Unrestored 109-year-old motorcycle sets auction record at $225,000

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    Big money in a crazy world?



    Highly original condition
    Produced from 1909 to 1914
    696cc engine
    Shaft drive
    An original-paint, original-condition 4-cylinder Pierce motorcycle is an extreme rarity, and this machine and the condition of this 1911 Pierce Four is simply amazing.

    The Pierce auto company built prestigious luxury automobiles with a reputation on par with Rolls-Royce, and its 4-cylinder motorcycles were at the very top of the market. Percy Pierce, son of Company Founder George N. Pierce, was a factory competition driver who took control of the Pierce Cycle Co. in 1907 with the intention of adding motorcycles to the company’s roster. Following company tradition, Percy traveled to Europe in 1908 for inspiration and was impressed by the Belgian FN 4-cylinder, which had already competed at the Isle of Man TT in 1907. No American company was producing a 4-cylinder motorcycle, and the FN was among the most advanced motorcycles in the world with its 4-cylinder engine and shaft drive. Percy purchased a 1908 FN 4 and shipped it to his factory, where Pierce engineers studied it closely.

    The Pierce Motorcycle Company was formed to produce its 4-cylinder motorcycle, which while modeled on the FN’s 4-cylinder motor, forks and shaft drive, differed with its chassis, which was entirely novel and used large-diameter tubing as both the frame, gas and oil tanks with the control cables hidden inside the tubing. The 3.5-inch tubing increased the frame strength and made manufacturing very simple with no lugs to braze and no complicated jigs. Pierce engineers redesigned the FN engine with a 43 CI (707cc) capacity, a square bore/stroke and a T-head side valve top end, which meant both intake and exhaust valves were positively operated—a big improvement over the FN with its automatic valves. The first Pierce Fours of 1909 had no clutch and a single speed, but by 1910 a 2-speed transmission and clutch were added. The 275-pound machine was good for 60 MPH, which was excellent performance at that date, and it was America’s first 4-cylinder motorcycle.

    This 1911 Pierce Four is a remarkable motorcycle. It’s also one of fewer than 500 Pierce Fours produced between 1909-1914. It’s a real gem of the American motorcycle industry, and it’s probably the best example in the world.


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