Pierce Arrow 54 Convertible Sedan LeBaron

Car producer : 

Pierce Arrow


54 Convertible Sedan LeBaron





As the decade of the Roaring Twenties came to a close and the great depression lurked just around the corner, Pierce-Arrow made one of the biggest changes to it's product line in it's history. For 1929, Pierce-Arrow introduced a completely new line of cars. The six cylinder engine was retired and a new straight-eight was developed. The new Pierce-Arrows were long, low, and a great success, setting a new sales record of almost 10,000 cars in 1929.

The new Pierce-Arrow was offered in two models, the 133 and the 143, with the model designation denoting the wheelbase. The 133 was offered in 12 body styles ranging in price from $2875 for the roadster to $3325 for the Tonneau Cowl Phaeton. The 144 was available in seven body styles priced from $3750 for the 7-passenger touring to $8200 for the French Brougham.

Under the new, longer hood was Pierce-Arrow's new straight-eight engine. Unlike the 1928 Series 81 and 36 cars that had a cast steel block bolted to an aluminum crankcase, the new nine main bearing eight was cast with a single crankcase and cylinder block assembly. The engine used an L-Head arrangement for the valves (unlike the Series 36's T-Head), and used Stromberg UU-2 carburetor, unlike earlier models that used a carburetor of Pierce-Arrow manufacture. The bore and stroke were 3 1/2" by 4 3/4", adding up to 366 cubic inches. With a 5:1 compression ratio and engine speed of 3200 rpm, the new straight eight developed 125 hp. Pierce-Arrow advertising claimed a top speed of 85 mph. The new straight-eight was continued, with modifications, through 1938. In 1933, the engine was changed to use hydraulic valve lifters, a Pierce-Arrow innovation, and also to use a down draft carburetor.

In 1932, the straight-eight was augmented with the addition of two new twelve-cylinder engines. The Model 53 used the smaller 398 cid engine; the Models 51 & 52 used the larger 429 cid engine. The 1932 models features more flowing body lines than the previous years and also brought a few new features, including ride-control that allowed the shock absorbers to be adjusted from the instrument panel and Startix, an automatic starting device.

The Model 54 used a straight-eight engine similar to earlier models. The 366 cubic-inch eight produced 125 horsepower at 3800 rpm. The twelve factory body styles ranged in price from $2,385 for the five-passenger Club Brougham to $3,050 for the five-passenger Sport Phaeton. All cars included a three-speed transmission with synchromesh and free-wheeling, a Startix automatic starting device, and "ride control" that allowed the driver to adjust the firmness of the Delco hydraulic shock absorbers from the instrument panel. The Model 54 cars came on either a 137 inch or 142 inch wheel base, depending on the body style.

The Model 53 shared much of the same chassis and bodywork as the Model 54, with trim differences to differentiate the models. Instead of the straight-eight, the Model 53 used a 398 cubic inch twelve-cylinder engine designed by Pierce-Arrow Chief Engineer, Karl Wise. A dual-point Delco distributor provided ignition and dual Stromberg carburetors provided the mixture. The Model 53 engine developed 140 horsepower at 3,200 rpm. Prices ranged from $3,185 to $3,850.

The Models 51 and 52 used a slightly larger twelve: 429 cubic inches generating 150 horsepower at 3,200 rpm. The Model 52's were mounted on 142 and 147 inch wheelbases with five factory body styles available. The Model 51 cars used the 147 inch wheelbase frame and offered custom options from LeBaron and Brunn. Prices for the Pierce-bodied Model 52 cars ranged from $3,885 for the five-passenger Sedan to $4,250 for the seven-passenger Enclosed Drive Limousine.

To publicize the new twelve, Pierce-Arrow arranged for the race driver, Ab Jenkins, to drive a Pierce-Arrow on the Bonneville Salt Flats. An unofficial, 24-hour run was done in 1932, with an average speed of 112.91 miles per hour. In 1933, Pierce-Arrow repeated the run, this time with AAA observing and conducting the run. This time, Jenkins drove 3000 miles in 25 1/2 hours, averaging 117 mph. This trial broke 66 official AAA speed records. In 1934, another run set a new worlds speed record of 127 mph for 24 hours. The virtues of the Pierce-Arrow twelve continued long after Pierce-Arrow ceased production. The basic engine, with some modifications, was made well into the 1970's for use in Seagrave fire trucks.

The mechanical virtues of the Pierce-Arrow in the early thirties would be enough to secure Pierce-Arrow a page in automotive history. However, just as impressive as the eight and twelve cylinder engines was the Pierce Silver Arrow. Original built for the 1933 New York Automobile Show, the cars were also a hit at the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. The cars features streamlined styling that included an all-steel top, and side mounted spare tires concealed in compartments in the front fenders.

Sold for: 143000 USD
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