Essentially, the Bearcats were a shorter (120" wheelbase vs 130"), lighter version of the standard Stutz passenger cars chassis. It was originally powered by a 390 cubic-inch, 60 horsepower straight-4 engine produced by the Wisconsin Motor Company. Common with racing and sports cars of the period, it featured minimal bodywork consisting of a "dog house" hood, open bucket seats, a tiny "monocle" windscreen in front of the driver, and a cylindrical fuel tank on a short rear deck. Production Bearcats differed from the factory "White Squadron" racers by having fenders, lights and a trunk. Factory literature from 1913 describes the Bearcat as "The Stutz Bearcat, designed to meet the needs of the customer desiring a car built along the lines of a racing car with a slightly higher gear ratio than out normal torpedo roadster, has met with great favor with motor car owners and meets the demand for a car of this class."
Overall, its low weight, balance, and power made it an excellent racer. For example, in 1912, Stutz Bearcats won 25 of the 30 auto races in which they were entered. In 1915 a stock Bearcat was also the car used in Erwin "Cannon Ball" Baker's record coast-to-coast drive, inspiration for the later Cannonball Run outlaw race and film spin-offs. Baker drove his Bearcat from California to New York in eleven days, seven hours, and fifteen minutes, shattering the previous record.
The original production Bearcat was introduced in the Series A of 1912. The first public mention of the car (then spelled “Bear Cat” ) is in an advertisement in the 1912 program for the Indianapolis 500 mile race. This ad also was the first to use the soon to be famous Stutz slogan “The Car that made good in a day” referring to the Stutz racer’s 11th place finish in the 1911 Indianapolis 500. As previously mentioned, that was truthful advertising as the Bearcat was essentially a road-going version of the racer with fenders and lights added. The Series E of 1913 brought electric lights and starting. A six-cylinder option was available for an extra $250.00. The doorless body style would last through 1916. A sales catelog lists the available colors for the Series E as Vermillion, Monitor Gray, or Mercedes Red. Wire wheels were listed as a $125 option.
The Series S Bearcat of 1917 brought the first large change to the model. While it retained the 120” wheelbase its body now featured an enclosed cockpit with step over sides. It continued to be right hand drive with external gearshift and brake levers. The main change was under the hood where a new Stutz-designed 360 C.I. 16-valve 4 cylinder engine resided. It was cast in a single block had a heat treated nickel crank and camshafts. 1919’s Series G was similar, but the mid-1919 Series H body’s featured cut down sides to make cockpit entrance easier. The H also introduced new colors including yellow, Royal Red, or Elephant Gray. By the end of 1919 price for a Bearcat had risen to $3250 (the same price as the roadster and slightly less than the touring coupe). The 1920 Series K was again similar but prices had risen to $3900 in the wake of a postwar auto sales boom. The 1921 series K featured a new “DH” engine with a detachable head was introduced but a switch to left hand drive in the following KLDH (L for left) meant the end of the Bearcat since its narrow front seat and cockpit did not leave room for centrally located gear and brake levers. By 1922, the famed Bearcat name was missing from model lists and sales literature. For 1923, the roadster was renamed the Bearcat, but the name would again disappear in 1924.
The Bearcat name was reintroduced in 1931. The depression had not been kind to Stutz, so the name was used as a way to boost sales. The new Bearcat had the DV-28 (28 valve) eight cylinder engine and each car came with an affidavit saying the car had been tested at 100 m.p.h. It was a small coupe featuring dual side mount spare tires and a rakish dip in the doors, similar to current (and future) sports cars. The car lasted through 1933. The same year, the model range was enhanced by the “Super Bearcat” powered by the DV-32 engine. Unlike it standard model, it offered full weather protection and higher performance . Sitting on a 116 inch wheelbase, it featured a light-weight fabric body built by Weymann. Stutz production ended in 1934.