Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The name Pierce-Arrow was once one of the most recognized and respected names in the automobile industry. For 38 years, the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company in Buffalo, New York, produced some of the finest automobiles made. At the time, Pierce-Arrows could be found anywhere the rich and powerful worked and played. For over 20 years, Pierce-Arrow supplied cars to the White House for the use of the President. They also sold cars to the royal families of Japan, Persia, Saudi Arabia, Greece, and Belgium. Scores of congressmen, ambassadors, governors, businessmen, and entertainers chose Pierce-Arrows for their transportation.

The Pierce-Arrow was a United States based company from 1901 to 1938. Pierce-Arrow is best known for their expensive luxury automobiles; but they also manufactured commercial motor trucks, fire trucks, bicycles, and and buses.

The ancestor of Pierce-Arrow was the George N. Pierce Company, founded by George N. Pierce (1846-1911) of Buffalo, NY, which made various products including bicycles and bird-cages. In 1901 he started the George N. Pierce Motor Company, producing a small single-cylinder engine automobile, the Pierce, with some modest success. In 1903 he decided to concentrate on making a larger more luxurious auto for the upscale market, and the Pierce-Arrow was born. This proved Pierce’s most successful product, and these solidly built cars with powerful engines gained much positive publicity by winning various auto races. In 1908 Pierce Motor was renamed The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company.

In 1909, US President William Howard Taft ordered two Pierce-Arrows to be used for state occasions, the first official automobiles of the White House. Through 1914 Pierce-Arrow also produced a line of motorcycles. In 1928 Studebaker acquired a controlling interest in Pierce-Arrow, although the two companies continued to maintain separate engineering and production facilities. Studebaker sold out their interest in Pierce-Arrow to a group of Buffalo businessmen in 1933. Starting in 1936 Pierce-Arrow produced a line of camper-trailers, the Pierce-Arrow Travelodge. In 1938 Pierce-Arrow was declared insolvent and the company was liquidated.
The Museum of Bus Transportation now has in its possession the 1929 Pierce Arrow that hauled Lowell Fulson & His Band around in the film Ray, which depicted the life and times of R&B musician Ray Charles. The Pierce Arrow was donated to the Museum by Robert Walsh, Indianapolis, IN. Pierce Arrow made only a few buses, all body-on-chassis units

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