Direct Hit! The Legend of Pierce-Arrow
Chris Diekman looks like a man of little worry or woe. Not someone you might think would follow a chance encounter as a child, into a passionate search for his seemingly non-existent dream car. Diekman, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa indeed, did find one. His is a 1931 Model 43 sedan Diekman bought nine years ago. This large sedan was stored in a barn in Texas for 50 years prior to its acquisition. “It was a long journey,” said Diekman. He confided that he “looked for probably three years hard – looking online, in magazines, newsletters” he even joined a car club. Which is what lead to him to his destiny. “I finally found this one. It was going into auction. I knew the guy, he was in our club. I called him up and said ‘you want to sell? I want to buy.'”
Diekman explains that Pierce-Arrow was an “extremely high quality American made luxury car.” The company began in 1901 in Buffalo, New York. Pierce-Arrow built luxury cars, along with trucks, fire trucks and other vehicles. In the end, it could not keep up with the economic conditions and would not downsize or offer a car in a lower price class. The company folded in 1938.
Pierce-Arrows were known for their craftsmanship and durability. “[The] Materials [were] very heavy,” explained Diekman, “the steel is very thick. Basically [these cars had] a truck frame underneath to support it. Well engineered, well built car.”
Diekman’s attraction to Pierce-Arrows came from a chance encounter with one. He explains, “When I was little boy, Dad and I saw one in the parking lot of a strip mall. And I said, ‘Dad what was the old black car?’ It was about a ’35 Pierce. He lifted me up and we looked in the windows. It kind of set a switch. He talked about getting an old car. He never got to do it. He has passed on.” Because of their father, Diekman and his brother got the bug to eventually find and restore the Viceroy Maroon and black 1931 Model 43.
In preparing for the 10,000 Lakes Concours d’Elegance in Excelsior, Minnesota, Diekman and his brother encountered a problem with their car. “The exhaust manifold is cast iron [and] it was cracked,” Diekman explains, “old cars of this vintage had the porcelinizing glass coating. It was cracked and flaking off and I hated it.” Diekman went ahead and re-worked the manifold this winter. “It was a six month adventure,” said Diekman, “Got it fitted up two weeks ago. It was a bit of a race even with six months getting it done.” Diekman said that he and his brother joked, “Because they are cast iron, they were called ‘Menafolds’’ It takes two men to carry it.”
Owning a Pierre-Arrow not only fulfilled a life long dream for Diekman but it has opened his world up to showcase this beauty at shows around the country. Perhaps planting the dream seed in another child who will one day follow his path?
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