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1914 Peerless Survivor: Oldest Barn Find?

1914 Peerless

When this Peerless was built in 1914 things in the automotive world were moving along quickly. Every year there there were big advances, kind of like computers and cell phones these days. After only 2 years this Peerless was outdated and put away, much like we would throw our old cell phone in a drawer today. By 1916, there were many advances, including electric starters. After 80 years of storage the family rediscovered it and donated it to The California Automobile Museum. Except for new tires, this is exactly how it was found. It even had the original layers of dust, but when the Peerless was shown at a concours auto show, someone made the regrettable decision to wash it. These days, it gives visitors a real sense of what cars were like 100 years ago. This Peerless is exactly as it was after being used for 2 years, including the original paint, upholstery and unpolished brass!

1914 Peerlass2


  1. Big Eddie

    Why would it be a mistake to wash a dirty car? You need to see what’s underneath to appreciate its real beauty. I really think that this barn find thing is way overblown. I am 53 years old and have been finding old cars in barns and everywhere in-between since I was old enough to steer from the other side of the seat. Dirt does not impress me, nice clean cars do though.

    • Ed P

      I’m with you Big Eddie. Dirt covered cars do not impress me. Neither does patina.

      • JW454

        I’m with you too. This car deserves to have it’s paint, glass, wood, leather, and especially its brass shined to the highest possible luster. Just the way the designer, and builders intended it to be. Not looking neglected and forgotten for 80+ years.
        When did preserving dirt and tarnish become the best way to preserve anything?

      • Tim

        That’s cool. But don’t ever touch an original Peerless.

    • Burger

      I’ve been doing the car scene as long as Big Eddie and am plain sick and bored of over-restored, over-polished, same-old, same-old cars. It is refreshing to see something like this that the “LOOK AT ME!” crowd hasn’t got their mitts on.

    • MikeH

      I agree, I don’t understand this dust thing. I like old cars, I like original cars [up to a point], and I like clean cars. I don’t like having a dirty daily driver, let alone a dirty collector car. The dust is only good for before and after pics.

  2. grant

    Love it love it live it. The pre war stuff has really been growing on me lately and this is the perfect example of why. This car is a hundred years old. Its original owner is dead and gone. At one point he saved up his money and he went and bought it and took a show that’s all his friends and his family Hey look at this neat new thing I have. But yet here it is just like it always was and we can touch it and feel it and hear it. Love it.

    • David Frank David Member

      And the prewar cars are cheap! It is so sad, no one wants them these days. Look at this beautiful Lasalle, for example. It’s a nice running, driving beautiful old car. We advertised it at 14K and never got a nibble. I hope some how these historic old cars are saved.

      • JW454

        That would suggest 14K is too much.

      • grant

        Thats pretty! 14 k might be a tad high. Moot point as I’m not in a position to make an offer but I’d be happy to have that in the garage if I was. Thanks for showing it to us.

      • Ian

        Well if you feel like donating it to me just like the peerless was donated, I’ll make sure it stays saved and up and running. Haha

      • Awini Ambuj Shanker

        In India, you would have had a line at your door at $15000.

      • Steve Tanner

        Yet ,you now have it priced at $17.000……?

      • Jeff Brown

        As Mr. A. A. Shanker so correctly states, the LaSalle would probably sell easily, and maybe fetch 2 or 3 times 14K, if for sale in India, Belgium or France. Some Americans are obsessed with the nostalgia craze, only spending big bucks on cars from the limited perspective of ones seen in their youth. Those tend to be 50s, 60s and 70s cars produced in the millions.

        The LaSalle would be worthy of being an Ambassador’s car. The 1910 Peerless David wrote about isn’t exactly in the bargain bin either. One of the same model, year and body style, but Condition #1 or #2, sold for $175K in 2015.

  3. Matt Tritt

    Absolutely incredible. I’d hazard a guess and say that this car was in no barn we’ve ever seen! In ’14 the three best American cars were known as “the three P’s”: Packard, Peerless and Pierce. Too bad Locomobile wasn’t spelled Pocomobile, since it was right up there as well. Actually so was Winton, come to think of it.

    I’m glad that Grant has discovered pre war cars. Many of us feel that the last fine American cars were made before the war, as do I. If you ever get to SoCal you should visit the Mullin Museum and see their collection of pre-war French vehicles. Some of the most amazing rolling art ever built.

    • Dave Wright

      This museum is in Sacramento, it was started by the Towe Ford people from Montana. They are great people, I have bought some cars and horse drawn vehicles from them. They have a double deck horse drawn omnibus that i have lusted over for decades.

      • MikeH

        Dave–The Mullen Museum website says it is in Oxnard. Has it moved?

    • MikeH

      Thank you for that info about the Mullen Museum. I’m really into French cars and I had never heard of it. The French cars of the 20s and 30s are rolling works of art. Haven’t been in CA for years [fear of earthquakes], but for this, I may have take my chances and go back.

      • Bill Lawrence

        In St. Petersburg, Fl this week. I will be visiting the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum just to drool on their collection of French and European cars. Their Panhard Dynamic and Talbot. lagos are gems.

      • Wm Lawrence

        This is an old post. Didn’t realize I was liking my own comment from 18 months ago… Oh well, he who bloweth not his own horn…

  4. DRV

    My story of a 1915 Brewster bodied one goes back to the sixties when my uncle had restored it and we went on rides and tours including the Glidden Tour. It was powerful and fast for its day, and a handful to drive. It sold at Emelia Island last year .

    • Jeff Brown

      Hi DRV,
      Was Your uncle Jack Tallman or possibly Dr. William Donze? Both had a Brewster-bodied Peerless, owned previously by the very well-respected Henry Austin Clark. Jack once told me: “It is the ultimate Brass Car.” Brewster was 1 of 42 known coachbuilders for Peerless.

  5. 365Lusso

    Dunno, but is that a really ornate hand-start crank sticking out center-bottom of the grill? Can’t make that one out…..

  6. Dolphin Member

    This would be very cool to cruise down to the DQ on Saturday nite. I’ll bet you’d have the only Peerless there that night….or probably any other night.

    As an antique car I like everything about it—-the seats way up high, the cool upholstery, the big wood rim steering wheel, those giant lights, and of course the name: a car without peer.

    I’d rather have this than a ‘T’ or an ‘A’, but the guy who could afford this back in 1914 could have bought a bunch of Ts and As for what he paid for this, no pun intended.

  7. Matt Tritt

    Horseless carriages are great fun to drive. A guy in our town (named Jet Zander) had a 1902 Tourist 2 seater that was built in Santa Ana (as I recall) that had a single horizontal cylinder engine and a big exposed driveshaft that you could see whirring away under the car. Amazing torque!

  8. Tirefriar

    I wonder if that rear view mirror is original. Seems to be a bit on a more modern side, like from the 20’s… It just something that jumped out at me…

    • z1rider

      That mirror looks to be brass like the windshield frame. If so then it is not likely from the 20’s. Polished brass became unfashionable by the late teens. So much so that lots of people with “older” cars would paint over their normally exposed brass to try to keep their cars from looking so dated. I don’t think you will find many if any cars post 1920 with exposed brass at all.

  9. Howard A Member

    It is pretty amazing to see how far we’ve come in 100 years. My daughter (she’s 28) took me to the Hartford Auto Museum for my birthday ( btw, anybody in the Hartford, Wis. area, 25 miles NW of Milwaukee, should go and see, great place) and they had several Kissel’s there, ( made in Hartford) and my daughter, said, “Dad, what are those “tin cans” on the front of those cars”? I said, those are the headlights. They were acetylene, you’d light them, and that was your headlights. She was flabbergasted that’s how it was done. She said, wasn’t that dangerous? Just the way it was. I think that’s great they donated it. That’s where it should be, just the way they found it. And to 365Lusso, yep, that’s the hand crank. It looks like the handle folds down, and a leather strap around the frame, kept it it secure when not in use.

  10. Peter Atherton

    Heritage Museums & Gardens,in Sandwich,Mass.has an ’09 Peerless roadster in their collection of 39 American-made automobiles;the Peerless is the most fun to drive of all the early cars,great power,decent brakes(2 wheel),and starts with only a quarter turn of the crank(when warm).We’ve taken to many shows,and it never fails to fascinate the audience,not to mention garnering it’s share of trophies.

  11. Clayton Paddison

    These are beautiful cars, the pinochle of luxury and quality of the period. I have actually seen this car in person…. It is equally as impressive up close.

    *side note* Just for reference, This is actually a 1910 Model 27, not a 1914.

    • Jeff Brown

      Clayton, glad someone finally noted the correct year. You must be at the Jedi level of antique car knowledge! A friend of mine photographed the placard at the front of the car 5 years ago and I saw it had a couple of items that were off. They may have corrected some of them by now, but one was an estimate of surviving Peerless vehicles.

  12. Matt Tritt

    Great comments! Part of me wishes that we’d never gone beyond that period (automotively speaking), except for 4 wheel brakes, windshield wipers and self-starters. There’s nothing quite as thrilling as driving a good car from the early days because of everything about them. I’d much rather have that Peerless than the 62 Ferrari 250 GT that went for 16 million at Pebble Beach a couple of days ago.

  13. Matt Tritt

    Yes. I misspelled Mullen, and it IS in Oxnard. Keep in mind that they only issue a limited number of visitors on the days they’re open, so make reseervation well in advance. No matter how far you have to travel it’s well worth the visit.

  14. DRV

    Hello Jeff Brown. I just got your reply to my comment a year and a half later!
    I thought Tillman bought the Donze car?!
    I am Bills nephew on his wife’s side.
    Funny that. LaSalle would be brought up here as he had a pretty ’38 roadster.
    Can you give any history of Bills car you know at

  15. Jeff Brown

    The late Jack Tallman, once a Cadillac dealer, owned the 1910 Peerless Landaulet for some years, after Bill Donze. Did you know it’s in the Key Museum in Izmir, Turkey, opened in 2015?

    The 1910 Touring Car at the top of the page is quite a nicely-preserved Peerless. Despite another comment that it’s first owner would have saved up the money to buy it – it’s very unlikely. The MSRP for Peerless models was $4,200-7,000. That’s 10 or 20 times an average workers total annual income. You had to be virtually a Rockefeller to afford a new Peerless(“J.D.” had at least 6) — someone who had vast assets — not someone saving their $2.20/day[typical American income] towards a car. Different world: less money, less cars, less paved roads. 144 miles of paved roads in the whole country, life expectancy: 47.

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