It was as soon as amongst America’s most revered vehicles: Peerless.
Based in Cleveland, Ohio, the automobile was known as one of many three Ps: Peerless, Packard, and Pierce-Arrow — all thought-about America’s most interesting automakers on the time. And whereas the Great Depression killed Peerless’ vehicle manufacturing, like so many different automakers, the vestiges of the corporate survive, even in case you drink it fairly than drive it.
An earthly starting
Peerless’ historical past has an inauspicious starting, established this week 4 years after the Civil War because the Peerless Wringer & Manufacturing Co., a producer of garments wringers. But as bicycles change into fashionable, Peerless expands into bicycle manufacturing earlier than coming into carmaking in 1900, producing a single-cylinder tricycle referred to as the Motorette powered by French DeDion engines.
But Peerless wants experience whether it is to develop, and for that it turns to Louis Mooers in 1902. Mooers constructed his first automobile in 1897, however was by no means capable of safe funding to place it into manufacturing. He arrives at Peerless in 1902, simply as the corporate adjustments its title to the Peerless Motor Car Co.. As chief engineer, he shortly develops the corporate’s product line, with a breakthrough arriving with the 1904 mannequin 12 months: the model’s first 4-cylinder engine.
Peerless earns its repute
In an period when vehicles actually resembled horseless carriages, with automobile occupants sitting atop the engine, the 1904 Peerless is relentlessly trendy. Its motor is up entrance, forward of the motive force, and related to stay rear axle by way of a driveshaft. It is constructed utilizing a metal body, fairly than wooden, a customized carried over from the 19th century carriage commerce. And it has a steering wheel not a tiller, one that’s tilted ahead to ease entry and exit.
Mooers additionally believes that racing improves the breed, and hires the highest race automobile driver of the period to pilot the highly effective 60-horsepower race automobile he has developed. The automobile is the Green Dragon; the motive force is Barney Oldfield, the person who had lately piloted Henry Ford’s 999 racecar. Soon, pace information are falling because the Peerless proved, effectively, peerless. This led to its nice promoting slogan, “All that the name implies.”
But Mooers leaves the next 12 months, heading to Moon Motor Car Co. in St. Louis, named for the household who established it. His departure would start a collection of administration adjustments, one thing the corporate would endure all through its existence as an automaker.
In the meantime, the cylinder depend grew, with Peerless following Cadillac by introducing V-8-powered fashions in 1913.
Management turmoil — the brand new regular
But the corporate’s largest change happens in 1921, when Richard Collins, former president and normal supervisor of Cadillac, purchased the corporate and introduced alongside a lot of Cadillac engineers. The regime lasts two years earlier than they left to create a brand new automobile for General Motors: the Pontiac.
Collins is changed by one other GM man: Edward Ver Linden, who steers Peerless into the mid-price market by providing a brand new 6-cylinder mannequin. Sales greater than double. While V-8 Peerless fashions commanded $4,000 or extra, the brand new Six prices $1,500, a really low worth for a high-end nameplate.
But Peerless’ administration turmoil continues, with Ver Linden leaving for Jordan Motor Car Co. in 1928. He is changed by Peerless’ vice-president Leon German, who in flip is changed the next 12 months by Marmon Motor Car’s vice-president James Bohannon. It is that this regime that retires the Peerless V8, changing it with a Continental V8, which did little to reinforce its energy or status.
Then there’s the difficulty of the Great Depression, which stresses many automobile firms, luxurious automakers most of all. With so many individuals out of labor, being seen in a high-end automobile was not a excessive precedence.
As gross sales dwindle to annual fee of three,642 models in 1930 from 10,437 autos 4 years earlier, the corporate is on the ropes. The final Peerless rolls off the meeting line at the same time as probably the most peerless of Peerless fashions was about to be produced. With a 7.6-liter V-16 producing 178 hp and a physique by Murphy, it’s constructed principally of aluminum, a collaboration between Peerless and Alcoa, additionally based mostly in Cleveland.
The firm builds one earlier than the meeting line floor to a halt.
A brand new starting
But Peerless’ president James Bohannon has one other thought.
The firm isn’t economically viable as a luxurious automaker, so why not convert the 8-acre facility right into a brewery? Bohannon acquires the rights to the Carling beer recipes, their distinctive labels, and their commerce names from the Brewing Corp. of Canada in alternate for 25,000 shares of Peerless inventory.
The plant reopens in 1934 because the Brewery Corp. of America, brewing Carling Red Cap Ale. But the corporate’s gross sales are meager till the introduction of Carling Black Label, a high-quality lager. In 1944, Canadian Breweries Ltd., beneficial properties a controlling curiosity, altering the corporate’s title to Carling Brewing Co. 10 years later. By 1960, Carling is the fourth largest brewery in America, with gross sales of 4.8 barrels of beer yearly.
But the Seventies show disastrous for Carling, because it closes its Cleveland plant in 1971, though it reopens the next 12 months as a contract brewer for C. Schmidt & Sons of Philadelphia, a service it gives by means of 1984.
Nevertheless, value reducing schemes and heavy promoting by Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing throughout the Me Decade causes Carling to chop costs to compete. Along with it goes profitability.
So, in 1976, Carling of Canada sells the American division, after which it survives any variety of mergers and acquisitions over the many years. Today, Carling Black Label is owned by the Molson Coors Brewing Company, and is the ultimate vestige of Peerless, a phrase that doesn’t apply to the standard of its beer.