- An exceptionally grand design; one of the ultimate Pierce-Arrows of its time
- One of just two known survivors on the Model 48-B-4 chassis
- Formerly of the Delbert Pantel and Imperial Palace collections
- Wears a handsome older restoration
- A Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
An elegant formal coach unique to the Nickel Era Pierce-Arrow, the Vestibule Suburban was a vast limousine intended for travel between one’s city and country homes. The roofline over the rear doors was curved in the manner of the entrance to a fine manor, an appearance accentuated by porch-style opera lamps. One such model was supplied to the White House during President Woodrow Wilson’s administration.
Because of its enormous cost, the Vestibule Suburban was quite rare. The late Pierce-Arrow Society historian Bernard J. Weis identified only two examples known to have been built on the Model 48-B-4 chassis, both of which survive.
The history of this particular car is known back to 1957, when it was listed with Carl Weschcke in the roster of the Antique Automobile Club of America. Later to become a noted publisher of New Age literature, Mr. Weschcke loved old automobiles and made a career of buying and selling them in his youth. Mr. Weis notes that the car was later owned by well-known enthusiast Delbert Pantel of Chico, California, who completed much of the present restoration himself. In the 12 August 1977, issue of the Chico Enterprise-Record, the Pierce-Arrow was described as Mr. Pantel’s “most expensive and prized show car...Pantel bought the automobile in St. Paul, Minn. for $14,000. It had 31,000 miles on it and he has since pumped $30,000 into its complete restoration. The car took a first place award in the Pierce-Arrow category at the recent Silverado Concorde [sic] D’Elegance held in Napa.” Later that month, it notably won a first in class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Several views of the car in Mr. Pantel’s ownership are included in the car’s file. Mr. Pantel later sold the car to the Imperial Palace Auto Collection in Las Vegas, after which it made its way into the present collection, where it has been a long-term resident.
The car’s restoration shows some age throughout, though it is still presentable and the burgundy cloth interior, with its bud vases and window shades, is especially impressive. There are signs of age and use visible to the undercarriage and under the hood, in particular to the exhaust manifold which exhibits significant corrosion. However, typical of restorations of this era, what the car lacks in fine touches it makes up for in authenticity, with the original chassis number still visible on the cross-member under the front floorboards, the serial number plate still on the body, and the engine number visible in the expected locations.
Now accepted as a Full Classic by the Classic Car Club of America, this Pierce-Arrow is quite simply momentous—an imposing vehicle that is sure to announce one’s arrival.