The Big Car Database

American Motor Car Company

American Motor Car Company
Industry Automobile
Fate bankrupt
Founded 1906
Defunct 1913
Headquarters Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Key people
Harry C. Stutz
Fred L. Tone
Products automobiles

The American Motor Car Company was a short-lived company in the automotive industry founded in 1906, lasting until 1913.

It was based in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. The American Motor Car Company pioneered the "underslung" design.


1909 American Traveler
1913 American Underslung

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.

The engine was a 6.4 L (390.6 cu in) engine rated at 40 horsepower (by the measurements at that time), but the car was underpowered. By 1908, the engine was enlarged to 7.8 L (476.0 cu in) producing 50 bhp (37 kW). The company entered a large engined roadster in the Savannah Challenge Cup Race held in Savannah, Georgia, but it finished last.

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.

American Motor Car Company of Indianapolis, Indiana - "The American" - 1906