Sidney D. Waldon, a former Vice-President of Packard, designed this Hispano-Suiza inspired prototype vehicle in 1920. The conservative Pierce-Arrow management chose to stick with the firm's tried-and-true luxury style-large and traditional.
Waldon, an Air Corps veteran, had been an engineer for both Cadillac and Packard, and became Chief Planner for the Detroit Rapid Transit Commission during the early 1920s. During President Harding's administration he was selected to serve on a sub-committee of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which later became NASA.
The six-cylinder version of the Pierce-Arrow Model 38 was introduced in 1913 and would remain in production for a number of years accounting for many of the vehicles produced by Pierce-Arrow. The entire range of Pierce-Arrows were built with craftsmanship and a high level of quality. Their use and experimentation with aluminum throughout the years led to successful implementation resulting in lightweight bodies that were rigid and lacked vibration, buckling, or warping with excessive use or in extreme temperatures. The construction with the aluminum was a time consuming and expensive process and accounted for part of the hefty price tag of the vehicle.
In 1919, the Seven-Passenger Touring Model had a base price of $6,500 which was well above the industry average and one of the more expensive vehicles offered for sale. The Seven Passenger Suburban cost $5,000. For that price the buyer received a car that rested on a wheelbase that measured 142-inches and was powered by a six-cylinder engine that had dual-valve and dual ignition and displaced 414 cubic-inches. The result was 38 horsepower which was sent through the four-speed manual transmission to the rear wheels, which were also responsible for the mechanical braking. The Seven Passenger Touring Model had a wheelbase of 134 inches.