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Lot 419: Pierce-Arrow Model 1236 Club Sedan

Quail Lodge Sale, Bonhams (16 August 2012)

* 462-cid V-12 * 3-speed transmission * 136" wheelbase * Original Club Sedan coachwork * Lovely restored example with show history * From a Californian collection * Maintained to a high standard It is often said that difficult times call for extraordinary measures. No doubt, that's one reason that luxury car makers pulled out all the stops during the Great Depression, building some of the grandest and most powerful automobiles of all time. It was certainly the heyday of the American 12- and 16-cylinder engine. Pierce-Arrow, with Packard and Peerless a member of the "Three Ps," the alliterative triumvirate of the luxury car segment, had always used large engines. From 1910 to 1928, though, they had been T-head sixes. For 1929, a straight-eight replaced the sixes, in the less complicated and less expensive L-head configuration. It proved popular, doubling sales from the year before. But as Cadillac, Marmon, Packard and Lincoln introduced twelves and sixteens, Pierce, too, joined the cylinder race. Chief engineer Karl Wise was given the assignment to design a new V-12 engine. Adopting an unusual 80-degree angle between the cylinder banks, Wise chose cast iron for the crankcase, to which the cylinder blocks were bolted, when most competing makes used aluminum. The wide vee gave excellent access to the valve train, and also helped minimize vibration. Introduced late in 1931 for the '32 model year, the twelve was offered alongside the eights, with common bodies but differing wheelbases. For 1933, hydraulic tappets were introduced, and renowned endurance driver Ab Jenkins, then working for Pierce-Arrow as experimental engineer and test driver, drove a twelve-cylinder roadster for 24 hours, averaging 112.91 miles per hour. Similar runs were made later than year and in 1934 a new record was set at an average speed of 127 mph, recognized internationally by the FIA in Paris. Pierce-Arrow, however, was fighting a losing battle in the Depression-ravaged luxury marketplace. In 1937, just 167 cars were sold. In May 1938, the company assets were liquidated at auction. The sturdy V-12 engine, however, lived on, used in Seagrave fire apparatus until 1970. This Pierce-Arrow Model 1236 Club Sedan was restored about ten years ago. Believed to be a California car from new, it was a very good original example prior to the restoration. After completion it was shown at several California Concours d'Elegance events, then used very little by subsequent owners. It was acquired by the vendor in 2010, and entrusted to a professional restoration shop for mechanical grooming, including new valve lifters, rebuilt carburetors, rebuilt distributor, new spark plugs and wires, rebuilt starter, generator and water pump, chrome-plated axle shafts with modern seals, and new brake linings. The engine and drive train are stated by the vendor to be tight, solid, smooth and powerful. We are advised all gauges and lights work, and numerous items, such as built-in turn signals, a modern fuel pump and dual six-volt batteries have been discreetly added for safety in modern traffic and reliability in touring. Its original mechanical servo-assisted brakes have been rebuilt. Invoices for recent work are available, and an original owner's handbook is included in the sale. Also included is an assortment of spare mechanical parts, spark plugs and belts, and a large section of the upholstery fabric used in the restoration. The car remains very imposing in medium grey with dark grey fenders and reveal, and crimson wheels and window moldings. The upholstery is done in maroon cloth. The odometer reads 950 miles, representing the likely distance driven since the original restoration. Never shown recently, it will attract considerable attention for a new owner. A CCCA Full Classic, it is ideal for all Club events and CARavan tours, a car for touring in confidence.

Lot Details
Auction Quail Lodge Sale
Bonhams, Carmel, California, USA
Lot Number419
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating
Registration number
Chassis number2075088
Engine number335259
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors4