Peerless emblem. (source: Apijunior)
Peerless was an American automobile produced by the Peerless Motor Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The company was known for building high-quality, precision luxury automobiles.
Established in Cleveland in 1900, Peerless Motors began producing De Dion "machines" under license from the French Company. At the time, Cleveland was the thriving center of automotive production in the United States. Peerless employeed Barney Oldfield as a driver of its Green Dragon racecar; in early speed races Peerless proved the durability of the product and setting world speed records.
As the Peerless evolved, it along with makes Packard and Pierce-Arrow, became known as the "Three-P's" of premium vehicles in the United States.
Peerless' downfall was in its quality. In the 1920s, the company was producing conservatively-styled vehicles that would last for ten or more years. Current Peerless owners held onto their cars, which ran very well; new buyers of luxury cars were attracted to LaSalle, Packard and the Studebaker President series.
In 1930-1931, Peerless commissioned Murphy Body Works of Pasedena, California to design what the company envisioned as its 1933 model. The task was assigned to a young Frank Hershey. Hershey's design for Peerless was a remarkable clean, elegant vehicle, powered by the company's planned V-16 engine.
Just as the car was ready to be shipped back to Cleveland, the Board of Directors pulled Peerless out of the automobile business and reorient the company to brew beer under the Carling's Black Label brand of beer.
Hershey's famed prototype was walled up in a room at the Peerless factory where it sat until the end of World War II. Hershey would go onto design the 1949 Cadillac, among other american classics. Hershey's Peerless prototype is now owned by the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland.
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