TBT: Rockin’ A Stutz Bearcat T-Shirt

In Christine on The Scene by Christine McKellar

In the 70s I had a blingish t-shirt that I just adored. It was black cotton with short sleeves. There was a Stutz Bearcat logo of sorts emblazoned in all its silk screened glory on the front. I don’t think I was even licensed to drive at the time. Google was no more than an abstract number and would remain so for decades, so I didn’t bother going to the library to look up the vintage logo and car.

Well, now that I have Google to play with, I looked up the car that inspired my wardrobe over fifty years ago (did I just type that? YIKES! Fifty years!). The photo below is similar to that old t-shirt but it’s not exactly what I recall.

So what’s with this Throwback Thursday tidbit? I really don’t know other than it popped into my brain while I was looking at vintage cars and thus produced a fond memory. I simply had to do a bit of Internet (yes, Google) sleuthing and so unearthed a few facts. To whit:

Harry C. Stutz and Henry F.  Campbell organized Ideal Motor Car Company in June 1911 and began building Stutz cars in Indianapolis in 1911. The Stutz Bearcat was a modified model of a race car Stutz had built in less than five weeks that placed 11th in the Indianapolis 500. The new company soon went through a name change from “Ideal” to “Stutz” Motor Car Company.  Numerous models were produced under the new brand but after a series of bad financial decision, and numerous changes of hand, Stutz Motor filed for bankruptcy in April 1937.

One major legacy of Harry C. Stutz is that his original company is credited with the development of “the under-slung chassis”,  an invention that greatly enhanced the safety and cornering of motor vehicles and is still in use today. Hats off to Harry on that one.

As to why I so loved that funky t-shirt? I don’t know. Maybe it was simply because it was bold and unique. It had a classic elegance about it too, despite being nothing more than a silver silkscreen logo on a black cotton background. Perhaps a bit of the Stutz Bearcat character and creativity was channeled into the design by the artist.

I do know that if I could find that same T-shirt today, I’d wear it proudly, but just not as often as I did in the early 70s.