1917 Pierce-Arrow 38-C-4 7-Passenger Touring
Chassis no. 38645
Engine no. C4-4183
415ci inline six-cylinder engine
4-speed manual transmission
Solid axle suspension with leaf springs
Rear-wheel mechanical drum brakes
*Renowned luxury made automobile
*Sporting touring bodywork
*Formerly in the Richard C. Paine Jr. Collection
*Offered from a Private European Museum Collection
The first Pierce automobiles were light Stanhopes designed by David Fergusson, who would be Pierce's chief engineer until 1921. The lightweight Pierces were a natural progression from Pierce's long experience building and marketing bicycles. Pierce's bicycle dealer network and distribution system distributed the earliest Pierce four-wheelers, giving the company a natural advantage over its competitors.
The first multi-cylinder Pierce appeared in 1903 and the four-cylinder Great Arrow followed in 1904. Three years later, Pierce entered the six-cylinder era that would so effectively define the company. The business was expanding so rapidly and its high quality standards required so much hand work that it outgrew its extensive existing facilities and in 1906 it erected a massive manufacturing facility that was for years the pride of Buffalo, New York.
In just five years the George N. Pierce Company had reached the pinnacle of automobile size, prestige, luxury, performance and cost. Two years later the company adopted the identity of its premier product, becoming the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company. From 1910 on Pierce-Arrow was exclusively powered by six-cylinder engines of 36, 48 and 66 horsepower.
The 38hp six was the smallest Pierce-Arrow offered. Its prices started at $4,300 in 1917 with catalog coachwork of which Pierce-Arrow cataloged fourteen different styles. Unusually among luxury marques at this time Pierce-Arrows were almost always delivered with Pierce-Arrow coachwork. The bodies built used proprietary technology from the Aluminum Company of America to cast its body parts in very thin 1/8" thick flanged aluminum panels which were lightweight, stiff, dent resistant bodywork. It was unique and helped ensure Pierce-Arrow customers' satisfaction with their automobiles.
Pierce-Arrow kept expanding the state of the art in manufacturing luxury automobiles, extensively testing, refining and adopting new materials, techniques and processes, while staying true to its determination to build the best automobiles possible and regardless of cost. In the process it earned commercial success, great loyalty from its dealers and clients and the admiration of its competitors.
The Motorcar Offered
This 1917 Pierce-Arrow 38-C Fourth Series Touring Car is not only an outstanding example of the unsurpassed work of the Pierce-Arrow company but also a marvelously preserved and complete piece of history. Finished in maroon with black fenders, black leather upholstery, black cloth top and a tan cloth top boot, it is lavishly equipped and wonderfully original. In addition to its opening windshield, divided front seat, wind wings, jump seats, folding footrest, luggage rack and trunk, dual spares strapped to the right running board, Klaxon electric horn and bulb horn clamped to the steering column it has the very unusual feature on Pierce-Arrows of this period of optional standalone headlights in brass bell enclosures rather than Pierce-Arrow's signature fender-mounted lights. Other than the radiator enclosure all the brightwork is brass.
The suspension is fitted with lever friction shock absorbers and 3/4 elliptical rear springs. The rear wheels have contracting band brakes. Like all Pierce-Arrows through 1920 it has right hand drive.
Inside the left front door pocket is a tool kit with screwdriver, pliers, starting crank and a set of open end wrenches much of which looks to be original to the car.
It was acquired by former owner Richard C. Paine Jr. in 1988 in a trade with a collector in Connecticut and appears to have had very little done to it over the years other than an old repaint, a top boot and rebuilt and revarnished wheels with replaced tires. The engine appears to have been out, worked on, mildly refreshed cosmetically and returned to an otherwise largely undisturbed engine compartment. The odometer shows 22,459 miles which may well be the only mileage it has covered. The upholstery on the rear seat and jump seats is hardly worn and even the front seat coverings are sound although all the leather will benefit from being carefully professionally treated to restore its luster and flexibility. The patina in the engine compartment, chassis and other working parts of the car are worth a look if only to see how sympathetic care can preserve even a car that gets used occasionally.
With over 70 brake horsepower the 1917 Pierce-Arrow 38-C-4 conceded little advantage to competitors outside its 38hp class such as the Packard Twin Six with 424 cubic inches and a 43hp ALAM rating. This superbly maintained and preserved example likewise concedes little to restored Pierce-Arrows. It is a lovely, highly desirable piece of history that will grace the most discriminating collection.
- Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.