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Peerless: Cars from the Past

Front cover of Peerless Motor Cars 1910 trade catalog
Peerless Motor Car Co. trade catalog

Cars are part of our everyday lives. For many of us, it would be hard to imagine life without cars. So it’s not surprising to browse the Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library and find catalogs by automobile manufacturers. Let’s take a look at one of these catalogs, a catalog describing the 1910 car models for Peerless Motor Car Co.

Along with Pierce-Arrow and Packard, Peerless was one of the “Three Ps” known for making cars. But Peerless did not always manufacture cars. Before the company was Peerless Motor Car Co., it was known as Peerless Manufacturing Co. Their products included clothes wringers, bicycles, and eventually horseless single-cylinder* buggies called Motorettes.

Image from a 1909 Peerless Motor Car Co. trade catalog of man driving a car and woman sitting on a porch.
Peerless Motor Car Co., Cleveland, OH. Peerless Motor Cars 1910, 1909, man driving car and woman sitting on porch.

Soon automobiles came along, and in 1902, the company became Peerless Motor Car Co. At first, Peerless manufactured racing cars, notably the Green Dragon driven by Barney Oldfield, but then went on to build luxury cars. The last car built on the assembly line by Peerless Motor Car Co. was in 1931.

But let’s go back to 1910 when the company was busy making cars. Peerless Motor Cars 1910 illustrates two models for that year. Model 27 is a four-cylinder thirty horsepower car and Model 28 is a six-cylinder fifty horsepower car. The catalog begins with a description of both models including improvements for the 1910 models. One improvement was “a larger gasoline tank, holding about 22 gallons.”

Image from a 1909 Peerless Motor Car Co. trade catalog of a car driving in the city and images of tool box and seat covers for Peerless Cars
Peerless Motor Car Co., Cleveland, OH. Peerless Motor Cars 1910, 1909, Tool Box with Receptacle for Prest-O-Lite Tank and Seat Covers for Peerless Cars (car driving in city).

Throughout the catalog are images of several Peerless cars. One of these is the Peerless Limousine. “Planned and built on attractive lines calculated to please the most refined tastes,” the Peerless Limousine seated five people. Passengers had the luxury of electric reading lights, armrests, and a speaking tube to communicate with the driver. Other cars illustrated in the catalog include the Touring Car, Roadster, and Landaulet.

Peerless Motor Cars 1910 is located in the Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library. Take a look at Galaxy of Images to see more pages from this catalog.

Resources consulted include:

Kimes, Beverly Rae. Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1805-1942. Iola, Wis.: Krause Publications, 1985.

Stein, Ralph. The American Automobile. New York: Random House, [1971].

*Edited on 11/27/2013 to clarify that the Motorette was a horseless single-cylinder buggy.


  1. Is it just me or the old cars had much more dignity and class then the ones we have now?

  2. Alex Cauthen

    Manufacturers like Peerless (Pierce-Arrow, Cadillac, et al) were selling a life-style as well as a car.

    Other fine manufacturers (Franklin, for example) used specifications and boasts describing how great their car was. Peerless ads were understated and presented the name and a picture of high social class which happened to include the car.

    They sold quality by association. Of course, high social class is looked down on in society today. We are all supposedly equal.

  3. Trilby L. Nelsen Gustafson

    I grew up in Ephrata, Washington, a small town in about the center of the state. My father operated a garage and machine shop there. Sometime in the ’30s a “Flying Circus” came to town. They needed repair on either the airplane or the Peerless Limo. My father did the work. When the owners of the Flying Circus could not pay the bill, my father went to court and got the title to the Limo. Our family used the car for years. The limo fell into disuse and was parked along with other vehicles behind my Dad’s business. My father passed away in 1944. My bother was home from WWII by that time but did not use the car. I am now in my ’90s so I will have to check with relatives to see if anyone knows what happened to the vehicles that were parked there.

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