Stored For 70 Years: 1934 Pierce-Arrow Model 836A

Recently, on Barn Finds, we published several articles on early 20th-century luxury car manufacturer Packard. While Packard was a significant automotive player in the non-big three large, luxury market segment, they weren’t the only game in town. Another substantial participant was The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car company. And found in Williston, Florida is an example from that storied manufacturer, 1934 model 836A, available here on eBay for a starting bid of $28,101, no reserve. 

  1. Pierce-Arrow had a life before auto manufacturing but its first automobile was produced in 1901. Like many manufacturers, especially those that produced expensive, luxury items the great depression reversed Pierce-Arrow’s fortunes and by 1938 they were gone from the American automobile landscape. Curiously, and unlike most other auto manufacturers, Pierce-Arrow was based in Buffalo, New York and not the more traditional Detroit. This model 836A was introduced in 1934 as a smaller, lower-cost model designed to capture markets that their larger more expensive cars could no longer reach. The retail price for this 836A was $2,395 and it is one of only 1,740 Pierce-Arrows produced that year.

The seller of this Pierce-Arrow states that this car is in the process of restoration and is in “unbelievable condition” with no rust or body damage except for a minor dent under the rear deck lid. While it shows well, the seller adds that it needs paint and chrome. That said, the original gray finish actually wears pretty well and based on the accompanying images, is more than just presentable. Where the listing gets confusing is that the seller claims that he has the “newly chromed pieces for the hood” along with the side mounts and accessories so I’m not sure what chrome needs he is referencing unless he means re-chroming what hasn’t been re-chromed. Nevertheless, if all of these unattached parts are available, it would seem that attaching them to the car would do wonders to get the bidding process started and enhance the value.

The seller states that the interior of this Packard was recently reupholstered at a price of $7,000. The interior shows like new, all of it; seats, carpets, door cards, and headliner. No word on the instrument panel and its workings but it appears to be in fine condition. The only things missing are the two rear door, inside handles. This must be a really important matter as it is mentioned twice in the listing.

Pierce-Arrow automobiles were known for having enormous engines. This 836A is scaled back a bit with a 366 CI, in-line, eight-cylinder engine (still substantial in size)  generating 135 HP. Typical for the era is its three-speed manual transmission. It doesn’t sound like this Pierce-Arrow has been driven lately as it has been stored indoors for 70 years. The owner states that the engine has been “fired off” and the external water jacket has been replaced. I take “fired-off” to mean started but the listing also claims the usual, “ran twenty years ago” and the engine “turns over freely” so there is some further explaining that needs to happen.

There are no bids on this automobile so far and part of the issue may be that a potential seller just can’t see this as a completed car – that’s where the missing parts installation could be so beneficial. Preserving old cars is obviously a consistent thread throughout Barn Finds but it is even more poignant in the case of fallen marques like this Pierce-Arrow or a Duesenberg, Auburn, Packard, etc. Once they’re gone, they’re gone and memories and knowledge fade. I certainly hope this Pierce-Arrow finds the right home, is reunited with all of its missing parts and is driven and enjoyed by its new owner. Might that new owner be you?

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Comments

  1. Rodney - GSM

    How can you not love this car? The front view is a study in perfect automotive architecture of the 1930’s. Just stunningly beautiful. Someone will be very lucky to return this to the road where it belongs.

    Like 22
    • Jennie Loomis

      Why not convert it to en electric and update the chassis, basically a Resto-Mod electric. This way you keep this beauty on the road and in people’s lives and thoughts.

      Like 2
  2. Ken Cwrney

    Won’t be us Rodney. These cars were
    expensive to restore even 50 years ago.
    A friend of Dad’s had a ’27 4-door sedan
    and spent a small fortune doing it. Parts
    for these things were hard to get even then. Dad’s friend was a long time collector who had many fine obscure cars including a ’37 Cord 812 with a
    supercharger and a beautiful Duesenberg
    dual cowl phaeton that he would rent out for weddings if you could afford it. I got
    to see his collection once, and to a young
    kid of 14, it was an eye popping experience. He actually let me touch, start, and even sit in them! Along with the
    cord and the Deusie, he had Packards,
    Cadillacs, and a few Lincolns–all of which were high end blue chip cars even
    then. I guess between that and helping
    Dad overhaul a friend’s Lincoln V-12 is
    why I got into the hobby in the first place.
    But all is not list, at least I can paint a
    picture of it using this great old car as a
    guide.

    Like 13
    • Rodney - GSM

      Hi Ken, well the great thing is that it does not have to be me or you. Only someone with an automotive passion that see this as a challenge worth taking on and is not concerned with making a “profit”. The complete satisfaction of bringing this car back is the reward for time well spent.
      I love guys like that. Then we get to enjoy seeing the end result. I hope one of those guys finds this car.

  3. DayDreamBeliever Member

    What a Stately Style.

    Make it run well, shine it up, and drive whenever possible.

    EVERYONE would look, everyone would want a closer view. You’ll lose count of the thumbs-up you’ll get.

    Like 6
  4. Ken Cwrney

    You’re right DDB. I wonder if the stick engine could keep up with today’s traffic
    while I cruised her to Old Town.

    Like 3
    • Johnny

      Its keep up with it and still be running in 5 years . When alot of these new cars –throw aways–will be in the scrap yard or garage trying to figure out which electronic relay is bad and mouting up a expensive mechanic bill. I like this old car alot. You get tired working on it.Crawl in the back seat and take a nap.

      Like 5
  5. Fred W

    This one already has the advantage of a NICE interior. I would probably have it professionally detailed, fix the mechanicals, chrome the bumpers and enjoy! Full restoration isn’t mandatory unless you hang out with people who expect nothing less.

    Like 8
  6. h5mind

    If recent Mecum auctions are any indication, this is a VERY unrealistic asking price. In very nice, running and driving condition with good chrome, they are hard-pressed to sell above $40K. Something whoever commissioned the big-dollar interior job probably realized when they halted the restoration. Put a true no-reserve auction up and it will sell for its current market value.

    Like 9
  7. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Another great parade car here. It’s got character, beauty and though it will take a bunch of $$ to do it, it would be worth the $$ IMO.

  8. Tony

    “fired off” typo for “freed off”?

    Like 1
  9. Bob McK Member

    This looks like a great project if you can find the parts that are missing.

  10. Howard A Member

    Crickets chirping. I’m sorry, this isn’t going anywhere. Hard to believe this, at one time, was one of the fanciest cars you could buy. Ordinary schmoes didn’t buy or drive Pierce-Arrows, except maybe with the owner in the back. Again, in nice shape, it has a chance, like this, I doubt it. Just no connection today. I don’t want to start a fight, I know what it is, but to most nowadays, it’s just an ugly, dusty old car you can’t even drive. More so with every passing generation.

    Like 8
    • Johnny

      Your right Howard. Younger people now days don,t appreciate what you can leave them. Unless its new they don,t want it-very few young people do. My sister and I fixed up a 77 Fire bird for my niece. All it needed was the front end alignment. I told her we replaced everything and she could do that. After she wore the front tires out. Her father-in-law parked it in the woods. It sat their for 5 years. Gather moss and leaves on it. Then one night on Facebook she asked me if I knew anyone who wanted to buy it? I asked her what was she asking ? She said $500 or whatever I can get. I told her to get the title and I would. I had too much invested to see it go for that.Complet re-built motor -front end.Everything. I bought. it back. Next day my cousin and I went to see if it would start. I put a battery in it and was gonna put a littla gas in the carb to help get it running.Before I did. I asked Joe to try it. He hit the key and believe it or not.It started up without turning over all the way and idled like you had just parked it. I,m now in the process getting it back the way it was and driving it in the summer days.Young people (most) do not appreciate what you do for them.

      Like 10
      • Bob McK Member

        Great story! But very sad. Wish you had built it for me. I would still cherish it.

        Like 1
      • Mike

        My wife and kids appreciate older vehicles even if they don’t drive theirs daily. I restored a 75 GMC 1/2 ton a few years ago and gave it to my son last year after he bought his house. It’s a basic C-15 with a 250/3 on the tree and 8′ bed. He parks it in the garage with his daily and uses it regularly for weekend runs to pick up stuff for home improvements. I also gave my daughter my 85 K-25 Suburban. Even though her car was fairly new and in good shape, I didn’t like her running my twin grandsons around in her “tin can” Focus. She actually DOES drive the ‘Burb every day because, according to her, “even though it DRINKS gas, it’s so easy to get the boys in and out”. To me, that’s just a bonus. I just wanted some real steel around her and my grandsons. Since she’s not only my daughter, but also a single mom, I don’t mind sliding her a little extra cash for gas. I’m not gonna ask but I’m pretty sure my wife and son do too. ‘Burb is a thirsty guy lol! Right now, I’m working on a ’78 Chevy K-10 shorty for my wife and I DO drive my 77 K-35 almost daily.

        Like 1
      • DayDreamBeliever Member

        Mike,
        I can appreciate your sentiments, especially regarding the Suburban. When the big gas crunch pushed the price per gallon up to $4 and beyond around 2010, I was running a K1500, and spending $100/week for fuel hauling my sons around. But we were well-armored.

  11. A.J.

    There are no bids because it is way overpriced. Cool, yes. But the 836 is the low end Pierce and it might sell for 1/2 of what they are looking for.

    Identical car in the Hershey car corral last year but the high end model, running and driving sold for 25k.

    Like 2
    • Bob McK Member

      You are correct! I would buy this in a minute if it were priced right. But there are not a lot of people out there interested in a low end PA.

      Like 1
  12. A.J.

    Btw, those headlights lens are 2500/each if they are missing.

    Like 3
  13. Lance Nord

    One error in the story… Pierce Arrow only built 1,740 cars in 1934… there weren’t 1,740 of the Model 836A sold in ’34.

    Like 1
    • Jim ODonnell

      Thx Lance, I knew that but missed it in my final edit. Fixed now.

      Like 2
  14. Del

    Seller’s discription is vague and wandering.

    Does it run ? Guess not.

    Body and interior in great shape.

    Prices are all over the place on these.

    Probably only of interest to someone who is knowlegable about these, and has the dough to get it on the road again. No amateurs need apply.

    He is going to be surprised at what he will have to take to get rid of it.

    Like 2
  15. skibum2

    These cars of this era are not going to sell for what they think the price should be… kinda like Harleys.. the generation is not concerned with these. cannot repair and certainly can’t drive them. oh well, I went to Sturgis and everyone was in my age group.. going to sell my Ultra Classic as I am getting older..

    Like 3
  16. John Member

    A neighbor in So. Bend had one in the mid-late 40’s, was a 4 door, a massive
    vehicle, like new. They would go by the house a lot of time, of course, he died
    then I saw her a couple times driving it, then gone. Only Pierce I ever seen to this day, hardly any around, huge vehicle

    Like 2
  17. Gray Wolf

    Dual inline sbc with 671 blowers, like the famous FreightTrain dragster! LOL, just kidding! A friend found a Pierce Arrow touring in a barn that was being used as a chicken coup! In order to get the car, he had to build a better coup than they had! Once it met the owners approval, he got the car! Very strange!

    Like 2
  18. Kenn

    These will, by the way, keep up with traffic. Not sure why big, powerful cars are under-estimated as to keeping up with modern cars on the highway just because they are old.

  19. V8roller

    Also in the UK, unless it’s something special, the value of 30s cars is on the slide. The generation that loved them and can fix them is passing.
    Errk, that’s me !

    And besides that, what always puts me off limousines, there’s nowhere to put the luggage. Whereas my 63 Rambler can swallow all the bags you can throw at it.

    Like 1
  20. lc

    It’s anyone’s guess if another 20K would bring this up to current values, yet there is a pleasure in having brought a classic car back to world of the living. In todays market I think that starting at 18K would generated more reasonable interest.

    Like 1

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