Mercer Raceabout

1914 Mercer Type 35J Raceabout

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 18-19, 2023

Photo – Gooding & Company

Few cars are as truly fantastic for their era – or in general – as the Mercer Raceabout. The first Raceabouts appeared in 1911, and the sporty, low-slung model would continue to be available – in name at least – through the end of Mercer production in 1925.

But its these early ones that are really special. Later cars got more bodywork and appeared as two-seat sports cars for their day. But pre-1915, these cars were bare bones. In 1914, power was provided by 4.9-liter T-head inline-four that made 58 horsepower. This car could do 60 mph with ease in a time when most cars on the road couldn’t really crest half that. One finished second in the 1913 Indy 500.

They weren’t cheap, however. This Model J would’ve cost $2,600 in 1914. This one was restored in 1967 and has been with the same owner since 1971. Just look at it. It’s one of the best cars of all time.

You know how people say no one wants old cars, especially as the people who lusted after them when they were younger die off? Well, everyone who wanted one of these when they were new is long gone. Yet this one still has an estimate of $3,000,000-$4,000,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $4,790,000.

Mercer Toy Tonneau

1911 Mercer Type 35 Toy Tonneau

Offered by Dragone Auctions | Greenwich, Connecticut | May 30, 2015

Photo - Dragone Auctions

Photo – Dragone Auctions

We’ve featured a 1911 Mercer Type 35 before – but it was a Raceabout, one of the earliest sporting cars built by any company anywhere. This is the slightly more practical Toy Tonneau style of the same model.

Mercer started building cars in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1910. The 1911 model lineup offered two choices, the Type 30 or the Type 35. This is the latter and it uses a 60 horsepower straight-four.

The Raceabout has always been collectible, the Toy Tonneau less so, although this car was restored to as-new condition in 1960. The restoration was so good that it has held up for nearly 60 years. It’s a great car and would be a welcome addition for collectors of all types. It should bring about $1,500,000-$1,800,000 – less than a Raceabout, but then it is the only 60HP Mercer Toy Tonneau known to exist. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Mercer Raceabout

1911 Mercer Type 35R Raceabout

Offered by RM Auctions | Monterey, California | August 15-16, 2014

Photo - RM Auctions

Photo – RM Auctions

You’re looking at one of the most important cars of all time. The Raceabout was Mercer’s signature model and it was available in some form or another from a year after the inception of the company (1911) until the company closed up in 1925.

What this is then is a Raceabout from the first year of manufacture. The car tamed a bit with age as it changed with the times, but these early cars are raw, performance machines. It is the original sports car, supplying a formula that cars would follow for the next 100+ years: big power, lightweight chassis, and a nimble chassis that meant a great motoring experience.

The Type 35R was new for 1911 and was available as a four-passenger Toy Tonneau (Type 35) or the two-passenger Raceabout (Type 35R), like you see here. The engine is a 4.9-liter straight-four that supposedly makes 58 horsepower. It’s actually a relatively small engine for the times, and that’s a lot of power for such an elemental car.

These were among the first “collectible” cars. This Type 35R was originally bodied differently but was converted to Raceabout form around 1945. It has known ownership history from new – and it’s been in the family of Henry Austin Clark Jr. since he bought it in 1949. That’s a long time. This is the earliest T-Head 1911 Mercer in existence, and it should bring between $3,500,000-$4,500,000. Click here for more info and here for more from RM in Monterey.

Update: Sold $2,530,000.

A Car for the Gatsby Generation

1922 Mercer Series 5 Sporting

Offered by Bonhams | Greenwich, Connecticut | June 2, 2013

1922 Mercer Series 5 Sporting

I recently watched Baz Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsby and one thing I noticed was that nearly all of the cars were from the 1930s. The book (and the movie) both take place in 1922 – and are pretty explicit about it. But I guess pre-1923 cars are a lot harder to come by than using things that came later. Plus, to the casual viewer, the cars would pass as period-correct The car you see here wouldn’t have been driven by Gatsby himself, but it’s the type of car that some of his party-goers would have driven.

Mercer invented the sports car in 1911 with the Raceabout. In the mid-1910s, Mercer changed ownership and in 1921, it reverted back to the family of its founders. Along with their sporty raceabouts, Mercer built sporty touring convertibles like this. It uses a 4.9-liter straight-four making 70 horsepower at a rumbling 2,800 rpm. The engine was introduced in 1915 on the second generation Raceabout.

This 1922 Sporting model (“Sporting” referring to the touring car body) has Model 22-70 Raceabout underpinnings and it’s an original survivor (although it has been repainted at some point). This is the first time in the car’s known history that it is being offered for public sale. It should bring between $110,000-$130,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $121,000.