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The Pierce-Arrow and The Glidden Tour Years

This is an interesting Glidden Tour photo showing a pre-1910 four cylinder Pierce-Arrow being towed out of a muddy spot by a team of horses. The photo gives us a good glimpse into what early motoring was like over 100 years ago. Hopefully one of our readers can tell us exactly what year this car is and what Glidden it was entered in. The Tours were held between the years of 1902-1913 and Pierce-Arrow cars won the 1904 AAA tour and also the first five Glidden Tours held between 1905-1909. The tours were named after the famous early motorist Charles J. Glidden, who first traveled around the world in 1902 in his English Napier, a car which we will take a look at soon.

Perry Pierce won the first Glidden Tour held in 1905, driving a Pierce Great-Arrow in the event that traveled from NYC, to Bretton Woods, NH.  The Pierce-Arrow Society  has a good listing of the marques performance and full details about the cars. Photo courtesy of  John Kelm.

*UPDATE* This post has received quite a bit of interest in trying to date this car and the year of the tour. Below is a clipping from the Horseless Age that states that in 1908-1909 the tour was won by six cylinder cars.

9 responses to “The Pierce-Arrow and The Glidden Tour Years

  1. David –

    Great shot of a 1909 Pierce (certainly appears to be a 09). The National Automotive History Collection of the Detriot Public Library has a great collection of image from 1910 Glidden tour and many Pierce photos.

    It difficult to tell the length of the hood in this image (due to the angle of the photo). However, it’s either a 1909 model PP (4 cylinder – 40 hp) or a 1909 model SS (6 cylinder – 48 hp). I lean toward this being a model PP. The back fenders are unique as I’ve never seen a Pierce with rear fenders such as these.

    There’s only two remaining 1909 model PP / 40 hp that I know of: one owned by Clay Green, and the other being the ex-Burton Upjohn car that has passed through many hands. Additionally, I only know of 4 1909 model SS / 48 hp cars, one of which was purchased by our mutual acquaintance, John Mozart, at the Gooding auction in Scottsdale a couple years back.

    Keep up the great work, Steve

  2. David, the website titled “the Making of Modern Michigan”,, has an extensive photographic collection (80 pages) of the entire 1909 Glidden Tour. Just type Glidden Tour in the search box. This photo is not from the ’09 tour. According to the pictures all the participating cars had numbers painted on their radiators, the Pierce-Arrow team having #8, #9, #108, and #109. Also none of the team Pierce-Arrows are sporting windshields. I also believe that the cars may have been divided into different classes, the Pierce-Arrows being the winners of their class.

    • Greg, Thanks for the information, I lean towards this being a car that was run in one of the earlier tours. I sure that one of our readers will be able to home in on what year this car is.

  3. Hi again. I was looking for something else last night and came across a small reproduction of this picture in John Bentley’s “the Oldtime Automobile” (1951). His caption for the picture reads, “One of 20 four cylinder cars to be entered in an 870 mile endurance run in 1905, the Pierce Great Arrow ended up in a morass of mud, but a Pierce-Arrow similar to it won. It was a 45 hp., $5,000 car”. I can’t say either way if it’s completely correct or not.

  4. If the car is a Pierce(-Arrow), then it cannot date back to 1906 or earlier because the radiator was different before 1907: the radiator had square lower corners. During the 1909 Glidden Tour the Pierce-Arrows used square side-lamps, so the photograph was obviously not taken during this event. That would limit the possibilities to the Glidden Tour of 1907 or 1908. Unfortunately I have no photographs of these events with a Pierce clearly in sight. A small detail is the filler cap of the radiator, which doesn’t look standard to me. I only saw it on a photograph earlier shown on the Old Motor site (the Pierce-Arrow with chicken head mascot). However this car is a 1909 model with square side lamps.

    • I have added a Horseless Age clipping to the post which states that the 1908-09 cars were six-cylinders. This car appears to be a four based on the length of the hood and proportions. That would possibly indicate that this is a 1907 or earlier car.

      Being a press photo it must exist somewhere else and hopefully someone will be able to come up a solid ID of this photo.

  5. Google the words Pierce, Glidden and 1907, and an ebay photograph turns up of one of the 1907 Glidden Pierces, taken from the front though in the distance. It looks like ‘our’ car, but unfortunately it seems to have a wooden window-frame and not a metal one. Maybe the other Pierces in the 1907 event were slightly different.

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