For many years Peerless was one of the 'Three Ps', aristocrats of American motordom, the other two being Packard and Pierce-Arrow. In its beginnings, Peerless had quite a lot in common with the latter. They began by making clothers wringers (Pierce-Arrow made birdcages,) then both companies turned to bicycles in the 1890s, and their first cars were both light runabouts powered by single-cylinder De Dion-Bouton engines.
This firm's activities began around 1870 when it was set up in Cincinnati to make clothes wringers, but a move to Cleveland, Ohio in the late 1880s saw a change of product that resulted in 10,000 bicycles per year being turned out. Automobile manufacture commenced with light runabouts using De Dion-Bouton engines but in the middle of 1902 a vertical two-cylinder front-engined car, designed along European lines by Louis Moores was introduced, featuring a pressed-steel chassis and shaft drive. Fours followed and to promote these models a busy racing programme was pursued but the management soon disagreed with this policy and discontinued it in 1905, along with Moores' employment.
From the next twenty-five years Peerless was a manufacturer of luxury cars but it failed to ride out the Depression and the Cleveland factory was converted into a brewery.