Motor City

25 July 2015

The Richard & Linda Kughn Collection

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Lot 150

1928 Pierce-Arrow Model 81 Runabout

  • Engine no. 8105-383

Sold for $66,000


75 bhp, 288.5 cu. in. L-head inline six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front and rear axle suspension with parallel semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel vacuum-powered brakes. Wheelbase: 130 in.

  • Offered from the collection of Richard and Linda Kughn
  • An attractive and sporting “small” Pierce-Arrow
  • CCCA Full Classic


Excellent engineering and legendary quality made Pierce-Arrow a leader in the luxury car market from the beginning, alongside Packard and Peerless. Nevertheless, Pierce-Arrow faced great pressure during the 1920s from other manufacturers, which were beginning to adopt more modern production techniques, thereby reducing their costs. Conversely, while Pierce-Arrow sales were quite good, its low production volume and more traditional, labor-intensive production techniques limited the company’s ability to compete in the rapidly evolving automotive market.

In response, Pierce-Arrow launched the Model 80 in 1924 as a somewhat smaller and less complex companion model to its Dual Valve Six model line. The Model 80 was continuously improved and boasted an advanced, four-wheel, vacuum-powered brake system by 1927. Changes for 1928 were minimal, with the Model 80 renamed Model 81 and further distinguished by smaller headlamps for only one year. In addition, a new emblem, reputedly the Pierce family crest, was displayed on Pierce-Arrow radiators for 1928, until Mrs. Percy Pierce correctly pointed out that it was not the actual crest of the George N. Pierce family. Pierce-Arrow built nearly 5,000 of the technically advanced and very attractive Series 81 models in 1928, and they remain highly prized by collectors and enthusiasts alike.

The dashing Model 81 Runabout offered here was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Kughn after many years of ownership by enthusiast Dr. E. Stanley Cope, in whose care it was an AACA Senior National First Prize winner in 1976. Unfortunately, its earlier history is unknown, as it no longer retains its original serial number tag. It is finished in a lovely, period-correct cream with black fenders and green door saddles that match its painted wire wheels, and it is equipped with a proper canvas folding top, a radiator stone guard, “Archer” mascot, dual side-mounted spares, and wide whitewall tires. Wonderful details show in its well-preserved button-tufted brown leather upholstery and the rich interior woodwork, including a steering wheel and dashboard containing Waltham gauges that are free from cracks and wear.

This dashing and exciting “little” Pierce would be a fun automobile for its new owner to enjoy in CCCA and Pierce-Arrow Society activities.

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

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+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

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+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

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+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

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+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

drose@rmsothebys.com

+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

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+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

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+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

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+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

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+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

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+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

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+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

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+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

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+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

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+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

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+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

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+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

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+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