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The Amelia Island Auction / 1931 Pierce-Arrow Model 42 Touring Phaeton Chassis no. 2525462 Engine no. 325689

Lot 254
1931 Pierce-Arrow Model 42 Touring Phaeton
3 March 2022, 13:00 EST
Fernandina Beach Golf Club

Sold for US$112,000 inc. premium

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1931 Pierce-Arrow Model 42 Touring Phaeton
Chassis no. 2525462
Engine no. 325689

366ci L-Head Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
Single Updraft Stromberg Carburetor
125bhp at 3,000rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Front and Rear Leaf Spring Suspension
4-Wheel Bendix Mechanical Drum Brakes

*Prominent open Pierce-Arrow
*Powered by the large Pierce 8-cylinder engine
*Photographic record of multi-year restoration on file
*Ready to show or tour


Founded in 1901, 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, including Emperor Hirohito of Japan; the Shah of Persia; King ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia; King Albert of Belgium; American Presidents Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft and Franklin Delano Roosevelt; John D Rockefeller; Orville Wright; Babe Ruth and Ginger Rogers. Woodrow Wilson would famously be chauffeured around Washington, DC in the Presidential Pierce, sitting in the back seat contemplating issues of state, with no one to barge into the Oval Office and interrupt him.

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 into the luxury car market. A new range of straight-eights was introduced, and Pierce-Arrow sales doubled in 1929.

Although the 1931 Pierce-Arrows appeared little changed from the previous year's models, the chassis frames were new and were built in three ranges, offering a choice of three engine displacements and four wheelbase lengths. The Model 42 was the large Pierce-Arrow model and was powered by the mighty, nine-bearing 5,997 cc straight-eight engine that marked the company's departure from its six-cylinder traditions.


As one of the famous three Ps – the others being Packard and Peerless, Pierce Arrow was renowned for understated good taste, unquestioned luxury without ostentation, and a bank-vault like build quality. These qualities made Pierce cars outlast all but their most expensive competitors. And then of course there were the signature fender-mounted headlights, whereby an on-coming Pierce could always be identified from a distance.

This immaculate example of the 1930s Pierce-Arrow is presented in exceptional order having benefited from a multi-year refurbishment, and from more than 2 decades of ownership. The current owners acquired the Pierce-Arrow in December 2000. Tracing history back from that point, the seller then was one Hollis G. 'Duke' Davenport, who according to the Pierce-Arrow Society had acquired the car from Owen Stevens, who in turn had purchased the car from a G. Lagueux of Quebec in Canada, sadly, the dates of each transaction are not recorded.

To judge from photos at the time of acquisition, the Pierce appeared to be very much original and complete, with nice detail features such as its secondary windshield, albeit the body was painted in a rather garish 'bumblebee' two tone yellow and black. After a few years, they elected to restore the car and entrusted it to a well-known local restorer, the late Al Morkunas at The Motorcar Co. of Staunton, Virginia, an expert on the marque who had restored and maintained the Woodrow Wilson Pierce-Arrow for the Presidential Library and Museum.

Over the course of a number of years, a thorough restoration was undertaken, the car was stripped entirely, chassis, body, engine, running gear etc. All of which is recorded in a series of photographs taken during the arduous process. As the finishing touches were made, a light green paint scheme was chosen, and corresponded with a tan leather interior, both of which were completed to an exceptionally high standard. Completed in 2013, all told the seller reports that the cost of the restoration approached $200,000, although they did not retain the invoices for it. Today, the Pierce remains in exceptional condition, with recent maintenance including check over of the fuel system and replacement of carburetor gaskets.

A wonderful example of this high caliber American Classic brand.

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