34studepres

1933 Pierce-Arrow Model 836 Sport Coupe

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I'm considering bidding on a 1933 Pierce-Arrow Model 836 Sport Coupe at the Indy Auction on May 8th via Mecum Auctions. I believe this is a well known car. Bright yellow. Former owners were Dr. Leo Parnagian and Dee Howard. Does anyone out there know whether this is a truly 'good' car, and it's approximate value. Description says engine was upgraded to a Seagrave V-12. What does that mean? Is this a replacement engine? Thanks in advance for your input.     tom griffith  608-212-8774

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Last saw the car when it belonged to Dee Howard, but that was 27 years ago. It was a 100pt car then, and unless Dr. Parnagian toured with the car, I don't doubt that condition has changed much.

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This is common knowledge among Pierce guys, so guess there's no harm in telling some of the story.

 

Dee Howard loved the old cars, but he also enjoyed "upgrading" them.  He owned an Auburn coupe that, for all visual signs, was stock, but there were a lot of modifications.  For instance, the window cranks only moved a fraction of an inch, to actuate the power window switch!

 

The '33 coupe you are referencing was originally an 8 cylinder car.  He took that engine out, and put in a Seagraves V-12.  When Pierce went out of business, Seagraves bought all the tooling for the 8 and 12 Pierce engines, and used them up into the early 1960's in fire trucks.  Thus, technically, the engine in that coupe is not a "Pierce" engine.  I can't say that really hurts the value, just something to be aware of when you think of acquiring it.

 

It's a very nice body style, with a touch too much yellow for some people's taste, but that makes the world go around.  There's a period advertisement that shows the artist's misconception of just this color scheme.

 

I looked at the car last year, and I'd say Buffalowed Bill is correct, it's still a high point car.  It's been owned and maintained by meticulous owners.

 

I won't comment on value, Pierce Arrows have come into their own in recent years.  They used to trail Packard in value, but it's pretty much parity now.  After an open car, a coupe is the most desirable body style.  Look at recent sales of open cars, I'd say this car would bring in the range of 1/2 to 2/3 of those values.  Then again, at auction, crazy prices can be had.....

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It is a very cool car.   Swapping the engine from the factory eight to the seagrave 12 makes it very hard to value. 

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I honestly didn't know the car's history, and of the engine change. I think that it's important to note that the engine change from 8 to 12 takes no real alteration. The 836 and the 1236, in 1933 were virtually identical, except for the engine. Tom, this engine change should not be viewed as a deterrent. This car is very rare and beautifully restored, and presented. You could live the rest of your life and not find another one like it. If you did magically find one, I doubt that it would be as good as this one is. Dee never accepted less then the best!

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"Tom, this engine change should not be viewed as a deterrent. "

 

I would agree, it's just that someone contemplating buying such a car, which will bring a significant price, should be aware of such things before the purchase.

 

The current saying in the Pierce Arrow Society is that anyone contemplating buying an open Pierce, or a V-12 Pierce, have one of the well-versed members of the Society give you advice on the car.  There are numerous Pierce open cars that have been on the market that weren't open cars from the factory.  As long as one is aware of such changes, and one still wants the car, that's fine. 

 

This has become true of everything from Model T Ford on up.  In fact, buying an early T without having someone knowledgeable about same is very risky, as everything is bolt on changes (fenders, rear ends, engines and all) and most T's have been modified over the years.

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I think it all depends which side of the fence you are on- the buyer's side or the seller's side.

 

If you are the buyer, and don't care about owning a car  that has a later, firetruck engine installed, then it doesn't matter. Just be aware that this car will always be what it is. Same with the colors. These are very polarizing colors; people are either going to love or hate them. This isn't black, dark blue, maroon, or any of the other colors that people love on Full Classics. When you show the car, be prepared for someone to walk up to it and tell you in their loudest voice possible that this is" the car" with the firetruck engine.

 

If you go to sell the car, be prepared for everyone to tell you that this car has a firetruck engine. Be prepared to listen to "I'd buy it if it had the right engine" or "I'd buy it if it wasn't so bright"

 

An auction is probably the best venue for a car like this. A car like this will likely be purchased by an impulse buyer as opposed to a real collector. It will certainly make an impression under those bright auction lights.

 

I think this is a cool car. For the right price, it would be fun to own. Great body design and V-12 powered. It will be a blast to drive and certainly  lots of fun to look at in the garage. It is really more of a "special" than an authentic car. If I was considering purchasing a car like this, it would come down to price and how long I will be committed to own it.

 

A car like this will be easy to buy but hard to sell.

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12 minutes ago, motoringicons said:

I think it all depends which side of the fence you are on- the buyer's side or the seller's side.

 

If you are the buyer, and don't care about owning a car  that has a later, firetruck engine installed, then it doesn't matter. Just be aware that this car will always be what it is. Same with the colors. These are very polarizing colors; people are either going to love or hate them. This isn't black, dark blue, maroon, or any of the other colors that people love on Full Classics. When you show the car, be prepared for someone to walk up to it and tell you in their loudest voice possible that this is" the car" with the firetruck engine.

 

If you go to sell the car, be prepared for everyone to tell you that this car has a firetruck engine. Be prepared to listen to "I'd buy it if it had the right engine" or "I'd buy it if it wasn't so bright"

 

An auction is probably the best venue for a car like this. A car like this will likely be purchased by an impulse buyer as opposed to a real collector. It will certainly make an impression under those bright auction lights.

 

I think this is a cool car. For the right price, it would be fun to own. Great body design and V-12 powered. It will be a blast to drive and certainly  lots of fun to look at in the garage. It is really more of a "special" than an authentic car. If I was considering purchasing a car like this, it would come down to price and how long I will be committed to own it.

 

A car like this will be easy to buy but hard to sell.

 

Could not have said it better myself, Guy. I'm going to remember that phrase: easy to buy, hard to sell. 

 

Personally, I think "matching numbers" and anything remotely close to it, particularly with cars that aren't Corvettes or Hemis, is getting ridiculous. This car will look, act, smell, and drive exactly like a V12 Pierce. Have your fun and let the future take care of itself. Yes, you'll have people picking on it, but I've learned that the pickers usually aren't the buyers--they're just using that as their excuse rather than their wallet. It's easier on the ego.

 

I think the range they've quoted in the auction listing takes into account the engine swap. If it were a legitimate V12 Pierce coupe, it would bring considerably more. 

 

As always, the best advice in this hobby is to buy for love, not money. If you love the car and will enjoy it, get in and have fun. If you think you can own it for a while and make some money, well, maybe drive down the road throwing $20s out the window and see how it feels before you commit, because you will likely own it for a while. Set a hard limit for yourself on this kind of car so you don't get carried away by auction fever, and be ready to walk away when/if the price passes from acceptable to too much.

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Personally, I think Guy is spot on with his views of the car and his comment....................."A car like this will be easy to buy but hard to sell".  The writing would be on the wall for me with this car!

 

Jay

El Dorado Hills, CA

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The car is 100 points, when I last recently looked t it. It is not just a Seagrave engine, but a modernized engine with a Holly and down draft homemade intake. I know some of the people who have serviced the car, and they all say it runs fantastic. My guess is the engine is the later version with the bigger displacement Seagrave as Dee Howard liked to drive fast. All of the work that Dee and his guys did was first rate. Dee didn't care about how much he spent, he wanted what he wanted, and did it with flair and class. Is this car for everybody? Probably not, but I'm quite sure the last owner enjoyed it very much. 

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