Austie Clark’s 1911 Mercer Raceabout to be
auctioned in Monterey August 15-16
A special 1911 Mercer Raceabout once owned by Henry Austin “Austie” Clark Jr., who literally wrote the book with Beverly Rae Kimes on Mercer and more than 5,000 other prewar cars for OCW in “The Standard Catalog of America Cars 1805-1942,” will soon cross the auction block. The car came to his collection in 1949 — 65 years ago — and has remained with his family since his passing. It has a pre-sale estimate of $2,500,000–$3,500,000 for its auction debut in Monterey, Calif., by RM Auctions the weekend of Aug. 15-16.
Austie collected the best cars and often wrote about them and sometimes their part in his fast and wild escapades for his Old Cars Weekly column “Young Nuts and Old Bolts.” Some cars were saved from scrap and some were dusty discoveries from East Coast carriage houses, but all were treasured by him and the hobby that grew up around him and other early collectors. Many of the cars that crossed through his collection were also displayed at his famous but now-shuttered Long Island Automotive Museum.
The “Austie” Clark 1911 Mercer Type 35R Raceabout sports chassis 35-R-354 and is the 1911 Mercer pictured in “The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942.” (Most of the original photos and historical documents used in “The Standard Catalog of American Cars” came from Austie’s files or his collection.) You can see a scan of the image from SCAC 1805-1942 by clicking here.
According to RM Auctions, this Mercer was one of Austie’s earliest acquisitions. After being purchased in 1949 from wealthy gentleman racing driver William C. “Bill” Spear, the Type 35R Raceabout was a fixture at Austie’s Long Island Automotive Museum, and participated in the exhibition runs held in conjunction with the Bridgehampton races, which Clark helped organize and finance. Over the years, many famous automotive personalities have been pictured behind the wheel of the Mercer, including author Ralph Stein, legendary actor Gary Cooper, and the architect of the Mercer T-head himself, Finlay Robertson Porter. The car was a well-known attendee in early VMCCA meets around New England, and regularly participated in other events. Since the closure of the Long Island Automotive Museum in 1980, the Mercer has lived a quiet life in Connecticut, where it has been exercised along Fairfield County’s windy stonewall-lined roads by two further generations of the Clark family.