1934 Pierce-Arrow Twelve


  • Year of manufacture 
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1934 Pierce-Arrow Twelve Sedan
Registration no. not UK registered
Chassis no. 400144

Based in Buffalo, New York State, Pierce built birdcages, ice boxes and bicycles before introducing its first petrol-driven automobile - the 3.5hp single-cylinder De Dion-powered Motorette - in 1901. (The Pierce-Arrow name was first applied to the company's twin-cylinder model in 1904). In 1908 the firm became the Pierce Arrow Motor Car Company and within a few years had 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 to prominence may be gauged from the fact that as early as 1909 The White House ordered two for state occasions. From then onwards the name 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 Pierce-Arrow sales doubled in 1929.

A 429ci (7.0-litre) V12 joined the Eight in November 1931 and would serve as the company's mainstay for the next seven years, top-of-the line models being built on a lengthy (147") wheelbase. By now both Pierce-Arrow and Studebaker were finding life tough in the post-Wall Street Crash years, and 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, unlike its major rivals. Sales dwindled throughout the 1930s and the once-great Pierce-Arrow folded in 1938.

Reputedly, this five-passenger V12 sedan was sold new to a Hollywood movie director. The Key Collection purchased '400144' at a US auction in 2012, at which time it was stated that it had been treated to a full 'ground upwards' restoration with no expense spared. The car features twin side-mount spares and a trunk rack, while the 12-cylinder engine emits barely a whisper. Attractively finished in tan and dark green livery, it exudes enormous presence like all Pierce-Arrows.

Should the vehicle remain in the UK, local import taxes of 5% will be added to the hammer price.