Classic Cars

Unique of the Week: Gold-Plated 1920 Pierce-Arrow 48

Covered in 23-karat gold, this extremely rare Pierce-Arrow 48 is now for sale on eBay Motors.

Back in the day, Pierce-Arrow was the go-to automaker for celebrities and presidents. Many may not realize it, but the small automaker was known at the time as a builder of expensive luxury cars. They also made commercial trucks, fire trucks, camp trailers, motorcycles and bicycles. Founded in 1901 in Buffalo, New York, they've been remembered for their luxury cars, which became their most successful product. Their cars were very well-built and had powerful engines.

In 1905, they even won an endurance race from New York City to Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. In 1909, President William Howard Taft placed an order for two Pierce-Arrows for the use of state occasions, basically the first official White House cars. The brand became a status symbol for the time as many famous celebrities, royalty, and corporate tycoons owned one. Interestingly, it wasn't uncommon for fire departments to buy second-hand Pierce-Arrows and strip them down to the chassis and engine. They then lengthened the wheelbase and added the necessary firefighting equipment.

In 1914, the automaker introduced what became their most enduring piece of styling. They moved the headlights from the more traditional location on both sides of the radiator into flare housings molded into the front fenders, which gave the car a wider appearance. This design was soon after patented by them and it remained in place until the company closed its doors in 1938. The reason why was that they failed to produce lower-priced cars that could provide a consistent cash flow. By the time they realized this was needed in order to survive, it was already too late.

And thanks to another CarBuzz reader, we've been sent the advert for this 1920 Pierce-Arrow 48. This three-passenger coupe, however, is not like any other Pierce-Arrow. Its body panels, normally cast aluminum, have been replaced with ones that are plated in 23-karat gold and the fenders and hood are covered in bright nickel. In addition, the engine and chassis have also been given the nickel treatment. Even the wood spoke wheels are gold leafed. Stepping inside you'll find silver plated interior trim and black leather upholstery.

Custom-built for salt-mining entrepreneur Emerson Carey, it was given more customization by its next owner. In 1945 he began the work that resulted in the finished product and called it the "Hope Diamond of antique cars." It took 28 years for him to finish, but it wasn't put on public display until 1974 by its next owner in the lobby of a bank in Colorado. Later sold to an owner in Europe, it disappeared from public view until now. Powered by a T-head inline six-cylinder 525 cubic inch engine that's mated to a four-speed transmission, it's currently for sale on eBay Motors with a 'Buy it Now' price of $300,000.

With only 5,116 miles on the odometer, this thing is truly a gem and we only hope its new owner won't keep it locked up away from public view again. Thanks to 'benassi97' for the tip. Photos courtesy of hlcc

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