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Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company was an American automobile manufacturer based in Buffalo, New York, which was active from 1901 to 1938. Although best known for its expensive luxury cars, Pierce-Arrow also manufactured commercial trucks, fire trucks, camp trailers, motorcycles, and bicycles.
The Pierce-Arrow was a status symbol, owned by many Hollywood stars and tycoons. Most of the royalty of the world had at least one Pierce-Arrow in its collection. Some have described Pierce and two of its rivals among American luxury cars, Peerless and Packard, as the "Three P's of Motordom. In 1928, the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana, gained control of the Buffalo firm. The association was to last for five years, with moderate benefits to both companies' engineering departments, which continued to function as separate entities.
Pierce-Arrow also gained a dealer network, as the cars were sold through Studebaker dealerships. Under Studebaker ownership Pierce-Arrow retired the venerable 6-cylinder engine and in 1929 introduced an L-head [straight-eight engine], which displaced 366 cubic inches. In 1933, Pierce-Arrow unveiled the radically streamlined Silver Arrow in a final attempt to appeal to the wealthy at the New York Auto Show. The car was well received by the public and the motoring press, being announced with the slogan "Suddenly it's 1940!" Pierce sold five examples but, since it was priced at $10,000 during the worst of the Depression, the rich were hesitant to spend so much.
The bodies were built at Studebaker, which subsequently assisted in rolling out a lower-priced production model. This, however, lacked many luxury features of the show car and still failed to generate enough sales.