Rare 1904 pierce Arrow, donated to Buffalo Transportation and Pierce Arrow Museum

‘It’s got the wow factor,’ facility’s director says

By Mark Sommer
The Buffalo Transportation/ Pierce-Arrow Museum now possesses one of the two 1904 Arrow cars left in the world.
The Bill and Jean Irr Family Foundation bought the deep blue, two-cylinder model for $250,000 at an auction in October in Hershey, Pa., and then donated it to the museum. The museum will unveil it at 11 a.m. today at the downtown museum at 263 Michigan Ave.
“When you see it, it’s got the wow factor,” said James T. Sandoro, the museum’s co-founder and executive director. “The quality of the restoration, along with the quality of the automobile, make it like a fabulous piece of jewelry.
“It now belongs to everybody in Western New York,” he said.
A previous owner restored the Arrow for $250,000 several years ago.
“The brass radiator and the brass headlights are just magnificent,” Sandoro said.
Entering the Arrow’s black interior of tufted leather requires going through a passenger door in back. The automobile features a top but no windshield.
The steering wheel, on the right side, “lifts up so you can get behind the seat,” said Mary Ann Sandoro, co-founder and curator of exhibits, calling it the “fat man’s steering wheel.”
The car also includes a lantern, secured in back of the car, and a French bull horn on the outside on the passenger side.
The museum’s collection includes a 1903 Arrow, which won a race from New York to Pittsburgh. The museum acquired the gold coin the car received for winning the race.
The newly acquired 1904 model marked a transition from the horse-drawn carriage. The license plate reads “horseless carriage.”
“It got bigger, faster – 2 cylinder from 1 cylinder – and was the difference from a wagon with a motor on it to a real automobile,” Sandoro said. “It was such a step up.”
The car participated in the famed London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, eligible to automobiles built before 1905.
An unrestored 1904 Arrow – a roadster, not a touring car – belongs to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.