Sold for £42,750
(including buyers premium)
Registration No: 834 YUK
Chassis No: 314394
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.
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