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Cost of a '36 Pierce-Arrow V-12 Engine?


jeff_a
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Just out of curiosity, I was wondering if it would be possible to find a Pierce-Arrow V-12 motor for a car that needs one, and how much one would cost.

I am not planning on buying one, unless I find a gym bag full of hundreds on my way out to the parking lot today, but my curiosity was aroused by a for sale ad I saw 6 days ago. Someone had a 1936 Pierce-Arrow Limousine (seemingly complete), and a 1936 Pierce-Arrow Coupe (sans engine and transmission) which appeared to have been found out in the desert somewhere; the condition was low and the price was high [$29,000]. The ad did not give any clues as to whether these were eights or twelves, or the model #'s, but the photos of the Coupe were a close match to the stunning 1936 1602 V-12 Pierce-Arrow for sale on www.significantcars.com . Until a week ago, I didn't know that one could still buy a Pierce-Arrow rumble-seat Coupe as late as 1936.

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)
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Good question. My guess would be that it would be easier to find an engine than a good body and this goes for almost all old cars.

In the case of Pierce Arrow the engine continued in production into the early 60s as a fire engine power plant. Seagrave actually made 2 completely different V12s, the "small" Pierce Arrow engine and a much bigger 906 cu in model.

The big boy would look impressive under the hood of your limo.

Pierce Arrow built cars up to 1938, all with hand made bodies, and they would build anything the customer wanted.

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Rusty,

I suppose in a pinch, a Pierce-Arrow/Seagrave engine would work for whomever got a Pierce-Arrow Coupe missing a motor. If it was me, I don't think I would care to use the larger of the two V-12's in a car, since it was never used in one to begin with, but the smaller one sounds like it may have had quite a bit of Pierce-Arrow lineage in it. I was thinking that the desirablity of 12-cylinder Pierce-Arrows would be so high that there just wouldn't be any spare engines around that weren't being used in cars. I could be wrong, though. Clearly, if we knew anyone who wanted to turn a large fortune into a small one, he could spend a lot on these two autos. I found them listed on a Craigslist - New York ad, by the way, and there were 4 color photos.

I knew that the company's production continued from 1936 through 1938 at the rate of a few hundred per year -- but then the wonderful thing about Pierce-Arrow was not how many they made but how well they were made and the elegance of their design, in my opinion.

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)
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It's surprising what turns up. A thoroughly trashed chassis that was cut into a tow truck and left in a vacant lot for years. Or a spare engine, salvaged from a parts car by a restorer in the 50s, that turns up in his estate sale. Such things are in Hemmings every month.

I'm not saying Pierce 12s are common but if I wanted one, and had a chance at a good car with no engine at a good price I would buy it. An engine will turn up although it might take a few years. If money is no object and you search diligently this could be shortened to a few months.

There is a Pierce Arrow club with a web site online. If you are serious it might be worth asking them if they know of an engine. Chances are someone has one or knows where to find one. They could also tell you if the Seagrave will fit.

By the way I was kidding about putting in the big engine. I'm sure it would never fit.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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There are engines out there, original ones, and if you joined the PA Society you could probably find one, buying it might be another matter entirely! I owned a V-12 production Silver Arrow, sold it, and the gentleman found out it wasn't the original engine (although it was a proper Pierce engine). He then found the original, but the fellow wanted $10K for it, and this was 20 years ago or more!

The Seagraves engine has dual ignition, which means it's instantly recognizable with two spark plugs per cylinder. While it's basically similar, it does reduce the value of a Pierce when a Seagraves engine is the motive force.

That 36 coupe is rare, but it would take a lot of cash to restore it. Even if you did the work yourself, you're still looking at big bucks for chrome and finding/rebuilding a V-12.

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Almost ANY Classic era engine is available, and with the right connections and correct checkbook I would expect you could come up with a 36 V 12 engine quickly. The engine is not the hard part, it's the bolt on's that are hard. Last set of ex 32 PA carbs I saw were over 4000 for the pair. The sedan and coupe are well known in the late 30's PA collector network. I hope somebody takes the project on. Ed

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I have no idea where the two Pierces are actually located. I found the ad on "craigslist - New York - Financial District". I looked yesterday and saw that the ad was gone already. One of the photos had flora in the background consistent with southern Nevada or California. edinmass may know where they are.

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I seen the ad on "Prewarcars.com," yesterday. They're not in New York; but in, Hesperia, Ca. Looking at the pictures, I'd say these cars are priced, at least, three times of what they're actually worth. Complete '36 engine, with aluminum heads, carbs, air cleaners, linkages (many of which), and a V-12 radiator--$15,000.00 to $20,000.00. Then the cost of rebuilding all of this?

Bob

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muzzy,

Thank you for mentioning the PreWarCar listing of these two Pierce-Arrows. The owner or seller went into a little more detail, and shares with us that the Limousine is a straight eight and that the Coupe is a V-12. I don't doubt your assessment of the costs involved to restore these. They are both Full Classics. Maybe they'll find their way to someone with serious money and a lot of class and they'll be restored.

Upon reflection, maybe they're not so overpriced, after all. 15 or 20 for a motor & transmission + 29 for the titles is a lot, but the new owner is going to be that far into it just for upholstery & paint, I think. I know they look like something that some cowboys abandoned 50 years ago, but there aren't hundreds of unrestored '36 Pierce-Arrows out there to choose from. Like it says, painted on the door of one of the cars, "1 of 787".

Surely, anybody taking these Pierce-Arrows on realizes the project will cost more than a nice new house.

Sorry to get carried away. I like the Limousine, myself. The Coupe is unusual, but the Limousine is more in line with what I think of when I think "Pierce-Arrow".

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)
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Jeff,

F.Y.I. Or, should it be stated, "Buyer Beware?"

Pierce-Arrow Society records indicate that, this coupe is: Body No. 438-C-15,

Chassis No. 2215226. There isn't an engine # given. Anyway, with this serial/chassis number, it came out of the factory as an 8 clyinder powered car. Twelve cylinder models were given serial numbers: 313----.

With either engine, it's one heck of a machine. I know, I own three of them.

Bob

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  • 7 years later...

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