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Stutz BB Cabriolet by Phillips, Blue, for sale in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, for $199,900.
With a six-figure restoration completed in 2007 by a well-known restorer in Montreal, it scored 99.5 points at the CCCA national meet, with only a clock that was a few minutes slow preventing a perfect score.
The Stutz name became synonymous with performance early in the marque’s history with the introduction of the historic Bearcat—little more than a frame and engine with a pair of seats strapped on top, it was arguably one of the earliest sports cars. Designed to do nothing but go fast, it certainly fits the genre. Even the windshield—a simple round “monacle” design attached to the steering column—was optional.
But Stutz was more than a single model, and throughout the ’20s, the brand became recognized for its unique blend of performance and luxury, something we might today attribute to, say, Bentley or BMW: fast cars for people who don’t want to give up their luxury. The Stutz was a driver’s car, the sportsman’s car, the car for the gentleman who had a lot of money, but preferred to do things himself. If he needed a chauffeur to drive him someplace, he would use the Packard or the Cadillac. But if he was heading out for a weekend in the country, he and his lady took the Stutz and relished the drive as much as the destination.
This 1928 Stutz BB cabriolet has just come off a winning tour of all the biggest shows and events, where it was a frequent top prize winner. With a six-figure restoration completed in 2007 by a well-known restorer in Montreal, it scored 99.5 points at the CCCA national meet, with only a clock that was a few minutes slow preventing a perfect score (the clock is now fully functional, by the way). It sports an all-aluminum cabriolet body by Phillips of Warren, Ohio, endowing the powerful Stutz with impressive performance thanks to its light weight and powerful 115 horsepower straight-8 engine. When new, this car cost more than $3700.
Immaculately restored and spectacular in its dark blue paint with a dark blue canvas top and blue leather interior, the car is at once subtle and brilliant. Stutz’s unique worm-drive rear end permitted bodies to be mounted up to five inches lower than previously, and if you park this car next to any of its contemporaries from 1928, you will immediately see how much lower and sleeker the Stutz really is. On a restoration of this quality, you know the paintwork is beyond reproach, with hundreds of hours invested in making every corner, every angle, every panel just as perfect as it can be. Note the well-executed detail work, such as how the light blue paint on the belt line trim extends into the doorjambs. Doors open and close solidly, and the wood structure underneath was in excellent condition and required few replacement pieces during the restoration.
The bright trim on the car is a beautiful combination of chrome, stainless steel and polished aluminum, with the most noteworthy piece being the hood ornament, which is cast in aluminum to dramatize the body’s lightweight construction. In original condition, this incredibly rare piece has a soft glow that can only come from age and careful polishing over the years. The chrome, of course, was all restored to show standards and is as crisp and vivid today as it was the day it came out of the tanks. The side-mounted mirrors are new pieces that were commissioned at a cost of over $1200, and include the Stutz logo engraved on the back, as original. Also note the chrome window channels that fold over the window opening when in the open position, and become the window frames when it is closed. Both headlights and taillights feature glass-jeweled indicators that are visible from the sides, a unique precursor to modern side marker lights. The aluminum theme continues out back where cast aluminum step plates make climbing into the rumble seat a snap. A simple luggage rack allows increased carrying capacity for extended touring.
Power is supplied by a 322 cubic inch straight-8 engine that develops an impressive 115 horsepower, a substantial number in 1928. Called the “Vertical Eight” it features a single overhead camshaft and was designed by “Pop” Greuter shortly after Frederick Moskovic was brought in to rejuvenate the Stutz brand in 1926. Fully rebuilt and beautifully detailed, this Stutz runs exceptionally well—at the time of my visit with the car, it had been in storage for nearly a year, yet with only minor coaxing it fired up easily and idled happily without any signs of overheating in the warm afternoon sun. On the road, it pulls willingly and will happily cruise all day long at 50 MPH if you should decide to take it touring. The detailing on the block is excellent, and the original Stutz specifications plate is still mounted on the valve cover. A massive single distributor features 16 terminals and two coils, as each cylinder features a pair of spark plugs. The original exhaust manifolds are in remarkable condition and were left in their natural state following the restoration. Notice the generator mounted low on the passenger’s side with a shaft driving the rear-mounted water pump, a unique innovation that I’ve never seen before.
The chassis features Lockheed hydraulic brakes, with Stutz adopting the radical new “juice brakes” earlier than most manufacturers. Braking is firm and progressive, and if you’ve driven other cars of this vintage, I think you’ll be surprised by how modern they feel. Single action lever-type shock absorbers are affixed to the front suspension via check straps, and the entire chassis has been bathed in a coat of matching dark blue paint—as with may cars of this era, the customer could specify any color he wanted, not only for the body, but for the chassis as well. Correct fittings have been used throughout, there’s a new exhaust system with a very authentic sporting sound to it, and six fresh 6.50-20 Firestone wide whitewalls on beautiful wheels with painted centers and stainless wires.
The all-leather interior is as meticulously restored as the exterior, with beautiful stitching and craftsmanship throughout. The original door panels and seats were used as patterns for the new pieces, resulting in extremely accurate work. The door panels feature sculpted diamond-shaped embossing, wood garnish moldings, and chrome plated hardware. The simple bench seat shows no signs of wear, and the tight loop carpeting is as original. Restored gauges have been fitted into the original wood dashboard, and the indicated mileage of 55,914 miles is accurate. Overhead, the dark blue canvas top fits extremely well, with a matching canvas-covered sun visor over the windshield. The original Stutz manufacturer’s plate remains on the dashboard in original condition. Out back there’s a disappearing rumble seat in matching blue leather, and a golf bag door that accesses the rear compartment. Documentation includes an original Stutz Information Book.
Considered a Full Classic by the CCCA, this is one of only a handful of its kind in existence and it would always be a welcome entrant on any club tour where it would undoubtedly impress. Stutz is a magical name in automotive history and is celebrated for its competition success as well as being a great road car. This magnificent cabriolet is an outstanding example, not only of “the car that made good in a day, ” but also the superlative engineering and construction that has characterized the Stutz marque from its inception. An outstanding open road automobile, this Stutz has performance, style and quality presentation that suits it perfectly to participate in any tour or event.
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Engine:322 cubic inch sohc straight-8
Location:Warrensville Heights, Ohio