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Classy Chassis

Posted By Vanderbilt Magazine On March 11, 2008 @ 2:13 pm In Spring 2008, The Classes | No Comments

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Marc Hamburger, BA’64 Photo by Daniel Dubois

People who collect stamps or coins have it easy–they can add to their collections whenever their budget allows. But for car collectors like Marc Hamburger, space is always a consideration. Of the seven cars in his collection, those nearest and dearest to his heart are two Pierce-Arrows. One is a 1936 model, the other a rare 1931 that took seven years to restore.

“[The '31] is a super luxury car–one of only 20 ever made. It would’ve sold for $8,000 or $9,000 then,” he says. “A Ford would’ve cost only $500.” His Model 41 LeBaron Club Sedan garnered the Most Authentic Restoration trophy at the 2007 Pierce-Arrow Society Meet.

Pierce-Arrow automobiles debuted in 1903 and were immediately recognized as first-class cars. They won important races and were a favored conveyance of U.S. presidents.

“What made them so great was also their undoing,” says Hamburger. “They would not compromise on quality. In 1929 they made 10,000 cars, but then the Depression started. By 1938 they were bankrupt.”

His dream car is the Pierce Silver Arrow. Only five were made, and were showcased at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. Three are known to exist, and two are unaccounted for.

“It’s every car collector’s dream to walk into an old barn in the middle of nowhere and find some remarkable car that’s been sitting there for 40 years. That still happens.”


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