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Lot 551: Pierce Arrow Model B Phaeton

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

Based in Buffalo, New York State, Pierce built birdcages, ice boxes and bicycles before introducing its first petrol-driven automobile in 1901. (The Pierce-Arrow name was first used in 1904). In 1908 the firm became the Pierce Arrow Motor Car Company and soon switched its attention exclusively to the production of luxury cars, pioneering many technological developments, including servo-assisted braking and hydraulic tappets, while building some of the most prestigious motor cars ever to grace America's highways. Some idea of the rapidity of Pierce-Arrow's rise may be gauged from the fact that as early as 1909 The White House ordered two for state occasions. From then onwards Pierce-Arrow would be synonymous with the ultimate in motoring luxury, ranking alongside Cadillac, Packard and Rolls-Royce. Clinging to traditional styling and handicapped by a range of sixes in an increasingly multi-cylinder marketplace, Pierce-Arrow saw its sales decline throughout the 1920s. In 1928 an alliance was forged with Studebaker, which viewed Pierce-Arrow's acquisition as a means of gaining entry to the luxury car market. A new range of straight eights - already under development before Studebaker's arrival - was introduced and sales doubled in 1929. A V12 was added in November 1931 but both Pierce-Arrow and Studebaker were finding life tough in the post-Wall Street Crash years. When the latter filed for bankruptcy in 1933, Pierce-Arrow found itself independent once again. Despite the critical acclaim lavished on its futuristic 'Silver Arrow' show car  five of which were sold costing $10,000 each  the firm was severely handicapped by the lack of a lower-price range. Sales dwindled throughout the 1930s and the once-great Pierce-Arrow folded in 1938. Dating from January 1930, this exceptionally original eight-cylinder Model B Phaeton is understood to have previously formed part of the collection belonging to a long-time Pierce-Arrow Society member. When he died, the car passed to his son, who exhibited it at the Pierce-Arrow National Meet in 1989. It was then sold to Mark Smith (see New Hampshire Certificate of Title on file). The car has been sympathetically refurbished with the invaluable help of marque specialists Pierceparts, in particular Ed Minnie and John Cislak, there being a number of invoices on file recording the extensive mechanical works carried out. We are advised that the body and interior have been preserved in original condition. The original tools and instruction books are included in the sale and the car also comes with Netherlands registration papers. EU taxes have been paid. According to the club Pierce-Arrow Register, there are approximately 15 of this model left worldwide.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
Lot Number551
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€60000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€69000
Condition rating2
Registration number
Chassis number2025037
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors