Lot Number
51
From The Allen Smith Collection of Significant Motorcycles
1910 Pierce Four


Offered Without Reserve

ESTIMATE: $150,000 - $250,000
CHASSIS NO: 919
• Extremely rare matching numbers example of America’s first ‘four’
• Professional restoration expertly performed by Brad Wilmarth
• Sophisticated engineering and impeccable Pierce quality
• A historic offering at auction and an essential collector bike

696 cc air-cooled, T-head inline four-cylinder engine, 7 HP, two-speed manual transmission, shaft drive, tubular steel frame with engine as a stressed member, leading link front fork and rigid rear suspension, coaster brake; wheelbase: 65”


Best-known for producing some of the finest luxury cars of the early 20th Century, the Buffalo, New York-based George N. Pierce Company began with bicycle manufacture in 1896, progressing to automobiles in 1901 with the Pierce Motorette and later Great Arrow models. A foray into motorcycles began in September 1906 with the establishment of the Pierce Cycle Company headed by Percy Pierce, the son of company president George Pierce. Consistent with company tradition, the new motorcycle division offered an upscale product, designed and built with uncompromising quality and advanced, cost-no-object engineering. The first Pierce motorcycles were available in 1909, the same year their majestic cars became known as Pierce-Arrows.

Historic as the first inline four-cylinder motorcycle built in America, the earliest Pierces were inspired by a Belgian FN four-cylinder that Percy Pierce had ridden in Europe and brought back on his return to Buffalo. The first Pierce motorcycles were powered by an inline four-cylinder engine with a T-head, side-valve design and direct drive. A two-speed transmission was added for 1910, followed by a smaller, less-costly 592 cc single-cylinder companion model. One of the Pierce’s innovations was the mounting of the engine into a 3 1/2-inch tubular frame, with an internal oil tank in the front tube and the fuel tank built into the horizontal top tube. The inline four was an excellent performer, capable of speeds up to 60 mph and very well-suited to long-distance endurance events, many of which were won by Percy Pierce himself in the immediate pre-WW I years.

Each Pierce motorcycle was meticulously hand-crafted and ultra-costly for the time, at first sold through Pierce bicycle dealers from $325 – quite a sum when automobiles were available for less than $1,000. With each part and component overbuilt to exacting standards of quality, Pierce reputedly lost money on every bike sold, forcing a price increase to $400 that made them attainable only to the wealthiest and most demanding motorcyclists of the era. Consequently, the Pierce Cycle Company ceased operation in 1914, with few Pierce motorcycles built and far fewer surviving today, although most of the known examples still function today.

Simply stunning throughout, this 1910 Pierce Four is believed to be one of precious few matching numbers examples of these sophisticated and potent early American motorcycles. It was purchased by Allen Smith in February 2011 as a complete and nice example and then totally restored to its original glory by noted vintage-motorcycle expert Brad Wilmarth of Chesterfield, Virginia. The restoration work was completed in 2012 using the original parts and components, with a select few expertly handcrafted, including the front and rear fenders and the tailpipe. All other items, including the majority of the exhaust system, are restored factory-original items. Built to impeccable standards when new and with an equally demanding restoration and the fastidious care of Allen Smith, this 1910 Pierce Four is an irreplaceable part of America’s transportation history.

1910 Pierce Four
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