Entry-Level Luxury: 1931 Pierce-Arrow Model 43

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This big beauty will be one heck of a restoration project, you’ll need to bring your A-game for this one. The 1931 Pierce-Arrow Model 43 Sedan seen here is in Chandler, Oklahoma on eBay with a buy it now price of $12,000 and a current bid of just over $2,000, but the reserve isn’t met. The seller says that “the hood ornament alone sells for $2,500”, so there ya go. Hopefully this one won’t end up being parted out.

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The Model 43 was the “starter” Pierce-Arrow in 1931, if there ever was such a thing as a starter Pierce-Arrow; that’s an oxymoron if there ever was one. Maybe I should say, they had the entry-level Model 43, the mid-level Model 42, and the top of the line Model 41. This would have been about a $3,000 car in 1931 which equates to around $50,000 today, which isn’t a mind-blowing amount of money anymore for a car, but will still get you a very, very nice vehicle. Although, certainly nothing on the scale of this car; safety, handling, and technology not withstanding.

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The seller has a key word of “rat rod” in the ad, but I sure hope that this one doesn’t end up like that. I mean.. ha.. not “end up”.. like it’s a bad thing, but this car deserves to be restored back to how it would have been when it left the factory in Buffalo, New York. Speaking of that, in 1928 Studebaker Corporation bought the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company although the factory remained in Buffalo. With the purchase they brought three different L-head straight-8s to the table, the top version was the 385 cid with 132 hp, followed by the 366 cid with 125 hp, and finally a 340 cid version with 115 hp; although the 340 cid went away in 1931. The Studebaker ownership lasted for five years, from 1928 to 1933.

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The entry-level Model 43 came with the 366 cid straight-eight engine with 125 hp. The Model 43 came in two different wheelbase sizes in 1931 but there is no mention as to if this one for sale is the 134 or 137 inch wheelbase. If one of you can tell from the photos, thanks, and congratulations on being a world-class car-identifier!

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Whoa, ok, here is where you’ll be doing most of the work, and spending a lot of your money; on the interior. The seller says that they have “most of the parts, no rust, a solid car to build.” By 1938 Pierce-Arrow closed up shop, which is a shame, just think what a 2016 Pierce-Arrow might be like? What are your thoughts on this car, would you be in the rat rod camp or would you be more of a restore-it-back-to-original-specs person? You know where I stand on that question, but all opinions are equally valuable here!

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  1. Dairymen

    I’m no expert by no means, but I’m fairly certain this the the longer (137) wheelbase. With a BIN of $12k this guy is dreaming. By the time you restore this car to its former glory you’ll be upside-down even if they gave you the car for free. For $50-80k you buy a very nice restored Pierce Arrow sedan, and even a V12 if you wanted to.

    Here’s a V12 on a 144 wb for under $70k:

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  2. Mr. Bond

    @ Dairymen: I wonder what the V12 distributor cap costs for that one! I see your point. Pretty expensive admission. Neat car when done though!

    Like 0
    • Ross W. Lovell

      . Greetings All,

      Mr. Bond, a distributor cap…………..3D printer, otherwise a crank trigger and coil packs………hidden.

      Just bought a newly manufactured aluminum head for my 1934 SS1 SWB Tourer, a car that restored, will never yield SS100 money, but a looker and fun nonetheless.

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  3. Van

    I fall into the nucking Futs category.
    I see a car like this and fall in love, and I see one fully restored I’m not nearly so moved. Something about the possibility of what this could be. I do like a good servivor better. This car would be one I would try to make look like a servivor.
    If I meet my grandmother in heaven and she’s a 20 something hotty I will be happy for grandad but,, oh yeah I was nucking futs already.

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  4. David WilkMember

    Scotty – great find and thanks for writing up this one. I agree with Dairymen, this one is way too expensive. I quickly found this beauty on Hemmings – a 1931 coupe with 25,000 miles and looking fantastic, for sale for “only” $59,500. http://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/cars-for-sale/pierce-arrow/43/1812912.html
    That’s a lot of dough, but the restoration cost of one of these cars is more than that by far.

    Like 0
    • mike conrad

      David, I just bought this car this week, it is truly a wonderful car.

      Like 1
  5. bcavileer

    Once again, the conversation is all about money, profit, upside down blah, blah blah…restore it cause you love it or find something else to do with your VALUABLE time..
    blah, balh blah $$$$$$

    Like 1
    • Dairymen

      Money matters to most of us, and if money didn’t matter cause I have so much of it I wouldn’t mess with a sedan like this but I would buy a custom bodied roadster (by LeBaron or Dietrich maybe) and throw a million at it. So yes it has to make sense till a certain degree to talk about being up or down in it. Would you take it home for $12k and throw another $150 at it and sell it for $60k because you love it? Most of us love old cars on a very limited budget.

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  6. DolphinMember

    These have an emotional connection for me. My father had a ’31 P-A Touring car I believe the model was. It’s been a few years, so I’m not sure anymore. Maybe someone can tell from this photo. It’s deteriorated unfortunately, but it’s all I have.

    That’s him sitting on the running board, probably in the late ’30s or early ’40s, just before the war. Luckily he survived it but I’m guessing the car didn’t since so many of these old cars were melted down for armaments.

    I never had the courage to ask him what happened to it. He really liked that car and he kept it up really well. He was a mechanic at the time, then taught automotive mechanics in trade school for a couple of decades. .

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    • Fast Eddie

      Interesting photo, 1931 Series 43 Pierce with no sidemounts. Rare and unusual. As a Pierce guy and roster keeper, I can tell you no 31’seriesm43 cars with a rear mounted spare survive. I have NEVER seen a Pierce Touring without sidemounts built from 1929 to 1932, none.

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      • wascator

        Sorry, but I own a 1931 Series 43 5-passenger sedan with rear-mounted spare and no side mounts.
        Car in the photo has cowl side vents which the 1931 Series 43 did not have; it also has a downdraft carb which is not correct for the stated model. Of course it could have other than the original engine.

        Like 1
  7. Rick

    Too rare to build into a rat rod, but it would be awesome if you built in pro touring instead, if restoring it was too daunting and expensive

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  8. Brian Fitz

    This is truly a diamond in the rough. This is a piece of art just the way it is. Nothing is as beautiful as these old American luxury cars.

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  9. Matt Tritt

    Beautiful car, Dolphin. It’s staggering how many great cars (among other things) were scrapped for the war effort, and for peanuts!

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  10. Kevin

    Definitely rat rod. Or, resell at a huge profit to one of the super rich guys who posted above, that can afford to have it professionally restored. blah blah blah… too many mindless rich people in the world.

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  11. Ron Engel

    At the very least you could gather up hard to find parts and keep them with the car. Someday those parts would be impossible to find. The car must somehow be saved, as they didn’t build that many. Sometime down the line it will be worth more.

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    • Dairymen

      “Sometime down the line it will be worth more”
      Says who? Because it’s old it doesn’t mean it’s worth a lot! The biggest problem with cars from this ers is that the guys who remember them driving around are in their 80’s, and there are not a lot of young guys that are excited to get those cars, they rather be in a muscle car or something.

      Like 1
      • Matt Tritt

        If this is the case, you would expect that high quality antique furniture from the 1700’s would have virtually no value today. It has nothing to do with the guys who grew up around them at all – it has to do with an object that was a very low production, hand built piece of rolling art. It’s going to be a restoration that only the well-heeled can undertake for sure, but that’s the benefit of having both resources and appreciation for automotive art.

        Like 1
  12. Little_Cars AlexanderMember

    Touché, Dairymen. The guys that put value on these cars are a generation removed from me, you, and maybe even Leno! This car will go to a loving restoration shop and show up at Amelia Island, with an owner that never turned a wrench themselves.

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    • Dairymen

      That guy won’t go to Amelia or pebble beach with a regular sedan, only with an open car or a custom bodied car.

      Like 0
  13. MartyMember

    What a beautiful dinosaur. It’s almost abstract to look at it. The size, those proportions. It’s almost hard to believe they ever made cars like these.

    I’m glad non-restored cars are finally coming into their own. This one has all the visual impact it needs. Shiny paint not necessary (but still appreciated). It needs a little more than new tires and a fresh battery, but if it were mine, I’d at least look into the possibility of rolling it with current finish level intact. Great find, neat car.

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  14. Matt A.

    The hood ornament is like $500-$1000, tops. Deluded seller.

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  15. Domenic Politi

    Just about everybody is right on with this, a cool $20k will get you a pretty nice paint job these days, but if you like the color, like the style, and like what it says, then $12k would be the buy of a lifetime. Yes, it is as big as a BRIDGE, and probably accelerates like a boat out of water, but I am from NY, and I always train to the City, the girls would all love it, and I could camp in it too, so will you take $15k with anything extra you have?

    Like 0

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