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1931 Pierce-Arrow Model 41 news, pictures, specifications, and information

Convertible Sedan
Coachwork: LeBaron
Chassis Num: 3050251
 
Sold for $137,500 at 2011 Worldwide Auctioneers.
High bid of $145,000 at 2011 RM Auctions. (did not sell)
Packard was part of the 'the three P's', which was made up of two other companies, Peerless and Pierce-Arrow. Peerless failed in 1931 and Pierce-Arrow merged with Studebaker in 1928 and survived the Great Depression by building large, upper-class carriages through 1938, when the receivers were called in. Only Packard survived into the post-World War II era.

Pierce-Arrow began business by making birdcages in Buffalo, New York in 1865. At the time, it was known as Heinz, Pierce and Munschauer. The firm later dallied with iceboxes and kitchen items until the middle partner George Pierce bought out the other two members in 1872. In 1896, the company diversified into bicycles, at which point treasurer Charles Clifton joined the company and suggested building a steam car. An example was completed in 1900, though it was experimental and did not work. Clifton then suggested buying the French De Dion motor, and it powered the first Pierce Motorette later that year.

In 1901, British-born engineer David Fergusson joined the company and would remain for the next two decades. During that time, he developed the four-cylinder Great Arrow in 1904, which would win the Glidden Tour in 1905, driven by Pierce's son Percy. Fergusson was also responsible for the design of the company's first six-cylinder engine in 1907. In 1909, the company changed its name to Pierce-Arrow. In 1915, they sold their 12,000th car.

The early years were glorious for the company. They catered to the wealthy and their products were sought after for their reliability, mechanical ingenuity, and style. But as the years progressed, the company failed to keep pace with the changes of the market place. They clung to their past as time and technology continued to march on. By the 1920s, Packard had a Twin Six V-12 engine and Cadillac had a v-8. Pierce-Arrow continued with their six-cylinder engine, which was not enough. Buyers began turning to other marques.

In 1928, the Pierce-Arrow company was acquired by Albert Erskine of Studebaker through a stock transfer. If 90 percent of Pierce-Arrow stockholders would agree to the merger and sell their stock to Studebaker, Studebaker would invest $2 million in Pierce-Arrow. After some convincing, the stockholders agreed. The union was good for both companies as Studebaker got a luxury line and Pierce-Arrow received nationwide distribution.

A new straight-eight engine was soon introduced and the 1929 Pierce-Arrows went from the drawing board to the production line in a mere six months. Sales soared to 9,840, earning the company their best year ever. The following year - even with the stock market crash - sales remained strong with 6,916 units sold.

The top-of-the-line model for 1931 was the Model 41 which rode on a very large 147-inch platform. Coachbuilder LeBaron built five bodies for the Model 41, including a convertible sedan, a convertible victoria, a coupe, a limousine and a club sedan. LeBaron would finish the cars in primer 'in the white,' and customers would visit the Pierce-Arrow showroom and place the order there, choosing paint, trim and accessories. Pierce-Arrow would direct the coachbuilder, and a finished car would materialize at the dealership.

The Model 41 featured a single bar bumper, a deeper radiator shell, brightwork (300 pieces of stainless steel fitments) and the new 'bareheaded' archer hood ornament. The engine was impressive - it was smooth in operation, dynamically balanced, dynamometer tested and then stereoscopically analyzed for unwelcome noises.

Beginning in 1931, all Pierce-Arrows transmission were given free-wheeling which helped in both fuel economy and reduction in noise.

This example is a convertible sedan with coachwork by LeBaron. It is one of just 33 built over three years and is the oldest known of only four sold in 1931. It was purchased by the Browning Collection from James Weston of San Francisco in 1972 and restored in the 1990s in its colors of light and dark brown with orange pinstriping. It was bought from the Browning Estate in 2000 and shown at Pebble Beach in 2001 where it won a class award.

The car is well equipped with the kneeling archer hood ornament, a metal trunk, twin side-mount spares with contoured mirrors, Tilt-Ray headlamps, dual running boards, dual horns and an Arrowlite taillight. Inside, there are adjustable leather seats, and footrests for the rear passengers.

In 2011, the car was offered for sale at the Monterey auction in California presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $225,000 - $275,000. Bidding reached $145,000 but was not enough to satisfy the car's reserve. It would leave the auction unsold.

By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2011
Convertible Victoria
Coachwork: LeBaron
Chassis Num: 3050235
Engine Num: 325760
 
Sold for $385,000 at 2012 RM Auctions.
For more than three decades the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company of Buffalo, New York, was among the most respected and renowned automakers in America. The company responsible for producing the grandest of luxury cars began by building bird cages. From household products, the company turned to bicycles and then to automobiles shortly after the turn of the 20th century. Winning several Glidden Tours in a row solidified the company's reputation for engineering excellence.

Years later, including a merger and subsequent divorce with Studebaker, all was not well at Pierce-Arrow. Unlike Cadillac and packard who elected to add lower priced models to its lines in order to combat the effects of the Great Depression, Pierce-Arrow refused to compromise on its luxury product. The company struggled for just a few more years unfortunately closing its doors in 1938.

There were approximately 25 LeBaron bodies of various open and closed configuration were ordered by Pierce-Arrow in all. They were adapted and mounted to their respective chassis from 1931 to 1933 as required, with one of them utilized in 1934. It is believed that 13 known survivors of the group are in existence today. Only one Convertible Victoria is known to exist, and it may have been the sole example originally produced.

This Pierce-Arrow Convertible Victoria is built on the long wheelbase Model 41 chassis. This car was displayed at the New York Auto Show in 1931 at the opening of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The Model 41 was the grandest model built by Pierce-Arrow that year, and very few remain today. It was photographed at the time by Margaret Bourke White, who produced a photo journal for Pierce-Arrow. She was the first woman photographer hired by a major automotive manufacturer.

Allen Bittner of PA sold the car in 1966 to Edmund Gibs, of Wausheka, Wisconsin. In 1969, Dr. Brunemeier of Reading, California acquired the Pierce. At the time the car was powered by a Model 43 engine. Dr. Brunemeir retained the car until 1984, when Joseph Gazza of Huntington, New York purchased it. In 2001, Tom Williams of Los Altos, California purchased it, later selling it to the present owners.

The car was treated to a restoration and shown at the 2008 edition of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where it earned Best in Class honors. At the Pierce-Arrow Society National Meet the following year, held in Temecula, California, it was awarded the Bernard J.Weis Award for the Most Authentic Restoration, which is the top national-level award available from the Pierce-Arrow Society. At the 2012 Concours d'Elegance of the Eastern United States, it was awarded Best in Class and Best in Show.

In 2012, this car was offered for sale by RM Auctions at their Monterey, CA sale. The car was estimated to sell for $425,000 - $525,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $385,000 inclusive of buyer's premium.
Convertible Sedan
Coachwork: LeBaron
 
This Pierce-Arrow was restored by famed race driver Phil Hill and his brother. Phil brought it to the 1955 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and won Best of Show, a pleasant distraction while he participated in the famous Pebble Beach Road Races. This was the first year that a 'classic' car garnered the Concours' coveted trophy, and it set a precedent in that regard; the Concours soon shifted from a display of new to classic cars. This car has been in the Hill family for the whole of its 79 years and is even kept in the same garage. Phil remembered when the car was delivered to his family and he later drove it while in college. The convertible top can be opened over the front seat area only, transforming the vehicle into an elegant town car.
Sport Sedan
Coachwork: LeBaron
 
The intimate styling of the close-coupled coachwork built on Pierce-Arrow's longest chassis of 147 inches combined to make this streamlined vee-windshield LeBaron Sport Sedan a breathtaking offering in 1931. This car, when owned and restored by famed collector Bill Harrah, was awarded Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 1963. Its wonderful condition today is a tribute to the quality of that 47-year-old restoration.
Convertible Sedan
Coachwork: LeBaron
 
This 1931 Pierce-Arrow was the first classic car to win Best of Show at Pebble Beach.

The car has been in Phil Hill's family the whole of its sixty-nine years, always residing in exactly the same garage. 'I still remember the day it was delivered' says Hill, who was then nearly four. 'It was sensational when it was brand new.' It remains so today.

Hill, who won three of the seven Pebble Beach Road Races and went on to become America's first World Drivers Champion, learned to drive in this very car. He later drove it to and from college. And later still, he restored it from the ground up and drove it to the 1955 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

'Restoring it was a labor of love,' Hill says. He didn't expect the car to win at the Concours, in fact, he doubted its welcome there. Prior to 1955, Best of Show had always gone to a car not long off the showroom floor; modern cars were clearly favored. A few valued antiques were also exhibited, but Hill's car was neither new nor old. The term 'classic' had just been introduced as a specific reference to cars of the post-antique, prewar era, but the term was little known and little accepted. Classis then were more often considered tow cars. Hill's restoration of this Pierce-Arrow was most certainly one of the first complete restorations of a classic car.

When Hill drove the Pierce onto the lawn of The Lodge at Pebble Beach, it drew immediate debate. A few strong-minded judges saw beyond category to quality; and the car won out. Hill had to rush over from working on his race car to accept the award.

Over the past forty-five years, Hills had put a number of 'flogged miles' on the car. He takes it out several times annually - often for tours and rallyes -and he pushes it well above seventy. The car and its restoration have withstood the test of time. The top was replaced about four years back, and for this, its fourth appearance at Pebble Beach. Hill retouched some of the paint. With these two exceptions, the car remains as Hills restored it - much as it was when new.
Limousine
Coachwork: Willoughby
 
This Pierce-Arrow Model 41 Limousine was custom-built for Fred Beebe of Cape Cod, MA, an eighty-year-old multi-millionaire and life-long bachelor who lived with his brother and sister at their vast family estate, actually ordered two nearly identical vehicle; one in blue and one in red.

Mr. Beebe ordered this car to be just like his 1913 Pierce-Arrow, both in appearance and appointments, and he specified very detailed measurements and requirements. It was ordered without Pierce-Arrow's most recognizable feature - headlights which flare into the fenders - but was given traditional headlights. It was also ordered with brass hardware throughout, carriage lamps, a roof rack, foot warmer, ceiling netting to accommodate top hats, and two passenger-to-chauffeur telephones. Another unique feature was the windshield wipers that run from side-to-side.

The car was purchased directly from Mr. Beebe's family and had always been chauffeur-driven and maintained, and remains in its unrestored, original condition today.

The car carried an original factory price of $9500 and rests on a 147-inch wheelbase. Powering the car is an 8-cylinder engine rated at 132 horsepower.

By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2011
Sport Sedan
Coachwork: LeBaron
 
In 1931, Pierce-Arrow was in its third year of 'marriage' with Studebaker, and the companies were progressing well together. The company's ultimate, top-of-the-line luxury sedan was the Pierce-Arrow LeBaron sports sedan, call club sedan in Pierce-Arrow's lexicon, offered at $5,375, the price of a decent home at the time. LeBaron was originally formed by Ray Dietrich of Dietrich Inc Coachbuilders. With Dietrich's design influence, V-windsheilds, recessed dashboard and long hood, this body is the forerunner of the 1932 to 1934 V-windsheild custom Dietrichs on the 147-inch wheelbase. The trend in luxury cars of the early 1930s was the series custom model, a small number of 10 to 25 or so of a single bold individually trimmed.

This car, a Model 41 with an aluminum body, is one of only 5 Sport Sedans built by LeBaron on Pierce-Arrow's 147-inch wheelbase. The stories history of Pierce Arrow began with the founding in 1865 in Buffalo, NY of Heinz, Pierce and Munschauer. It was a manufacturing company that crafted an eclectic mix of products from ice boxes and gilded birdcages to bathtubs and bicycles.

In 1872 George Pierce bought out his partners and changed the name to George N. Pierce Company. His first car was built in 1901 and in 1903 Pierce introduced the Arrow, a bigger car. This led to the great Arrow with cast aluminum body panels on a 93-inch wheelbase and helped build Pierce's sterling reputation by winning the first five prestigious Glidden Tours.

Beginning in 1909, Pierce-Arrow became known as the car of Presidents when William H. Taft became the first President to use an automobile for official occasions. This practice continued until the last Pierces were ordered in 1935.

In its day, the name Pierce-Arrow was renowned as one of the most recognized and respected marques in the industry. Pierce-Arrows could be found wherever the rich and powerful gathered to work or play. In addition to transport for U.S. Presidents, Pierce-Arrow sold cars to the royal families of Japan, Persia (modern-day Iran), Saudi Arabia, Greece, and Belgium. Scores of congressmen, ambassadors, governors, businessmen, and entertainers chose Pierce-Arrows for their transportation as well.
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38
Model 36
Model 43
Model 48
Model 66
Model 80/81
Series 33
Twelve

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