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1930 Pierce Arrow Land Speed Record Car from American Picker's TV Show Unearthed!


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#1 karguy12

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 07:21 PM

Many of you have seen the American Picker's TV show where they discover a Pierce Arrow LSR car from the 30's. Well here it is unearthed and saved. Frame and running gear all appear to be 1929 Pierce Arrow with numerous modifications like the engine relocated to the point it almost scrapes the ground, lowerin blocks, custom controls, etc. It has a 300MPH speedometer! The body was originally canvass like the ol planes of the 20's and you can still see some of it on the aluminum birdcage frame.

Any information, photos or history for this car would be greatly appreciated! More photos to follow.

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#2 edinmass

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 09:26 PM

I need nore detailed photos to properly ID the car. Engine number, engine details and photos, it has a modified exhaust manifold, custom intake, It would help to have lots more photos...... I also would post on HAMB as you will have a much wider group of people to ask. You can PM me and i'll send you my direct email if you like. Ed
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#3 keiser31

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 09:42 PM

I need nore detailed photos to properly ID the car. Engine number, engine details and photos, it has a modified exhaust manifold, custom intake, It would help to have lots more photos...... I also would post on HAMB as you will have a much wider group of people to ask. You can PM me and i'll send you my direct email if you like. Ed

It's already on the H.A.M.B.

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#4 alsancle

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 04:09 AM

I'm sure Ed knows best but the only way a 1929 Pierce is reaching 300mph is if you drop it out of a plane. Reminds me a bit of the L29 LSR that was built as a movie prop.

#5 karguy12

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 04:12 AM

I need nore detailed photos to properly ID the car. Engine number, engine details and photos, it has a modified exhaust manifold, custom intake, It would help to have lots more photos...... I also would post on HAMB as you will have a much wider group of people to ask. You can PM me and i'll send you my direct email if you like. Ed


The engine numbers are 44363 K*A*5 Trans numbers are T-74-178

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#6 trimacar

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 09:32 AM

I remember the episode and the talk then, it was in a guy's back yard in Florida. Glad it's been saved, no matter what it is.

Agree with the airplane comment, that's so true, there's not a gear set ever made that would get that engine to move that beast anywhere near 300 mph.....

Interesting project.......are you going to restore it?
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#7 karguy12

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 11:29 AM

I'm not sure what I will do with it. I know that a lot of research will be the first order of business. :)

#8 alsancle

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 12:53 PM

I think it is cool. This is the L29 "LSR" I was referring to. It was built as a movie prop for a Jimmy Stewart Movie around 1937. In the 1930s there were a number of "Specials" built that looked like LSR cars but were really street speedsters.

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#9 whtbaron

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 01:35 PM

Whether or not it's a movie prop or somebody's pipedream, it's a very cool find. As I stated on the HAMB, it would be great to see it restored to it's original condition. That being said, I know finding speed parts for a 29 Pierce Arrow is going to be tough going. I suspect a lot of those parts were scratch built then, so at least that means it should be possible to recreate them.

#10 karguy12

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 11:56 PM

We took the car to it's firsrt car show fresh out of the mud less than 24 hours after extracting it from the backyard it sat in for 25 years. IT WON ITS FIRST TROPHY!! LOL There was a huge crowd around it all day much to the dismay of many a polished Ferrari owner. :)

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Edited by karguy12, 07 April 2013 - 11:59 PM.


#11 Dave Mellor NJ

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 03:45 AM

Potential Pebble Beach Car.

#12 MarrsCars

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 05:19 AM

In the 1930s there were a number of "Specials" built that looked like LSR cars but were really street speedsters.


Would those cars go as far as canvas bodies too or would they have used typical methods? That alone may help get some answers.

Karguy, I love that you found this, I remember seeing it on the show and was surprised that the guys just let it go, it seemed right up their alley so I thought they would at least call an expert in for an opinion, but they just went on to the next oil can or dusty motorcycle gloves. I think it's a good move to leave it exactly alone until you know what you've got, as you said do the research first, wise man. Depending upon what it turns out to be, it could make a great feature for West to have fun with!

I just noticed that the little girl in the stroller is actually taking a photo of the car with her cameraphone! There's proof that engaging the next generation is valuable and has an immediate payoff. She may never forget that car and you might see her in 20-years on the show field with her own special ride, in a vintage 2008 model.

Edited by MarrsCars, 08 April 2013 - 05:23 AM.

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#13 karguy12

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 12:30 PM

There are way too many special features on this car for it to have been a "street speedster" or some other road going variant. There were never any lights or brake lights or even a rear window or mirrors to see out of on the car. The compression was so high on the engine that they literally welded the spark plugs to the head so that they would not blow them out of the socket on the speed run. The engine and trans are so low in the frame that with the air out of the tires, the trans is touching the ground. With air in the tires there would be about 4 inches of ground clearance. You would never have done anything like that on a 30's road car with the condition of those roads, but 4 inches of ground clearance is fine for sand. Four custom built intakes with ceramic throats for four seperate carbs. A custom modified exhaust manifold that again was ceramic coated inside and out. A machined and fabricated mechanical linkage for opening all four carbs with adjustments for each, extended controls to move the passenger compartment back to the rear axle area and aircraft grade body ribs with smoothed over countersunk aircraft rivets. A hood that opens outward like a clam but then unpins at each hinge, a special hand fabricated gear assembly to turn the 300mph speedometer and on and on. This was built to go fast, not run on the streets like the car in the 1936 Jimmy Stewart movie which was a road going movie prop. There is no doubt it was a land speed car. It may not have been sucessful, but they were trying to go as fast as possible. What the intent of the build actually was, we may never know.

I too was facinated by the car on the show. I could not believe that they didn't even call in an expert or give it another hard look. The show keeps all of their finds confidential so that someone doesn't see the show and then go rob these people with hoards of antiques or sworm them with people trying to buy their stuff. In the show they deliberately tried to make you think the car was in the Daytona area when they drove three plus hours to get to it. I would have thought though that SOMEBODY would have tracked the car down before I lucked up upon it.

The little girl was taking several pictures of the car and two professional photographers were taking photos of her doing it. There is one shot of just the arms and the camera coming out of the stroller! Prieceless!

AB Jenkins set 40 records in an almost stock 1932 Pierce Arrow so speed records come in all shapes and sizes.

Edited by karguy12, 08 April 2013 - 01:04 PM.


#14 alsancle

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 12:31 PM

All the ones I have seen were aluminum so the canvas is pretty rare if not one of a kind.

I'll be happy if you prove otherwise but it is physically impossible to go very fast with that engine. Also, how fast would you be willing to go on those wheels?

Edited by alsancle, 08 April 2013 - 12:36 PM.


#15 karguy12

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 01:15 PM

Here is Ab Jenkins land speed Pierce Arrow he broke multiple records with including the 50 mile, 100 mile, 200 mile, 500 mile and 24 hour speed records with in 1934 using almost identicle stock Pierce Arrow wheels.

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Edited by karguy12, 08 April 2013 - 01:17 PM.


#16 trimacar

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 03:08 PM

Interesting discussion. Ab Jenkins drove slightly over 100 miles per hour, if I remember correctly. 300 mph is a different thing altogether.

With all the custom touches and special fabrication, it's hard to think that no one has some kind of documentation on this car. If it in fact did run for speed, it would have been at Bonneville. If there are no records of it running there, then it's probably just an engineering exercise executed by either a great fabricator or a person with deep pockets.

Hopefully some documentation will turn up. It's a fascinating car, surely it has a fascinating story to tell!!

Thanks for sharing....

#17 CarlLaFong

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 03:46 PM

The welded spark plug deal sounds a bit hinkey to me. Do you know what the CR is on the engine? Many modern engines have run CRs of 10:1. Drag racers run much higher than that. Top fuel has cylinder pressures that are sky high, yet their plugs are screwed in, just like the one in my weed whacker. I think maximum, practical, CR on a flathead is about 8 or 9:1.

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#18 karguy12

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 06:31 PM

The welded spark plug deal sounds a bit hinkey to me. Do you know what the CR is on the engine? Many modern engines have run CRs of 10:1. Drag racers run much higher than that. Top fuel has cylinder pressures that are sky high, yet their plugs are screwed in, just like the one in my weed whacker. I think maximum, practical, CR on a flathead is about 8 or 9:1.


Sure MODERN engines would not need welded plugs. But we are talking 30's metalurgy, 30's threads and 30's spark plugs. Fact is, the spark plugs are wleded to the heads. How do you propose I test the compression? ;)

#19 Restorer32

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 07:04 PM

Likely the plugs were welded in to overcome worn out threads on a rusty head. No other reason to do so.
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#20 karguy12

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:43 AM

The car has 35 miles on the odometer and had been stored since the 30's. I don't think the heads were so rusty they
needed to weld them in in 1930 or 31 on a fresh build. I also don't think that they used a rusty old head on the build when they were using a new driveline and frame of a valuable car at the time.




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