The Collection

The collection of historic automobiles, bicycles, Pierce-Arrow memorabilia and documents is unlike any other in the world.  You will find a selection of significant transportation items with an emphasis on Pierce-Arrow, the E.R. Thomas Motor Company and other Buffalo-made automobiles and their accomplishments. Visit the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum to see these vehicles and the 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 featuring a folding top. The Stanhope was similar to the Motorette as 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 has two forward speeds and a reverse gear. The George N. Pierce Company produced 50 Stanhopes in 1903, and sold them for $1,100. The Stanhope, one of the earliest Pierce models, paved the way for later, larger models, the Arrow and Great Arrow.

1909 Thomas Flyer 6-40 Flyabout

Specifications:

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

Edwin Ross Thomas (1850-1936) sold gasoline propulsion gear for bicycles in 1896.  From 1900 to 1913, Thomas manufactured automobiles at the  factory at 1200 Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY.  The building is used today as headquarters for Rich Products.

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.  The race began in Times Square on February 12, 1908. 169 days later, George Schuster arrived in Paris to win the world record.

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. improved gas mileage, and a higher top speed, without forfeiting luxury and comfort. Billed as a “hill climber,” the Touring was ideal for drivers and passengers who enjoyed scenic drives through back roads and winding countrysides.

The automobile was also designed with new traffic patterns in mind.  The country began to steer away from mass railroad use and divert passenger traffic towards newly developed highways.  Pierce-Arrow built the engine to shift gears less frequently, which allowed the driver to focus 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 features a luggage rack, air shock absorbers and fender-mounted headlights for passengers to 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.

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 automobile selling at $995 f.o.b. Buffalo.  Conceived to be the second car in the typical American family soon after WWII, it measured 156” overall length with a 40 hp four-cylinder engine.  Its innovative folding steel top 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.