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1928 Pierce-Arrow Model 81 Runabout
About this car
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.
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.
The Insert art
Painting titled, “Starlet” for the cover of Photoplay magazine by renowned portrait painter, Charles Sheldon
Charles Sheldon was a prolific and gifted early 1900’s American Illustrator who specialized in "pretty woman" themed cover portraiture and advertising in the Art Nouveau and Edwardian styles.
In 1918 Sheldon received his first pin-up commission, a series of ads for La Vogue lingerie. He went on to do a series of work for the Fox Shoe Company as well as front covers for Collier’s Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post and Photoplay.
By 1921 he was contributing high fashion portraits to Woman’s Home Companion and Theater magazine. Famous women all over the world arranged to sit for portraits in his studio in Carnegie Hall in New York.
The pastels he created for Photoplay 1925- 1930 launched his career as a portrait cover artist. During this time period most of the stars sat three or four times for each of these portraits, later came cover art commissions for Screenland, Movie Classic and Radio Digest magazines.
Source: Grapefruit Moon Gallery
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