Pierce-Arrow . . . now there's a real car for you. George Pierce started out building bicycles and transitioned into the carmaking business very early in the 20th century, building a car called the Great Arrow.
George had used an arrow logo on his bicycles. He then combined it with his name to give his later cars a real "sharp" identity. The Pierce-Arrow became famous for its unique "trumpet" headlights. It was one of the three big P-for-Prestige cars of the '30s: Packard, Peerless and Pierce!
Another interesting thing is that Pierce-Arrow used no radiator badge for many years, relying mainly on its kneeling-archer hood mascot for on-the-street recognition. In the early '30s, with the country deep in the Great Depression, Pierce-Arrow even brought out a V-12 to set it apart from cheaper cars that were changing to eight-cylinder engines.
My friend Wally Rank, of Milwaukee, used to be the big Pierce-Arrow collector. At one time Wally had 80 or so of those cars. In the past year, we've crossed paths with quite a few Pierce-Arrows. Last summer, we ran into two beauties in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Now, there are two others consigned to be sold at the Atlantic City Classic Car Auction at the end of February. One is a V-12 convertible sedan, which is way beyond my writer's reach. But the second is a 1934 Model 836A eight-cylinder 5-passenger sedan on the shorter 135-inch wheelbase that's probably a bit more affordable.
This car was restored in 1992 by Sam Rawlins of Dunwoody, Ga., who we just found out passed away right after Christmas. Sam was a collector and restorer of some note and I'm sure that this car will showcase his talent and craftsmanship for future generations of collectors.
It's just the kind of classic I'd love to own - a car with a great product history, as well as a great ownership history.