headlights and glass wind wings. An older restoration, it was acquired from Dr. Samuel Scher in the mid-60’s along with forty other cars. It had been restored by Dr. Scher in 1965 after competing in the Anglo-American Rally in 1960.

Today the restoration done for Dr. Scher in 1965 is showing its age but also reflects the consistent attention which it has received during its years in the Paine Collection. The paint is presentable, but is starting to show some defects and blisters which appear to be bad adhesion and not rust under the paint. Some chrome is starting to peel and the oil transfer pump is not connected. The interior wood and wooden steering wheel rim are very good and the upholstery is sound but ageing. The body itself is in very good, sound condition and the panels are surprisingly straight and smooth.

With an excellent provenance from two of car collecting’s most discerning collections, Dr. Samuel Scher and Richard C. Paine, Jr., and the cachet and excellent reputation of Mercer automobiles and the Raceabouts in particular, this is a rare and important opportunity to acquire one of the most sought of all early automobiles, one of the first sports cars, an automobile that will always attract favorable attention for its appearance, history, reputation and performance.
Ex-Dr. Samuel L. Scher,1922 Mercer Series 5 Raceabout  Chassis no. 17740 Engine no. X6312
Ex-Dr. Samuel L. Scher,1922 Mercer Series 5 Raceabout  Chassis no. 17740 Engine no. X6312
Ex-Dr. Samuel L. Scher,1922 Mercer Series 5 Raceabout  Chassis no. 17740 Engine no. X6312
Ex-Dr. Samuel L. Scher,1922 Mercer Series 5 Raceabout  Chassis no. 17740 Engine no. X6312
Ex-Dr. Samuel L. Scher,1922 Mercer Series 5 Raceabout  Chassis no. 17740 Engine no. X6312
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