Barn discovery, fresh from long term ownership
1929 Pierce-Arrow Model 125 Dual Cowl Phaeton
Chassis no. 2005467
Based in Buffalo, New York State, Pierce built birdcages, ice boxes and bicycles before introducing its first petrol-driven automobile - the 3.5hp single-cylinder De Dion-powered Motorette - in 1901 (The Pierce-Arrow name was first applied to the company's twin-cylinder model in 1904). Within a few years the firm had switched its attention exclusively to the production of luxury cars and in 1908 became the Pierce Arrow Motor Car Company. Pierce-Arrow pioneered many technological developments, including servo-assisted braking and hydraulic tappets, while building some of the most prestigious motor cars ever to grace America's highways.
Some idea of the rapidity of Pierce-Arrow's rise to prominence may be gauged from the fact that as early as 1909 The White House ordered two for state occasions. From then onwards the name Pierce-Arrow would be synonymous with the ultimate in motoring luxury, ranking alongside Cadillac, Packard and Rolls-Royce. Royalty, Heads of State and countless celebrities were numbered among its clients, who including Emperor Hirohito of Japan; The Shah of Persia; King ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia; King Albert of Belgium; US Presidents Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft and Franklin Delano Roosevelt; John D Rockefeller; Orville Wright; Babe Ruth; and Ginger Rogers.
Clinging to traditional styling and handicapped by a range of sixes in an increasingly multi-cylinder marketplace, Pierce-Arrow saw its sales decline throughout the 1920s. In 1928 an alliance was forged with Studebaker, which viewed Pierce-Arrow's acquisition as a means of gaining entry to the luxury car market. A new range of straight-eights - already under development before Studebaker's arrival - was introduced and Pierce-Arrow sales doubled in 1929.
Built on the 133 inch wheelbase, this model 125 8-cylinder carries by far the most elegant of coachwork, being the Dual Cowl Phaeton, or as Pierce catalogued it the 'Four Passenger Touring with Tonneau Shield'. It is a supremely elegant design and is believed to have been fitted to a mere 70 of the year's production, which in total numbered 8,422 units.
The Pierce was unearthed by arch car sleuth Wayne Carini, of the television program 'Chasing Classic Cars'. Alerted to the possibility of the car's existence in Ohio, Wayne hot-footed it there this summer and was on site when the locks were broken on the garage in which it had resided since the 1950s. The garage revealed not only one of the country's most revered marques, but in its most desirable Dual Cowl form. Close inspection revealed that the car was in considerably complete order, bearing all the hallmarks of the brand from tell-tale 'arrowed' detail castings, to taillights, and of course the hooded head lamps and drum tail lamps. Examination of the interior reveals that the door panels and some of the original cross-hatched grained leather is still present, while one of the more intriguing finds was an ivory pistol on the front seat squab. Importantly, it carries the desirable feature of wire wheels.
Representing a fascinating and true 'barn discovery' the car could arguably be carefully preserved, or indeed form the basis for a full rebuild, either way it seems ostensibly complete making the process all the more straightforward.