Pierce-Arrow Model 133 Roadster

By 1905, the American luxury car market was defined by the “Three Ps,” Packard, Peerless and Pierce-Arrow. The youngest of the three, dating from 1901, Pierce made its name in the Glidden Tours of 1905 to 1909, winning the trophy donated by pioneer tourist Charles Jasper Glidden. In contrast to Peerless, which introduced a V8 in 1916, and Packard who brought out the famed “Twin Six” V12 the same year, Pierce-Arrow held firm to six cylinders, right through to 1927. And what a six it was! But for a smaller, lighter and less-expensive Model 80 introduced in 1925, Pierce sixes were huge T-head affairs with four valves per cylinder and twin ignition. The final iteration was the Model 36, built from 1926 to 1928.

By 1928, however, the company was not healthy. Despite the relative popularity of the lower-priced Series 80, which helped boost sales to an unprecedented 5,000-plus cars, there was little money available for development of new models. The short-term solution was an alliance with Studebaker.

Albert Russell Erskine, Studebaker’s president, had long desired to offer a true luxury model, and his company had a hefty cash surplus. Sometimes called a “merger,” the deal, consummated in August, was actually an acquisition of Pierce-Arrow by Studebaker. This provided funds for a new Pierce model and enabled development of a new eight-cylinder engine.

An L-head design, the new engine for 1929 was a hundred pounds lighter than the big T-head six it replaced. At 125 bhp it had 25 percent more power, from 12 percent less displacement. Whereas the cheapest Model 36 in 1928 sold for $5,800, the new Model 133, named for its wheelbase, started at $2,775. 1929 quickly became the best year ever for Pierce, with 8,000 cars sold, an accomplishment, unfortunately, never to be repeated.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August 2009 at the Shotwell Gustafson Pavilion at Meadow Brook Hall, Rochester, Michigan.

125 bhp, 365.6 cu. in. L-head eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 133"

Source: RM Auctions

Gallery: Pierce-Arrow Model 133 Roadster