1933 Pierce-Arrow TwelveConvertible Coupe
Year of manufacture1933
Pierce-Arrow, along with Packard and Peerless, was a member of the “Three Ps,” the alliterative triumvirate of the luxury car segment that had always featured large engines. From 1910 to 1928, though, they had been T-head sixes. For 1929, a straight-eight replaced the sixes. It proved popular, doubling sales from the year before. But as Cadillac, Packard, and Lincoln introduced twelve-cylinder engines, and Cadillac and Marmon readied their sixteens, Pierce, too, joined the cylinder race.
Chief engineer Karl Wise designed the new V-12 engine, adopting an unusual 80-degree angle between the cylinder banks. The wide vee gave excellent access to the valvetrain and also helped minimize vibration. Introduced late in 1931 for the ’32 model year, the Twelve was offered alongside the Eights, with common bodies but differing wheelbases. Initially the Twelve was offered in two versions, a 398-cu. in., 140-bhp unit and another bored out to 429 cu. in. and producing 150 bhp. For 1933, the smaller twelve-cylinder was discontinued and the 429 was complemented with an even larger bore 462, good for 175 bhp, as featured in the car being offered.
Alas, sales continued to fall from their apex in 1929, and even the new Twelve could not keep them above 3,000. A 1928 merger with Studebaker was benefiting neither company, and it would soon be unraveled. The Great Depression finally put an end to Pierce-Arrow in 1938.
Just 1,843 Pierce-Arrows of all types were built for 1933, 118 of them in the 1242 series.
This Model 1242 Twelve Convertible Coupe, one of three to survive, was restored in California in the early 1990s by Jack Dietz for then-owner William Lassiter. In 1995 it earned an AACA National First award, medallion no. 19B0630. Canadian collector Terry Johnson acquired the car from Mr. Lassiter in 1999.
The Dietz-Lassiter restoration has been carefully conserved and recently detailed. Attractively painted in a subtle grey best described as Deep Pewter, it is accented with blue belt moldings that match the underbody and wheels. Dual side-mount spares sit in the front fenders, which also carry Pierce-Arrow’s hallmark headlights. The interior and rumble seat are upholstered in red leather, with matching carpets. The car remains tidy and runs and drives well.
Recognized by the CCCA as a Full Classic, this twelve-cylinder Pierce-Arrow is eligible for all CCCA events, awards, and CARavan tours. It presents a very rare opportunity to acquire this most desirable body style of America’s most coveted prestige make.
To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/am19.