In 1905, a Pierce Great Arrow was driven by Percy Pierce, the son of founder George N. Pierce, won the inaugural Glidden Tours. The company would claim the Glidden Trophy for the following four years.
The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company of Buffalo, New York, began building automboiles at the turn of the century, but had been in business since 1865 when it was established as Heinz, Pierce and Munschauer. Initially, the built and sold household items, including birdcages. George Norman Pierce bought out the other two principals of the company in 1872, and changed the name to the George N. Pierce Company. In 1896, bicycles were added to the product line.
The company began experimenting with automobiles in the late 1890s, including an attempt to build a steam-powered car under license from Overman. Its first single-cylinder, two-speed, no-reverse Motorette was built in 1901, and by 1903 it had produced a two-cylinder car called the Arrow. The Great Arrow followed in 1904, and would establish the company's reputation and the direction of future products. They were well built vehicles, durable, and expensive. The reliability was proven superior to its rivals on numerous occasions, including the Glidden Tour, a 350-mile race from New York City to Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Percy won the race in a Great Arrow, beating a field of thirty-three cars.
In 1908, the Pierce Motor Company was renamed as the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company.
The 1906 Pierce automobiles included a 1-cylinder Motorette Stanhope that had a wheelbase of 70-inches and sold for $900. The other model in the product lineup was the Great Arrow, available on either a 107- or 109-inch wheelbase platform, with prices that ranged from $4,000 to $6,250. Both wheelbase sizes were powered by a four-cylinder engine, while the smaller was rated at 28/32 horsepower while the larger used a more powerful 40/45 horsepower version. The larger of the two had seating for 7 or 8 passengers while the smaller version had body styles that accommodated 5 to 8 passengers.
Pierce-Arrow would add a six-cylinder model the following year, and by 1910 would focus solely on the six and dropped the four. A four-valve per cylinder T-head inline six (known as the Dual Valve Six) with three spark plugs per cylinder, was added in 1918. It was one of the only engines every built using a multi-valve flathead design.
In 1914, Pierce-Arrow moved the headlights from the traditional placement at the radiator's sides, to a flared housings molded into the front fenders of the car. This would become a styling hallmark for the company, and a feature that would distinguish a Pierce-Arrow from all other cars on the road.
The company would build automobiles for many years, enduring World War I, recessions, and the Great Depression. Its automobiles were status symbols and some of the most expensive and exclusive on the road. This exclusivity would be part of its downfall, which came in 1938, having weathered the height of the Great Depression only to be extinguished in its wake. Other luxury marques, like Packard, survived by offering a less expensive model. Cadillac was able to endure due to the vast resources of General Motors, including the popularity of the newly introduced LaSalle model. Pierce-Arrow remained steadfast, and as the pool of capable buyers dwindled, so did the company's sales, ultimately leading to its demise. by Daniel Vaughan | May 2020
Pierce-Arrow had been a motor car manufacturer for only four years when they produced what was regarded as one of the largest automobiles ever produced. When the top is raised, the car stands seven feet high - 'Great' Arrow indeed. This is the only....[continue reading]
Pierce-Arrow built its first single-cylinder Motorette in 1901 with an engine licensed from de Dion. In 1903, it produced a two-cylinder car named the Arrow, and a year later it built a larger, more luxurious car called the Great Arrow, which became ....[continue reading]
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