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With its pronounced reputation for quality, Pierce-Arrow continued to build superb automobiles throughout the second decade of the 20th century. With three chassis models – the 38, 48, and 66 – and numerous body options, Pierce-Arrow covered the market with fast and reliable touring cars but, with the introduction of the dual-valve, Pierce-Arrow discontinued the Model 66. The dual-valve 38 and 48 models were capable of the same performance as earlier 48 and 66 models, respectively.
Built in 1919, this particular car was a late variant of the Model 38, a Series 31 dual valve. Fitted with one of Pierce-Arrow’s standard cast aluminum bodies, a four-passenger roadster, the car was a light and powerful “cloverleaf.” Only six of these four-passenger roadsters are known to exist, with just three on the Model 38 chassis.
Although the earliest history of this Pierce-Arrow is unknown, it is believed to have spent the vast majority of its life in California. A 1930 California registration identifies Joe Buttress of Pasadena as the first known owner of the car. Some 20 years later, the Pierce found itself at Uptown Motors in Bellflower, California, a used car lot belonging to H. “Eddie” Stein. A pair of business cards and a simple note remains as record of an October 5, 1952, purchase agreement for $800 between Mr. Stein and Mr. Raymond E. Nelson. A photograph of the Model 38 on the lot shows it to have been in a neglected but superbly solid and complete state, with the exception of a missing top.
After taking the car home to North Hollywood, California, Mr. Nelson began a multiyear restoration of the roadster. Receipts and photographs from the early 1950s attest to the detailed quality of the work including the manufacture of a new top; and correspondence between members of the Horseless Carriage Club of America note Mr. Nelson’s search for an ammeter and other miscellaneous parts. By 1955, the work was completed.
In September 1961, Nelson brought the four-passenger roadster up to the Miramar Hotel in Santa Barbara, California, for the first West Coast Meet of the Pierce-Arrow Society. Color photos marked “Van Nuys Jan. 1964” show the Pierce-Arrow in what is believed to be Mr. Nelson’s collection on display in a parking garage.
The car remained with Mr. Nelson for 26 years until his passing, at which time it was sold on behalf of the estate. In July 1978, the Model 38 was purchased by noted Pierce-Arrow enthusiast Rodney Flournoy. Mr. Flournoy owned and enjoyed the Pierce- Arrow for another 26 years until its sale in January 2004 to Lynette Short.
Mrs. Short, who shared a passion for Brass and Nickel Era motorcars with her late husband Don, purchased the Pierce-Arrow and immediately put it to use. She joined the Pierce-Arrow Society as an interested new owner and proudly took the roadster on the 27th Annual Modoc Tour in August of that year. After seven happy years of ownership, the car was auctioned with the rest of the Short collection, at which time a Northwest collector with an enthusiasm for Model 38 Pierce-Arrows purchased the car.
Offered here is an exceptionally well- documented Pierce-Arrow with desirability as both a dual-valve and a four-passenger roadster. Pierce-Arrows are known for being a delight to drive and a reliable event car for the novice or Nickel Era expert. With growing interest in Brass and Nickel Era touring, this car would make an ideal entry to any of these events.