No Reserve Rarity! 1935 Pierce-Arrow 1245

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This listing could just as easily be titled, “Magnificent Old Car, Needs Help and a Home“. A 1935 Pierce-Arrow 1245 is a significant find but it’s a BIG, expensive car with a limited following. Nevertheless, it’s always exciting to see one of these fine old cars that still has a future. This Pierce-Arrow is located in Portland, Oregon and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $15,602 with 45 bids tendered as of this writing.

Pierce arrow offered three different models in 1935, the 845 series, (eight-cylinder engine) and the 1245/1255 series (twelve-cylinder engine). Body styles included coupes, sedans, and a convertible. While total production was a scant 875 examples, the seller claims that only 48 were “Enclosed Drive” model 1245 limousines, like this example, with just twelve still in existence. This particular car was purchased by the current owner in 1989 with the intention of performing a restoration that never occurred. It was a competent runner in 1990 and is still in operating condition today but it’s not reliable for actual driving.

The seller describes the basic construct of this car as, “The body and chassis are solid with no rust-out. This is the LARGE 7-Passenger Limousine body on the 147″ wheelbase. Very straight with only a few small scrapes noted“. The finish is claimed to be the original Ocean Gray Dark finish, one of seventeen available colors in ’35. As observed, this Pierce-Arrow is eyeball-less and the components, bezels, etc. are missing. The seller notes that the grille is incorrect too but he has the attention-needing original. The seller also notes that the roof insert panels are intact and undamaged. In my mind, I keep circling back to the 147” wheelbase, can you imagine making a u-turn in this tourer? Sure, it’s the chauffer’s problem but it still has to be done; it’s probably tantamount to docking a ship!

Under the expansive hood is a 175 HP,  462 CI V-12 engine which will start, though as mentioned earlier, is not really driveable. The mileage is recorded as 56K miles but it is not claimed to be original. The seller adds, “The car started easily and smoothed out during this short test run. The test run showed good oil pressure and no unusual noises or issues. The fuel pump has been removed for rebuilding and the car should be re-wired to operate safely“. There is a video here that illustrates this Pierce-Arrow being started – it sounds like it has either an exhaust leak, out of adjustment valves or both.

The interior, as expected, is enormous, you could hold a UN Conference there. There is a separate Chauffer’s compartment, complete with a black leather upholstered seat, but an instrument panel that appears to be missing some of its components. The good news is that there are numerous parts included with the sale and the missing items look to be included in the parts trove.

As for the passenger compartment, it was supposedly reupholstered in the ’80s using the correct gray, broadcloth upholstery – it still presents very well though the seller states that it is starting to show wear. The seller further adds that he has all of the unattached door hardware.

I hope this one finds a home! As many of you have stated before, interest in these large, expensive ’30s automobiles seems to have flagged in recent years as older collectors have moved on and new entrants to the old car biz don’t seem to have the interest in these icons from a lost American age. What do you think, anyone up for a significant but worthwhile challenge?

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  1. Dennis

    Wow! I have actually lusted for a Pierce Arrow, although the ability to afford one has generally escaped me. This is a beautiful project car that needs an owner with deep pockets and a dream of showing at Pebble Beach.

    From the 20’s until they died a sad Great Depression death in the mid 30’s, Pierce Arrows were the American equivalent to a Rolls Royce.

    I hope this finds a good (wealthy) home.

    Like 33
  2. steveo

    “…as older collectors have moved on…” is a very delicate way of saying it. As an old guy, I appreciate the kindness. Thanks.

    Like 20
    • Bob Roller

      Steveo reminded me of a program I saw several years ago about major classic cars and aging buyers having them restored and the featured car was a Duesenberg and the owner paid mega bucks and then some for a restoration shop to devote 24-7 to getting this car restored.It was done but I have no idea as to the REAL quality of the work but it did look good.I did know the name of the shop but have forgotten it as well as the “J”number of the engine.

      Like 1
  3. Frank Farrell

    I wonder if cars such as this will hit a rock bottom and never recover over the next 20 years. As the writer mentioned, “older collectors” are a dying breed, and who is taking their place? Not a lot of car museums are opening up lately. As cools as it looks, it’s virtually undrivable on a regular basis even when restored. At least with a 1960’s and above year car you have power brakes, seat belts, etc. and you can take it for a spin whenever you want. Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of buyers after you invest in this. There’s only one Jay Leno around with pockets deep enough.

    Like 3
  4. On and On On and OnMember

    I have noted the attrition effect in this sport since my introduction in the early 60s when my mechanic father first started looking for an old car…….He subscribed to Cars and Parts magazine, which I still have a few of them left, and perused each issue carefully. At that time the hot finds were brass era cars and I remember reading the stories about collectors going out west on a ‘hunt’ for them. Yep, checking old barns. My dad who during the depression left school after 6th grade to work in an old junkyard in Des Plaines, Illinois, “Shimkas” which may still be there, told stories about huge barrels of brass carburetors and parts he removed from those old cars for scrap. Although he liked those cars, his generation, he was in his late 30s in the early 60s, wanted cars from the late 20s and early 30s. The hobby was changing even then. I remember going to old garages and yards as a kid with him looking for a car to buy and restore. We saw buildings full of old machinery, rooms full of old, old motorcycles which nobody wanted then. Oh if I knew then what the future held………………….

    Like 17
  5. luke arnott

    I had 2 ’36 Pierces,both 8’s.Seriously well built cars.The 12 cylinder engine was used by Seagrave after Pierce finished in 1938.

    Like 5
    • Lance

      Thats right Luke right up to 1970!

      Like 1
  6. Bob Roller

    WW2 scrap drives took a toll on these big old cars and even the legendary Duesenberg was not immune.Fred Roe who wrote a fine book on them told of seeing a fine one in a junk yard and the owner of the junk yard said he was cutting it up for the war effort.This Pierce has a big potential and as mentioned,
    a thick check book.This big V12 was also made in a modified version for the Seagraves fire trucks and the heads were modified for 2 spark plugs per cylinder.I doubt if this car will be sent to a junk yard and will be restored by someone who doesn’t let trivialities like cost slow him down.I suppose most car people already know that the Gary Cooper SSJ Duesenberg sold back in 2018 for $22 Million dollars so there are those that can put this Pierce in a top shop and say,”Make a Pierce out of it again”.

    Like 5
  7. Bdeh

    I have wondered whether these pre-war or interwar cars will disappear as supposedly interest wanes. I can say that I’m only in the beginnings of middle age and recently have gotten into these beautiful older cars. I have owned ’70s muscle cars and ’80s european poster cars I loved as a kid but these are different. Yes, figuring out who can work on them etc. is a concern but I suspect the best ones amongst them will carry on and there will be a resurgence in interest in having at least one to experience with your kids etc. I wonder about the valuation of the upper end of this market though – the trailer queens that go from one concours to another. Those investment class cars may start to come back down to earth from a valuation standpoint and if so, good for all of us who love them and droll over them at shows and may have the opportunity to be their next caretakers.

    Like 2
  8. John Harris

    I hope a collector with deep pockets and a passion for classic cars buys it. It should be saved.

    Like 4
  9. William Bussler

    I agree, not much of a market for these anymore. But……

    An old friend of mine (probably 20 years older than me) back in the early fifties ran a junk yard near a big city. When ever a car like this came in, particularly Packards, be would take them home and store them in his barn. In the 70’s and 80’s he made a killing off of them.

    It’s a shame.

    Like 2
  10. CharlesSawka

    One thing always comes to mind. If you gather all the parts and restore a 28 Ford, you will have X number of hours in it. How much is it worth ? If you have all the parts on hand for a Pierce Arrow or a Rolls or a Dusenberg,etc. The actual man hours may be close to the same. Do the math.

    Like 2
    • Frank Farrell

      Exactly. Most people don’t realize the cost of their time to restore these things. If you do it for the money, you’ll be broke.

      Like 0
  11. Jaker76

    Beautiful cars but as already said, takes a big wallet to restore. Probably the largest collection of these I have ever seen in one location was at the Gilmore Museum outside of Kalamazoo, MI. Haven’t been to the museum since 2012 so hopefully they are still a maintained part of that wonderful musuem! Hopefully someone rescues this as awesome vehicle!

    Like 1
  12. grant

    I’d love to have something like this someday, but I’m not ready. I’m 46 btw. IMHO, this car should NOT be restored. Clean it up, source or make the missing parts and put it back together.

    Like 3
  13. Richard Kirschenbaum

    An 8 cylinder 1937 Pierce Coupe parked in the back of a Chicago used car lot along Touhy Avenue ignited my passion for owning my first car at 14. It was as it turned out NOT for sale and I had no idea of what it was until I inquired about its availability. This was in 1959-60 and a contemporary advertisement for ANATOMY OF A MURDER featuring Lee Remick’s exquisite derriere triggered the usual testosteronic arithmetic. I later met the car’s owner, who became a client of my architect father. It was given a beige paint job and hopefully still exists.

    Like 2
  14. Wayne from oz

    Don’t restore it, just make it a safe driver and enjoy it. Can’t see any car like this not being desirable.

    Like 3
  15. Mark Houseman

    I was shocked when I saw one like this at the Mecum auction in January in Kissimmee bid only up to 25K. It was an older restoration, driver quality. The reserve was set at 75K. After it went through I saw the owner talking to some foreign men I think from Sweden out under the tent trying to negotiate a deal.I have a picture of it but don’t know how to post it now I’m barn finds

    Like 0
    • Frank Farrell

      Yep, that’s what I mean. The market of potential buyers may be drying up as people go to the great junkyard in the sky. Completely unrelated, my Dad collected old Lionel trains, and as time went by he bemoaned how the prices were dropping over time. His explanation was that the “basement men” who collected these trains were going to the “Great Trainyard”.

      Certain cars(old Vettes, etc.) have a place in the cultural landscape so they will always have some desirability. As cool as this car is, not many younger folks would care, sadly.

      Like 0
  16. BOB

    someting like this deserves to be driven not full blown restoration , have a frame shop make a new frame put in a cummins 6bt with a allison automatic trans and enjoy

    Like 0
    • luke arnott

      Put a diesel in a Pierce?Sacrilege!

      Like 5
    • Daniel from oz

      Bob, give up the drugs.

      Like 1
  17. DuesenbergDino

    Worked on several of these back in the day. Packards, Delages, V16 Caddies, Duesenberg, all pre WWII classics. Great, great automobiles.

    Like 0
  18. Mountainwoodie

    Theres np little irony that one of the signifiers of a Pierce, the headlights faired into the fenders, are missing. Kind of a metaphor for its present situation. Somebody will buy it and lets hope they are well heeled and willing to be a little poorer.for the pleasure of seeing this car usable and back on the road. It is afterall a magnificent beast!

    Like 0

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