The Stutz Schumacher Special (and other car stuff)
As long ago as 1935 there were sightings of a mysterious super car prowling the backroads of Massachusetts.
A polished aluminum car with a long hood dazzling onlookers with its great speed.
At the time there was no consensus as to its origin or ultimate fate. Some felt
it was a Duesenberg powered race car. Others thought it was some sort of land-speed record car
that had outlived it usefulness and was adapted for the road. Still others felt it might be a custom bodied Stutz.
Respected local historians thought it might have ended up in a junkyard south of Boston.
With the recent discovery of the "Schumacher Special"
sleeping quietly in a barn and subsequent revelations almost all the questions have been answered.
The Schumacher Special was constructed in 1928-1930 by Gustav Schumacher, owner
of Schumacher Motor Services, in Yonkers NY. An unusually gifted man with
respect to mechanical, design and metal shaping skills he constructed almost
a dozen race cars in the 1930s. In 1937
a car he built was raced by Al Cusick
in the Vanderbilt Cup at Roosevelt Raceway . Gustav passed away in
1957 but his son Gustav Jr. had the good fortune of working with his dad
from Junior High through College.
I was tremendously happy to locate
(special thanks to Bob Swanson and Joe Heisler) Gustav
Jr, now a retired auto engineer (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!)
and he has provided me a wealth of information on our car. In fact, for a
number of years, Gustav Jr. has been searching to find one of his father's
cars and was thrilled to have finally found one. The family is currently
compiling a book about Gustav Sr.'s fascinating career and has a number of
original pictures of the Schumacher Special as well as the racecars.
Photo courtesy of Schumacher family
In 1928 Gustav was approached by the son of a wealthy New York businessman.
Earlier in the year Frank Lockhart had set a land speed record in his Stutz Blackhawk special
and this gentleman wanted a closed circuit speed car built using a Stutz Chassis.
Using a $10,000 deposit a new 1928 Stutz BB chassis and engine was acquired through
the Stutz of New York dealer located on Broadway in NY City. Construction was time consuming and the
stock market crash in 1929 led to a drastic reduction in the client's cash situation.
With his original customer gone, Gustav completed the car using his own funds as time permitted.
The end results were remarkable. Gustav had utilized all his
race car building techniques to construct a one-off super car. With its
hand built racing optimized Stutz engine, lightweight,
low aerodynamic aluminum body
and high-speed rear end the Schumacher Special was the fastest car on the
road in its day. The family has a beautiful picture of the 4-carb engine
bay as well as the cockpit featuring a 160 mph speedometer.
An accomplished artist and sculpturer in his early days in Germany where he
grew up - Gustav had a real sense of proportioning. The Schumacher Special,
together with all of his sprint cars, used much aluminum, were not painted,
only cleaned and shined with Bon-Ami. All the metal body sections were hand
formed and hand riveted or connected with machine-screws. The car was
utilized for a number of years to tow race cars to the track (see picture above,
courtesy of Schumacher family) where it would
then act as a marketing tool to promote Gustav's racecar build techniques.
When business would get slow, they would use the Special to tow a race car
around New York City to generate business. Sometime in the mid-30s the car
was sold to an executive of Texas Oil Corporation and eventually made its
way to Massachusetts.
More Recent History
numerous sightings of the Schumacher Special in and around the Boston area in the 1930s (See Literature below).
The car disappeared in the 40s and was thought to have ended up in a junkyard down on Route 1 south of Boston.
In the summer of 1951 Bernie Fossa from Central Massachusetts found the car on a used car lot. Bernie was formerly trained in
automotive engineering and really appreciated the design and construction of the vehicle. Here are some
pictures of Bernie sitting in the Mormon Meteor.
Upon purchase it was immediately placed in a barn because of engine problems where it sat undisturbed for 54 years.
The barn the car was stored in since 1951 was starting to deteriorate badly.
We had known since the 80s that the car existed but were never able to see it and were never sure what it was. Bernie
had always refered to it as a Dusenberg special.
My dad is fairly well known in the local area as knowledgeable collector. Bernie's son Glenn, who knew the car was very
important to his dad agreed to sell it to us knowing that it would remain in
central Massachusetts and that it would be completely and properly restored.
Although the family that has owned it for all these years did not know exactly what it was,
they knew it was special and only agreed to sell because of my dad's reputation and the fear over
the deteriorating barn housing the car. They deserve quite a bit of credit for preserving it all these years.
Here is a picture after the barn door was open after many years.
Condition When Pulled from the Barn
Although needing a complete restoration, the Schumacher Special is remarkably complete. The original windshield
is gone as are the headlamps found in the later pictures. The original interior is intact but rotted.
Here are some barn pictures from the CCCA NE Region newsletter. We have located
a correct Stutz Vertical 8 engine (thank you Ed Minnie) including a chassis. This has enabled us to fix the
motor mount issues caused by the engine swaps and the Stutz engine is now sitting in the chassis.
Here are some pictures right after it was taken out of the barn. Here is one final picture
of the car sitting in the barn. This page contains the latest restoration updates
Photo courtesy of Scott Reavely.
This picture came from Scott's mother-in-law. Her dad, Svend Hinsby bought the car from Gustav Schumacher sometime around 1934/35.
Over the years there has been conjecture that the Schumacher Special was a Duesenberg or Duesenberg powered.
In fact, the used car tag still present on the key in the ignition says “Dusenberg”. Because the sturdy Stutz Chassis with its Buffalo Wire wheels is similiar
to that of Duesenberg Model J this notion is not surprising. The Schumacher Special is in fact at 1928 Stutz BB 145 inch wheel
base which is established by its chassis number. Because it is basically a race car, and was most likley driven hard the car has gone through
at least two engines including the original race prepped Stutz Challenger 8 and the 1930s Packard straight 8. The original Stutz motor
mounts are still present and the crude modifications to support the Packard engine are clear. It is also possible that between these
the Packard and Stutz motors a Duesenberg Model A engine was installed as more than one source reported Duesenberg power. Another possible
explanation for the Duesenberg sightings could be that the Stutz Engine, modified for race and polished up could be mistaken on
quick glance for Duesenberg Model A. (Update 7/29/08): The sightings of a Duesenberg powered Schumacher Special were in fact true, except
that the car was Schumacher Special #9, not this one, running a race modified Duesenberg engine.
The Schumacher Special's body is completely aluminum and was originally highly polished as were all of Gustav Schumachers cars.
All panels are connected by threaded brass machine screws that appear to have originally been polished
There is a very nice brass badge on the radiator on which is etched "Schumacher 11" painted in yellow. The radiator shell
is cast aluminum and we can't imagine it was made especially for this car. Perhaps it is a racing
shell that was available to race car builders?
The quality of
construction is extremely high and the car must have been considerably expensive when new. The wheels are red, the fenders are
trimmed in red and the interior was also red. The padding around the cockpit was black. (Update 7/29/08): After stripping the wheels
and the fenders, it is clear that the original paint color was black. Underneath the red upholstery is the original black leather. There is evidence that quite a
few of the parts on the car where originally chromed including shocks, brackets, drag link, etc (Note: this is now confirmed by
the early pictures provided by the Schumacher family. The metal straps
you see extending in front of the car and underneath where also chrome. The history that has been passed down is that these
straps were there to prevent roll-over at high speed in the event of a flat (Note: Confirmed by Gustav Jr.). We think the car is geared very high
with 2.7 revolutions of the drive shaft to one turn of the wheel. If I figured it out right this would indicate a very high theoritical top end.
Schumacher Racing History
Schumacher Motor Services was active in racing form the mid 20s through late 30s. I moved the racing history stuff to it's own page
that you can find here.
There has been at least 4 mentions of the Schumacher Special within the literature of the Classic Clar Club of America (CCCA).
Recently there has been a number of mentions in leading automotive periodicals and club news letters
regarding the car's re-emergence.
The pages linked below are fairly large so that you can read the text so you may have trouble with a dialup connection.
- The first reference was when the picture at the top of this website published as a "what is it?" in the
CCCA Bulletin of October 1994
- The picture was then republished on the back page of the newsletter for the New England Region of the CCCA in the 3rd quater of 1994.
Included was the writing from the back of the original photograph.
- Fred Roe, author of Duesenberg: The Pursuit of Perfection responded to the "what is it?" with his
personal sightings of the car as a student at MIT in 1939.
- In the CCCA New England Region newsletter of fall 1997 Fred wrote the following article on the Schumacher
- A great article in what I consider to be
the best classic car website, www.PreWarCar.com.
- A update article on www.PreWarCar.com.
- The Golden Era Automobile Associations Februrary 2006 newletter.
- April 2006 Hemmings Classic Car Lost and Found
- April 2006 Classic and Sports Car
- CCCA New England Region newsletter second quarter 2006 Fred provides an update (good barn pictures)
Other related Stuff
In 1929 you
could buy a SuperCharger for your Stutz. Includes pictures of my blower
Also, Here are some vintage photos of a
blower setup on a flathead ford
Here is some info
on a supercharged Auburn engine found under a porch
Stuff for Sale
Complete untouched original 35/36 supercharged Auburn engine for sale (sorry, sold)
1968 Cougar GTE 427 SideOiler (sorry, sold)
1969 Cougar 428 Cobra Jet Conv (sorry, sold)
1952-1953 Packard Continental Kit (sorry, sold)
1941 Ford Wrecker (sorry, sold)
Cord 810/812 Parts
I need a pair of these gabriel shocks. They came on the 29/30 Stutz.
If you have any additional information or insight in to this car please call. I'm particularly interested in finding
information between 1940 and 1950.
978-771-2925 or Send Mail Thanks! A.J. SanClemente
Last Updated on Nov 11th, 2010
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