Car producer :
Series 6 Sporting
There was considerable talent and backing for the Mercer Automobile Company; Ferdinand Roebling, son of John A. Roebling, was the president, and his nephew Washington A. Roebling II was the general manager. The Roeblings had extensive success with wire rope manufacturing and suspension bridge design; engineering was not a recent concept for them. The secretary-treasurer was John L. Kuser, who, with his brothers Frederick and Anthony, had amassed a fortune from banking, bottling and brewing.
Washington A. Roebling II was friends with William Walter, who had been making a small number of high-quality automobiles in New York City. The Kusers owned a vacant brewery in Hamilton, New Jersey, and brought Walter and his car factory there in 1906. However, Walter found himself deeply in debt by 1909, so the Roeblings and Kusers bought him out in a foreclosure sale. They changed the company name to Mercer, named after Mercer County, New Jersey. Talented designers and race drivers contributed to the new effort, and the focus became proving their product in competition.
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 eachother, ownership of the company passed to a New York investment syndicate that put Emlen Hare, former manager of Packard's New York branch, in charge. Hare proceeded to add Locomobile and Simplex-Crane to the company that, 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. 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.
For 1922 Series Six models, Mercer, now under the control of Hare Motors, made the decision to discontinue the venerable four-cylinder 22-70 engine. After seven years of production a more modern replacement was found in a Rochester Motors made six-cylinder. This up to date overhead valve engine provided more power in a more refined and modern package. Rated at 84 horse power the Rochester provided more power and smoothness than its predecessor perhaps at the expense of some low end grunt.
Alongside the 1920s generation of Mercer Raceabouts, Mercer coachwork options included one of the most elegant sports touring cars of its day, which they termed simply - the 'Sporting'. Its design was typically advanced, a lightly barrel sided body perfectly extending the line of its hood and radiator, bringing with it both aesthetic and aerodynamic benefits.
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