From the day the first Mercer raceabout was sold in 1910, these have been cars to be admired. The Mercer Automobile Company was founded by the Roebling and Kuser families in Mercer County, New Jersey – thus the company’s name. Both families were wealthy and prominent with extensive manufacturing experience, and they wanted to build a high-quality sporting car.
With the help of engineer Finley Robertson Porter, they would introduce a car that would change the American racing scene.
Porter’s T-head 4-cylinder engine had a higher rev band than most cars of the time, and he placed it on the very best chassis of the day, with a lower center of gravity and better brakes and handling than any other road car available at the time. The Mercer Raceabout quickly became famous for being driven off the show room floor straight to victory on the racetrack.
The car shown here, a 1913 Mercer, type 35, series J Raceabout, is one of about a dozen authentic pre-1914 Mercer Raceabouts known to survive. For 1913, Mercer introduced a 4-speed transmission and this car is said to be the earliest known 4-speed Raceabout.
This car (chassis 996) was found sitting on a used-car lot in Massachusetts in 1935 by classic car enthusiast Cameron Bradley. It cost $2,600 when new and originally was yellow. Bradley is said to have paid $100 for the car.
Cameron Bradley was an early collector of vintage cars who kept his vehicles in the Wolfden Antique Auto Museum of Southborough, Massachusetts. Bradley’s collection included a 1917 Simplex, a 1904 Mercedes, a 1912 Austro-Daimler and 1908 Amoskeag fire truck.
Bradley repainted the car a dark brown color, and the photo captures him showing the car after it’s re-paint. Bradley would cherish the car for 42 years before selling it to Ken Gooding in 1977. Gooding – the father of the founder of Gooding & Company collector-car auctions, David Gooding – retains the car to this day.