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Pierce-Arrow Model 6-36 Demi-Tonneau, 1909

  • 1909 was an important transitional year for the Pierce Motor Company. For starters, the Pierce motorcar officially became the Pierce-Arrow. Secondly, this would be the final year for the firm's four-cylinder offerings. President William Howard Taft also ordered two Pierce-Arrows in 1909, the first of many that would serve U.S. presidents up to Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Of five basic chassis offered in 1909, the Model 6-36 fitted the middle of the group; it is least of the three six-cylinder models Pierce-Arrow produced that year, but still head-and-shoulders above much of the fledgling auto industry. Combine different coach options on each of the chassis, and the company could produce about 35 different variations.
  • This particular car was discovered, acquired, and restored by Sam Baily, Jr., son of the Sam Baily who founded the Pullman Automobile Company of York, Pennsylvania. Following divestment of Pullman, Sam Jr. went on to produce refrigerated truck bodies, work that included shells for Good Humor Ice Cream trucks. Waste generated from production brought him to the scrap yards of Philadelphia, where he once spotted this Pierce-Arrow on a pile, ready to be dismantled. On that trip, he exchanged the scap for the car. The Pierce-Arrow returned to his factory where he and his company restored it. Recognizing the historical value of the car, the team documented the restoration—this was during the pre-War era, when auto restoration wasn't considered a discipline, and furthermore had no investment potential. Locally, however, the lately restored Pierce-Arrow generated interest among his friends, and Baily began finding and restoring other veteran cars. These cars and their owners would become the core contingent of the 14 founders of the Antique Automobile Club of America. So in no small way, the history of car collecting in America begins with this 1909 Pierce-Arrow.
  • The story (not yet finished) turns a bit daisy when Baily's daughter marries James A. Grundy, fresh back from World War II. Grundy began an insurance company and soon pursued his father-in-law, hoping to insure the truck body factory. Sam Baily's stipulation on the deal was that Grundy also insure his collection of vintage automobiles. And since he'd spent considerable money in their restoration, Baily wanted the cars insured for their full value. To do so required that the insurance company agree that the cars were not apt to depreciate, but that they could mantain their value based on the money invested in them, or even appreciate. Acknowledging that this information has been provided by what is today the very well known Grundy Insurance Company, it is yet worth noting that this deal represents a cornerstone of the collector car market.
  • During his ownership, Sam Baily and his wife Mabel drove this Pierce-Arrow on numerous club events, including the famous Glidden Tour. In period, Pierce-Arrow had become widely known for winning the Glidden Tour five years running, beginning in 1905, which secured the company's reputation for durability. Not surprisingly, in later iterations of the event the Baily family would travel more than 2,500 miles, not only completing the Tour, but driving there and back. Today, this Pierce-Arrow often resides in the Grundy company lobby, though it still gets its exercise from time to time.


Last Updated: Apr 8, 2018