Charles Clifton of Pierce-Arrow

A Sure Hand and a Fine Automobile


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About the Book

As head of Pierce-Arrow in its formative years, Colonel Charles Clifton played a significant role in the development of a venerated automobile manufacturer. Roundly respected in his time, Clifton was a force in automobile trade associations for nearly a quarter century but slipped into undeserved obscurity after his death in 1928.
This biography covers Charles Clifton’s role in the earliest conflicts and achievements of the American automobile industry and the growth of the Pierce-Arrow company, using industry publications and periodicals of the time as well as recollections of his associates and contemporaries. It details his wider importance in shaping the industry itself, especially his role in the controversies surrounding the Selden patent and the patent cross-licensing agreement between auto manufacturers. The impact of World War I on the industry and Clifton’s activities responding to the vast operational changes the war brought about conclude the book.

About the Author(s)

Roger J. Sherman, editor of The Arrow, the quarterly magazine of the Pierce-Arrow Society, is also a member of the Antique Automobile Club of America and the Society of Automotive Historians. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Bibliographic Details

Roger J. Sherman
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 288
Bibliographic Info: 95 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7584-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3609-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction: Spokesman for the Industry Itself 2
1. A Leading Family (1853–1899) 5
2. Our Little Wagon (1900–1904) 15
3. American Cars (1905–1907) 30
4. Showdown Over Selden (1907–1911) 41
5. Conflict and Character (1912–1913) 73
6. Excellence in Every Desirable Particular (1914) 90
7. Unexpected Bonanza (1915–1916) 112
8. War Work (1917–1918) 130
9. Esprit de Corps (Early 1919) 159
10. Finding a Peace Basis (Late 1919) 169
11. Toward Quantity and Profit (1920) 178
12. A Most Difficult Year (1921) 202
13. Searching Out Safety (1922–1923) 217
14. New Horizons (1924–1927) 232
15. Passing (1928) 268
Sources 275
Index 277

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Sherman—aided by Clifton’s remaining surviving family members and historical documents—succeeds in bringing to life this nearly forgotten pioneer…brimming with family heritage…. It’s compelling history that should be at the top of your summer reading list.”—Hemmings Motor News

• “[Sherman] has had a lifelong love affair with Pierce-Arrow, and this book represents the outcome of 20 years of research.”—Antique Automobile

• “Despite all of Clifton’s remarkable accomplishments, Sherman maintains an objective and detached review of his subject. … Sherman has filled a gap in the history of auto giants. …[Clifton’s] story, as told by Sherman, should be read by any automotive historian or enthusiast interested in learning more about one of the industry’s most important ‘founding fathers’ of the early twentieth century.”SAH Journal