Wed, 8th Dec 2021 13:00

The Pavilion Gardens Buxton

  Lot 24

1936 Pierce Arrow Model 1601 Roadster

Sold for £42,750

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: 834 YUK
Chassis No: 314394
MOT: Exempt

  • 1 of just 787 Pierce Arrow cars built during the 1936 model year
  • Powered by a 6.3 litre straight-eight engine allied to three-speed, all synchromesh manual transmission
  • Reconfigured as a soft-top during the 1950s and laid-up the following decade in California
  • Acquired by its current registered keeper in 2003 and subject to an extensive restoration over the next fifteen or so years (his costs for buying and renovating the Pierce Arrow were reputedly £100,000 plus)
  • Sympathetically uprated with a full-flow oil filtration system, Kenlowe fan and power steering
  • A rare, imposing and usable Post-Vintage Thoroughbred

Among America’s great patrician marques, Pierce Arrow sold cars to the likes of: King Albert of Belgium, Mrs Andrew Carnegie, Charlie Chaplin, King C. Gillette, Baroness Roland de Graffenreid-Villars, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, J.D. Rockefeller, Ginger Rogers, Babe Ruth, King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, The Shah of Persia, President Wm. Howard Taft, President Woodrow Wilson, Charles S. Woolworth, Mrs Sarah Winchester and Orville Wright. A merger with Studebaker in 1928 helped the Buffalo, New York-based firm through The Great Depression but a refusal to move downmarket ultimately sealed its demise a decade later. Renowned for its excellent engineering, Pierce Arrow stuck with separate chassis construction and sidevalve engines throughout. Although, such design conservatism did not prevent Ab Jenkins from averaging a record breaking 117.77mph for 24 hours aboard a Pierce Arrow Convertible in 1933; the same year that the company standardised hydraulic valve lifters and power assisted brakes.

Thoroughly revamped for the 1936 model-year, the Pierce Arrow range sat atop a new ‘super frame’ that boasted no fewer than five crossmembers plus a large cruciform brace. Visually updated with a narrower radiator grille and quad headlamps, the straight-eight and V12 models on offer could be had with a choice of wheelbase lengths and open or closed coachwork. Priced at $3,195 which was roughly twice the cost of a Cadillac Series 60 or over five times the cost of a Ford V8, the Pierce Arrow Model 1601 was powered by a 385 cu in (6.3 litre), 150hp straight-eight engine allied to three-speed synchromesh manual transmission complete with automatic overdrive and freewheeling. Marketed as ‘America’s finest motor car for America’s finest families’, Pierce Arrow sold just 787 cars during 1936.

According to a handwritten note on file, previous owner James D. Olson maintained that chassis 314394 acquired its current Roadster coachwork during 1956 courtesy of Marmom Automobiles of South Pasadena, California. Reputedly laid-up the following decade, the Pierce Arrow remained in the Golden State until being imported to the UK during September 2003. Acquired by its current registered keeper not long thereafter, he is understood to have spent some fifteen years and over £100,000 (including the purchase price) bringing the Model 1601 up to its current condition. As well as reportedly receiving attention to its engine, gearbox, axles, running gear, chassis, electrics and interior trim, ‘834 YUK’ has been sympathetically uprated with a Kenlowe fan, full flow oil filter and power steering. Much of the engine work was carried out by the respected Bedfordshire firm Mass Racing Ltd, while D.S. Thompsett of Cambridgeshire renewed the leather upholstery, weather gear (hood, sidescreens) and carpets etc. Valued for insurance purposes at £80,000 just last year, this rare Post Vintage Thoroughbred is worthy of close inspection. Offered for sale with V5C Registration Document and history file.

For more information, please contact:
Damian Jones
07855 493737


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