Pierce Arrow Series 33
The Pierce-Arrow Series 33 was produced from 1921 through 1926. The cars were powered by a six-cylinder 'L'-head engine that produced over 70 horsepower. Both the engine and the design were new for Pierce-Arrow, being introduced in the post-World War I era. The cars were elegant and stately, with a price tag that rivaled other luxury marques of their day. Their high sticker price meant these were exclusive machines finished with all of the luxury amenities available.
The six-cylinder engine had a dual-valve setup, integrated by Pierce-Arrow's chief engineer David Fergusson. The design of the engine was influenced by European techniques and its incorporation into an American engine is a rarity. The dual valves resulted in an increase in performance and better fuel economy. The engine was smooth, reliable, and durable, producing adequate horsepower to carry the large and stately bodies. With the large bodies and powerful engines, adequate brakes were required. The Series 33 was among the first Pierce-Arrows to be given four-wheel mechanical brakes. This setup was utilized over the hydraulic-brake configuration, as the company viewed the hydraulic brakes as less reliable and prone to fluid leaks.
In front of the car are the unique headlight design, which sticks up and bulged out from the fenders. As the years progressed, the designs altered slightly.
Pierce-Arrow was a strong believer in its six-cylinder engine while other manufacturers were using more powerful and tunable eight-cylinder engines. The Pierce-Arrow design did not change drastically during the 1920s, another potential reason for their ultimate demise. The onset of the Great Depression and problems with management prompted a merger with Studebaker. A short time later the Pierce-Arrows were equipped with eight-cylinder engines which helped stimulate sales. By the early 1930s, a 12-cylinder could be found in the Pierce-Arrows. Their engines were strong and powerful, capturing over 13-speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
In the modern era, around 50 examples of the Series 33 have survived the test of time.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2007