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DV-32 LeBaron Sedan
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  Stutz DV-32 LeBaron Sedan
 

  Article Image gallery (8) DV-60-1448 Specifications  
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Country of origin:United States
Produced in:1932
Designed by:LeBaron
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:March 14, 2013
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Click here to download printer friendly versionOnce proudly boasting to build the 'car that made good in a day', Stutz was in trouble by 1930. Due to the difficult economic times, sales of the company's luxury cars dwindled, which in turn depleted the funds to join the development race of rivals Packard, Cadillac and Marmon, who had all launched 'modern' 12 and even 16-cylinder engines. Developing a new multi-cylinder engine from scratch was simply not an option for the cash-strapped company.

Instead, chief engineer Charles 'Pop' Greuter was tasked with further developing the existing eight-cylinder engine. Introduced in 1926, this was already a sophisticated unit as it featured an overhead camshaft and twin spark ignition. The engine had also shown its worth on the track by placing second at Le Mans behind a Bentley and averaging close to 70 mph during a 24-hour run on the Indianapolis Speedway. Although still remarkably powerful for its size, the SV-8 or Stutz Vertical 8 engine was no match for the bigger V12s and V16s.

Greuter started with the existing block of the SV-8, which by this time had grown in size to just under 5.3 litre. This was fitted with a brand new head, which featured twin overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and hemispherical combustion chambers. The camshafts were driven by the crankshaft through a chain mounted at the front of the straight eight. Highlighting the highly sophisticated valve-train, the new engine was dubbed the DV-32. The 32-valve, 'eight' produced 156 bhp; considerably more than the V12s of rivals Packard and Cadillac.

The heavily revised engine was mounted in the 'Safety Stutz' chassis introduced a few years earlier. This 'double-drop' chassis was 'safer' because of it was relatively low, and featured safety glass and all-round hydraulic brakes. It was initially available with a standard wheelbase of 145" and a slightly short 134.5" wheelbase for the spartan 'Bearcat' model, which was a modern interpretation of the legendary Bearcat that established Stutz in the 1910s. Each DV-32 came with a certificate that it was capable of a top speed of at least 100 mph.

Stutz introduced the DV-32 at the 1931 New York Auto Show but even though it was among the most sophisticated machines on the road, very few were sold. Due to the Depression, the market for this high performance luxury cars had all but dried up and Stutz, like many of its rivals faced an inevitable demise. A 'Super Bearcat' two-seater convertible on an even shorter chassis was added to the line-up but did little to change Stutz' fortune. Even though Stutz survived and offered the DV-32 until will into 1936, the last examples had already rolled off the line in 1934.

Historians do not agree about the exact number of DV-32s that were built between 1931 and 1934 with figures ranging from as little as 105 and as many as 206. What remains undisputed is that the DV-32 was the finest Stutz of all. Even before it was introduced, the writing was already on the wall and it could sadly not turn the fortunes for the manufacturer. As a result, the DV-32 remains as the last great hurrah for the car that once made good in a day.

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  Article Image gallery (8) DV-60-1448 Specifications