In an effort to save the Company in 1936 when some of the last cars were being assembled, the once proud Pierce-Arrow Company set a course to enter a new market. The automaker began building an outstanding new product, a luxury travel trailer named the Pierce-Arrow Travelodge.
The thirties and the Great Depression had not been kind to the old line auto manufacturer that started building its first production car in 1901. Studebaker bought out Pierce in 1928, and that arrangement ended in 1933 when the South Bend automaker declared bankruptcy. Pierce-Arrow continued on building only luxury cars and did not offer a lower-priced car. That move had saved some of the other independents auto companies.
- The lead photo shows the Nethercutt Collection 1937 Pierce-Arrow V-12 Limousine and a Pierce-Arrow Travelodge travel trailer, two of the last vehicles to roll out the door before the end came in 1938.
- The 19-foot Model “A” Travelodge was the top of the line with room for four.
The Travelodge was introduced late in 1936. This time Pierce tried to hedge its bets with three models. The 19-foot Model “A” was the flagship of the line with room for four. Also offered were the smaller and less luxurious 16.5-foot Model “B” and the 13.7-foot Model “C”. All three were built around a strong all steel framework, supported by an axle with independent suspension equipped with lever action shock absorbers and hydraulic brakes. The 19-foot Model “A” (above) was the flagship of the line with room for four.
The outside of the trailer was covered with an 18 gauge aluminum skin. Insulation was applied to the inside of the outer covering, and it and an air space between the fully finished wooden interior protected it from heat and cold. Inside, the trailer offered all the comforts and quality construction that Pierce-Arrow was known for. All models had: a “Pullman” dining area, comfortable sleeping arrangements, ice box, propane cook stove, and a heating stove that burned either coal, briquettes or wood.
Despite the new trailers being widely advertised, sales were slow with approximately 450 of the Travelodge trailers being produced. The production run ended early in 1937 when the Company went out of business. The final liquidation of the Buffalo, NY firm came later in 1938.
- Three sections of the Travelodge brochure are courtesy of Knee-Action and are from the “AACA Forum.”
After finding the photos (below) taken at the Packard Proving Grounds in 1937, we can’t help but wonder if the Packard Motor Company was evaluating the Travelodge. Charles Vincent the grounds manager is seen with a late-1920s Packard coupe with one of the trailers. The Vincent family lived in the Proving Grounds Lodge during the thirties. His daughter Roberta Vincent poses with the rig in the (lower) photo.
You can also view earlier features here on The Old Motor covering the Pierce-Arrow.
- Photos courtesy of the Packard Motor Car Foundation.