This radical, aerodynamic design by Philip O. Wright and built by Studebaker in South Bend, Indiana was produced for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. This example is one of five examples built, of which only three survive. The original price was $10,000 and its wide-angle V-12 was the first American engine with hydraulic tappets.
The Pierce-Arrow Company descended from Heintz, Pierce, and Munschauer in Buffalo, New York. It was founded in 1865 and manufactured bird cages and iceboxes. In 1896, George N. Pierce took control of the firm and began producing bicycles. With its elegant styling, dignified advertising, and respectable dealers, the Pierce-Arrow was the choice of wealthy owners and rivaled Packard for prestige. It pioneered the extensive use of aluminum, including cast-aluminum bodies. They were also the first automaker to feature hydraulic valve operation. Unfortunately, the conservative company clung to six-cylinder engines long after rivals Packard and Cadillac introduced V-8s.
By 1926 Pierce had been forced to merge with Studebaker and move to their headquarters in South Bend, Indiana. Hoping to stimulate sales, five hand-built concept cars, designed by Ralph Roberts and called Silver Arrows, were assembled in South Bend. At the Chicago Century of Progress International exposition in 1933 - and competing with Duesenberg's 'Twenty Grand' and Packards 'Car of the Dome' - the Silver Arrow upstaged them all with its integrated body and fenders, and tapered, aircraft-like shape.
The Silver-Arrow pioneered modern trends such as the rounded door openings, enveloped front fenders, low roofline, and flat body sides that concealed twin spare tires. With a marketplace that was flooded with a sea of boxy sedans, the sleek showcar was as modern as tomorrow.
Pierce-Arrow, best remembered for the Silver Arrow, went under in mid-1938.Also photographed at :