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Mercer

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Template:List of Mercer Models There was considerable talent & backing for the Mercer Automobile Company; Ferdinand Roebling, son of John A Roebling, was the president, and his nephew Washington Roebling was the general manager. The Roeblings had extensive success with wire rope manufacturing and suspension bridge design; engineering was not a recent concept for them. The secretary-treasurer was John L. Kuser, who, with his brothers Frederick and Anthony, had amassed a fortune from banking, bottling and brewing.

Washington Roebling was friends with William Walter, who had been making a small number of high-quality automobiles in New York City. The Kusers owned a vacant brewery in Hamilton, New Jersey, and brought Walter and his car factory there in 1906. However, Walter found himself deeply in debt by 1909, so the Roeblings and Kusers bought him out in a foreclosure sale. They changed the company name to Mercer, named after Mercer County, New Jersey. Talented designers and race drivers contributed to the new effort, and the focus became proving their product in competition.

The result was one of the most acknowledged sports cars of the decade; the 1910 Type-35R Raceabout, a stripped-down, two-seat speedster, designed to be "safely and consistantly" driven at over 70 MPH (it was capable of over 90 MPH). The Raceabout's inline 4-cylinder T-head engine displaced 300 cubic inches and developed 58 horsepower. It won five of the six 1911 races it was entered in, and hundreds of racing victories followed. The Raceabout became one of the premier racing thoroughbreds of the era- highly coveted for it's quality construction and exceptional handling.

In a 1914 race in Illinois, two Raceabouts collided and wrecked, killing Mercer's champion race driver and his mechanic, prompting the company to cancel it's racing program. The Raceabout's designer left the company that year, and subsequent designs did not live up to the glory & appeal the Type-35R had earned.

In October, 1919, after the last involved Roebling brother died (Washington Roebling perished in the 1912 Titanic disaster), the company was obtained by a Wall Street firm that placed ex-Packard vice-president Emlem Hare in charge, organizing Mercer under the Hare's Motors corporate banner. Hare looked to expand, increasing Mercer's models and production, and also purchasing the Locomobile & Crane-Simplex marques. Within a few years, the cost of these acquisitions and the economic recession took a financial toll on Hare's Motors. Locomobile was liquidated and purchased by Durant Motors in 1922, and Mercer produced it's last vehicles in 1925, after some 5000 had been built.

An independant effort to revive the marque in 1931 resulted in only 3 vehicles being constructed and displayed.


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