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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Pierce Motorette


Washington Times-Herald
December 31, 1922

First Pierce-Arrow, 21 Years Old, Chugs Slowly Down Fifth Avenue.

Metropolitan traffic cops momentarily forgot their signals, motorists gazed on in amazement and pedestrians craned their necks a few days ago when a little, one-cylinder "horseless carriage" chugged down Fifth avenue, in New York city.

The spunky, buggy-like conveyance was an old-time motorette, the very first Pierce-Arrow.  It was completing a repetition of the run it made twenty-one years ago, when it came through with flying colors in the famous Pan-American endurance co test between New York and Buffalo.  At the steering lever was the same driver who had "raced" it on several of the endurance runs and contests which were the forerunners of the Glidden tours, in which Pierce-Arrow cars won their spurs through repeated victories.


It completed its journey in front of the New York City Hall, where Mayor Hylan congratulated the driver while hundreds watched.  Alongside the motorette was a big, modern Pierce-Arrow inclosed-drive limousine.  The contrast was startling.

One could step into the modern car and ride from the metropolis to Buffalo in fifteen hours or less, enjoying full comfort and complete protection from snow, cold, rain or wind.

It took five days to make the same trip in the motorette, and the driver had to be attired like an Eskimo.  With no windshield, no top, no protection for the legs, he suffered discomfort even though bundled up in bearskins and wearing a helmet and goggles.


Twenty miles an hour, the maximum speed for the motorette, seemed like forty.  Roads that seem like velvet in the modern Pierce-Arrow jounced and jarred the veteran car with its short, 58-inch wheelbase and small bicycle tires.  To turn around in cramped quarters, the driver had to jump out, lift up the front end of the 500-pound vehicle and wheel it around like a wheelbarrow, for the early cars had no reverse gear.

"To see the motorette beside a modern Pierce-Arrow shocks one into a realization of the really amazing strides that have been made in motor car design," says L. E. Corcoran, passenger car sales manager of the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company.  "Today with its wonderful dual-valve six-cylinder engine and with de luxe coachwork, the modern Pierce-Arrow offers comfortable, speedy transportation undreamed of twenty-one years ago."

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