If you own one of these old chariots and you've been thinking about parting with it, this would be a good time to act
Before entering the automotive business in 1901, the George N. Pierce Company of Buffalo, NY, had been engaged in making such diverse products as birdcages and bicycles. Pierce's first cars were called Motorettes and were powered by DeDion-Bouton engines. By 1903 Pierce was building two-cylinder cars and in 1904 its four-cylinder Pierce Great Arrow arrived. The Great Arrow line expanded to include six-cylinder cars in 1907 and two years later both the company and the marque were re-named Pierce-Arrow. Only the finest materials were used in these motorcars, including complex but immensely strong cast aluminum bodies. Throughout the years Pierce also pioneered the use of power brakes and hydraulic tappets, and in 1913 the marque's most distinguishing feature appeared when fender-mounted headlamps became standard on all series. The cars found great success, and acceptance at the highest social and governmental levels; indeed, Pierce-Arrows were the official White House automobile for many years. Pierce's greatest mechanical tour de force in its early years was the gargantuan Model 66. With a rating of 60 hp and a 5- by 7- inch bore and stroke in its six cylinders, these road-going locomotives rode on a wheelbase of over twelve feet and cost anywhere from $6,500 to $8,000 depending on the body style specified by their well-heeled customers. The Dual Valve Six appeared in late 1918 but shortly thereafter Pierce-Arrow went through several years of turmoil as company ownership and staff went through some key changes. To expand its market Pierce brought out the Series 80 in 1924. This was a lower-priced and more modern appearing car than the senior autos. But it was still a six-cylinder, as Pierce stubbornly clung to the credo that a six was the ideal powerplant. Meanwhile, the competition offered both straight-eights and V8s, and Packard had even offered twelves during the early 1920s. It would not be until 1930 that Pierce made an eight-cylinder car, just in time to be trumped by the V12s and V16s of Cadillac, Marmon and Lincoln. Pierce and Studebaker merged in 1929, although the Buffalo automaker remained an independent entity in terms of development and manufacturing. Pierce played a quick and successful game of catch-up in the multi-cylinder race, bringing a new and magnificent V12 engine to market in late 1931. But the marriage to Studebaker was proving less than felicitous and in 1933 the South Bend firm went into receivership, taking Pierce-Arrow down with it. This particular car is a rare model and one of only a very few 1930 Model B convertible coupes known to the Pierce-Arrow Society, and is fitted with an original 8-cylinder engine. Purchased by the current owner in original condition in 1994, it has since been the subject of an eight-year restoration using original parts wherever possible. All the woodwork has been replaced, the chromium trim re-plated, the metalwork repaired as necessary, and a full re-paint was carried out. The convertible top was replaced and a completely new interior was fitted by a noted specialist. All dashboard instruments are complete and original. Only driven sparingly since restoration, after careful running-in the car will be ready for touring or regional showing. Of course, it is eligible to join in the activities of the Classic Car Club of America. It would prove an excellent choice for tours thanks to its splendid riding qualities, quietness of operation, ease of driving, luxurious passenger comfort, style and great quality.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1930 Pierce-Arrow Model B Convertible Coupe

This Model B Convertible Coupe sold for $94,000, including buyer’s commission, at the Christie’s auction held June 5, 2003, in New York City.

Pound for pound, year for year, Pierce-Arrows were the highest quality cars of their time. With a 134-inch wheelbase, the Model B may not be as “locomotive”-like as the Model 66, but its 385-cid straight-eight produces 125 hp, enough to power the big car down the road with alacrity. Though very expensive to restore, with the proper care these cars can last forever.

Yet despite their obvious excellence, Pierce-Arrows have traditionally been a hard sell publicly or privately-blame it on the conservative styling or the lesser-known virtues compared to their luxury car competition. That said, if the price of this Model B offers any indication, it looks like those days could be ending. The money this Model B fetched hovers close to Packard phaeton territory and other recent sales of Pierce-Arrows indicate collectors may finally be waking up to the marque’s charms.

A trio of Pierces at RM’s Meadow Brook auction in August achieved exceptional prices. A 1915 Model 48 touring brought $110,000; a 1934 Silver Arrow coupe, $242,000; and a 1935 Twelve convertible, $198,000. Prior to this auction, the only Pierces that could be expected to bring this kind of price tag were the magnificent pre-1915 cars or the seldom seen and even less seldom traded Model 66 touring cars and roadsters.

If you’ve been thinking of acquiring a classic or vintage Pierce-Arrow, consider acting now. More important, if you own one of these old chariots and you’ve been thinking about parting with it, this would be a good time to act. It’s a well-known fact that the market for lesser Classics has been a difficult one, which is part of what makes these recent Pierce-Arrow numbers a surprise. While we won’t predict whether these sales are a trend or just a momentary bubble, there certainly hasn’t been a better time in the past ten years than today to try to get top dollar for your Pierce.-Dave Brownell

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