The Peerless Company of Cleveland, Ohio was, for a brief period, one of America’s most exclusive automobile companies. Along with Packard and Pierce-Arrow, the trio of car makers known as “The Three Ps,” was equally revered for their quality, refinement, and engineering excellence. The route Peerless took to automobile manufacturing was remarkably similar to that of its rival Pierce-Arrow. Before making cars, Peerless manufactured a variety of household goods including clothes wringers and clothespins before moving to bicycles before the turn of the century. In 1900, Peerless set about building horseless carriages, with the first examples being De Dion-powered single-cylinder Motorettes. The firm then hired Louis P. Mooers to create the first all-Peerless design. Following several prototypes and light cars, production began in earnest in 1904 with a line of four-cylinder models. These cars were quite advanced in terms of layout and style, with front mounted engines and “conventional” hood and radiator treatment what would become the industry standard within a few years. The advanced design and engineering excellence meant the Peerless was also very expensive, with the 35 horsepower Model 7 coming in at $6,000 in 1904.
Peerless rapidly expanded its portfolio with increasingly larger and more powerful machines. Known for sophisticated coachwork, quality construction, and robust engines, the company lived into its slogan “All That the Name Implies.” Mooers was a firm believer that motor racing improved the breed, and with the help of celebrity racer Barney Oldfield, the gargantuan six-cylinder 1904 Peerless Green Dragon racked up the speed records. After Mooers departed in 1906, the firm brought in former Packard man Charles Schmidt to take over engineering duties. He phased out racing and focused all efforts on becoming the most celebrated luxury car maker in America. Championing the six-cylinder engine, Peerless was among the earliest manufacturers to successfully adopt the layout for production. Their first road-going six-cylinder car came to market in 1907, and with its impressive power and inherent smoothness, it was the ideal engine for prestigious luxury limousines and tourers. By 1909, the six-cylinder had grown to 824.8 cubic inches for the Model 25, making it one of the largest series-production engines of all time, matched only by the Pierce-Arrow Model 66. At a starting price of $7,000, the mighty Model 25 was one of the most expensive cars in America. Peerless built only 1,618 cars in total during the 1909 model year, making the Model 25 – then as now – one of the most exclusive American automobiles of the early twentieth century.
The incredible Peerless Model 25 presented here is a stunning Brass Era sporting motorcar, with power and presence in excess. This car wears evocative four-passenger open coachwork of newer construction, crafted in the spirit of the factory raceabouts of the period. It presents in a bold and striking bright green livery with subtle deep red coach stripes and brightly polished brass accessories. The 136-inch wheelbase chassis provides room for the massive inline six-cylinder engine, and the low slung coachwork and twin-rear mounted spares accentuates its length. Recently out of a noted collection of brass and nickel-era motorcars, the mighty Peerless presents in beautiful condition throughout.
From the 36-inch wooden artillery wheels to the gorgeous, cowl-mounted Gray & Davis search lamp, this Peerless is impressively detailed. Other features include big Rushmore brass headlamps, E & J side lamps, and highly polished brass gear lever, brake lever, and steering column. Brown linoleum lines the running boards and floors, tying neatly in with the paint color and newer brown button-tufted leather upholstery, which is supple and in excellent condition.
The exhaustive detail continues beneath the long hood, where the enormous 825 cubic-inch T-head inline six rests. In traditional fashion, the three pairs of cast-iron cylinders sit atop an alloy crankcase. The cam sits in the bottom end, driving exposed pushrods and valve springs. Like the rest of this car, the massive engine is in concours condition, authentically presented with black porcelain cylinders, natural finish crankcase, and numerous brass and copper fittings. It is now equipped with a high-torque starter in the interest of safety and ease of operation on tours and road events.
In the hands of the most recent owners, this Peerless has been shown on several occasions, including at the prestigious Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance in 2010 and again at the 2013 Concours d’Elegance of America at St. Johns. With its recently freshened cosmetics, it will no doubt continue to impress on the concours lawn, while the massive and powerful engine provides a thrilling experience on brass era tours and road events. Few cars of the era could top the mighty Peerless, an exquisite motorcar that truly is “All the Name Implies.”
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