Pierce-Arrow - the story of a great classic

Founded in 1901, the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company used to build luxury vehicles in Buffalo, New York state. The cars that the company produced until its demise in 1938 are characterised by both their beautiful design and their innovative technology.

George N. Pierce started off producing single-cylinder cars and motorcycles.

But after just a few years, the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company was already producing four-cylinder motorcycles and luxuriously equipped automobiles.

These cars, which came to be known as “Pierce Great Arrows”, were initially fitted with 13-litre, six-cylinder engines that provided almost as much power as a railway locomotive. This ensured wins for Pierce-Arrow in a whole series of races, starting with the first Glidden Tour in 1905.

1912 – Pierce-Arrow builds the largest engine ever to power a series production car: the 66 HP (66 CV) model with a cubic capacity of 13,514 cc.

1914 – Pierce-Arrow is the first car to be fitted with headlamps integrated into its front wings.

1925 – The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company launches the first ever aluminium-bodied car.

1933 – The company’s “Silver Arrow” sets a whole new array of standards, with hitherto unequalled levels of interior equipment and inimitable, elegant design.

1935 – The company launches the first car to be fitted with sets of twin headlamps.

Pierce-Arrow was a highly-prized, prestigious marque throughout the first decades of the twentieth century, eventually becoming a high-society status symbol of the Roaring Twenties, as immortalized in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby. In terms of equipment, design and reliability, the easily stood up to comparison with any European luxury car of the time.

In 1938, as a result of the Great Depression and in common with other luxury car makers, such as Maybach, Pierce-Arrow was forced to stop production.