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1929Chrysler

WOW!! 1932 Peerless Prototype

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Went to the Crawford Auto Museum here in Cleveland today with my son's class on his field trip. I was blown away by the 1932 Peerless Prototype they have on display. It is a V-16 all aluminum engine, aluminum body, aluminum wheels. It is the only surviving prototype and the last car Peerless ever made. The chassis was made here in Cleveland and was driven to California with a temporary body on it. Once in California the permanent prototype body was made by a 22 year old named Hershey. (Any relation to Hershey PA?) The gentleman at the museum told me when the car was done the board of directors for Peerless knew that the car would be to expensive to produce and during those times very few people could afford to purchase the car and they also knew congress was about to repeal prohibition so they right then and there decided to get out of the auto industry and into the more profitable alcohol business. Peerless transformed itself over night. Ever hear of Black Label Beer?

Basically the only real miles the car has on it are the ones that were driven to and from California for the body. They told me the car runs flawlessly and is a little tough to steer since it has no power steering. I was mesmerized looking at the car as it is a perfect time capsule from 1932. Absolutely no restoration. What a GORGEOUS car! After it was returned from California it was stored at the headquarters in Cleveland and hidden during WWII from being scraped. They told me it is valued at around 2 million dollars.

Funny story they told me.. Some punk from the inner city had crossed the tape to get a "closer look" at the car and started touching all over it. The director of the museum seen this and went nuts! "Get the *&%! away from that car! Who the hell do you think you are?" I'm surprised they don't have it more protected than what it already is. I tried to post a video of the car below. I hope I did it right. If any one else knows more about the history, I sure would like to hear it!

1932 Peerless Prototype Touring Sedan on Vimeo

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Really enjoyed your video and story. If you go back to the meusem, try and add some full view shots. The designer's were in their glory during the thirty's, and the proportions of car's were showstoppers. The original, shock and awe!

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A V-12 was also produced then. According to the Plain Dealer news paper there were two V-12's and one V-16 built, they installed regular Hayes bodies on them and drove them to the Murphy body shop in California. Only one was built, the V-16, no one knows what happened to the other two. Rumor has it that Murphy was directed by Peerless to destroy the other two. Murphy went broke soon after this and there are no records that we know of. The V-16 was driven back to Cleveland and Bohanon, president of Peerless and the brewery drove it some. I heard that it was driven on the '46 Glidden Tour and then donated to the Crawford private collection in Cleveland.

A magnificent automobile.

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Absolutely gorgeous car. Interesting that it looks like it has 1931-32 Chrysler headlamps.

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1929 Chrysler,

Thank you for posting your impressions and the video clip of Allan Unrein describing the Peerless V-16! I am a member of the Peerless Club and have never gotten to see it myself (I live a long way away), so your are very fortunate.

The motorcar does seem to have quite a presence about it. To preserve the business, it was probably right to switch to the world's oldest manufactured product (beer), but it would be fascinating to know how Peerless would have competed against other auto makers with a line of aluminum V-12s and V-16s. You would have had Marmon and Cadillac V-16s, plus Packard and Pierce-Arrow 8s & 12s...as well as Buick, Lincoln and Stutz and some others in the luxury car field. So different from today!

Peerless' theme seems to have been "Keep Going!" They started life in 1865 and at various times manufactured laundry equipment, bicycles, parts for other car companies, cars, trucks, four-wheel-drive trucks, Red Cap Ale and Carling Beer.

----Jeff

P.S.: The TRW company had an advertisement in 1978 saying that the surviving V-16 Peerless was given, at least for a while, to a Mr. & Mrs. Scott Montgomery. There was a photo of the car at their 1932 wedding in the ad. As a wedding gift, they got to take it on their honeymoon to Saratoga Springs, NY. One suspects they didn't get to keep it. I have no idea who the Montgomerys were....but it sounds like a nice wedding gift!

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)

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The 32 Peerless is lower than it looks in the pictures. Allen isn't very tall. Unfortunately Allen is no longer with the museum and he is the one responsible for putting the V-16 in the shape it is today. They not only changed all the rubber but they had to correct the problems caused by electrolysis and aluminum oxidation. Allen will be missed.

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Green Dragon... How do you know so much about this car? Are you from this area? The people at the museum were telling me they had to auction off a lot of the cars to pay for some debt which is a shame because apparently they had plans to expand.

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A couple of us have been bantering back and forth off site about the local "Cleveland ownership history" of the Peerless 16, it was suggested I share it here in slightly editied form:

My last email includes some links that you may have to cut & paste to get to work:

_____

I have asked the question of two long time collectors who were on the Cleveland old car scene long before any of us. One is pretty sure that he first saw the car at the original Thompson museum on E 30th and Carnegie prior to the donation to or aquisition by WRHS. He had sent another article that was the work of WRHS staff, his comments are in italics below:

This history indicates that the car was purchased by the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum which was established in 1963. I am not sure that is correct because, I believe, that I first saw the Peerless in the Thompson museum at E. 30th. and Carnegie. If so it was during Fred Crawford's stewardship of the Museum while it was at E. 30th. and Carnegie that the Peerless was aquired ( by the museum). Carlings was brewing beer in the Peerless factory in the early 50's so it seems reasonable to believe that the car was purchased by Crawford early in that decade. I was in the brewery in 1952 buying beer as a pal of mine was their docent. I'm sure the car was gone by then.

***

Previous articles we've all seen have put forth the main idea that the Thompson / TRW / Crawford collection was Fred's baby all the way.

I'll fwd. more when I get it.

Mike

-----Original Message-----

Subject: Re: 1932 Peerless Prototype Touring Sedan

Now that's what I call starting a debate....

I don't see Peerless donating a car to Fred Crawford either, I see him as having purchased it. The kind of guy he was, big on Cleveland and all, I can easily imagine him being all over Peerless for that car. In my earlier email, I never said I thought Peerless had given it to Fred, only that I suspect he obtained it from them. I concede it's quite possible that Peerless or another party could have donated the car to WRHS. I have asked 2 local automotive historians who I imagine know the truth for their thoughts. I will share with you when I get them.

In the meantime, direct from the WRHS site: Thompson Products Auto Album Fred made arrangements to donate his collection to the WRHS in 1962-63 culminating in 1965 when the new building was done. Fred's widow: In Memoriam : Kathleen Marie "Kay" Crawford : Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and from this apparently recent post, it appears there are still some unique automobiles in the collection: Car Lust: Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum

That said, if you want a beer while you are over here next week, there are a couple of Yuenglings in the fridge downstairs, behind the Coronas.

Mike

-----Original Message-----

Sent: Fri, Apr 22, 2011 1:53 pm

Subject: Re: Fw: Re: 1932 Peerless Prototype Touring Sedan

I didn't mean to start a debate about the ownership history of this particular car. That being said I find it hard to believe that Peerless donated this car to an individual for his collection. Considering the WRHA was started in the 1800's I find it plausable that this car was donated directly to them. Admittedly Frederick Crawford donated an extensive collection to the WRHA and they have not been good caretakers, but I don't know if Frederick Crawford ever had ownership of this particular car.

Edited by Mike Dube
clarification (see edit history)

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As a clarification to the remarks about there still being some unique automobiles in the Crawford, for those who don't know, a good number of cars were sold in the last couple of years, much to the chagrin of the Cleveland antique car community and and the late Kay Crawford.

Edited by Mike Dube
fix an inacuracy (see edit history)

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For those of you who don't know, the WRHS is the Western Reserve Historical society which was founded in 1867. After the revolution the former colonies were itching to expand west. Connecticut made a claim to annex the vast unsettled land of the Ohio valley. It didn't happen and Ohio became a state on its own but for a while it was the western reserve (of Connecticut). The museum was established to show how the people lived before statehood

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