Monday, July 16, 2012

Premier: The 4th "P"

by Nancy DeWitt

Many antique automobile enthusiasts are familiar with "The Three P's" of fine motoring: Packard, Peerless and Pierce-Arrow. We are fortunate to have fine examples of all three marques in our museum. We also have a "4th P" whose name overtakes my brain whenever I try to to list these three prestigious makes--Premier. Although Premier was probably never a real serious competitor against these three giants, its quality, power and handsome lines were certainly on par with them.

We presently have two Premiers in our collection, a 1912 Model 6-60 roadster (above right) and a 1912 Model 4-40 7-passenger touring car. Willy and his crew tuned up the 4-40 last week, and I was fortunate to take a spin in this huge machine. She has a very smooth ride compared to some of our other Brass Era cars. I was riding in high style in the roomy passenger compartment, which is decked out with a diamond-tufted rear seat, jump seats and a brass robe rail and footrest.

In 1912 buyers could choose between six body styles, ranging from a 2-passenger roadster to a 7-passenger limousine. The 40 hp models were powered by a 4-cylinder T-head engine that displaced 334 cubic inches. 

Early on, Premier established a reputation for superlative performance and by 1910 had completed three Glidden Tours with a perfect score, a very impressive achievement. The following year, 12 Premiers carrying 40 men, women and children completed the grueling, 4,731-mile Ocean-to-Ocean tour from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Los Angeles, California in 45 days. The only damage sustained was three broken springs, a testament to Premier's superb reliability.

While we won't be putting our Premiers through such a punishing test, you can watch for us cruising around Fairbanks in one of these impressive automobiles. Click here to watch a video of the big 6-60 roadster and here for a video about its unique air-start system.

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