1909 ALCO Model 6 Bete Noire

  • Brand: Alco
  • Car Code: 900334

The car was entered in the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup for 1909. The Cup race was run on Long Island and was the brainchild of William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. The Long Island Motor Parkway course was a nine-mile toll road formed part of the course. The winner would be presented with a cash prize and a cup, similar to European competition. Engine sizes were restricted to 301-600 cubic-inches.

Grant and Lee drove their car in the 1909 race. They were not the fastest in the field, but that did not matter as many of the faster cars were sidelined due to mechanical difficulties. On lap 19, the Alco took the lead after passing the leading Chalmers-Detroit when it overheated. When the Alco crossed the finish line, it was a full five-minutes ahead of Ed Parker's Fiat which sat in second place. The same Alco returned in 1910 and ran another steady race, taking the lead at lap 18. Just twelve miles from the finish line, the Alco had a flat tire. Repairs were made and managed to finish with a comfortable 25-second margin.

In 1911 they entered the inaugural running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, but their glory days were a thing of the past. By 1913 the only car in the Alco catalog was the six and within a short time, quit the automobile industry. The business venture had proven to be 'unprofitable'.

The car driven by Grant was become known as the Bete Noir, meaning Black Beast. Though it was mostly stock, it is believed that a few modifications were made, including removing some of the springs from the suspension, removing the body, and moving the engine back a few inches. All non-essential items were removed and a larger fuel tank was adapted.

This car has been treated to a comprehensive restoration since new. Missing components were re-manufactured. During the restoration, the engine displacement size was found to be 690 cubic-inches instead of the 600 cubic-inch limit of the Vanderbilt Cup. This is believed to be the Vanderbilt Racer of Grant.

This car has a six-cylinder engine that measure 690 cubic-inches and is capable of producing an estimated 100 horsepower. There is a four-speed transmission and chain drive. Two wheel inboard mechanical drum service brakes, and transmission mounted mechanical drum hand brakes were used to keep the car in the drivers control.

Production Start 1909
Country of origin USA