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1-of-4 1919 Pierce-Arrow Model 51 Roadster Is a Hummer-Sized Sports Car

A largely forgotten automaker, Pierce-Arrow produced some of America's finest luxury cars from the 1910s to the 1930s. Purchased by Studebaker in 1928, Pierce-Arrow introduced the stunning Silver Arrow in 1933 but went bankrupt during the Great Depression.
1919 Pierce-Arrow Model 51 Roadster 6 photos
1919 Pierce-Arrow Model 51 Roadster1919 Pierce-Arrow Model 51 Roadster1919 Pierce-Arrow Model 51 Roadster1919 Pierce-Arrow Model 51 Roadster1919 Pierce-Arrow Model 51 Roadster
The New York-based company built around 40 different models in a little over 30 years, but people rarely get to see one in the metal. Not only these cars were put together in limited quantities, but some of them got lost on the way. This 1919 Model 51 Roadster, for instance, is one of only four built. And one of just two believed to still exist.

One of Pierce-Arrow's lesser-known models, the 51 debuted in 1919 as a replacement for the 48. Like most automobiles produced by the company back in the day, the Model 51 was available with a variety of body styles, including a four-passenger Touring Car, a Sport Touring Saloon, and the Roadster you see here.

All cars came with inline-six engines under the hood. The mill had a rather exotic design, featuring three blocks of two-cylinder units, each cast integral with its head. The design also included two spark plugs per cylinder, which makes the engine look like a straight-12.

This Roadster packs a 525-cubic-inch (8.6-liter) powerplant rated at 48 horsepower. That's far from impressive by modern standards, but it was more powerful than the average production car back in the day. However, it wasn't mind-blowingly quick.

While typical roadsters are usually compact, the Model 51 is huge. Luckily enough, the video below shows the car parked near a Hummer H1 and we can notice it's not only just as long, but equally tall.

On top of that, the car tips the scales at a whopping 6,000 pounds (2,722 kg). Granted, the H1 is significantly heavier, but that's still a lot of weight for what's supposed to be a drop-top sports car. Not surprisingly, the Model 51 tops out at only 40 mph (64 kph).

Another interesting feature about this Pierce-Arrow is that it was available with gas shock absorbers. It's a bit strange to see them on a car with big wooden rims and no aerodynamics.

But by far the strangest thing about this Model 51 is its right-hand-drive layout and the fact that the driver needs to get inside the car through the passenger door. That's because the driver side is blocked by the side skirt-mounted spare wheels. A bit inconvenient for a luxury vehicle, wouldn't you say?

All told, the Model 51 is a cool and intriguing automobile. And a vehicle most of us won't see in the metal anytime soon. So go ahead and click the play button below to have a look at one of the largest roadsters ever built. The footage also includes onboard action with a straight-six mill that makes a lot of racket.

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