The Collection

The collection of historic automobiles, bicycles, Pierce-Arrow memorabilia and documents is unlike any other in the world. Here you will find a selection of some of the most compelling pieces and their stories with a focus and emphasis placed on Pierce-Arrow, E.R. Thomas Motor Company and other Buffalo-made automobiles and their accomplishments. Visit the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum to experience these vehicles and the entire historic collection in person.

1902 Buffalo Electric Stanhope

This electric carriage, weighing roughly 1,800 pounds, features wood wheels, hard rubber tires and a Victoria top. The quiet vehicle has a remarkable eight forward and three backward speeds. Capable of traveling at 14 miles per hour, the carriage can run for 50 hours on one full charge powered by its 2.5 horsepower (1.9 kW) engine. Upon its release the automobile was priced at $1,650.

1903 Pierce Stanhope

The 1903 Pierce Stanhope followed the Motorette and was built on light frame tubing and featured a folding top. The Stanhope was similar to the Motorette in that its Pierce-made engine was mounted directly under the driver’s seat. The four-passenger automobile included two hidden folding seats in the front and had two forward speeds as well as a reverse gear. The George N. Pierce Company produced 50 Stanhopes in 1903, and sold them each for $1,100. The Stanhope, one of the earliest Pierce models, helped pave the way for later, larger models like the Arrow and Great Arrow.

1909 Thomas Flyer 6-40 Flyabout

Specifications:

  • 5 Passenger
  • 6 Cylinder / 40 Horsepower
  • 3 Speed Manual Transmission
  • 267 Cubic Inches
  • Price in 1909: $4,900

Edwin Ross Thomas (1850-1936) began in the transportation industry by selling gasoline propulsion gear for bicycles in 1896. From 1900 to 1913, Thomas manufactured automobiles at the Thomas Motor Company Factory at 1200 Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY. The building still stands today and serves as the headquarters for Rich Products.

The E.R. Thomas Motor Company is famously known as the producer of the Thomas Flyer 6-40 Flyabout. The Buffalo Transportation Museum is the home of this storied automobile. In 1908, a Thomas Flyer driven by George Schuster, a test driver and factory inspector, beat out six competing cars from three other nations in the 22,000 mile, New York to Paris Race. What began on 11:15 AM, February 12, 1908, in Times Square, turned into a marathon that lasted 169 days, with Schuster’s Thomas Flyer taking the historic checkered flag.

1918 Pierce-Arrow 7-Passenger Touring Car

Specifications:

  • Six Cylinder / 48.6 Horsepower
  • 825 Cubic Inches
  • Four Forward Speeds / One Reverse
  • 142” Wheelbase

The introduction of the 7-Passenger Touring Car furthered Pierce-Arrow’s reputation as America’s leading luxury brand of automobiles, and the company experienced the height of its success and popularity in the years following the end of World War I. The 7-Passenger 5 Series featured a larger engine with improved gas mileage and a higher top speed, without forfeiting luxurious style and comfort. Billed as a “hill climber,” the Touring was ideal for drivers and passengers who had a penchant for long, scenic drives through back roads and winding countrysides.

The automobile was also designed with new traffic patterns in mind. It was during this time that the country began to steer away from mass railroad use and divert passenger traffic towards newly developed highways. With heavier traffic patterns becoming an issue, Pierce-Arrow built the engine so that the driver would need to shift gears less frequently, which allowed them to focus more on the car’s superior performance.

1919 Bus

The 1919 Pierce-Arrow Intercity Coach was one of the earliest, most comfortable people movers in America. The bus featured a full luggage rack, air shock absorbers and fender-mounted headlights so groups of travelers could travel safely and in style.

1922 Automatic Electric - Automatic Transportation Company

In 1909, William C. Carr began to manufacture electric powered carts to move heavy objects around factories. This electric car was manufactured for only a short period of time, between 1921 and 1922.

1948 Playboy

Donated by Jack R. McNally.

Manufactured by the Playboy Motor Car Co., Buffalo, New York, 1947-1951.

97 were built.

Conceived to be the “second” car in the typical American family soon after WWII, the Playboy measured just 156” overall length and boasted a 40 hp four-cylinder engine. The company was founded by L. Horwitz, a former Packard dealer; C. Thomas, a former Pontiac engineer; and N. Richardson, a garage mechanic.

Playboy produced an affordable sub-$1,000 automobile selling at $995 f.o.b. Buffalo known for its innovative folding steel top that was hinged in the middle with a supposedly leak proof rubber gasket. The company suffered from a lack of capital investment including two failed stock offerings and a failed attempt to sell the company to Henry J. Kaiser (of the Kaiser-Fraiser Car Co.) in 1950. The firm declared bankruptcy in 1951.

The Museum’s Playboy is the only one known to have a Continental kit.