The 1934 Pierce-Arrow Salon Twelve was perhaps the last gasp of the once-great automaker. One of Pierce-Arrow's main rivals was gone by 1934, and the other was about to issue a medium-priced model. Could this one-time potentate of the automotive road survive much longer?
Known in the 1920s as the three "Ps" of American motordom, Packard, Peerless, and Pierce-Arrow vied for shares of the high-end market. By 1934, Peerless had left the automotive scene, Packard was going strong -- and Pierce-Arrow faced financial woes.
The Pierce-Arrow Salon Twelve sought to capturethe public's eye with a more
streamlined look. See more pictures of classic convertible cars.
Pierce-Arrow had been owned by Studebaker since 1928, but the latter company filed for bankruptcy in spring 1933. Receivers were ordered to sell off Pierce-Arrow, which was purchased by a group of bankers and businessmen from the Buffalo, New York, area. Somehow, they managed to give the '34 models a total restyle, more streamlined than before.
Flagging sales meant only 287 Salon Twelves were produced by Pierce-Arrow.
Only 287 Salon Twelve cars (Model 1240A) were built in 1934. Weighing in at 5072 pounds on a 139-inch wheelbase, the convertible coupe sold for $3395. That body style also was available in the Deluxe Eight series for $400 less. Displacing 462 cubic inches, the V-12 engine made 175 horsepower, as opposed to 140 (maximum) for the straight-eight. Pierce-Arrow also sold a few larger-yet Custom Twelve models.
Sales continued to sag, and the Pierce-Arrow firm was losing money rapidly. After a futile attempt to merge with Auburn, they filed for bankruptcy in August 1934. Despite a slashed workforce, Pierce-Arrow managed to hang on through 1937, but then gave up shortly after the '38 model year began. What many considered America's most eminent marque -- with a history dating back to 1901 -- had become extinct.
Pierce-Arrows were built in Canada as well as the U.S. The convertible coupe pictured here was the first Pierce-Arrow to roll off the Walkerville, Ontario, line in 1934.
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