1933 Pierce-Arrow Twelve Convertible CoupeSOLD

RM Vintage Motorcars in Arizona - Biltmore Resort & Spa, Friday January 19, 2007

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ESTIMATE: $250,000 - $350,000

$385,000 Sold

Formerly the Property of Noted Collector Mr. Andrew Darling

Model 1242. 175 bhp, 462 cu. in. L-head V12 engine with three speed manual transmission, four wheel leaf spring suspension, solid front axle, live rear axle, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 139"

It is difficult today to appreciate the respect accorded the Pierce-Arrow marque as the age of the automobile dawned. If price was a consideration, one did not buy a Pierce-Arrow. Instead, the company catered to the social and economic elite of the day.

And catered they did. No request was met with anything other than “ certainly, sir ” , or “ of course, madam ” . Special colors were kept on hand for important families – and were not available to others. Seats, carpets, trunks, and luggage were all custom fitted.

Important as it was to cater to such whims, a Pierce-Arrow was much more. Outstanding engineering gave the cars exceptional reliability, smoothness, and sophistication. Quality of construction gave long life – many early owners had their chassis rebodied more than once.

Unfortunately, Pierce-Arrow relied too heavily upon the carriage trade, and slowly the mass-produced cars began to improve in quality and encroach upon the fine car market.

Cadillac ’ s introduction of the Sixteen in 1929 launched the mutli-cylinder race, and Pierce-Arrow was obligated to respond. The new Twelve was a clean sheet design, introduced in 1932. At introduction it was 452 cubic inches and 150 bhp, catapulting the new car into the front ranks. By 1933, horsepower was up to 175 and the new car was setting records.

In 1932, legendary driver Ab Jenkins drove a 33,000-mile prototype to the salt flats of Bonneville, where he set several records – then drove the car 2,000 miles back to Buffalo! Returning the following year, he managed to set no less than 79 new records.

Ultimately, such technical achievements would prove too little, too late. By 1934, talks with Auburn and Reo failed, and the company went into bankruptcy. A group of Buffalo area businessmen resurrected the company, raised $1 million, slashed the workforce, and set about introducing a new model – a tall order. Although sales improved initially, by the following year, just 787 cars would be built, and in December 1937 the curtain fell for the final time.

The example offered here, s/n 3100007, was built in December of 1932. Although the identity of the original owner is not known, the condition of the car indicates that it is likely that it has spent much of its life in a temperate climate. A highly original automobile, almost all the components of the car from panels to brightwork appear original to this example.

The Pierce-Arrow ’ s postwar history begins with Virginia collector W. T. Thompson, after which it was purchased by Slobodien, a well known Pierce-Arrow enthusiast. After Slobodien, the car entered the collection of banker and lifelong classic car enthusiast Andrew Darling, where it remained until it was sold, along with the rest of his collection, by Sotheby ’ s in 1996.

The buyer at the Darling sale was Judge Joseph C. Cassini III, and the car became one of his favorites. He kept it for many years before finally selling it to the vendor via RM Classic Cars in early 2005.

Today the car remains in excellent condition despite its older restoration. It is finished in a lovely shade of green with dark green belt and fenders, and a complementary tan top and leather interior. It is particularly striking because of its rear-mounted spare, which visually lengthens the car and lends it a European flair.

Very few of these cars remain, and seldom does the opportunity arise to acquire such a rare and important Full Classic. The quality of this car, along with the legendary power and refinement of Pierce-Arrow ’ s twelve cylinder engine make it an ideal candidate for a wide variety of driving events – although it will be more than welcome as a participant in the growing number of concours d ’ elegance events around the country.

Reference Number 5819

as of 1/10/2007

Car 1933 Pierce-Arrow Twelve Convertible Coupe
VIN 1355046  
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