1922 Pierce-Arrow Series 33 Touring Sedan  Chassis no. 332157

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Lot 533
1922 Pierce-Arrow Series 33 Touring Sedan
Chassis no. 332157

US$ 120,000 - 150,000
£ 91,000 - 110,000
Amended
1922 Pierce-Arrow Series 33 Touring Sedan
Chassis no. 332157
Although Cadillac has for many years carried the prestige banner in the USA, it was not always so. Aside from the American Rolls-Royce, the ‘three P’s’ - Packard, Peerless and Pierce-Arrow - were always considered to represent the very best quality that the American industry could offer. Pierce-Arrow had started out in 1865 as Heinz, Pierce and Munschauer, and was best known for its household items, principally birdcages. In 1872, George N. Pierce bought a controlling interest, reorganising the firm as the George N Pierce Company. Bicycles were added to the product range and in 1900 an attempt was made to build a steam-powered automobile. Following the latter’s failure, a license to build the French de Dion engine was obtained and the first proper motor car completed in November 1900. Early in 1901 the English-born designer David Fergusson was recruited as Chief Engineer - a post he would occupy for the succeeding two decades - and it was he that was responsible for Pierce’s first production model – the single-cylinder Motorette. Two-cylinder Arrow and four-cylinder Great Arrow models followed in 1904.

At around this time it was decided to concentrate on making larger, more luxurious automobiles for the market’s upper echelons, and Pierce’s new policy got off to a flying start in 1905 when Percy Pierce (George’s son) won the first of the famous Glidden Tours driving a Great Arrow. Pierce cars claimed victory in the next four events, an unprecedented achievement. In 1907 the first six-cylinder model was introduced and in 1909 the marque and company names changed to Pierce-Arrow. That same year US President William Howard Taft ordered two Pierce-Arrows to be used for state occasions, thus honouring the company with the distinction of supplying the White House’s first official automobiles.

Pierce-Arrow’s most famous feature, the headlights cowled into the front wings, was designed in-house in 1913 and patented by Herbert M Dawley, and this advanced feature would characterise all models until the end of production in 1938. The firm pioneered the extensive use of aluminium, power-assisted braking and the introduction of hydraulic tappets, yet despite this willingness to embrace new technology, remained wedded to traditional styling and an exclusively six-cylinder range. With its main rivals increasingly offering multi-cylinder models, 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. A V12 joined the Eight in November 1931, but both Pierce-Arrow and Studebaker were finding life tough in the post-Wall Street Crash years, and when the latter filed for bankruptcy in 1933, Pierce-Arrow found itself independent once again. Despite the critical acclaim lavished on its futuristic Silver Arrow show car – five of which were sold costing $10,000 each – the firm was severely handicapped by the lack of a lower-price range, unlike its major rivals. Sales dwindled throughout the 1930s and the once great Pierce-Arrow folded in 1938.

Dating from Pierce-Arrow’s heyday, this restored sedan is powered by the famous ‘T’-head, twin-plug, six-cylinder engine, while other noteworthy features include nickel-plated fittings, tan leather upholstery and solid oak artillery wheels.

At the time of cataloguing it has yet to be substantiated, but this example has changed hands a number of times based on suggested provenance that this car was supplied new to Milton S. Hershey, founder of the eponymous chocolate manufacturing company of Pennsylvania and it is said that later on it was given to President Herbert Hoover and used at his daughter’s wedding. It is certainly known that the car has been subjected to some major restoration work, firstly we are told by the Imperial Palace in the 1960s, and more recently earlier this decade, with a frame off restoration finished in 2004. Today it presents exceptionally well.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that there is a restored trunk which also goes with this car, and will be forwarded to the successful purchaser at the seller’s expense.
1922 Pierce-Arrow Series 33 Touring Sedan  Chassis no. 332157
1922 Pierce-Arrow Series 33 Touring Sedan  Chassis no. 332157
1922 Pierce-Arrow Series 33 Touring Sedan  Chassis no. 332157
1922 Pierce-Arrow Series 33 Touring Sedan  Chassis no. 332157
1922 Pierce-Arrow Series 33 Touring Sedan  Chassis no. 332157
1922 Pierce-Arrow Series 33 Touring Sedan  Chassis no. 332157
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