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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.
Pierce-Arrow continued the triple line-up of cars available in 1910 throughout the decade. While there were continual refinements over the years, the heritage of these cars is evident. The smallest of the three models was the 36-UU mounted on a 119 inch wheelbase and selling for $3850. The 36hp model had a 4" x 4 3/4" six cylinder engine with the cylinders cast in pairs. The mid-sized car was the 48-SS, having a 4 1/2 inch x 4 3/4 inch six cylinder engine. The top of the line was the 66-QQ mounded on a 134 inch wheelbase and having a 5 1/4 x 5 1/2 six cylinder engine. The Model 66 Pierce-Arrow occupies the same position among Brass Era automobiles that the Bugatti Type 41 La Royale does among its Classic Era brethren. It was the largest, grandest, and most potent thing produced by a manufacturer during its time. For collectors of contemporary automobiles, it is simply the Holy Grail.
The 66 was named for the rated horsepower of its engine, a massive inline six-cylinder mill that, at its introduction in 1910, displaced an immense 714 cubic inches. By 1913, the engine had swelled to nearly 825, and while its name remained the 66, its rating had increased to nearly 100 horsepower. More importantly, the long stroke created the prodigious torque needed to propel its massive chassis and typically luxurious, regal coachwork, usually built, in Pierce-Arrow’s innovative tradition, with cast aluminum panel work and very little wooden framing. For some years, the model was recorded in Guinness World Records as having the largest engine installed in a production automobile.
Some 1,250 Model 66s were built between 1910 and 1918, but only 14 survivors are recorded today. Almost all are held in private collections and rarely, if ever, emerge for sale on the public market.
For 1913, the cars now offered electric headlights, although the trademark fender-mounted headlights did not appear until 1914. The 1913 cars also had a self-starter of the compressed air variety. An electric starter was used in 1914. The 1913 cars, known as Series One, had grown from the 1910 versions. The 38-C-1 (formerly the 36-UU) now had 132 inch wheelbase; the 48-B-1 was stretched to 142 inches; and the 66-A-1 was mounted on a 147 1/2 inch wheelbase.
Introduced in 1910 with 5.25” x 5.5” dimensions and only (!) 714 cubic inches the Model 66 grew to its definitive dimensions in 1913 and from 1914 featured the patented headlights faired into the front fenders which have come to symbolize Pierce-Arrow automobiles. Built on a 147 1/2” wheelbase chassis that could accommodate the most luxurious coachwork, Pierce-Arrow pioneered thin cast aluminium panel work in its bodies, a technique that was much lighter and stronger than the wooden bodies or metal panelled wooden frameworks used by competitors. The Model 66 evolved steadily from its introduction. Electric starting was added in 1914 and pressurized fuel delivery – using an engine-operated air pump to pressurize the fuel tank – in 1915. The final Model 66 Series 4 debuted in 1916 and continued in production through 1918. The Model 66 engine had dual ignition from both a coil-and-battery system and a magneto and employed a number of aluminium parts in the engine. The gas tank contained 36 gallons, something of a necessity with the giant engine’s 8 1/2 miles per gallon consumption, which gave it a range of nearly 300 miles, an important consideration in the days when gas stations were few and far between.
The Series Three cars of 1915 added a pressure fuel system to replace the gravity system of the earlier cars. The pressure system used a small hand-pump on the dash and a cam-driven pump on the engine to provide a small amount of air pressure in the rear-mounted tank to push the gasoline to the carburettor, which was now mounted higher.
The Series Four cars appeared in 1916 and were continued into 1918. There were minor changes between the Series 4 cars and the earlier Series Three cars.
In 1914 Pierce-Arrow adopted its most enduring styling hallmark when its headlights were moved from a traditional placement on either side of the radiator into flared housings molded into the front fenders of the car. This gave the car an immediately visible distinction from the front and from either side. At night, the car appeared to have a wider stance. Pierce patented this placement, which endured until the final model of 1938, although Pierce always offered the customer the option of conventional headlamps. Only a minority ordered the option.
After the War, the Series Five passenger cars were introduced in 1918. Still a refinement of the earlier cars, the Series Five cars had a dual-valve engine. While still a "T" head arrangement of the earlier models, the Series 5 cars had two intake and two exhaust valves per cylinder. The dual-valve engine gave an increase in performance over the earlier single-valve cars. The big 66hp and the small 38hp models were discontinued, however. Only the mid-sized car remained in the 48-B-5.
Starting in 1918, Pierce-Arrow adopted a four-valve per cylinder T-head inline-six engine (Dual Valve Six), one of the few, if only, multi-valve flathead design engines ever made.
Pierce-Arrow engineers increased the efficiency of this engine in July 1918 by giving it sophisticated, four-valve cylinder heads. This Dual Valve Six was even more muscular than its impressive predecessor, so much so that it made the mighty Model 66 redundant. The 38 and 48 were carried forward, renamed the Series 31 and Series 51, respectively.
A conventional frame with sturdy pressed-steel side members and cross-bracing provided a strong foundation. The front axle was of drop-forged steel, and suspended by semi-elliptic leaf springs; the semi-floating rear axle was held by three-quarter elliptic springs. Brakes were on the back wheels only: An external contracting brake, operated by lever, and an internal expanding brake operated by the foot pedal. All Pierce-Arrows of this era were right-hand drive; the company was one of the last U.S. automakers to relocate its steering wheel to the left.
A leather-faced cone clutch was a nod to tradition, but the all-electric lighting system was thoroughly up to date. The headlamps moved to the fenders in 1913, though Pierce-Arrow gave customers the option of conventional headlamps – an option few chose. With the launch of the Series 51, the parking lamps were removed from the cowl and incorporated into the headlamps for a cleaner look.
The Dual-Valve Six would be continued, with modifications through the 1928 Series 36 models
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