May 13, 2012

A Visitor from Down Under...

A restored 1927-28 Stutz Coupe with right-hand drive,
similar to the subject of this story
In 1911, the young Harry C. Stutz left his job with the American Motorcar Company and founded his own enterprise which was to become the Stutz Motor Company.  That firm produced luxury automobiles in Indianapolis, Indiana, from 1911 until 1935.  According to Wikipedia, "Stutz was known as a producer of fast cars (America's first sports car) and luxury cars for the rich and famous."   One of the cars they produced was a custom bodied 1928 coupe with right hand drive that was built for a customer in Australia.

Many years later, a car collector in Atlanta, known to be a Stutz aficionado, and owner of several early Stutz autos, happened to marry a woman from Australia.  She then purchased that very same 1928 Stutz that had crossed the ocean so many years before and gave it as a gift to her new husband.  In the process of restoring the car (which, by the time I first saw it, needed lots of restoring!), it ended up in the capable hands of Dan Shady, the talented craftsman who has recently been reconstructing my 1932 Plymouth roadster.  Dan has worked on the Stutz for many years, rebuilding the wooden body structure, correcting old repairs that were poorly performed, and fabricating new body parts where pieces were long gone.  It was a labor of love on the part of the owner and a demonstration of Dan's skill as the car was being resurrected.

Monty Love meets Fred Edwards

Not too many months ago, Dan was notified that the owner had passed away.  All work stopped on the car as the gentleman's widow decided how she wished to proceed.  She ultimately decided to sell the entire collection and the individual cars, including this 1927 coupe were brokered, auctioned, or sold through club affiliations.  A gentleman named Fred Edwards of Melbourne, Australia, became the proud new owner of the coupe.

Shipping a car like this is something of a challenge.  It was in hundreds of pieces, most of which were at Shady's.  The car had to be made ready to be placed in a closed shipping container to head for its new home.  So Mr. Edwards did what any red-blooded car collector would do -- He came to the U.S.A., proceeded to beautiful Huntsville, Alabama, and has spent the last several days inventorying and assembling the disparate parts of this latest Stutz in his collection.  (He also has an earlier Stutz "Speedway Four.")  Monty Love and I went out to the shop on Monday and met him.  He is a charming individual, very knowledgeable about cars (Stutzes in particular), and seems to have the drive and resources to complete the restoration.  By Thursday, he had made remarkable progress in getting it ready to ship.

The car being prepared for its return home

And so now, after a remarkable 85-year journey, this rare and exquisite car is returning to its home of so long ago and more importantly, to see the completion of its restoration.  I wish Mr. Edwards a safe trip home and hope he stays in touch.  I can't wait to see the finished product.

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