1911 American Traveler

1911 American Traveler (postcard in the author's collection)

Before there was AMC, another company used the American moniker. The American Motor Car Company was founded in Indianapolis in 1906, and only eight years later, would fold in 1914.  Today the company is remembered for Harry Stutz designing their initial offering (prior to him starting his own company) and Fred Tone's now iconic "underslung". Although there were a few manufacturers of the period offering an "underslung" design, it is Tone and the American Motor Car Company that is best remembered. 

American's underslungs were offered with a 50hp 4-cylinder engines (and later a 60hp version). It wasn't until 1912 they the company adopted the term Underslung as a model designation.

This car (chassis 2465), seen in a postcard issued by the Briggs Cunningham Museum at the time they owned the car, it is described as a 1910 Traveler model (However, from looking at period literature it appears to be a 1911). There are few surviving American underslung's but this car is special because of it's ownership history. It was purchased new by Isabel Weld Anderson - the wife of the former US Ambassador to Belgium - Larz Anderson. I've written about the Anderson's and their cars many times. This car somehow escaped being held in the Larz Anderson Collection (where the majority of their cars still reside today) and was sold  to Briggs Cunningham (the renown driver, car constructor, and collector) in 1948 - the year Larz Anderson died. It's unclear to me why the car was sold, but Briggs kept the car until he closed his museum in Costa Mesa, CA in 1986. The vast majority of the Cunningham cars were sold to the Colliers. However, this car takes a different path and ends up in the hand of Richard Paine (the "Paine" of Paine Webber notoriety). Mr. Paine amassed a fabulous collection of Edwardian cars and this car still resides in his Seal Cove, ME museum (Richard Paine has passed away, but the museum is still open and on my list of places to visit). 


The ex-Anderson American Traveler today (photo credit: Seal Cove Auto Museum)

The agency that sold the Anderson car? (photo credit: autolit.com)

The 1911 American line of cars (photo credit: 1911 The Motor World)

4 comments:

  1. Is it only eyes, or do the wheels on the Traveller look too large for the car? Or did the Underslung chassis require bigger wheels?

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  2. Graham - thanks for following the blog. Yes, the underslung design required a larger wheel size to maintain ground clearance (desired in the day). Other manufacturers using the underslung design also unitized larger wheel sizes (such as the Coey Flyer).

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  3. Steve,

    Thanks for the posting. We showed the American at Amelia Island this year where "underslungs" were a featured class... even got a trophy! One of my favorites at the Museum. You can read more about it on our website (www.sealcoveautomuseum.org) or on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SealCoveAutoMuseum).
    Just a few corrections... The car was purchased by Larz Anderson when he was appointed US Minister to Belgium. His wife, Isabel Weld Perkins Anderson took over ownership of the car after Larz Anderson's death in 1937. Her special "Captain Ginger" monogram is still on the car - Captain Ginger was the hero of a series of children's books that she wrote. She did indeed sell the car to Briggs Swift Cunningham in 1948 before her passing... Cunningham was a relative. After Cunningham sold his collection to the Colliers, it was the Collier Foundation that donated the American to the Seal Cove Auto Museum in 1994. Richard Cusing Paine Jr. was the son of Richard Cushing Paine, and traces his lineage to Robert Treat Paine, signer of the Declaration of Independence for Mass... No connection to Paine Webber.

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  4. Roberto - Thanks again for following the blog. I aways look forward to your comments and corrections. Thanks for setting the record straight on the history of this car and apologies for incorrectly associating Mr. Paine with Paine Webber. Do you know why Larz's wife chose to sell this particular car to Briggs?

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