We return to our protection of the reborn and neoclassically-focused Stutz Motor Company at the moment, at some extent of appreciable change within the firm’s mannequin portfolio. “Portfolio” could also be a bit beneficiant, however for just a few years the corporate did produce a handful of various fashions.
Since Stutz was relaunched in 1970 its fundamental providing was the Blackhawk coupe, in each its authentic 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix foundation and downsized B-body Pontiac Bonneville foundation. But Stutz CEO James O’Donnell all the time needed a real convertible within the Stutz lineup. That want was lastly realized with the Bearcat II.
O’Donnell first experimented with a convertible within the canceled d’Italia prototype, after which made the same automobile a actuality with the introduction of the 1979 Bearcat convertible. Like the up to date Blackhawk, the brand new Bearcat was primarily based on the outdated Grand Prix for precisely one 12 months. Then it switched to change into a B-body Bonneville like its coupe sibling.
Not a real convertible, the Bearcat bowed to US rollover regulation and had a hard and fast targa bar. It was a really costly and really restricted manufacturing automobile, and it’s tough to search out movies or usable pictures of the B-body Bearcat at the moment. But it lived in its authentic format by circa 1986, when each Blackhawk and Bearcat manufacturing trickled into nothingness.
As we realized in our final entry, in 1987 the Bearcat made the leap to the F-body platform and shrunk even additional because it turned probably the most luxurious Pontiac Firebird ever made. A real Stutz convertible, O’Donnell’s topless dream was lastly realized within the Bearcat II. But it additionally meant a brand new course for what was now the corporate’s solely providing.
And the course was efficiency. By the mid-Eighties, the private luxurious coupe section was on its downward slide. The big-block V8 was a factor of the previous, and neoclassical styling was on its method out too. The Stutz clients from 1970 to 1975 who lived in Hollywood and lined as much as order an insanely costly Blackhawk had moved on (prone to European steel) or have been lifeless.
The Bearcat II adopted the styling of the B-body Blackhawk and Bearcat as finest it might given its downsizing, regulation necessities, and the truth that it was a convertible and never a targa. At the entrance finish, the proud chromed Stutz schnoz caught out about so far as it did beforehand as an extension of the hood. Perched apart it have been the quad freestanding headlamps and driving lamps. They persevered as one of the crucial notable options of the Stutz, and probably the most Exner-like side of the automobile that remained.
Given the location of the indicator lenses, it appears Stutz carried over the outdated B-body Bearcat bumper onto the Bearcat II. In its new sportier software it misplaced half its chrome trim and was largely black. It additionally had an extended cap on the nook that wrapped across the entrance fender and towards the wheel.
The overhang on the Bearcat II was extra notable than its predecessor given the automobile’s shorter wheelbase, and the truth that the overhangs on a Firebird weren’t usually as intensive as these on a rear-drive Bonneville. For the primary time on a Stutz coupe, the fender indicator lens migrated into the bumper.
In entrance of the grille, the double chrome hoops that related the 2 sections of the bumper have been become a extra angular single bar. In the center of the grille, the beforehand chromed vertical cut up was usually gold on the Bearcat II.
Indeed gold was a brand new exterior theme for the II: The colour appeared on the facilities and wheel lugs of wheels that have been now a color-matched lace design (or typically gold). Onlookers would spot them immediately as a painted Firebird Trans Am wheel, however the outdated Bearcat’s actual wires wouldn’t have reduce it on a sporty coupe in 1987.
A chrome trim strip alongside the physique began precisely the place it did on the outdated Bearcat, proper beside the grille. It made its method across the hood and adopted the driving lamp awnings that made up the fender. Then it flowed down the facet of the physique. In a revisit to the 1970 Blackhawk’s design, the trim strip lay atop a protruding character line (recall the B-body model was clean).
At the rear wheel, the road kicked upward across the tire and nonetheless existed as an extension from the physique. It adopted round to a brand new rear finish that was an amalgam of the primary and second-generation Blackhawk. The six round brake and indicator lamps carried over from the latter Blackhawk, however the spare tire returned to its uncovered state and protruded from the again of the automobile like the unique Exner design.
It was all a smaller scale, because the F-body was narrower than the B-body and required much less of a cut-out for its smaller tire. Additionally, regulation required the CHMSL to remain the place GM put it. Stutz bought round this with the creation of a ridge above the trunk space, kind of like a porch step. This ridge pale into the leather-based tonneau cowl for the highest when it was saved away, and created a wedge form behind the passengers.
Rear bumpers have been a mirror picture of these on the entrance, which helped for elements sharing. Other trim parts included the extra formal and free-standing facet mirrors from a C-body Cadillac Fleetwood and a thick chrome bar alongside the decrease door sill. The chrome bar was just for fashion functions and was as helpful because the holdout chromed facet exhausts. Said exhausts have been capped on the Bearcat II with crimson to actually present how pointless they have been.
Inside, the F-body Bearcat II was not as distanced from its roots because the outdated B-body Bearcat and Blackhawk. For the primary time, Stutz ditched its Seventies middle console edit and went for the Coat Everything in Wood and Leather method. The first step was a thick slathering of wooden that changed a budget GM plastic of the Firebird. The wooden trim was actual and seemed to be a darkish walnut. In the middle of the sprint was golden script that learn “Stutz Blackhawk II,” however there was not an engraved possession plate on the glove field lid.
Stutz eliminated the stepped look of the Firebird sprint and created a clean floor for the II, with a steady piece of wooden that ran throughout the cabin. Vents have been round as a substitute of the squares on the Pontiac and ringed in gold. Gauges have been backed in a white gold colour however have been in any other case Pontiac gauges.
The similar went for the HVAC and stereo, which have been normal GM fare with new gentle gold face plates on them. Wood trim continued over the middle stack and across the middle console. The console itself was trimmed in fantastic leather-based that prolonged up and across the perimeter of the sprint. Those edits did make a distinction, because the Firebird’s inside in 1987 was not all that scorching. Thick wooden slabs have been inserted on the tops of the doorways, and door panels have been lined in extensively ruched leather-based.
Ruching continued onto the leather-based seats however was not as plentiful. Speaking of seating, the Bearcat II took after the OG early 1900s Bearcat and was a two-seater. The space behind the entrance seats was lined in color-matched leather-based to the remainder of the inside. Not only a parcel shelf, Stutz added two pull-out drawers for storage. On the shelf space, two items of customized leather-based baggage rested on a finely grained stretch of leather-based.
The trunk of the Bearcat II was not exceptionally helpful, as Stutz took the already small cargo space of a Firebird, added a trunk lid, after which used many of the area for the flamboyantly mounted spare tire. The restricted area that remained was lined in thick shag carpeting that matched the automobile’s exterior relatively than the inside.
So did the lastly realized convertible flip the corporate’s fortunes round? No. As the Bearcat II entered manufacturing, the remainder of the Stutz empire was on a steep downward decline. And by the point it went on sale the corporate had a brand new proprietor and a product portfolio of 1 automobile. More on that subsequent time.
[Images: Stutz, YouTube]
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