Of the multitude of early car companies to adopt the name “American” it is the American Motors Company of Indianapolis, Indiana that we feature here. American was a small firm that arrived with a grand flash, and disappeared in just eight years. Thanks to its most popular and distinct model, this iteration of American Motors is most commonly referred to as American Underslung.
The Underslung chassis was designed by Fred Tone in 1907, and it featured the suspension and axles mounted above the frame to allow for a much lower ride height. Tone was one of the first engineers to appreciate the value of a low center of gravity as it benefits handling, and period advertisements bestowed its virtues. This example is a 1913 Scout, a two-seat runabout roadster powered by a 30 hp four-cylinder engine. With its lower price and smaller L-head engine, junior model Scout was introduced in hopes of boosting sales when compared to the large 60 hp touring cars. But it was too-little too-late and American Motors Company closed its doors in 1914.
This Scout is believed to be 1 of only 5 built during 1913.