February 13, 2017


American Motor Car Co. (1906-1911)

American Motors Co. (1911-1914)

American Underslung Co. (1914) 

Indianapolis, Indiana

This is an American Motor Car Company hub disc (c1907-1911)   mjs
Size: 54mm diameter    MM: None

The American Motor Car Company began production of the American in 1906 and from the start its rakish lines made it appear to be a car built for speed. In 1907, an American was driven a straight mile in 45 seconds. The American is popularly known today as the American Underslung but this description was little used initially and a conventional chassis was offered as well as the underslung model. Fred Tone designed the underslung chassis and Harry Stutz designed the conventional chassis.

The American was initially a four-cylinder car and was offered in a variety of body styles. In 1914 six-cylinder models were added to the line. From 1911, when the company was reorganized as the American Motors Company, the American was offered in higher priced 50 hp and 60 hp versions as "A Car for the Discriminating Few". The American sold well initially but there were not enough wealthy people to buy these expensive cars and by early 1914, after a very brief reorganization as the American Underslung Company, and after making 45,000 cars, the company was out of business.


The first American radiator emblem was a large brass emblem attached to the radiator core. This emblem shows an eagle with open wings standing on top of a half globe above the words "THE AMERICAN", as shown below:

This is an American radiator emblem (c1907-c1914)   sfam

This American radiator emblem is shown in American Motor Car Company advertisements in 1907. It is possible that this emblem was used in 1906 but this is not confirmed. This radiator emblem continued in use long after the introduction of enameled radiator emblems, possibly until the end of the American in 1914. Original brass American radiator emblems are rare but reproductions have been made for restoration work.

This is an American ad showing the brass radiator emblem (1907)   ms

The American began to use an enameled radiator emblem showing the same design as the large brass radiator emblem from about 1910 but this date needs to be confirmed. The first American enameled radiator emblems were multi-piece emblems. Two different versions are known to exist.

I am not sure of the actual dates of use of these enameled radiator emblems, but, on the assumption that the emblems started with the most complex design and became simpler over time, the first version was most likely the four-piece emblem with the eagle, wings and globe as separate pieces attached to a base emblem shown below:

This is a four-piece American radiator emblem (c1910)    mjs
Size: 57mm diameter  MM: Whitehead & Hoag

The second version of the enamel radiator emblem is closer in design to the large brass radiator emblem and is a two-piece emblem with the whole eagle as a separate piece attached to a base emblem which includes the half globe, see below: 

This is a two-piece American radiator emblem (c1911)    mjs
Size: 57mm diameter   MM: Whitehead & Hoag

Both versions of the American enameled radiator emblem used by the American Motor Car Company shown above are extremely rare.

After the reorganization of the company as the American Motors Company in 1911, the American enameled radiator emblem was simplified to a single-piece emblem, which is very rare, see below:

This is a single-piece American radiator emblem (c1911-1914)    mjs
Size: 57mm diameter  MM: Whitehead & Hoag

There may have been a different radiator emblem when the company was reorganized as the American Underslung Company in 1914 but I cannot confirm this. Please send details, if you have this emblem, in order to update this post.

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