The origins of the Pierce-Arrow company began with birdcage designs and household items. Established in 1865 as Heinz, Pierce, and Munschauer, George Norman Pierce bought out the other two principals of the company in 18972 and changed the name to the George N. Pierce Company. Bicycles were added to the product line in 1896 and by 1901 were building single-cylinder, two-speed, Moterette's. In 1903, they produced a two-cylinder car called the Arrow, followed by a larger and more luxurious version the following year, dubbed the Great Arrow. They won the Glidden Tour in 1905, and in 1908 the company was renamed as the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company.
Pierce's son Percy had driven a four-cylinder Great Arrow to victory in the inaugural 1905 Glidden Tour, and Pierces would take the Glidden trophy for the next four events. The words 'Pierce' and 'Arrow' became intertwined in the public eye that both car and company became 'Pierce-Arrow.' By this point in history, pricing for the Pierce-Arrows ranged from $3,050 to $7,200 and was among the most expensive and prestigious vehicles on the road, having joined Packard and Peerless in comprising the 'Three Ps' of luxury American motor manufacture.
The engineering of the early Pierce cars was principally the work of a British-born engineer of Scots ancestry, David Fergusson. He had joined Pierce in 1901 and created the design for the company's Motorette and Arrow models. In 1905, he and manufacturing vice-president Henry May toured Europe, visiting automobile factories and studying design trends and manufacturing methods. They observed that many manufacturers of large and luxurious automobiles had moved to six-cylinder cars. Following the trend, Pierce-Arrow utilized six-cylinder power for the next 15 years.
Pierce introduced its first six-cylinder model in 1907, called the Model 65-Q. It used a T-head configuration, just like the fours that preceded it, with a 648 cubic-inch displacement. The engine was installed in a 135-inch wheelbase that was nearly a foot longer than the largest four-cylinder model, and a fully clothed example weighed approximately 4,000 pounds. With the introduction of the 65-Q, Pierce moved upmarket and its pool of capable buyers became smaller, thus approximately 100 examples were built, as opposed to 900 fours. In 1908 the company added a smaller, 40 horsepower six, the 40-S, and another derived from the 24-horsepower four-cylinder 24-T. The final Pierce four-cylinder models were built in 1909. The following year, the Pierce lineup included three sixes comprised of the 36-UU (wheelbase of 119 and 125 inches), the 48-SS (128- and 134-inches), and the Model 66-QQ (133 or 140-inch chassis). Successive models of 38, 48, and 66 horsepower would comprise the Pierce catalog through 1918.
Within a short period of time, the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Co. of Buffalo, New York had become renowned as the most prestigious supplier of six-cylinder cars in the United States. Through Avant-grade engineering, superb craftsmanship, and the most innovative engineers in the auto-industry, the Pierce-Arrows were the first to employ power steering, power braking, hydraulic tappets and light alloy in their construction. Despite the company typically at the forefront of technology and design, they clung to right-hand steering until 1920.
In 1910 the company introduced the Model 66, named for its rated horsepower. The bore measured 5.25 inches and the stroke of 5.5 inches, giving it a displacement of 714 cubic-inches. Production of these hand-built vehicles lasted until 1918 with 1,250 examples produced. They were powerful, stately, and the quintessential embodiment of opulence and luxury. The 1911 and 1912 Pierce models were largely carryovers of the prior 1910 line. 1913 brought significant changes including the hallmark fender-mounted headlamps. The 714 cubic-inch powerplant grew even larger to 824.7 cubic-inches with horsepower increasing to nearly 100 hp, however, the Model 66 designation remained. The engine, comprised of three paired castings equated to six cylinders, was backed by a four-speed manual transmission with braking controlled by two-wheel mechanical drums. The suspension had a solid axle in the front with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and a live axle in the back with three-quarter elliptical leaf springs. The longer stroke and added horsepower gave the Model 66 (albeit Model 66A) a top speed of 80 miles per hour. The wheelbase grew to 147.5 inches and would continue to use this platform for the remainder of the model's lifespan.
Herbert M. Dawley joined Pierce in 1912 and was responsible for the fender-mounted headlamps. This setup provided greater illumination in both width and distance. Catering to nearly every customer demand and desire, Pierce-Arrow continued to offer conventional lights.
The interior featured a comprehensive set of dials and instrumentation including a Stewart-Warner clock with second hand, a Warner Auto-Meter (odometer), and a drum speedometer on top, with oil and gasoline gauges and a Westinghouse voltmeter below. A temperature gauge was located in the toeboard. To the right of the driver were the shift and brake levers. A horn bulb was attached to the steering column and operated a Tally-O-Horn in the engine compartment.
Pierce-Arrow pioneered thin cast aluminum panel work in its bodies, making them lighter and stronger than the wooden bodies or metal paneled wooden frameworks used by competitors. An electric starter was added in 1914 and pressurized fuel delivery (using an engine-operated air pump to pressurize the fuel tank) in 1915.
In 1916, the final Model 66 Series 4 was introduced and continued in production through 1918. A number of lightweight aluminum parts were used in the engine which had dual ignition from both a coil-and-battery system and a magneto. The large engine consumed a gallon of fuel every 8.5 miles, and with the 36-gallon gas tank, the Model 66 had a range of nearly 300 miles.
For many years, the Pierce-Arrow Model 66 was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest engine ever installed to a passenger vehicle.
Currently only 14 examples of the Model 66 remain with seven of those being the Model 66 A-4 series. by Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2020
Related Reading : Pierce-Arrow Model 66 History
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.... Continue Reading >>
David Fergusson, a British-born engineer of Scots ancestry, was the individual responsible for the early work of the Pierce automobiles. He had joined Pierce in 1901 working with the company to design the Motorette and Arrow models. He became the com....[continue reading]
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