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stude8

Where is this 1904 Peerless Green Dragon?

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Back in 1982 this 1904 Peerless Green Dragon was displayed at the Lake Forest, IL AACA car show. Fortunately I took some slides of it and wonder what ever happened to such an impressive car of its time.

Stude8

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This is not a Green dragon but a beautiful 1904 Peerless.

This would have been a touring with removable rear tonneau.

The Green Dragon's were race cars and completely different from the car pictured. I do not have this car listed in our register but would like to know myself where it is. Thank you for posting the picture.

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This is a recreation of the Green Dragon that was destroyed in August of 1904 in St.Louis. The original was a 40 hp T head engine that Louis Moorers raced in the Gordon Bennett race in Ireland, the car was then brought back to the Peerless factory and modified with new wheels, new radiator between the frame horns and aerodynamic hood with exhaust system. Barney Oldfield drove this to success but crashed in St.Louis killing two spectators and completely destroying the car by ending up wraped around a large oak tree. Nothing was left of this car. A new 60 hp Green Dragon was made with an overhead valve engine, underslung frame, and pointed radiator. This new Dragon is the one Barney broke all the speed records with.

It looks like they did a nice job with this replica but it is too bad if it was done at the expense of a nice touring car.

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I had two more images of the 04 Peerless so I attach them now since this car was a very nice example when I saw it. My faded memory seems to think the owner's name was Stern or Stein who was rather elderly in 1982 but very knowledgable about the car.

You can see it had the finest Dragon Horn to be found!

Stude8

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In the discussion about Barney Pollard's car collection in the general discussion area a few weeks ago someone was talking about one Peerless that had been re-bodied. I believe this is the same car. The streamlined version of the car has been around: the 2004 Greenwich Concours, the Daytona Birthplace of Speed event in 2005, and the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run in 2007.

The Peerless won "Most Awesome High Performance Car" at Greenwich and was described as having an 11-liter motor with a 6" x 7 1/4" bore & stroke. My records don't show them as members of the Peerless Motor Car Club, but I think Richard S. King of Connecticut and John Price of Utah have been owners recently. I saw a picture of the Green Dragon (on msn live image search) at the London-to-Brighton with "The Honourable John Price" listed as driver. John's the U.S Ambassador to England. Two other Peerless owners in the '07 London-to-Brighton were Malcomb Barber and Evert Louwman*. Malcomb owns an "ought-three" Peerless 2-cylinder and Evert a Peerless 1911 6-cylinder Raceabout. As you know, London-to-Brighton cars have to be pre-1905 to go in the 60-mile event -- so Evert drove his 1895 Peugeot instead.

*I believe he has an <span style="font-style: italic">extensiv</span>e auto collection, much of it housed at the Dutch National Motor Museum in Raamsdonksveer, Holland.

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)

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And of course the cars that participate in these events are suppose to be original and not replicas like this Peerless is. It is too bad that so much of this is taking place today. If a restoration shop can make money on it they will build it and there are enough fools out their that don't know the facts and will pay big money for it. Take the Tucker convertible that is being built as we write. Now they are trying to authenticate it in order to sell it for big bucks. Sad to see the hobby going this way.

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Guest BJM

I noticed that motor in the 1904. Is that Porcelein? (spelling) Could the block have been dipped in Porcelein or is that really smooth metal with high quality paint. Remember they did not have powder coating back in the day.

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I was kind of hoping the car was one of the factory race cars, originally, and was just fitted out as a road car temporarily prior to being rebodied as a race car. What made me think that were those huge exhaust ports on the left side of the hood ( on Stude8's 1st post ). I re-read some of the posts in the Pollard thread and it sounds like the car was an '04 Touring to begin with. I think the provenance may be:

<ul style="list-style-type: disc">[*]1) Tom Lester [*]2) Richard S. King [*]3) John Price

Maybe someone reading this knows one of the above gentlemen & could tell us more. So, maybe this would be like buying a car similar to what Richard Petty raced in the 70's ( i.e., a Plymouth Superbird, Dodge Magnum, or Chevrolet Monte Carlo ) putting decals, a roll cage and other racing paraphernalia on it and displaying it as a NASCAR racer(?). Not the best analogy, really, but people are selling "tribute cars" all the time based on somewhat rare models from the 60's and 70's. Of course, they are only 30-something years old and 1904 Peerlesses are 100-something years old.

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)

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I questioned some Chicago area contacts and am told the owner of the 1904 Peerless in photos I posted from 1982 at that time was an Art Lieberman of Chicago.

I'd hate to think the theory here is the car in my photos was used to create a clone of the real Peerless Green Dragon racer?

Stude8

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Guest BJM

I don't think so Stude8. You might be able to read into that but I think your photographed Peerless is out there somewhere, intact.

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I found this image of the Peerless Green Dragon in its time on the track 1904 from some vintage photo site years ago. Driver is Oldfield (Barney without cigar?)

Stude8

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I am quite sure the Art Lieberman car is now the racer I posted photos of earlier. I have a photo of it in the mid-1990's without fenders or lights and different seats. It was shown quite a bit that way.

Chris

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For more information on Peerless and the Green Dragon go to the Peerless web site and Racing with Peerless.

www.peerlessmotorcar.com

The picture of Barney in the Green Dragon is the car that was built after the August accident and first raced in the Fall of 1904. This car had the 60 HP overhead valve engine and underslung suspension. The 1906, 90 HP Green Dragon was very similar to this car. If someone was going to clone a Green Dragon it should be either of these because there is no record of what happened to these two. They could still be in some barn some place.

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Guest BJM

If you had the parts, and the where with all, I STILL would not recreate that Green Dragon. That's an ugly mule of a thing, historically significant, but asthetically displeasing.

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Guest BJM

Chris,

What happened then, to the rare original parts removed fromt he original factory car? Certainly not tossed? Could the car be restored to correct condition from the photos originally posted?

There are even different wheel sets on the Oldfield Green Dragon and the recreation. Those 1904 wheels would be worth a lot to a restorer.

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Chris,

There is a recent book out that has two pages about this Peerless: <span style="text-decoration: underline">The Ultimate History of American Cars</span>: The Fascinating Story of America's Favorite Cars, by Frederik Winkowski and Frank D. Sullivan, Parragon Publishing: Bath, UK, 2006, pp 14 & 15.

The cars covered go from a 1901 Packard Model C to a 2005 Pontiac Solstice. The photos of the Peerless are similar to the one you posted. ----Jeff

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This Peerless gets around quite a bit. Most recent sighting is the new Price Museum of Speed in Utah. The museum has an excellent website and the 1904 Peerless shares the space with an illustrious cast of automobiles: the 1904 Pope-Toledo Vanderbilt Race Car and a Duesenberg Bonneville Record Car (Mormon Meteor III) being two examples.

Some other motorcars in the collection:

  • 1907 Renault (ex-Wm. Harrah, ex-Wm. Vanderbilt)...45 HP
  • 1911 Mercer 35 R...58 HP
  • 1914 Marmon 41 Speedster...70 HP
  • 1915 Weightman Stutz Race Car...100 HP
  • 1916 Stutz Bearcat...60 HP
  • 1924 Miller Race Car...120 HP
  • 1925 Miller Indianapolis Racer...200HP
  • 1929 Bugatti 35 B
  • 1931 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre Supercharged

My attempt at describing what's in the museum pales in comparison to what's there. Looks like it's definitely worth seeing.

P.S.: Make sure you contact the museum prior to visiting. I do not know if it is completed yet, is open to the public, or what days it may be open.

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)

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hello everyone

i read an article years back about an accident in which the driver was killed

decapitated to be exack,i read where the car was buried at that time an was to be unearthed,i believe this was in the early 80s but i really cant remember i thought that this green dragon was the car,was this a fairy tale or was there some truth to the matter,it was many years ago an i dont remember where i read this an never heard anymore about it

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Dear JustDave,

There was a wreck bearing some resemblance to the one you describe in one of the Green Dragon Race Cars. Barney Oldfield was driving a Peerless in a 1904 race in St. Louis, went off the track, hit eight fenceposts, twelve people and an oak tree. Though nearly killed, Barney recuperated enough to have a romance with one of his nurses, return to racing for years, and live until at least 1946...which contraindicates decapitation.

Green Dragon Race Car No. 1 was destroyed by the wreck and the angry mob that took home bits of it for souvenirs, according to one story. I WISH it had been buried and someone would tell me where it is....wouldn't mind having an 11-litre Peerless race car to tool around in!

Edited by jeff_a
corrected engine size (see edit history)

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There seems to be a lot of confusion about the Peerless race cars. Louis Moorers built two four cylinder race cars in 1903 to compete in the 1904 Gordon Bennett race in Ireland. Only one was taken over there for the race. This was not a 17 liter engine. That must have been a misprint. The engine was a T head, cylinders cast individually, four cylinder of 6 inch bore and 6 inch stroke ---7 liters. After the Gordon Bennett race, Peerless did poorly but Moorers learned a lot from the European race cars and he brought the cars back to the factory and made alterations to them. Barney raced this one and crashed it at St. Louis. The next Green Dragon was built that was completely different. Overhead valve 4 cylinder engine cast in pairs, underslung suspension, pointed radiator and 60 horse power. This was the most winning Green Dragon. Peerless was still using the T head engine in there regular cars with 4 1/2 inch bore and 5 inch stroke and 5 1/4 bore and 5 3/4 stroke but the 60 hp Green dragon overhead valve engine was available in the model 12 Peerless. The Peerless Blue Streak race car was a stripped down model 12 and raced by Tracy and Ridgeway in several races and road events. These were sometimes mistaken for Green Dragons in racing reports. I believe this is why some say that there were several Green Dragons built however we only have records of four being built. When Peerless quite racing in 1906 the 60 hp and 90 hp Green Dragons were sold to Barney Oldfield. These are the cars that he started barnstorming with at the fair grounds around the country. Barney went on to buy a Blitzen Benz and no one knows what happened to the two Green Dragons. They could still be out there someplace.

The Green Dragon that is being toured and displayed is not original. The engine in it is a overhead valve and not a T head. This car probably started out as a model 12.

I had a friend of mine that acquired all the parts and built a copy of a historical race car. This car is now sitting in a museum billed as the original.

I have to get back to work!!!

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Thank you for your thoughts on the Green Dragon race cars. I read about the 17-liter capacity of the first Green Dragon in the 1973 Automobile Quarterly piece that Maurice Hendry wrote. Sorry if I repeated what may be a misprint on the part of the publishers. To paraphrase a historian's axiom: "The facts never change, but history sure does!". Hendry actually said that the bore & stroke was 6" x 6".....but I don't have enough of an engineer's mind to look at those figures and say "Gee, that's not seventeen liters!".

Maybe Mr. Hendry uses the AACA Discussion forums, too, and he could comment. I think he lives in New Zealand. One thing which I thought was great about his chapter, "All That The Name Implies: The Peerless Story" was that he seems to have talked to some of the Peerless designers and engineers who were still around in the 60's or 70's about the company's activities.

In The American Automobile by Ralph Stein, there's a brief passage about what may have happened to one of Barney's Peerless racers:

"Oldfield sold one of the 'Green Dragons' to my friend Ray Gilhooley in 1908. Ray cracked it up first time out at the Brighton Beach track."

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)

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Correction on the number of Green Dragons. Two were built for the Gordon Bennett race but only one was raced. The cars were brought back to the factory and one was rebuilt making several changes. We have no record of what they did with the second one. They were experimenting with cooling systems and I have a picture of one of the first dragons with copper tubes running on the sides the full length of the car. This was before they put the radiator between the frame horns. There was another dragon built using two four cylinder engines hooked together but it wasn't succesful . There were only three Green Dragons that were succesfully raced. They didn't have a spare. When Barney crashed one he drove a Blue Streak until the Dragon was repaired.

RHL

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hello everyone

i read an article years back about an accident in which the driver was killed

decapitated to be exack,i read where the car was buried at that time an was to be unearthed,i believe this was in the early 80s but i really cant remember i thought that this green dragon was the car,was this a fairy tale or was there some truth to the matter,it was many years ago an i dont remember where i read this an never heard anymore about it

I believe this is the car your thinking of: J G Parry-Thomas 1884 - 1927 Land speed record holder 1926

Howard Dennis

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