Last time in our story of Stutz the corporate lastly realized its dream of a real convertible, the Bearcat II. The unique product dream of CEO James O’Donnell, the Bearcat II went on sale in 1987. Though the corporate’s destiny was just about sealed by that point, Stutz had its heyday of fashions circa the early Eighties. Spoilers: Machine weapons had been concerned.
There had been a minimum of a handful of people that had been excited by the prospect of the Bearcat II, regardless of its F-body origins. The new automotive was to take Stutz in a brand new product route, away from the heavy private luxurious and grand touring roots that carried Stutz from the model’s rebirth in 1970.
Though the brand new convertible spared no quantity of leather-based or wooden paneling in its luxurious mission, the Bearcat II was virtually a superleggera somewhere else. One may anticipate this textual content to take a flip towards specially-formed fiberglass at this level, however no! The II’s physique was made from so-called Diamond Fiber.
Diamond Fiber was apparently a trademarked identify on an early model of what you’d name carbon fiber in The Current Year. Given its supplies, the Bearcat II claimed its physique was corrosion-proof and dent-proof. Perhaps the high-tech composite materials was chosen to assist the worth Stutz had in thoughts for its new providing: The Bearcat II requested $125,000 in 1987 ($328,570 adj.). For reference, the costliest Trans Am GTA of 1987 requested $16,373 ($43,037 adj.).
Given the astronomical worth and the fade of neoclassical styling attraction, the Bearcat II was understandably a sluggish vendor. The convertible continued for years because the (possibly) solely product at Stutz and was made frequently however in very small numbers. Production continued right here and there by means of 1995, at which level 13 whole Bearcat IIs had been made. The II’s most notable proprietor was large cash automotive purchaser the Sultan of Brunei, who bought two to take a seat in his assortment with customized Bentley coupes and a Rolls-Royce SUV.
As talked about in as we speak’s header, by the point the Bearcat II went on sale the Stutz model was about completed. James O’Donnell (born 1914) was in his later years within the Nineteen Eighties. His final yr as CEO of Stutz was 1988, shortly after the Bearcat II went on sale. O’Donnell loved his retirement by instantly returning to highschool at Eckerd College. He graduated in 1991 and secured his undergraduate diploma on the age of 78. He handed away on December 1, 1997, in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Stutz administration fell into the arms of others for a few years, till O’Donnell offered Stutz to shareholder Warren Liu in 1990. Liu (1945-) was an actual property developer out of California who took a long-term curiosity in Stutz. He maintains possession of the inactive Stutz identify to at the present time. But our story doesn’t conclude right here.
A decade or so earlier than his retirement, O’Donnell noticed his model by means of essentially the most strong mannequin portfolio in its historical past. In addition to the beforehand lined Blackhawk and Bearcat, Stutz made a sedan known as Duplex, IV-Porte, or Victoria (dependent upon yr). Two takes on the Duplex existed – Diplomatica and Royale – each limousines of varied lengths. And lastly, Stutz even acquired into the posh SUV sport with the Defender, Gazelle, Bear, and Bear spinoff known as Royal Guard. Let’s speak SUVs first.
In 1984 throughout a lull within the firm’s product, O’Donnell determined a market existed for a big luxurious SUV with that distinctive, high-quality Stutz twist. And not only a pedestrian SUV, however slightly an armored one. As regular, Stutz turned to its everlasting vehicular font, General Motors.
The donor truck chosen was the C/Okay Chevrolet Suburban. The Suburban was within the midst of its seventh technology in 1984; a really lengthy mannequin tenure that lasted from 1973 to 1991. Not a lot modified with regard to seems to be over all these years, as Suburban continued with its very rectangular profile. Upgrades like rear HVAC appeared over time, as did computerized locking entrance hubs, and new trims right here and there. The most notable change in 1984 was the absence of asbestos from the rear brakes. Upgrade!
Stutz didn’t go all neoclassical with its first SUV take as one may anticipate. In reality, from an exterior perspective, solely the fender badging and oval Stutz emblem on the grille gave its id away. Stutz’s Suburban edits targeted on the set up of armor plating and a singular roof function: Stutz reduce a giant gap in the course of the Suburban’s roof and fitted an armored panel to maintain out the rain.
But it wasn’t only a panoramic roof opening, slightly the cut-out was for the machine gun positioned within the second row. Mounted on a hydraulic hinge between the entrance seats, the machine gun rested on a raised platform between the center row captain’s chairs. The gun was raised into place after the roof was manually opened. One of you’ll undoubtedly know what kind of gun is pictured right here. Buyers had been eager to benefit from the machine gun, and it was provided as customary tools on the brand new Defender.
The new automotive’s identify was shocking given Land Rover’s longtime affiliation with that mannequin. The Defender was marketed largely to Middle Eastern nations, the place it was advised it may very well be used for army or head of state sort functions. Apparently, Stutz discovered some patrons for its Defender, however for an unknown cause virtually instantly modified the mannequin’s identify to Gazelle.
But a hard and fast roof and machine gun-toting Gazelle was somewhat limiting for the armored buyer base within the early Eighties. What if a extra open-air expertise was desired, for a parade to rejoice the tip of a coup d’etat, maybe? Well, Stutz considered that very scenario. Presenting the Bear.
The Bear was a convertible model of the Gazelle. Unlike the Gazelle, the Bear did not shrink back from a neoclassical take. Stutz changed the flat egg-crate Chevrolet grille with a two-section chromed grille, very like an exaggerated model of what was on the Blackhawk. They reshaped the hood, so the ability bulge of the Suburban reduce inward and met on the corners of the grille. The Suburban’s stacked headlamps had been absolutely chromed, as was the usual GM bumper. Stutz additionally added large black rub strips to the entrance, which had been mirrored in the back of the Bear.
The Bear’s bumper had extra finish caps, so the chrome wrapped round towards the rear fender for a sedan-like look. Fenders themselves had been edited from the graceful sq. arches of the Suburban: They prolonged out from the physique and had been extra rounded than on the Suburban. Stutz added a thick black trim strip to the Suburban’s character line to make it stand out from its donor automobile. At the rear, the Suburban’s tailgate was changed by a big trunk lid. The Bear was a large convertible sedan.
Other trim standouts included a big detachable aspect step for one’s private armed guards, in addition to chromed canine dish wheel covers that bore the Stutz emblem. Stutz eliminated the roof of the Suburban and fitted a big canvas one as a substitute, saved beneath a tough tonneau cowl. Not a real convertible (comprehensible given the size), the Bear had a targa bar on the B-pillar. Underneath the perilously massive canvas roof, the inside was leathered, padded, and changed into Stutz-level luxurious.
With the roof up, the Bear seemed like some form of overgrown and selfmade convertible, the likes of which one may anticipate within the Brazilian market. With the lengthy trunk lid, the Bear hid its Suburban roots very nicely from a rear-end view. The distinctive Bear discovered a buyer base, as 46 had been produced all through the Eighties. It was loved in Saudi Arabia the place it served as Royal Guard transport, and its mannequin identify was edited to Royal Guard for that utilization. It was additionally bought by King Hassan of Morocco (1929-1999).
Stutz constructed a few extra takes on the Bear for Saudi Arabia, together with a really formal fixed-roof model in powder blue. Rather than leaving the Suburban’s roof intact to make a Bear Wagon, Stutz needed to design a brand new roof to account for the Bear’s trunk.
Stutz additionally made a six-door armored funeral sedan out of the Bear, which included revised chrome wheel covers, and additional formality by way of padded vinyl roof and decrease chrome trim. In that guise, the Bear virtually seemed like a large Russian Cadillac Fleetwood.
There’s no phrase how lengthy Stutz constructed the Bear, however it was certainly for a number of years if 46 examples had been made. One wonders what number of are left as we speak and the place else they had been offered, however that data is close to inconceivable to search out. Next time we’ll transfer on to sedan and limousine miscellanea.
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