9-10 October 2014

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Lot 149

1932 Pierce-Arrow Model 53 Convertible Roadster

  • Chassis no. 2050118
  • Engine no. 330166

Sold for $407,000

150 hp, 429 cu. in. L-head V-12 engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, live rear with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 137 in.

  • Desirable short-wheelbase example
  • One of six built and only three believed to exist
  • Identical to the example used by Ab Jenkins on the Bonneville Salt Flats

To promote its new 12-cylinder cars, Pierce-Arrow hired famous race driver Ab Jenkins to drive a 1932 Model 53 Roadster that was specially prepared with the fenders and windshield removed on the salt flats of Bonneville. The first of several tests was conducted in the fall of 1932. Jenkins drove for 24 hours, with an average speed of 112.91 mph. As the tests were ultimately part of a public relations campaign, Pierce-Arrow thoroughly captured Jenkins’ efforts in a 41-minute documentary entitled Flight of the Arrow, which survives to this day and contains many amazing shots of the 12-cylinder Pierce flying across the salt.

These speed tests were repeated several times over the next few years, with Jenkins breaking his own record and finally setting a new world speed record of 127 mph over a 24-hour period in 1934. Despite the restyled bodies, the new engines, and the great publicity created by Jenkins’ efforts, Pierce-Arrow only sold 2,692 cars in 1932 and, as a result, lost millions, leading to the sale of the firm by the Studebaker Corporation.

Chassis 2050118 is one of only six of these short-wheelbase roadsters built, and it is also one of only three believed remaining. Its history goes back to the 1960s, with collector Wally Rank, who sold it to collector Al Freddendahl, of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The current owner, an East Coast collector, purchased this car from Freddendahl in 1979 and held onto it for just over a decade, before selling it to his friend, Tom Welch of Ohio, in 1991. Welch then sold it back to the current owner in 1997.

Today, the car is beautifully finished in silver and black with red pinstriping. The light grey interior shows moderate wear, as does the black cloth top. The engine bay retains its correct original components, which proudly show wear to their surfaces as a result of the 50,000 miles that the owner has reliably driven during his ownership! Additionally, it is equipped with a driver’s side spotlight, aftermarket turn signals for safe touring, dual horns, a trunk rack with trunk, and auxiliary running lights.

The 1932 Pierce-Arrows continue to be one of the most attractive and popular models of the Classic Era, and this example is certainly a head above the rest, as it is a quality example of a rare body style that has a visual connection to the endurance feats of Ab Jenkins.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver


+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat


+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht


+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig


+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose


+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould


+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff


+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach


+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry


+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut


+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire


+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn


+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin


+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill


+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher


+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers


+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden


+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more