Runs After 40 Years: 1930 Pierce-Arrow Barn Find

Update 12/5/19 – After more than a year from when we first featured it, this Pierce-Arrow has popped back up on eBay with new photos and an asking price of $19k or best offer. Do you think it will find a new home this time around?

From 11/1/18 – The world is full of gamblers. They roll the dice, sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. The owner of this 1930 Pierce-Arrow definitely won. The car had been sitting in storage for more than 40 years when he purchased it sight-unseen several years ago. He had it shipped to his home, and after relatively little work, this old classic now runs and drives. You will find the car listed for sale here on Craigslist. It is located in Tomball, Texas, and is being offered for sale with a clean title. The owner has set a price of $27,000 for this old classic.

I have to admit that the body on this car is in really nice condition. Alright, the paint has seen better days, but we can’t have it all. The body and frame appear to be largely free of rust issues, with only a couple of minor issues identified by the seller. The exterior trim and bright-work all appear to be present, and it all appears to be in good, restorable condition.

The interior is complete, and while it would benefit from a total restoration, the owner has been using it as you see it now. He just throws a cover over the seats to help protect them from further deterioration. Since returning the car to active duty, it has been taken on several Pierce-Arrow runs and to shows exactly as it stands, so it is definitely usable.

Under the hood is the 366ci straight-eight engine which is hooked to a manual transmission. When the current owner took delivery of the car, he lavished a great deal of time and care into enduring that the engine was in sound condition before he attempted to start it. In addition to the thorough inspection process, the fuel tank was pulled and professionally cleaned and sealed, the radiator also received the same treatment, and it has the correct core. The water pump and carburetor were both rebuilt, the fuel lines were flushed. and the starter was also rebuilt. The car is now said to run and drive really well.

I’m sure that none of you will be surprised by the fact that it is nearly impossible to find a car like this in the market at present. These aren’t a big volume seller, so they don’t hit the market that often. Therefore, I am forced to look at Nada to get an indication of potential values for the car, although I do take their prices with a grain of salt. They indicate a #3 car at around $35,200, while a #2 sits at $54,600. A #1 is showing a value of $78,600 on their guide. As I said, to me that is purely a guide, but with so few of these desirable classics reaching the market, this car might justify a restoration.

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  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    I’d do a simpathetic restoration, only repairing what is needed which sounds like not much. I’d repaint to original colours and nickel plate the bright work. I wouldn’t want it to be to shiney. The interior I’d repair as needed And give it a good cleaning and detailing. Some new tires would be in order as well. I guess that’s about it except for the driving it part.

    Like 26
  2. Al

    An excellent write-up, thank you.

    Like 5
  3. Classic Steel

    This car deserves a full ground up restoration with frame off and new paint, le Bonnie interior (spelling) and enjoy. Sure an old pickup or A or AA patina is fun and cool but this is a classic deserving paint in my book.. it’s not like building or parking a trailer in Beverly Hills😜

    Like 13
    • Barney

      Bonney is out of business I believe

      Like 2
      • luke arnott Member


        Like 1
  4. Jeff

    This seems like a really good deal, considering the condition. I’m not normally a fan of pre-war cars, but this is pretty cool. And that massive straight six is awesome.

    Like 2
    • Dairyman

      Straight 8.

      Like 12
      • Jeff

        Sorry, typo! Thanks! (I’m currently shopping for an old Ford 300-6, so I have straight sixes on the brain.)

        Like 7
  5. Shifty

    Patina du jour for Barn Finds.

    Like 4
  6. 86 Vette Convertible

    Love it. That’s one that deserves restoration to bring it up to the level it should be, then put back on the street in a safe manner to preserve it.

    Like 4
    • David Cassidy

      “Safe Manner”… Why would anyone condone such behavior?? I’ll go back to reading my Western, where being a man meant being a MAN!! Just kidding… although prior to its first paint job I’d remove the snowplow. Good thing the Mercedes is already fitted for it; these gull wings are kinda touchy otherwise.

      Like 1
  7. Fred W

    I’d do the interior for sure. As for the paint, I kinda like the look of 90 year old sun faded paint with the classic lines of the car. It would get ten times the attention at the car shows vs restored. That being said, if I had an extra 75K lying around I would also love to restore it.

    Like 5
  8. Uncle Bob

    One of your best write ups Adam.

    To drive one of these is different than in a modern car. The difference between glide and sprint. It’s all about the torque of that straight 8. The soft fabric emits comfort. Adds a different dimension to “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”

    Nice to see well written, informative ad copy. An experienced car guy from his tone.

    Like 10
  9. Karguy James

    I have a 1931 Pierce Arrow land speed race car that ran at Daytona Beach that was built on the running gear of a car just like this. The car was built by Preston Tucker during his tenure with Pierce Arrow from 1930-1932. It was the first plastic bodied car as Tucker was trying to pitch the material to the US Military always believing that a military contract would set him up for life.

    The car was originally found by Mike and Frank from American Pickers in 2012 and I located and purchased it in 2013. It has it’s own facebook page if anyone is interested.

    Like 23
    • canadainmarkseh Member

      Very unique car James is it your intentions to restore it. If so a follow up story would be nice to see.

      Like 3
  10. Madmatt

    This is truly a rare sight..!This was a very fancy car,
    at the start of the depression,owners must have been
    “well to do”.This is awesome like it is,but I feel that it should be
    fully restored to its former beauty.A 366 ci straight 8…!!,musta
    been pretty peppy.I love the grill ornament..,back when each maker
    had their very own unique hood ornaments,and their own vehicle
    designs…,unlike today where they all look about the same..,
    no real risk takers in the design departments anymore.This car
    is a treasure that should be enjoyed and shared with everyone.

    Like 10
    • Andy

      These big-bore–or more importantly, long-stroke–flatheads were built more for peak torque at low revs than for pep. The big DOHC Duesenberg Eight was practically a tamed racing engine, but engines like the Pierce and Packard were more intended for pulling away at 10-15 mph in top gear. It probably had around 120 or so horsepower.

      Like 2
    • Wr HALL

      I never see anything this neat at old car events around here (Portland Or) The only old stuff is usually a Model T or something similar. It would be nice to see cars like this out for everyone to see .

      Like 1
      • David Fowler

        At our local community college show this year an REO spedwagon was brought out. Not restored and it got lots of attention. They found it at the bottom of a lake in fact Lake Lure where Dirty Dancing was filmed in N.C.. There was a story that an old fire truck had been left in a cove in the mountains and the lake filled in over it. I think 1918 maybe model. It sat on the bottom for I think about 40 years. They took a magnet on a string and found it then sent divers down and floated it up. The engine was not rusted up they took apart and cleaned and it runs fine. It is OHV and all the springs, push rods and everything is in the open. All the kids got a kick out of seeing it run.

        Like 1
  11. Some guy

    To restore this car would be a travesty. Restoring this car would kill all of the things that make this car a standout. If it was restored it would be just that, another restored car. Looking at this car, you see remnants of what the manufacturer felt was the best product to provide, not some interpretation of what a restored thought should be.
    Put this car next to a restored, which would grab your imagination?

    Like 9
    • Andy

      A Pierce-Arrow is a standout in any condition. “Travesty” isn’t the word I’d use for a car like this in immaculate condition.

      Like 5
    • woIf Machatch

      Exactly right,
      restore this car, and the imagination stops dead, as to wether it may have been close to Bonny and Clide’s car in its day.
      Interior too, leave it be, bar the most nessessary expensive repairs.
      Get in it, and enjoy the drive of an absolutely unique classic, that will be quite unlikely to be found a second time.
      Just imagine to drive it through town like that, it will pop the eyes out of every second persons head, that sees it.
      Definitely no restoration for the next hundred years or so.

  12. Dave Wright

    There are some similar models in the San Francisco Collage of design (? They have changed the name) museum on Van Ness in San Francisco. The photos don’t do it justice. These and similar competing cars of the era have an incredible presence. They are deffinatly head and shoulders above a common car of the time. We built world class machines during this period, never to be duplicated. This proud old girl deserves to regain all its orignal panache that she was born with. The artisans that designed and built her would be aghast at her current appearance………

    Like 6
  13. John Bee

    Way better deal than the split window Vette for ~$75K. Dare I say it’s probably more fun to drive too.

    Like 5
  14. Pete Phillips

    An old-time car collector friend of mine, who is no longer with us, once told me that for every 10 Packards, you will only see one Pierce. I think he was right.

    Like 6
    • Andy

      They never sold anything close to Packard’s 120, which sold more in the Oldsmobile-DeSoto range and accounted for the vast majority of late ’30s Packards. It kept them exclusive, but it was also why they didn’t last long enough to earn anything off war production. Probably the greatest thing to come out of Buffalo, at any rate.

      Like 2
  15. Christopher A. Junker

    This was one of the “Three P’s” luxury cars of the 20’s and 30’s. Pierce Arrow, Peerless and Packard. The fender integrated headlight and grill were distinctive to the Pierces.

    Like 3
  16. Wrong Way

    Your guide is correct! These happen to be on the top of my memories! My grandpa always dreamed about owning one of these, I would sit for hours looking through books and literature about these cars! I have honestly seen these top out at auction for 6 digits! I would drive it as is, but keep up on any maintenance issues that might arise! Great car nice price!

    Like 2
  17. W9BAG

    When I was a kid, my neighbor had a ’29. #2 condition. Amazing ride.

    Like 4
  18. John Member

    Yup, when I was a kid, 1945, neighbor had one like this, massive car, they kept it nice, the couple, who I considered old, but were in fact in their late 50’s-early 60’s, would drive buy our house. Then the old boy died and she would drive buy, and she was so small behind the wheel of this huge vehicle.

    Like 5
  19. Wayne Thomas

    I may be in the minority, but a car like this would make for a sweet EV conversion. Classic antique car with modern EV drivetrain for a smooth and quiet elegant ride.

  20. Howard A Member

    Hate to be the wet blanket, but I speak a voice of reason,,there’s just no interest. I’m sorry, we all talk big ( me included) and a very few might save this, but it didn’t sell the 1st time, and there’s 120 watchers ( probably mostly us) and no bids. I could see a car like this in perfect shape would appeal to more, but not many have that vision today, much less 5 figures to restore it, when that VW bus is a sure hit,,,apparently. Future doesn’t look good for these types of old cars. They’ll end up sitting and the “American Pickers” kids will find them in 30 years.

    Like 3
  21. Bob McK Member

    If I had the funds to buy this and have it restored, I would bring her home today. I can Invision what a 6 figure restoration would do.

  22. David Fowler

    This is another of the cool classics that will cost you double what you can sell it for to restore. I looked at a really nice example couple years ago but no interest.
    Couple of facts about Pierce Arrow. They patented putting the headlights into the front fenders so others had to wait until the patent ran out. They were also the inventor of the hydraulic lifter. I do not remember which year it was but they offered 400 shades of the color beige from the factory.
    So many of the luxury coaches put themselves out of business with too many versions and options. Too many one off cars to ever make money.

    Like 1
  23. YooperMike

    I’ll let all you fellow BF fans that I have just purchased a lotto ticket. Of course I have to wait until Saturday to pick the check up. I’ll buy this car and enjoy it. Photos to follow.

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