Harry C. Stutz, Indianapolis Creator of the Stutz Bearcat and the Stutz Blackhawk

An American automobile entrepreneur, engineer, and innovator, Harry C. Stutz started the Ideal Motor Car Company in Indianapolis in 1911, before renaming it the Stutz Motor Car Company in 1912. Harry Stutz had built his first car in 1897, but it wasn’t until later that one of his creations gave the man behind the business some bit of notoriety. The Stutz Bearcat offered a lower center of gravity, making for better handling at fast speeds. This innovation took the Stutz Bearcat to the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (Indy 500) during its inaugural run in 1911, and the car placed eleventh, a notable finish for an American-made car. With the fine finish, the Stutz Bearcat earned the slogan “the car that made good in a day,” and Harry Stutz was well on his way to becoming a famous Indianapolis person in Indianapolis history.

But trouble with his business investors lay ahead. In the early 1920s, Harry Stutz wound up selling his business to Charles M. Schwab and two other investors. The company continued to grow in reputation as a maker of luxury vehicles. By then, Harry C. Stutz had also started a couple of other businesses bearing his name, including the Stutz Fire Engine Company, as well as the H.C.S. Motor Car Company in 1919. In 1929, he formed the Stutz-Bellanca Airplane Company. The Stutz factory, where the original Bearcat was produced, has been renamed as the Stutz Business Center, and it now serves as the offices and studios of more than 100 Indianapolis designers, artists and entrepreneurs.

As a sidebar, after it changed hands, the Stutz Motorcar company became famous for creating the Stutz Blackhawk during 1970. The sleek beauty was produced until 1987. It filled a need in the luxury car niche of those days, and was in fact so luxurious that Elvis Presley was its very first buyer.