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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Wayback Machine: 1929

Wayback Machine: 1929

San Francisco, 1929. "Pierce-Arrow convertible coupe in Golden Gate Park." Ready to rumble. 5x7 glass negative by Christopher Helin. View full size.

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A Beaut!

Really like how the headlamps are formed into the fenders, at least it looks as tho.

Honesty in words

Well, rumble seat may be a descriptive term describing the quality of the ride when using that seat.

In German, a rumble seat was colloquially known as the "Schwiegermuttersitz" - the mother-in-law's-seat. On the theory that the more or less recently married automobilized gentleman would drive himself, of course, his dearest wife would sit next to him, and the Schwiegermuttersitz would have been what was left for the in-laws. Rain preferred because a deployed canopy would affford a bit more privacy and protection from monster-in-laws harpy eyes.

Self-Equalizing Mechanical Brakes

I saw a 1920s Bugatti which raced at Le Mans. It had self-equalizing mechanical brakes with little pulleys with a chain / cable round them to pull on the brake rods. Pull on the axle of the pulley and the same force reaches both wheels even if there was uneven brake wear, just like hydraulic brakes. A 'second-level' pulley equalized front-and-rear force. Pull on the "second level" pulley axis and there is automatic all-wheel equalization. Can't imagine why this feature wasn't on a high-end car. Maybe there were high patent licensing fees, or a not-invented-here attitude.

Fact and Fiction

This car was not cast aluminum. Pierce abandoned that costly process in 1929. This car had a conventional, for the time, composite body. Steel over a hardwood framework. Though Pierce always had mechanical brakes, they were highly developed with vacuum boost. The were amongst the best, at the time. The headlights had nothing to do with the demise of Pierce Arrow. The depression was mostly to blame. By the end of production, the fender mounted headlights were industry standard. The last P/As were stunning, but financial failures

Rumble seat access

Access to the rumble seat on this model of Pierce Arrow (and most others) was via two (sometimes more) metal steps, the first on or near the bumper, and the final step on the fender itself. For obvious safety reasons, these steps were located on the curb side of the vehicle.

Hold onto your Boater

Still had mechanical brakes, strange for a luxury car like the Arrow. You can see the rod going forward from the clevis.

Rumble Seat Chin-to-Moustache Ratio

Having never rumbled in a Pierce-Arrow, I'm wondering how one properly mounts a rumble seat. I don't see a step on the rear bumper and that grid device looks like it would prevent easy clambering. I don't see an easy access point from the driver's side running board, unless you placed your left foot just in front of the rear wheel well and swung your right leg up over the rear deck carefully avoiding the windscreen and into the rumble-pit.

Those gentlemen rumbling in the rear don't appear particularly svelte (chin-to-moustache ratio = 2:1). There must be an easier way.

This Pierce-Arrow

was made from cast aluminum, unprecedented in that day, this model today sells for $125,000.

Pierce Arrows must have been great cars

and I firmly believe they would've lasted a lot longer if they hadn't insisted on keeping their "trademark" headlights perched on fenders like frog's eyes -- yuck. I can imagine Raymond Loewy gagging every time he saw one.

Wondering about rumble seats

Was there an easy and graceful way to enter and exit a rumble seat? The gents in back look like they've earned a seat with the grown-ups.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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