When you’re going to a car show featuring 80 and 90 year old pre-war classic American cars, you don’t expect to run across a half dozen exotic Italian sports cars. Earlier this year, the Gilmore Car Museum, near Hickory Corners, Michigan, just north of Kalamazoo, was hosting a meet of the Pierce-Arrow Society. In addition to their own collection, the Gilmore hosts a number of smaller museums devoted to particular marques. One of the museums on the Gilmore site is the Pierce-Arrow Museum, associated with the Pierce-Arrow Society, so the Gilmore is a natural location for a Pierce-Arrow meet. Joining the Pierce-Arrows were some cars from Peerless, another premium American motorcar from the first three decades of the 20th century. Surprisingly, the Gilmore didn’t put some of their Packards on display at the museum. Together with Packard, Pierce-Arrow and Peerless were known as the “Three-Ps of Motordom”, the three most prestigious automobile brands in the United States. Even without Packards on the show field there was a third P at the Gilmore, however, as apparently a Pantera club decided to drive over and visit the museum. There were a half dozen of the Italian-American sports cars parked side by side in the parking lot.
You’re probably familiar with the rough outlines of the De Tomaso Pantera’s history involving an Argentinian who wanted to build midengine Italian sports cars and a guy in Dearborn named Hank the Deuce who wanted to thumb his nose at Enzo Ferrari. Powered by a Ford 351 Cleveland V8 and sold at Lincoln-Mercury dealers from 1971 until the 1973 oil crisis cratered performance car sales, over 6,000 Panteras were sold through FoMoCo. After Henry Ford II lost interest, Alejandro deTomaso kept the Pantera in more limited production for the European market and it was actually built into the 1990s.
Less well known to today’s car enthusiasts are Peerless and Pierce-Arrow.