American Motor Co Underslung American Tourist Roi Des Belges

Car producer : 

American Motor Co


Underslung American Tourist Roi Des Belges





Harry C. Stutz, who later formed a company bearing his name, designed the first car for the new enterprise. However, Stutz quickly left and Fred L. Tone took over as chief engineer in 1906. Tone re-designed the chassis (frame) below the axles and the semi-elliptic leaf spring suspension system mounted above.

This upside-down or reverse arrangement became known as the underslung design. It gave the vehicles a lower stance and was an industry first. Because of the lower chassis position, 40 in (1,000 mm) wheels gave the vehicle space between the frame and the ground. The company claimed that the vehicles were safe from rollovers and could be tilted up to 55 degrees.

Facing financial problems during 1911, the name was changed to American Motor Company.

In 1912 all of its models featured the distinctive underslung chassis and the cars were officially named American Underslung. However, the new company was still over-extended and inefficient. The relatively small production of its numerous models was divided among three factories.

The company went into bankruptcy in November 1913.

Over an eight-year period, the American Motor Company had produced over 45,000 vehicles.

Like many other automakers during this era, ineffective assembly processes, questionable management practices, as well as a focus on high quality plagued it and expensive models when the market was moving to lower priced utilitarian cars.

The American Underslung's chassis design and huge 40-inch (1,016 mm) wheels gave it a distinctive appearance and it was noticeably lower than other cars from the same era. The chassis was hung below the axles rather than set atop them, with the engine and transmission mass moved closer to the ground lowering the center of gravity and giving sports car appearance and handling. The design mounted the engine and body within the frame rails rather than on the top as with other cars of the era. Developed in collaboration with Harry Stutz, the 1905 Underslung "was one of the most significant, if unsung, automobiles of this century's first decade."

The automobiles were marketed at the upper price range of the market. Prices for the American Underslung ranged from US$1,250 to $4,000. The cars came with Teetor-Harley 6.4 L (390.6 cu in) straight-4 engines producing 40 hp (30 kW), as measured by an old system, but the car was underpowered, and starting in 1908 a 7.8 L (476 cu in) with 50 hp (37 kW) became available. Additionally, a 9.34 L (570 cu in) six-cylinder engine was capable of 60 hp (45 kW), one of the strongest cars of its time. The company entered a large engined roadster in the Savannah Challenge Cup Race held in Savannah, Georgia, but it finished last.

The American Underslung came in several versions:

Around 1909, American introduced a four-passenger Underslung dubbed "The Traveler." An example of this car, chassis #1687, is on display at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, PA, USA.

The car was also available from 1905 to 1908 with a conventional chassis design; this model was called the "American Tourist". It came in another version, a two door sports version, called the “Scout Roadster.”

The Scout 22-B Roadster, priced at $1,475 when new, was American’s least expensive car in 1913. It was fitted with seating for two and minimal coachwork, along with American’s signature chassis, huge 36x3.5 tires, a 30-horsepower, 251-cubic inch, four-cylinder engine, and three-speed selective shift transmission, and it was the definitive sports car in 1913.


In 1910, the horsepower rating for the engine was increased to 60 hp (45 kW) by enlarging the cylinder bore and adding pressurized lubrication.

In 1913, electric starters and lights became available on the Underslungs.

The American Underslung marketing slogan was "The Car For The Discriminating Few" and apparently there were few buyers. Although new models were introduced for 1914 and the company continued to boast the American Underslung was "America’s Most Luxurious Car", the end came when the firm was put into receivership in November 1913.

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