Pierce Arrow 28/32 Roi Des Belges

Car producer : 

Pierce Arrow


28/32 Roi Des Belges





The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company was officially launched in 1908. Prior to this year, the company had been known as The George N. Pierce Co. The Great Arrow cars were named Pierce-Arrow. This was also the year that the Pierce family left the company. Percy Pierce remained active for a few years, concentrating his efforts in the old Hanover Street factory with the Pierce Cycle Company. Pierce continued to build bicycles and also one and four cylinder motorcycles until 1914. The bicycles continued on, however, as the tooling was sold to the Emblem Mfg. Co., in Angola, New York, that continued to build "Pierce" bicycles for almost twenty years.

While the Pierce-Arrow became one of the most prestigious automobiles made, the beginnings of Pierce-Arrow were humble. At the time of the Civil War, George Pierce began his career in manufacturing household items, including ice-boxes, birdcages, and bathtubs. After being associated with several companies, he formed his own company, the George N. Pierce Company, in 1878. At first, the new company followed the product line of earlier companies. As the bicycle craze hit the country in the late nineteenth century, Pierce found that the experience gained making wire products, like their bird cages, easily transferred to the manufacture of bicycles. High quality standards and an attractive price made Pierce cycles highly desired.

By the turn of the century, the Pierce company began experimenting with automobiles. While early efforts involved a steam-powered unit, the first production Pierce automobile of 1901 used a single cylinder, 2 3/4 hp deDion engine. In 1903, Pierce replaced the deDion engine in the Motorette with one of their own manufacture. About 170 Pierce Motorettes were made between 1901 and 1903. In mid 1903, the Pierce Stanhope was introduced. Similar the the Motorette, the Stanhope used a Pierce made engine mounted beneath the driver's seat. An additional fold-out seat was added in front of the driver. The Stanhope had two forward speeds, plus reverse.

The George N. Pierce company started toward the line that would make them famous in 1903 with the introduction of the Arrow. A bigger car with the engine mounted in the front of the car rather than under the car, the Arrow carried four adults and was powered by a 15-hp deDion engine. A Pierce made engine followed in 1904. The Arrow paved the path for the Great Arrow, which made its debut in 1904. The Great Arrow used a 93 inch wheelbase and featured a four cylinder Pierce engine. The Great Arrow also introduced the user of cast aluminum body panels. The Great Arrow also had a great price: $4000! The Great Arrow defined the basic car that Pierce would produce, with refinements, for the next several years. It was the Great Arrow that helped gain Pierce its great reputation by winning the first five Glidden Tours.

By 1905, the George N. Pierce company was producing some of the biggest and most expensive automobiles available. The mainstay of 1905 was the Model 28-32NN, with about 200 made. Available in four body styles, the 28-32NN had a 4 1/2" x 4 3/4" four cylinder engine mounted on a 109 inch wheelbase. The 28-32NN was priced from $4000-$5000. Color was optional. Also available in 1905 were the smaller Model 24-28N and the larger Model 40-P.

Pierce brought out their first six cylinder car in 1907. The Model 65-Q Great Arrow had a 135 inch wheelbase and weighed over 4000 pounds. Prices ranged from$6,500 to $7,750. There was little doubt that Pierce was aimed at a very wealthy market. These were good years at Pierce. The reputation earned on the Glidden Tours, as well as other trophies and awards, put Pierce in the very enviable position of being able to sell an entire year's production before the year began!

Pierce-Arrow's prestige continued to grow in 1909 when President Taft ordered two Pierce-Arrows, a Brougham and a Landaulette, for the White House. President Taft was the first President to use an automobile for official occasions. This tradition would continue into the Roosevelt administration, when the last Pierce-Arrows, 1935 models, were ordered by the White House. The cars used by the White House were leased to the government, however it was not uncommon for the President to buy the cars when they left office.

For 1910, the Pierce-Arrow line was established in a form that would continue for the next decade. Three basic chassis were offered, the 36, 48, and 66. All cars now had six cylinder engines. Prices ranged from $3850 for the 36hp runabout to $7200 for the 66hp landau. This triple line of cars would continue to propel the Pierce-Arrow reputation of quality and luxury.


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