1911 Mercer Raceabout (chassis 478)

1911 Mercer Raceabout shown at Hershey in 1988 by George Wingard

1911 Mercer Raceabout (chassis 478) freshly restored by George Wingard
Said to be one of only three authentic 1911 Mercer Raceabouts, chassis 478 has been cherished by some of the most notable collectors over the years. The car's known history starts back when Webster Knight III owned the car. The Knights were an influential and important family in Rhode Island. It was Webster's father and cousin (C. Prescott Knight) who, in 1920, sold the remaining assets of B.B.& R. Knight - the textile mill empire famous for creating the Fruit of the Loom brand. Webster Knight III had many great cars and sold the Mercer at some point. A Mr. Saczawa of CT later aquired the car and intended to restore it. However, a friend (of Dad & I) purchased the car from his widow in 1970 while still in fantastic original condition. It sat in a special single car garage at his home in MA until he sold it to George Wingard of Oregon a decade later. Mr. Wingard has had some of the finest early race cars ever assembled. George restored the car in the mid-1980s, making certain mechanical upgrades (aluminum pistons and 4140 steel front spindles) so that the car could be driven safety. I took the pictures seen here at Hershey in 1988 where the car won an AACA First Junior award. One of numerous awards it would win over the years. In 2003, Mr. Wingard sold the car to Otis Chandler. I've written about another car Mr. Chandler owned in this blog. His collection was legendary and upon his death was auctioned off in 2006 by Gooding and Company. The car sold for $1,595,000 to Mr. Price and now resides in the wonderful Price Museum of Speed in UT. The car now wears a set of Rudge Whitworth wire wheels, but the wood artillery style wheels seen in the photos were original to the car. One last item to note: when in the Chandler Collection, it was stated that the car was owned by James Melton (after Webster Knight III), however, I've been unable to confirm this.

6 comments:

  1. Steve, please elaborate on the chain of ownership on the 1911 Mercer, specifically that the car was owned by Webster Knight. Also, the car was sold to George Wingard soon after being acquired from Mrs. Saczawa.

    This is a wonderful Mercer which Mr. Wingard successfully campaigned in vintage racing. If you check, I believe that you will find that the wire wheels were put on by Mr. Wingard and not Mr. Price.

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  2. Thanks for your comments. I'm not sure how much I can add to this. The Webster Knight attribution comes from two sources; the first being the Otis Chandler collection website (no longer up), and the second from the Gooding & Company catalog description of the car. Mr. Knight was known to have owned a Mercer and I believe it's this one (however, I'm always open to new information). I now believe that the Melton attribution is not correct. Melton was given a 1914 Mercer by Standard Oil Company in 1940 (see my post on Mulford & DePalma) - certainly not this car (unless he had more than one).

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  3. Melton had several Mercers, including this one, the Sam Scher, Seal Cove, Mozart car, and the Socony car. The car you mention in your Mulford/DePalma post was owned by Knight, Saczawa, Upjohn and Mann. This car is a 1913 35J, chasis #1579 and engine #1303.

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  4. Thanks for your sharing your insight, its great information.

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  5. Steve, you are to be commended for yout blog covering some of the really interesting antique cars, especially the early ones.

    As you travel around I hope that you have the opportunity to visit more great collections such as that of the one belonging to Dr. Fred Simeone, in Philadelphia.

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    1. Thank you. I've actually been to the Simeone collection - its fantastic. I just wish I had taken some pictures. I guess it gives me an excuse to go back.

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