1918 Pierce-Arrow Model 48

Many years ago, when antique cars were still first-person experiences of grandpas and even dads, roadside attractions were popular diversions. "Feed the alligators,” three-legged chickens and large balls of twine enticed visitors off US 66, US1, US24, the Lincoln Highway and US101 to linger on long drives through sparsely populated rural villages across America. Auto collections proliferated, drawing automobilists to see the history of the automobile in America in places like Rippey's in Denver, opera singer James Melton's Autorama in Hypoluxo, Florida, Henry Austin Clark's museum in Southampton, New York and casino magnate Bill Harrah's in Sparks, Nevada. Unique automobiles -- sometimes preserved relics of the past but often individual expressions of taste and style -- were a reason to stop for a break, and spend a little money on food, drinks and souvenirs in the middle of America's vastness. This 1920 Pierce-Arrow Model 48 3-passenger Coupe epitomizes the passion. The Model 48 was powered by a T-head inline six-cylinder engine of 525 cubic inches with a 4-speed transmission on a 142" wheelbase chassis. It was a dramatically designed and exclusive automobile when it left Pierce-Arrow's Buffalo, New York factory destined for salt-mining entrepreneur Emerson Carey in Hutchinson, Kansas, it was -- if the word applies -- perfected by a subsequent owner in Great Bend, Kansas who began in 1945 to create what can only be described as jewelry. Every one of the Pierce-Arrow's finely cast aluminum body panels has been meticulously prepared and plated in 23-karat gold, the fenders and hood in bright nickel. The engine and chassis received the same treatment. The wood spoke wheels are gold leafed. The interior trim is silver plated, set off by black leather upholstery. Its creator described it as "the Hope Diamond of antique cars" and it is nothing less -- although it might better be described as touched by King Midas. Despite the 28 years its creator lavished on its presentation and perfection it remained unknown, a cherished gem hidden from public view for its creator's personal gratification until it was finally displayed in 1974 by its next owner in the lobby of the Englewood (Colorado) Bank. Subsequently it again retreated into obscurity including most recent long term ownership in Europe. It has probably only four owners from new as well as little use and has been preserved in remarkable condition with a patina that is, simply, unmatched. The soft glow of its golden body and the unique mellow texture of the nickel plating blend richly in tones which not even the most artfully conceived and applied paint finish can duplicate. The interior appointments, silk window curtains and upholstery are in excellent condition. No potentate, magnate or maharajah ever created a more extravagant, exotic or imaginative automobile. No Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz or Isotta-Fraschini ever was more lavishly presented than this all-American Pierce-Arrow, an once-in-a-lifetime embodiment of the intrigue of the automobile in America.

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