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1913 American Underslung Tourist

  • A faithful restoration by noted specialists
  • Best of Show for the American Class at the Keels & Wheels Concours d'Elegance
  • 48-horsepower T-head inline four-cylinder engine
  • Desirable pre-'20s American-made automobile

VIN: 4558

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Founded in 1906, The American Automobile Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, in its brief eight-year history, produced a variety of cars, although none are more highly regarded or memorable as their revolutionary Underslung models. Starting with a clean sheet for design, Fred Tone came up with a totally new idea, basically flipping the chassis upside down and placing the leaf springs above or beside the frame with the axle suspended from them. Assisting on the project was Harry C. Stutz who worked on the design of the rear transaxle which added to the low silhouette of the car; this was before Stutz would leave American in 1907 and start his own automotive company. For 1912, The American Automobile Company offered three basic lines: Traveler, Tourist and Scout. With prices starting at $1,250, these cars offered a lot of bang for those hard-earned dollars. The Scout's engine had plenty of pep to drive these cars over almost any terrain and were reported to be quite nimble and responsive on the few good roads that existed, and resilient to getting bogged down on the bad roads found almost everywhere. As with most early car makers, their smaller introductory models helped build their reputations. These would lead to the development of bigger and more powerful machines, which in turn would hopefully generate larger revenues and higher profits. As popular and reliable as Underslungs were, the hoped-for well-heeled customers looked to more conventional and less expensive makes and models for their basic transportation needs and, in 1914, The American Automobile Company filed for bankruptcy seeing their assets sold off before the end of the year. Unfortunately, time forgot these beautiful cars and during two world wars, the price of scrap, especially brass, meant many of these pioneering vehicles would be sacrificed in the name of freedom.

A recipient of a documented and carefully planned restoration, this 1913 American Underslung Tourist is a beacon from the past and what many would consider the first American "sports car". Formerly of the Bob and Ruth Toney Collection in Merced, California, this Underslung was sold to a private collector in the early 2000s as a rolling chassis. Wanting to bring it back to life and its former glory, a tedious historical research endeavor began in order to ensure that each part of the body was recreated correctly and mirrored its original form. Executed by Honest Charley Garage in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a well-known and highly respected builder and restorer, the outcome was truly stunning and well worth the long days that trickled into the many long nights. At this same time, a correct 48-horsepower T-head inline four-cylinder engine and four-speed manual transmission were properly fitted.

Completed in 2008, this Underslung Tourist would garner its AACA National First Prize and Senior Award badge in the same year. Its award-winning appearance would continue at the 2013 AACA Hershey meet where it won the National Chocolate Town Trophy; it was also part of the Underslung display at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance and it captured Best of Show for an American car at the 2017 Keels & Wheels Concours d'Elegance.

Having been carefully maintained since being completed, the mechanicals and bodywork are in wonderful shape and offer the next caretaker a distinctive opportunity to acquire a seldom seen American-made automobile that will grant them access to events around the country and add a flavor of pre-'20s panache to their collection.

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