Award-winning author and historian, Clifford Zink, will be giving talks about and signing his new book, Mercer Magic, which tells the complete story of the Mercer automobile, built in New Jersey at the beginning of the 20th century and raced in competitions across the country in the days when car design was at the center of American technological innovation.
Clifford W. Zink is a historian and preservationist and the author of five previous books including The Roebling Legacy, a history of the John A. Roebling’s Sons Company which received a 2012 New Jersey Author’s Award from the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance, the History and Preservation Section of the New Jersey Library Association and Special Collections and University Archives at Rutgers University Libraries.
His newest book, Mercer Magic, tells the remarkable story of the Mercer Automobile Company, founded in New Jersey in 1909 by two industrialist families, the Roeblings and Kusers, to manufacture “a car in a class by itself.’’
In 1910, Mercer introduced its two-seater Raceabout, often painted canary yellow. Washington A. Roebling II, grandson of the Brooklyn Bridge builder, raced the Mercer in the international light car race in Savannah that year, just two years before he was lost in the Titanic disaster on his way home from a European driving trip.
Amateur and professional racers, including the notable “speed kings” Hughie Hughes and Ralph De Palma, won Mercer racing glory in numerous races across the country over the next several years, and a Mercer driven by Trenton’s own Eddie Pullen was the first American car to win the coveted American Grand Prize Race in 1914.
Mercer built about 5,000 distinguished cars during the company’s 15-year lifespan. The few that survive today are highly prized by private collectors and museums: in 2014 a Mercer Raceabout sold at auction for $2.5 million. Car aficionados have long recognized the Mercer Raceabout as America’s first sports car, and today it is a shining example of American ingenuity and style in the early years of the automobile industry.
The hardcover, full color book is 208 pages with 335 illustrations. Written with input from Mercer collectors and with new details on the car’s racing history, Mercer Magic is the definitive history of “America’s first sports car.’’
Weather permitting, one or more Mercer automobiles will be at each of these events:
Book Launch and Author Talk – November 15, 3 pm to 5 pm; Roebling Museum – 100 Second Ave., Roebling, N.J., 609/499-7200
Book Signing – November 21, 10 am to 2 pm; Hopewell Motors – 49 East Broad Street, Hopewell, N.J., 609-466-1550 (Hopewell Motors is operated by a Roebling descendent)
Book Signing and Author Talk – December 13, 2 pm; Ellarslie, the Trenton City Museum – 299 Parkside Ave., Trenton, 609-989-3632