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Lot 525: Pierce Motorette modèle 8M 2/4 places Stanhope

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

Pierce-Arrow had started out in 1865 as Heinz, Pierce and Munschauer, and was best known for its household items. In 1872, George N. Pierce bought a controlling interest, reorganizing the firm as the George N Pierce Company. Following the latter's failure, a license to build the French de Dion engine was obtained and the first proper motor car was completed in November 1900. Early in 1901 the English-born designer David Fergusson was recruited as Chief Engineer - a post he would occupy for the succeeding two decades - and it was he that was responsible for Pierce's first production model  the single-cylinder Motorette. Two-cylinder Arrow and four-cylinder Great Arrow models followed in 1904. At around this time it was decided to concentrate on making larger, more luxurious automobiles for the market's upper echelons, and Pierce's new policy got off to a flying start in 1905 when Percy Pierce (George's son) won the first of the famous Glidden Tours driving a Great Arrow. Pierce cars claimed victory in the next four events, an unprecedented achievement. In 1907 the first six-cylinder model was introduced and in 1909 the marque and company names changed to Pierce-Arrow. That same year US President William Howard Taft ordered two Pierce-Arrows to be used for state occasions, thus honoring the company with the distinction of supplying the White House's first official automobiles. The rest is history, the name will forever be renowned for cars of the highest quality of engineering, as well as its cast aluminium coachwork and of course the design feature of headlights incorporated into the front wings. Dated by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain, this Pierce heralds from the 1904 season, by which time Pierce were building their own 8hp powerplant (a clone of the De Dion unit they had employed previously) and the Motorette was an altogether more sturdy motor car. This enabled them to body the cars with the popular 'transformable' Stanhope style of body, a design which graced a number of its contemporaries and allowed the option of two additional seating places forward of the driver. For evidence of the fact that pioneer Pierces have always been held in high esteem, you need look no further than this particular car and the roll call of high profile collectors that have owned it in its home country of America. James Melton was arguably the first public figure in America to collect historic cars and his collection was displayed in Connecticut and at the Autorama in Hypoluxo, Florida. When the majority of Melton's Collection was sold at auction the car was purchased by Atwater Kent Jr., who in turn donated it to the Pennsylvania State Museum. In 1996, a number of cars from this institution were sold at auction at which point Mr. Brown was able to secure the Pierce. After many years lying dormant, Mr. Brown had the Pierce brought to the U.K. and recommissioned to enable him to campaign it on the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, something that he did regularly with a number of successful arrivals. As viewed today, this is a highly original and correct car, it is thought to have been repainted at one point, but is still retaining much of its upholstery and being in largely complete and uncompromised order. With its illustrious name and provenance, this is a highly covetable early American automobile.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
TypeCar
Lot Number525
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€52000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€59800
Year1904
Condition rating2
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number187
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors