Lot 3

2013   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2013

1915 Pierce-Arrow Model 48 Seven-Passenger Suburban

SOLD $159,500


$175,000 - $260,000





Car Highlights

An Exceptional Example of the Model 48 Pierce-Arrow
Beautifully Detailed Cast-Aluminum Suburban Coachwork
One of Two Known, and the Sole “Dome-Roof” Example Extant
Distinguished Chain of Knowledgeable Owners
Highly Original and Well-Regarded Example
An Ideal Nickel-Era Tour Car

Technical Specs

524 CID Dual-Valve T-Head Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Single Pierce-Arrow Updraft Carburetor
48 HP (NACC Rating) at 2,500 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
2-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes
Front Beam Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Rear Live Axle with Three-Quarter-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Register to Bid

Formerly the Property of Milton S. Hershey

The Pierce-Arrow Rooted in the dawn of motoring and steadfastly committed to excellence throughout its storied history, Pierce-Arrow continues to be regarded with immense admiration by legions of classic-car enthusiasts and collectors today. Five straight victories (1905–1909) in the prestigious Glidden Reliability Tours, with perfect scores attained four times, cemented the marque’s reputation for unrivalled quality and reliability.

The large-displacement Pierce-Arrow T-head sixes featured cylinders cast in pairs, supported by aluminum crankcases, with every component of the finest quality. All engines were dynamometertested for performance before being completely disassembled, inspected, and tested yet again for smoothness.

Pierce-Arrow automobile bodies were usually made from 1/8" aluminum panels cast in the company’s own foundry. Pierce-Arrow Chief Engineer Herbert Dawley usually met personally with the customers, who specified the colors, interior materials, and accessories for their purchase, making most Pierce-Arrows of the era wonderfully unique. In short, Pierce-Arrow’s powerful sixes were among the finest American automobiles of the 1910s and 1920s. Today, they are beloved and remain highly drivable tour cars.

This Car This Pierce-Arrow Model 48 Seven-Passenger Suburban from 1915, car no. 13304, retains its original matching-numbers engine. It is one of just two known 1915 Model 48 Suburbans remaining in existence today, and it is the sole known “dome-roof” example. According to a subsequent long-term owner, it was purchased new in the Hershey, Pennsylvania, area by none other than the confectioner, industrialist, and philanthropist Milton S. Hershey of Hershey Chocolate Company fame. It remained within Mr. Hershey’s vehicle fleet until the early 1920s. Subsequently, it was sold and relocated to Virginia, where it remained under single-family ownership until just prior to 1970. It was then acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Ernie Stern of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and retained by them until their passing.

In 1995, the majestic Model 48 was acquired from the Stern Estate by Pat Craig, the well-known marque aficionado, Pierce-Arrow Society member, and restorer from Stockton, California. In 1997, Mr. Craig sold 13304 to Idaho’s Bill Lawton, another well-known Pierce-Arrow Society member who was also a business partner of the noted restorer Eric Rosenau. On December 11, 2003, the current California-based owner acquired the car from Mr. Lawton.

As offered, this truly stately automobile is in very good cosmetic and operating condition, and the consignor states that it runs and drives very well, having benefited from appropriate and sympathetic work performed under past owners Stern, Craig, and Lawton. Highly correct and finished in its factory-original optional color scheme of brown and black, and complemented by matching upholstery in wool and leather, this Model 48 is also quite rare today with its correct 27" wheels and proper Goodrich Johnson rims, as the wheels of many other Pierce-Arrows from the era were cut down to a 25" diameter. The car retains the monogram of Mr. and Mrs. Stern on the rear doors. Desirable mechanical upgrades include installation of a 1918-model starter and flywheel, and a Pierce-Delco dual-ignition distributor, which provides very good ignition properties. The current owner has retained the year-correct coil box, commutator, and magneto, which accompany the sale of the car.

One of only two known 1915 Model 48 Seven-Passenger Suburbans remaining today, and the only dome-roof example known, this wonderful Pierce-Arrow is complete with wrenches for the hub and gas caps, plus a hand crank. This car can be admired on many levels and truly embodies a bygone era – that of Pierce-Arrow at one of its greatest periods. Never shown under the current owner, it will certainly provide both an immensely enjoyable touring experience and a welcome entry into the most exclusive shows and events