1909 Pierce 4-Cylinder
Lot 837
Two owners from new,1909 Pierce Four
Sold for US$ 161,000 inc. premium
Lot Details
Two owners from new
1909 Pierce Four
America’s first four-cylinder motorcycle, the Pierce was manufactured by the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company at its factory in Buffalo, New York. Although inspired by the Belgian FN four, one of which Percy Pierce had brought to the USA in 1908, the Pierce differed in detail design, its engine eschewing the FN’s ‘atmospheric’ inlet valves in favor of mechanical side valves in ‘T-head’ configuration, a arrangement FN themselves would later use. According to its makers the Pierce would be, ‘Vibrationless, give motor car comfort and travel comfortably from a mere walking pace up to the speed of the motor car.’ It was not just its multi-cylinder engine that made the Pierce unusual; the frame too was novel, being constructed from 3½”-diameter steel tubes that housed fuel and oil, and, like the FN, final drive was by shaft. Early models employed direct drive, but from 1910 onwards a two-speed gearbox was standardized. Fast and well made, the Pierce soon had a string of city-to-city endurance race wins to its credit. At the time of its motorcycle’s launch in 1909, Pierce-Arrow was embarking on a policy of building luxury cars only, many of which would come to be regarded as among America’s finest. This approach was reflected in the quality, and cost, of the Pierce motorcycle and would ultimately lead to its downfall. Priced at $325 in 1909, it cost $400 when production ceased in 1913, at which time the basic Ford Model T was priced at $525.

One of the most exciting restoration projects we have seen in many years, this Pierce Four is in remarkably original, unrestored and unmolested condition having, remarkably, enjoyed only two owners from new. Put into dry barn storage in 1932, it is presented in ‘barn fresh’ condition, having only recently been removed from that barn, its home for the past 75 years.

Saleroom notices

  • Lot 837, a 1910 Pierce Four, is incorrectly cataloged as a model year 1909. The engine number for lot 837 is 1590.
Activities
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