1931 Pierce-Arrow Model 41Packard 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.
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2017
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....[continue reading]
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....[continue reading]
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....[continue reading]
This 1931 Pierce-Arrow was the first classic car to win Best of Show at Pebble Beach.....[continue reading]
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....[continue reading]
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-Arr....[continue reading]
Chassis Num: 3050251
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 r....[continue reading]
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