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 Pierce-Arrow Model 48 photo

1915 Pierce-Arrow Model 48

History

A win on Sunday meant strong sales on Monday. This was a motto many manufacturers believed in and thus, many automakers actively raced their cars to promote its capabilities. Pierce-Arrow did the same; to prove the cars durability and reliability, the mighty Pierce-Arrow was entered in the famed Glidden Tours. From 1905 through 1909, it won all five events and, except for one outing, earned perfect scores in all of them. The company handled all aspects of construction, including the coachwork, for their vehicles. This was highly unusual for the time, but Pierce-Arrow wanted to ensure high quality and maintain high standards on all facets of construction and assembly. They worked closely with their Buffalo, New York neighbor Aluminum Company of America to perfect casting techniques which produced cast-aluminum body panels as thin as 1/8-inch. This made them lightweight yet very strong.

Pierce-Arrow established their own Art Department, long before GM recruited Harley Earl to create their 'Art and Colour Department.' Herbert Dawley designed the bodies for the Pierce-Arrow automobiles and worked closely with the clientele to ensure proper colors, materials, and accessories were fitted to the vehicles.

Another venue the company explored for promoting their business was 'image.' They sought the business of prominent figures, including the White House where ever President from William Howard Taft through Franklin Delano Roosevelt rode in a Pierce-Arrow. Many famous movie stars of the time preferred the Pierce-Arrow, such as Mary Pickford, Tom Mix, and Gloria Swanson. This publicity generated a wealth of business for the company and its reputation continued to soar.

In 1906, Pierce-Arrow constructed an integrated factory in Buffalo that covered 1.5 million square feet on the site of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition.

In 1913, the Pierce-Arrow Company patented the design of 'headlights faired into the tops of the front fenders.' This improved the effectiveness of the headlamps and was first seen on a Model 48-B2.

The Model 48 was available in two versions, the B and D. The D versions were equipped with a Disco acetylene self-starting system.

The Pierce-Arrow Model 48 was powered by a 515 cubic-inch, T-head, inline six-cylinder, side-valve engine that produced 48.6 calculated ALAM horsepower. Its cylinders were cast in three pairs and featured two vertical plugs per cylinder. Half of the plugs connected to a coil while the other six were connected to a magnet. A switch gave the driver the ability to select either or both. The engine did not have a hand crank; there was an air-starting device which used compressed air stored in a tank to operate a small piston engine geared to the flywheel. Once the engine was started, the driver would reverse the valve, and the air-engine became a pump which recharged the tank.

During the production lifespan of the Model 48B, a total of 825 examples were created, and each carried a price tag that ranged from $4,850 - $6,300 depending on body-style and coachwork. There were more examples of the Model 48B produced than their lower-priced companion car, the Model 38C, by 209 units.

The Model 48 rested on a platform that had a wheelbase that measured nearly 12 feet. Braking was mechanical system that took some force to operate. Wooden artillery style wheels were at all four corners and wooden running boards were on either side of the car. The instrumentation inside was rather bare. The two more important gauges were the mile-o-meter and the drum-action Warner speedometer.

The most popular body-style for the Model 48 was the Tourer which had a canvas top and had seating for around 7 individuals.

The Model 48 was a very stately and impressive car that had an awe-inspiring presence and a powerplant capable of carry the load. These were mechanical masterpieces and truly exception examples of the quality and caliber the Pierce-Arrow Company was capable of producing.


By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2008

1915 Vehicle Profiles

1915 Pierce-Arrow Model 48 vehicle information

Touring

By 1915, Pierce had established themselves as one of America's best automakers. The 1915 Pierce line consisted of 13 body styles. This 5-passenger Touring was the most popular. Pierce-Arrow was decades ahead of any other manufacturer with their trade....[continue reading]

1915 Pierce-Arrow Model 48 vehicle information

Suburban

Chassis Num: 13304
Engine Num: 13304

Pierce-Arrows large-displacement T-head six-cylinder engines featured cylinders cast in pairs, supported by aluminum crankcases, with every component built using the finest materials. All engines were dynamometer-tested for performance before being c....[continue reading]

1915 Pierce-Arrow Model 48 vehicle information

Coupe

The Pierce-Arrow 48 was the longest-running model in the Pierce range, having been built from 1909 to the mid-1920s. In its first year, it gained a reputation as Pierce-Arrow's finest and most balanced model and, with its 524-cubic-inch 6-cylinder en....[continue reading]

Chassis Num: 12472

In its day, Pierce-Arrow was considered one of the three 'P's' of Motordom along with Peerless and Packard. But what would make the Pierce-Arrow one of America's true luxury cars wouldn't be something grand and cacophonous. Instead, it would be its s....[continue reading]

Touring
 
Suburban
Chassis #: 13304 
Coupe
 
Chassis #: 12472 

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

$304-$4,900
1915 Model 48
$6,200-$13,800
1915 Pierce-Arrow Model 48 Price Range: $4,900 - $6,200

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Pierce-Arrow
1920Ford (806,040)Chevrolet (146,243)Dodge (141,000)3,135
1919Ford (820,445)Chevrolet (129,118)Buick (119,310)2,136
1918Ford (435,898)Buick (126,222)Willys Knight (88,753)2,014
1917Ford (622,351)Willys Knight (130,988)Buick (115,267)1,891
1916Ford (734,811)Willys Knight (140,111)Buick (124,834)1,647
1915Ford (501,492)Willys Knight (91,904)Dodge (45,000)1,563
1914Ford (308,162)Overland (48,461)Studebaker (35,374)1,118
1913Ford (168,220)Overland (37,422)Studebaker (31,994)1,218
1912Ford (78,440)Overland (28,572)Buick (19,812)1,453
1911Ford (69,762)Overland (18,745)Maxwell (16,000)2,131
1910Ford (32,053)Buick (30,525)Overland (15,598)1,918

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