Pierce-Arrow was one of the oldest and most respected names in the industry. During the early 1900s, Pierce-Arrow, along with Packard and Peerless (the so-called “Three P’s”) were considered America’s finest luxury automobiles.
The company was founded in 1865 by George M. Pierce in Buffalo, New York as a domestic goods manufacturer. It later built bicycles before debuting its first car in 1901. Pierce-Arrow (P-A) quickly gained a sterling reputation in the luxury car market due to its uncompromising quality. After World War I, however, P-A failed to keep pace with the industry’s engineering and production advancements, though it still built a very high-quality automobile.
Studebaker purchased Pierce-Arrow in 1928 to reach into the luxury market, and P-A used Studebaker’s investment to freshen its model lineup. Although P-A was now a Studebaker subsidiary, the two companies operated largely independent of one another. Studebaker cast P-A engines in its foundry, but no parts were shared between the two marques.
Faced with receivership proceedings in 1933, Studebaker sold Pierce-Arrow to a group of Buffalo investors for $1 million. P-A was unable to survive the depression era’s disappearing luxury market and closed its doors in 1938.
About this Series
Studebaker’s Cousins was on display at the Museum in 2014. This series of articles comes for the displays from that exhibition.