St. John's

28 July 2012

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Lot 119

1934 Pierce-Arrow Twelve Sedan

  • Chassis no. 400144

Sold for $39,600

175 hp, 462 cu. in. L-head V-12 engine, two-barrel Stromberg carburetor, three-speed manual transmission, front and rear semi-elliptic leaf springs, rear live axle, and four-wheel vacuum assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 147"

• Three-owner Beverly Hills car reputedly bought new by a movie director

• Frame-off restoration with new motor, paint, interior, and running gear

• One of an estimated ninety Model 1248A V-12s built in 1934

Despite multi-cylinder offerings from healthier competitors, Pierce-Arrow stood by its six. Even if their powerful engine displaced an impressive 824.7-cubic inches—like the 1918 Model 66A—a certain lack of refinement caused buyers to turn to other marques, and the firm did not realize its error until the 1920s.

In 1928, Albert Erskine, of Studebaker, was shopping for a prestige line and acquired Pierce-Arrow, which benefitted from Studebaker’s stronger distribution network. The 1929 Pierce-Arrow straight eight went from the drawing board to production in six months and sales doubled to 9,840, the company’s best year ever.

In November 1931, Pierce-Arrow introduced a 429-cubic-inch Twelve, its mainstay for the remaining seven years. Top-of-the line models rode on an enormous 147-inch wheelbase, and five “quick-delivery” customs were available from LeBaron Coachworks. A number of each style of body would be built and finished in primer, or “in the white,” leaving customers to choose body, paint, trim, and accessories; a finished car would quickly materialize at the dealership. Even though the 1934 models were handsomely redesigned, the Depression was catching up with the company.

This five-passenger sedan, chassis 400144, was reputedly sold new to a Hollywood director and is believed to have had only three owners from new. Finished in attractive tan and dark green with twin side-mount spares and a trunk rack, it has been the recipient of a ground-up restoration. Frame and body were dipped and stripped, and woodwork in the body was replaced where needed, followed by new paint and upholstery. The engine was completely rebuilt, as was the transmission, rear axle, steering, and brakes, and it was finished with a chrome plating bill of $25,000. Pierce-Arrows have enormous presence and their Twelve is whisper quiet, befitting passengers of the highest order.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more