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Pierce-Arrow 48

Pierce-Arrow 48 (United States of America, 1915)

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Review


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Review

The enduring reputation that Pierce-Arrow enjoys today owes no small credit to the systematic approach of its entry into the fledgling automobile business at the dawn of the 20th century. Investigations into horseless carriages progressed from steam to internal-combustion engines, with Pierce’s final choice being made clear in January 1901, when David Fergusson was hired to lead the company’s gasoline-powered design work.

The first cars to carry the Pierce-Arrow name included the company’s first six-cylinder engines, which were rated at 36, 48, and 60 horsepower. By 1910, only sixes were built, setting the precedent for all subsequent Pierce-Arrows until the eight-cylinder engine debuted for 1929. In 1913, Herbert Dawley, who oversaw Pierce-Arrow design since 1907, patented the signature Pierce-Arrow headlight design, which integrated the headlights with the front fenders.

The Pierce-Arrow sixes featured cylinders that were cast in pairs and supported by aluminum crankcases. Every component was of the finest quality, and the marque’s T-head engines were among the most powerful. Quality control was impeccable, with all engines being dynamometer-tested for performance before being completely disassembled, inspected, and tested yet again for smoothness. The mighty NACC-rated 48-horsepower engines actually produced 92 horsepower or more on the Pierce-Arrow dynamometers, delivering more true power than many of the company’s competitors.

Customers usually specified which colors, interior materials, and accessories they wanted, and Herbert Dawley frequently visited clients to work with them and translate their specific requests into physical reality. In short, with their almost obsessive quality, Pierce-Arrow’s sixes were arguably the finest American-designed automobiles of the 1910s and 1920s.



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