1918 Pierce-Arrow Model 66 A-4

Don Lea Touring
Coachwork: Don Lee Coach & Bodyworks
Pierce-Arrow was an early American automobile manufacturer in Buffalo, New York, in business from 1901 to 1938. Like many of the earliest American automobile manufactures the Pierce Arrow company originally built bicycles before building automobiles.

The 66A-4 model was a favorite of conservative and wealthy patrons. Priced between $5,000 and $8,000 dollars, it was very expensive for its time and did not survive the economic hardships of the Great Depression. This particular car was delivered as a chassis to Don Lee Coach & Body Works in Los Angeles, which specialized in custom bodies for special clients. The famous silent movie comedian Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle was its first owner and was known to love driving his open touring car around Hollywood.

This 1919 Pierce-Arrow Model 66 A-4 Tourer is the most famous Pierce-Arrow ever manufactured. It is known as the 'Arbuckle Pierce-Arrow.' The famous silent film star, Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, had the car custom built to his liking in 1919, at the height of his film career. It was delivered to Don Lee Coachworks in Los Angeles, California, where an up and coming young designer by the name of Harley Earl designed the unique body. Harley Earl would become perhaps the most famous designer in the history of the automobile. Earl later became internationally famous as the Chief Designer for General Motors. This unique body design was large and bold - much like its owner - and surely attracted attention when it was driven around the streets of Hollywood during the heyday of the silent film star's career. It reportedly cost the film star $32,000. From the unique blue body to the all-white tires, the car mirrors the eccentric character of the famous Hollywood actor. The large 825 cubic-inch, six-cylinder 66A-4 Pierce-Arrow chassis was fitted with this custom body by Don Lee Studios of Los Angeles. The head designer, Harley Earl. Being a Southern California car, it was not fitted with either windshield wipers or side curtains for inclement weather. This is truly a fair weather, Hollywood-type automobile that is as glamorous today as it was when it was built in 1919.

The car stands 7 feet tall at the highest point, rides on 36-inch wheels and tires, and weighs almost 7,000 pounds.
7-Passenger Touring
Chassis Num: 67200
Engine Num: 67200
Few car companies enjoyed the same success over the same long period that Pierce-Arrow did before 1920. In 1918, Pierce-Arrow increased its stake as the premier luxury American carmaker by introducing a new 66 horsepower engine. It retained the same 825 cubic-inch displacement and 6-cylidners as prior models, but increased the power with 4 valves per cylinder. The 'dual-valve 66' was also the first American car to feature four-wheel brakes. Only four prototype cars were built with this new engine and were reportedly sent to dealers as demonstrators. This 7 passenger touring is the only surviving example of the four dual-valve 66 Prototypes.
The Pierce-Arrow Model 66 was one of the pinnacles of American design and craftsmanship of the early Twentieth century. Just like all Pierce-Arrows since 1910, they were powered by a six-cylinder engine. Originally they had a bore of 5.25-inches and a stroke of 5.5-inches giving it 714 cubic-inches of displacement. By 1913 it had grown to have a bore of 5-inches and a stroke of 7-inches. The engine displaced 825 cubic-inches and was double the size of many of its competitors. At 1600 RPM's, the engine was capable of producing 60 horsepower. This means the Type 66 was not only an elegant automobile, it was also a very fast machine. It is believed that the Type 66 had the largest displacement engine ever to power a production automobile. It had 44 more cubic-inches than the Bugatti Type 41 Royale. With an engine of this magnitude, it consumed lots of fuel. The miles-per-gallon was around 8.5, meaning the 36 gallon fuel tank was good for nearly 300 miles. This often posed problems for the drivers, as gas stations were not always readily available.

Pierce-Arrow placed this mammoth engine in a chassis that measured 147.5-inches. It was a suitable platform for many coachbuilders to work their trade. Pierce-Arrow was among the first to use cast aluminum panels in their bodywork, reducing the overall weight of the vehicle while maintaining a high degree of structural rigidity and strength.

In 1914 an electric starter was added. A pressurized fuel delivery system using an engine-operated air pump to pressurize the tank appeared in 1915.

In 1916 Pierce-Arrow introduced their final iteration of the Model 66, the Series 4. This would remain in production until 1918.

From 1910 through 1918, there were 1250 examples of the Model 66 produced. It is believed that around fourteen have survived in modern time and only seven are the Model 66 A-4 series.
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007
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