EXCLUSIVE: Rare 1937 Pierce Arrow Travelodge

Typically you don’t think of camper trailers when you think of Pierce Arrow. This manufacturer was well-known in the early-1900s for building status symbol automobiles that competed with the best that Europe had to offer. Like many companies of the time, Pierce Arrow didn’t fair the Great Depression all that well so in an attempt to revitalize the brand, they decided to try offering something new, a camper trailer. Keeping with their luxury image, their Travelodge was comfortable and cutting edge. Unfortunately, it didn’t save the company and ended up being their last product. Only 450 of these campers were built and reader Jay R has decided to sell his. You can contact him via the form below and it’s currently located in Battle Creek, Michigan with a $5,900 asking price.

From Jay – This a rare 1937 Pierce Arrow Travelodge, approximately 400 made in 2 years. This one could be a good candidate for complete restoration. Its a model A, 18 ft. trailer in good towable condition. The interior has some of the original wood cabinetry. Most of the interior will need replacement as well as parts of the floor. It was made in Buffalo, New York before the demise of the Pierce Arrow Car company in the late 1930s. I bought it from a collector in Marshall, Michigan after being stored for 15 years. I’m just not going to get to it.

By today’s standards, these campers don’t seem all that comfortable, but when this camper was new it was top of the line. It has a cooking area, an icebox, a bed, and a heat stove. What more can you ask for in a camper? There were several models of the Travelodge, this being the largest at 18 feet long. All three models featured aluminum skin wrapped over a steel frame, with custom cabinetry and wood-paneled walls. Jay believes most of the cabinetry to be original, but you will want to take a closer look to know for sure.

Jay claims the trailer is safe to tow, but the frame looks pretty rusty. I have a friend that’s currently restoring one of these Travelodges and I’ve seen the frame up close. It appears that most of the metal components are standard sizes and shapes, so you should be able to get replacement metal at any supplier. The independent suspension is the most complex part of these, so hopefully, suspension mounts and components are solid and intact.

This is definitely going to be a big project, but it really does deserve to be saved. It’s such a cool piece of history that it would be a shame to part or scrap it. Thankfully, it’s a fairly basic design and the aluminum body looks to be straight and free of damage. Fabricating a new frame would be a ton of work, but is far more doable than shaping new body panels. So, if you’ve been on the hunt for a really interesting and special restoration project, be sure to contact Jay!

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Comments

  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    That’s quite a unit, and would definitely make quite a combination towed behind a vintage 3/4 ton or tonner. Quite an ambitious project but it would be worth the effort. Too far away for me and too many other projects in the works. The only problem would come after it’s done and you want to take it on some vintage trips. That single axle will reveal every last bump in the road. There was a good reason they came out with tandem axles. I guess you’d just have to take things a little slower. Well, if you were towing this trailer with a ’39 Ford tonner you’d hum (howl) right along at 45. Might be some upset yuppies behind you but what do they know?

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  2. Will Fox

    The rotted-out crossmember is a little concerning, but otherwise, for the well-heeled collector, this is well worth restoring!! Find a beautiful `37 Pierce coupe to tow it, and you would have one stunning pair to show at a Concours event somewhere! Pebble Beach anyone?

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  3. Andre

    How cool is this. I’d love to take this on.. Check out this article on them that has old promo material. Very cool! http://theoldmotor.com/?p=147078

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  4. luke arnott

    The author Clive Cussler (as in Dirk Pitt ) has one of these.

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    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Clive Cussler is someone who has definitely made it. A good successful writer and explorer, and he is also a car collector/gearhead. The likes of me can only wish we could have the promised land as well as he does…

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      • Sandy Claws

        Nah, he wants to ride a train, preferably under water.

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  5. JimW

    “My old man is a tv repairman, he’s got this ultimate set of tools, I can fix it”

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    • Sandy Claws

      I wonder what Spicoli is doing today? I see him in a nursing home with a fried brain.

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  6. Will Owen Member

    The Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar CA has one of these on display, in tow mode behind I THINK (but can’t find my photo) a Pierce-Arrow car. It is one of the few displays that invites us to actually go inside and sit on the furniture. Mrs. O fell in love with it immediately, as I did – a very well-thought-out floor plan and fine use of space. And pretty doggone gorgeous, too.

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  7. stillrunners

    One was listed here awhile back….think it was in Texas…..that guy was trying to find a buyer tooooooo.

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  8. Bob McK Member

    I was fortunate enough to see Clive’s hitched to a Pierce Arrow. His looks like new.

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  9. John

    A terrible writer, but might have to give him props for cars etc.

    • luke arnott

      Don’t agree! A Clive Cussler book,several glasses of Chardonnay and a a few gin & tonics make a Transatlantic flight of 10 hours bearable from the UK.

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  10. Charles Marks

    Being from Buffalo, love all things Pierce Arrow George Pierce started out making birdcages in the 1800’s. Well to do people lit their homes with gas lights. A gas leak could be detected by a bird much faster than by a human. Birds were a safety feature. Pierce went on to make bicycles and of course cars and trucks…. The Pierce Arrow building still stands on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. The Buffalo Transportation Museum which is heavy into Pierce Arrow cars and memorabilia is well worth visiting. Be cool if it was actually in the old Pierce Arrow building but…..

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  11. Will Owen Member

    I am just now remembering the little early PA in the basement of the Nethercutt’s workshop building. There were no restrictions on climbing into it – I was with the Alfa Romeo club, being overseen by our two Petersen docents, who would holler at us if we misbehaved – and I just fell in love with it! Although it had the architecture of a light surrey-topped four-passenger carriage, its mechanicals were well-contained but accessible, and the driving position, behind a reasonably-sized wheel with mixture and ignition controls on the rim, was not only comfortable, but inviting. Wow, I thought, I’d love one of these!

  12. PatrickM

    Getting more straight to the point… This thing needs a huge amount of work done to it. And that price tag is quite out of sight for me. In better shape, this would be a good unit. But, I have neither time nor place. Sorry… Pass.

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    • reinee Member

      I have reduced the price , asking $4800. thx Jay

  13. Kerry Glenn

    “Knob & tube” electrical wiring!

  14. Will Owen Member

    Pierce-Arrow was definitely pre-Romex … Just about every house I grew up in was too. The town’s best electrician was blind, and handy at getting around in unlit attics. He’d check whether a wire was live or not by touching his tongue to it.

    I do think you could rewire this to codes without getting any concours penalty points!

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