Walter Miller’s Peerless Sedan

On July 28, 2014, in Articles in Print, by AutoLit

Model 56 Series 6 Sedan

This article was written by Walter Miller and appeared in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of The Peerless Co-Operator. The following reproduction maintains the original look as best as possible in HTML but may contain some typos and/or layout issues due to this technique.

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n attempting to discover some earlier owners of our car, I have found a 1920 Peerless Limousine listed in restored condition in the 1961 AACA – HCCA roster belonging to Ruther Mcintosh of Pasadena, Texas. Because this roster does not list serial numbers, it is unknown if this is our car, but because of the rarity, it probably is. Mr. Macintosh apparently owned this car until the early 1970’s. At that time, the car was acquired by Jack Wishnicks, owner of Roaring 20’s Autos, also known as the New Jersey Antique Automobile Museum in Wall, New
Jersey. In this "museum", most or all of the cars were for sale. At this time, for some reason, the Peerless was listed as a "1917 Seven Passenger Limousine" and was offered for sale and remained so for a number of years. It is assumed that at some point, the title may have been lost and one of the owners decided that the car was made in 1917.1 also found some information that this car may have been in a Toms River, Jersey automobile museum and it is unknown if this was before or after Mr. Wishnicks owned the car. The next owner that is known was
Major General Rex A. Hadley and his wife Margaret, of Ogden, Utah. It is assumed that General Hadley purchased the car from Roaring 20’s Autos in the late 1970’s but it is possible that there was another owner (or more) be­fore he purchased the car. Although the car
appeared to have been fully restored when Roaring 20’s owned it, Rex Hadley did a ground up resto­ration on the car taking a decade or more. General Hadley had an il­lustrious career in the U.S. Air Force beginning in World War II through Vietnam flying thousands of mis­sions as well as training pilots and was one of the founders of the Hill Aerospace Museum located near his home. Both Rex Hadley and his wife died in 2006 and his small antique car collection was sold to Michael Daily of Vault Classic Cars in Anaheim, California. Mr. Daily sold the car in 2007 to James Whalen of Marina Del Rey, California. The California title still stated that the car was produced in 1917, although Mr. Whalen knew otherwise.
Mr. Whalen sold me the car in October 2009, and this is where the plot thickens! James Whalen placed this unusual car on eBay a few months earlier and it remained unsold. I have always been a lover of large early closed cars and this one seemed to be a good fit for my in-
terests. My wife Jane, who has always been very patient with my car collecting hobby, does not always share my en­thusiasm for new purchases. In some cases, I have found that it is wisest not to discuss the possible purchase of another car with her until the moment is right, sometime at a later date. For some reason she thinks that food, a mortgage payment and heat are better uses of money than another old car! I had many conversations with Mr. Wha­len about this car and decided I wanted to look at it. I convinced my wife that we should go on a long weekend trip to California to get away and that we would look at a car as long as we were in the area anyway. After looking at it, I immediately decided to buy it but did not divulge my enthusiasm to Jane. Ac­tually, when we got home, I absolutely promised her that I would not buy this car, although she did not notice that I had my fingers crossed behind my back. Without telling her, I had many phone conversations with Mr. Whalen and the shipper and had the car transported from California to New York directly to my mechanic’s building
where my wife never visits. My plan was to leave it there all winter and then on a nice sunny day in the spring, I would casu­ally disclose that the car was now sitting in front of our home, and hopefully by then her reaction would be a bit better. My mechan­ics all attended our Christmas party where they were all warned by me not to discuss my latest purchase, the Peerless, for fear
that Jane would overhear this. I was unaware that one of her coworkers used this mechanic, where I always had a few cars. The coworker apparently enjoyed looking at my cars and on one particular day in the winter, went back to work and congratulated my wife on Walters’s new purchase. My wife, somewhat flustered, showed him some
photos of the car that she happened to have on her computer from our trip and he confirmed that this was indeed the same car. Oops! Need­less to say, it was several weeks before my wife would speak to me again!
This car, chassis #261288, engine #13347, and body #7L2818, weighs 4225
vidual driving characteristics which are excellent in their own ways while the Marmon had the highest top speed. The Peerless seems to be the quietest of the group. We have driven this fully restored car at near highway speeds on several trips of as much as 200 miles in a day and it performed flawlessly, achieved 8 mpg, ran cool on the hottest summer day and has had only one major mechanical problem since our ownership: in 2012 the differential gears broke and I had replacements made. Last sum­mer a hubcap fell off and I can use another if anyone can help. Since 1920 was several years before bal­loon tires were introduced, its thin­ner tires give the car a more exact feel on the road, although not as smooth as balloons. The car’s V8 engine gives it excellent accelera­tion and it can be driven safely with modern traffic. My wife Jane and our daughters Minerva, 7, and Octavia, 5, love being chauffered by their father. We recently went to our local grocery store, spent $300, filled the Peerless up with food and it has more room for groceries than an SUV! We con­tinue to enjoy the Peerless and hope to for many years to come. If anyone can add anything to the car’s history or offer corrections, please contact me.
pounds with 125 inch wheelbase, has its original 333 cubic inch V8 of 80 HP and sold new for $3900. In 1920, a similar Ford Model T sedan sold for $795. Series 6 cars includ­ed chassis #’s 260001 – 270000, engine #’s 11455 – 20110, and I can find no information on Series 6 body #’s. Production figures for 1920 Model 56 cars, all models, total 6213. It is unknown what the exact number of Sedan Limousines built was, but it probably was the least most popular bodystyle and perhaps a few hundred were pro­duced. This Model 56 Sedan Limou­sine includes a divider window, two
jump seats so that 7 passengers can ride in comfort, electric speaking tube, side opera lights, and was intended to be chauffer driven and occasionally owner driven, hence its name, Sedan Limousine. It was originally uphol­stered in the identical wool cloth front and rear as opposed to a true limousine that was typically leather in the front and cloth in the rear.
I have owned about 100 antique cars in my life including a 1917 Packard Twin Six V12, a 1923 Marmon 34 Six, and a 1922 Cadillac V8, all of which were priced near the Peerless when new and all had similar horse­power. All four of these cars have indi-
Walter Miller
6710 Brooklawn Pkwy
Syracuse, NY 13211
315-432-8269 • ®

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