A 1910 Pierce-Arrow Model 48 Miniature Tonneau at the Pebble Beach Concours recalls an earlier visit to the famed California event
When ClassicCars.com Journal editor Bob Golfen shared with me his photos of the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, one car stood out. A familiar face from my visit to Pebble Beach back in 1991, this 1910 Pierce-Arrow Model 48 Miniature Tonneau has been treasured by collectors for more than 60 years.
At the time this car was built, all Pierce-Arrow’s sold in the northeast were manufactured in Buffalo and driven to the dealer. This car was most likely sold in New Jersey or New York.
The known history of this car, chassis 7540, starts with Steward Cook of Monmouth County, New Jersey, who acquired the Pierce in the early 1950s. I happened to have a picture of the car while in his ownership on the 1958 Glidden Tour Revival. It’s said that sometime after Cook’s passing in 1966, the Pierce-Arrow found its way to Don Meyer.
A fixture of the hobby for many years, Meyer’s business, The Brighton Connection, operated out of Lebanon, New Jersey, and dealt in high-quality early cars. My picture from 1991 shows Don standing next to the car.
Pierce-Arrow produced 817 of the Model 48’s in 1910, and this is the only know surviving example of the Miniature-Tonneau body style. Originally priced at $4,850, this body was 250 pounds lighter than the touring model. The Horseless Age of August 25, 1909, reported on the new 48-horsepower Pierce-Arrow.
“During the season of 1910, the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company, of Buffalo, N.Y., will confine themselves to the production of six-cylinder machines,” the publication said. “The wheelbase has been increased from 130 to 134½ inches by moving the front axle 4½ inches forward, bringing it under the radiator. This has given room for lowering the frame 2 inches, giving the front springs 2 inches less arch… The chassis for the runabout and miniature tonneau bodies have a wheelbase of 128 inches.”
The car eventually passed from Meyer to Frank Miller, who drove it on the 2005 Modoc Tour. A friend photographed the car during the event, as shown here. The car is also said to have passed though the well-known collection of Sam Mann before the current owner acquired the car at auction in 2015.
I have great love of early Pierce-Arrow’s as they were truly some of the finest cars made in America at the time, and this example is one special automobile.