1923 Mercer Series 6 Sporting
Sold For $82,500Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.
RM | Auctions - HERSHEY 8 - 9 OCTOBER 2015 - The Richard Roy Estate
With the exception of a stillborn 1931 prototype, the Series 6 represents the final Mercer model and, with it, the end of one of the greatest names in early American motoring. It was produced during the famous Trenton, New Jersey, manufacturer’s final three years, during which time Mercer had been saved from Hare Motors, an ill-fated attempt at an East Coast GM competitor by former employees, among them John Kuser, a member of one of the wealthy Trenton families that had established Mercer in 1910.
As its name suggested, the Series 6 was both a successor to the previous Series 5—famously powered by Eric Delling’s robust L-head four—and also Mercer’s first six-cylinder automobile, with an engine by Rochester and transmission by Brown & Lipe. It was a fine, powerful sporting automobile, true to Mercer tradition, but by this time, there was little money to build it and few customers to buy it. Series 6 production began in July of 1923 and stopped in March of 1924; it picked up again in early 1925 and finished that June, with only 153 produced in total.
Today, only 16 Series 6 Mercers are known to survive worldwide. The car offered here, chassis number 20239, is a Sporting, which is essentially a four-passenger version of the famous Raceabout. It features similarly distinctive styling, including leather door saddles and dual cockpits for the driver, his copilot, and two passengers aft. The overall impression for both driver and passengers is of riding in a vintage biplane, which was undoubtedly Mercer’s intention.
Records on file from Stan Smith, the historian for Mercer Associates, record the earliest known owner of the Roy Series 6 as having been a Mr. Stiritz. It was eventually acquired by Harrah’s Automobile Collection, of Sparks, Nevada. William Harrah was famed not only for the vast total number of cars that he owned but also for his passion for seeking out every available model of his favorites. Mercer being a favorite, he built a collection that included the finest examples of every model and body style that he could find, numbering a dozen of Trenton’s finest by the time of his passing in 1978.
The car was eventually acquired from Harrah’s in 1986 by the late Joe Loecy, of Cleveland, Ohio, a legendary figure in Brass Era automobile circles. It next passed to Alfred Ferrara, of Gates Mills, Ohio. An especially well-known figure in classic car collecting, Mr. Ferrara was a prosperous Italian grocer and connoisseur of the great automobiles built during the 1910s and 1920s, many of which he purchased between the 1950s and 1970s, with a focus on exquisite original examples that he restored and proudly displayed all over the country. The majority of Mr. Ferrara’s cars remain held by his family, but a Cleveland-area collector succeeded in acquiring the Series 6 and passed it to Richard Roy in 2012.
Today, the Series 6 still wears its fine restoration from the late 1980s, with the body finished in pale blue over very smooth panels and black fenders. The paint on the doors has begun to blemish, and today the car would benefit from a repaint; however, the maroon leather interior is still in very good condition, as are the leather door panels and saddles, the wooden trim, the dashboard, and the floorboards. The level of detail throughout is impressive, extending to a correct Mercer-badged Boyce MotoMeter atop the radiator and proper Mercer-badged Rudge-Whitworth wire wheels, finished in a dramatic red, including the dual rear-mounted spares. The firewall, rear frame rail, and engine are all stamped with correct numbers in the proper locations. Under the hood is similarly clean and properly finished, with correct accessories and firewall wiring, and it shows only minor signs of age and wear.
The car is accompanied by a bound photocopy of the Series 6 instruction manual, an original Series 6 dealer catalogue in fine condition, and correspondence between Mr. Roy and Stan Smith, as well as a valuable copy of its bound Harrah’s Automobile Collection research and restoration file, detailing its history and correct mechanical specifications.
This amazing Mercer has not been publically shown since Mr. Ferrara’s ownership, making its return to the market all the more exciting. As one of 16 surviving Series 6s, it is also the last opportunity for likely some time for the fortunate bidder to acquire for himself one of the last Mercers—a CCCA CARavan car or AACA and VMCCA tour car par excellence.