1911 Pierce-Arrow Model 36
The Pierce automobiles were very durable and popular with many professionals including physicians who needed reliable transportation. When Pierce began production they used a French-built De Dion-Bouton engine and later switched to a design of their own making.
In 1909 the company changed its name to Pierce-Arrow, following the success of the Great Arrow models which had been produced from 1904 through 1908. The high-quality luxury cars continued and were purchased by those who had wealth and style.
By 1912 there were three six-cylinder models offered. The entry Model 36 Runabout was powered by a 36-horsepower engine and had an extra 'mother-in-law' seat, also known as a 'dickey'. The second option was the 48-horsepower engine while the top of the line engine was the 66-horsepower option.
There were 1,453 vehicle produced in 1912 by Pierce-Arrow. Its tail lamps and hexagon-shaped side were courtesy of Robert H. Dawley. Dawley had been working with Pierce-Arrow for a number of years and was responsible for many of its exquisite and prominent features.
The average salary in 1912 was nearly $600. With the Model 36 costing nearly $4000, these vehicles were for select clientele.By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2006
Pierce Arrow actually evolved from a manufacturing firm that originally made birdcages. The predecessor company - Heintz, Pierce, and Munschauer - was founded in 1865 in Buffalo, New York. In 1872, the company was re-organized and partner George N. Pierce bought controlling interest, and by 1896 it became one of the largest producers of bicycles in America.
The company soon became interested in the automobile manufacturing and built its first prototype - a steam powered automobile - in 1900. After doing further research, the company decided to use a gasoline engine and built two gasoline powered automobiles in 1901. The first automobiles were simply called Pierce and were small one-cylinder vehicles.
The first Pierce to use the Arrow name as its model designation appeared in 1903. By 1907, the company was producing a wide variety of four- and six-cylinder vehicles and was becoming known as one of the leading manufacturers of luxury automobiles in America.
In 1911, the Pierce Arrow Company offered three models - a Model 36, a Model 48 and a Model 66. This example is the Model 36, powered by a six-cylinder, 36 horsepower engine. It features cast aluminum fenders, body panels, crankcase and transmission case. The transmission offers four gears. Original sale price was $4,000. Known as the Miniature Tonneau because it was smaller than the standard touring car, it was one of the five body styles offered.
This car was discovered behind a barn in Kansas were it had been used as a tractor. Pierce-Arrow also produced trucks and other automobile frames were converted to railroad engines and fire engine chassis later in their lives. This was a true testament to the durability of the frame and engine.
President Taft became the first United States President to own an automobile. He ordered two Pierce-Arrows for the White House, a brougham and a landaulette. He also ordered a Baker Electric and a White Steamer. Presidents continued to order Pierce-Arrows until the company went out of business. Several Presidents would go on to purchase their official cars when they left office. A sadder connection to the presidency related to the location of the Pierce-Arrow factory in Buffalo, New York. The site had previously been the location of the 1901 Pan American Exposition, where President McKinley was assassinated.
The Pierce-Arrow automobile was a status symbol owned by many Hollywood stars, corporate tycoons and royalty. In 1909, U.S. President William Howard Taft ordered two Pierce-Arrows to be used for stat occasions; these were the first official automobiles of the White House. By 1911, the Pierce-Arrow car company offered three models: a Model 36, a Model 48 and a Model 66. This example is the Model 36, and it is powered by a six-cylinder, 36 horsepower engine. The body style, one of five styles then offered, was known as the Miniature Tonneau because it was smaller than the standard touring model. This car has been owned by the same family since 1946.
Pierce-Arrow was a leading luxury car throughout its existence, competing head-on with Packard. The company started in 1878 as the George N. Pierce Co., making bicycles. Its first car, introduced in 1901, was a small, 1-cylinder carriage. The cars became progressively larger and more powerful. The Arrow was introduced in 1903 and the Great Arrow in 1904. The Great Arrow was among the largest and most expensive cars at the time, selling for $4,000 - equivalent to $100,000 today. It was also a good performer and reliable, winning the first five Glidden Tours from 1905 through 1909.
In 1908 the company's name was changed to Pierce-Arrow; by 1910 three distinct models were made, the 36, 48 and 66. This 1911 model 36 is the smallest, the most nimble and easiest to drive of the three. It was restored in the 1980s and was owned by noted Pierce-Arrow expert Dr. Leo Parnagian for 23 years.
Pierce-Arrow continued to make fine luxury cars until 1938. Studebaker purchased the company in 1928 which gave it more financial support, but it suffered from declining sales as did all expensive cars of the era due to the Great Depression. New models were introduced in 1936, but these were not enough to save the company and it declared bankruptcy.