In 1900, the Peerless Motor Car Company
began production of a one cylinder Motorette, prior to 1900 the company had built clothes wringers and bicycles. The Cleveland based company quickly rose to prominence as a premiere car builder and automotive innovator. Peerless was the first company to adopt what would become the standard of automobile design, a front mounted engine driving the rear wheels through a solid drive shaft. This design is still used extensively and until the early 1980's, when American companies began building front engine/front wheel drive cars, was virtually the only design employed by American manufacturers. Center mounted engines, under the drivers seat, driving the rear wheels through chains had been the norm.
The company concentrated on sporty racesters at first, and then transformed themselves into one of the premier luxury car makers in the country. The rich appointments of each new Peerless model drew raves through 1915. In 1916, Cadillac introduced a V-8, Peerless not to be out done, soon followed with its own. This, however, marked the end of Peerless’ automotive innovations. The company’s ownership and management seemed to be in a constant state of flux. There were no major improvement to the Peerless until 1925. The company tried to survive on its laurels, but its reputation soon began to slip. By 1924, the company was out of the top end motor car market. A new slogan was adopted, which signaled the end “Now There’s a Peerless for Everyone.” The technically advanced V-8 was dropped in favor of the more tradition straight 8 design, two different models were offered. One built by Peerless and one produced by Continent. A Peerless In-Line 6 was also offered. Prior to 1915, Peerless was known for its extreme mechanical precision. Critical mechanical parts were made of extremely durable chrome-nickel steel. The chrome-nickel pistons and rods were weighed and balanced to within hundredths of an ounce. This type of precision today is only available on the most expensive handmade production cars or custom made automobiles.
By the late 1920’s the depression had taken its toll on all the luxury cars makers. By the mid 1930’s Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, and Pierce-Arrow were all gone from the Auto market. Peerless made one last ditch effort at survival in 1930. The famous designer Alexis de Sakhnoffsky created an aluminum bodied sedan powered by a V-16 engine. Cadillac and Marmon were the only other car companies to produce a V-16 engine. The production number of this special sedan is in dispute, but at most two were built. One still survives. The second one, if ever built, is unaccounted for.
In June of 1931, the last production car rolled off the assembly line. Any cars that hadn’t been sold by the end of 1931 were marketed as 1932 models.Certificate:
Subscription Warrant, issued in the 1930’sPrinter: American Bank Note Company Dimensions:
7 3/4” (h) x 10 3/4” (w)State: VA-Virginia Subject Matter: Automotive and Related
| Auto Makers Vignette Topic(s):
Vertical fold lines, punch hole cancels in the signature areas and body, and some toning from age.