Stutz Vertical Eight Custom Black Hawk Speedster by Robbins

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Vertical Eight Custom Black Hawk Speedster by Robbins





The Stutz "Vertical Eight" cars were the vision of Frederick Moskovics, who dreamed of creating the great American Gran Turismo car that could rival the best of the European performance machines. He broke with many conventions of American car design of the era to do this: his machines would employ overhead cam engines, four speed transmissions, very low chassis with worm drive axles and would be offered with European-style, fabric skinned coachwork.

Moskovics's dream became real in motorsports. The new Stutz Vertical Eight was immediately dominant in AAA stock car racing, winning the championship and every event in 1927. In 1928, a privately entered Stutz competed against the world's best at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The sole Stutz entrant led much of the race and only lost its' lead to one of the five factory-entered Bentleys in the final lap. It was a failed high gear that had caused the loss, although this showing would stand as America's best performance in the endurance race until the Ford GT40's victory nearly forty years later.

Although Stutz bowed out of factory-supported racing in the late 1920s, Stutz cars continued to be entered by privateers. The 24 Hours of Le Mans saw numerous Stutz cars competing until 1932.

As a result of the emerging "cylinder wars" of the early 30s, Stutz became aware of the need to create something new to attract attention. Stutz, being a small company that did not have the resources to develop a complex new 12- or 16-cylinder engine, did have great engineers and experience in motorsports, particularly with 4-valve engines which the company decided to use exclusively from 1917 till the early 20s. They decided that with the higher revving vertical Eight, the benefits from this valve arrangement would be far greater. Stutz adopted twin-overhead camshafts and a cross-flow design with near hemispherical combustion chambers. This design, save for the Duesenberg J, had not been seen on any American passenger cars.

The 1927 Black Hawk Speedster was the modern successor to the legendary Stutz Bearcat of the Brass Era, and it was the first “boattail” speedster to be produced by a major American manufacturer. With its powerful straight-eight engine, which was fed by dual Zenith carburetors, and a strong chassis with underslung worm drive and lightweight Robbins bodywork, it was able to capture the Stevens Trophy Cup at Indianapolis, as well as the AAA Stock Car Championship.

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