’30 Pierce and Led Zeppelin

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    Have often wondered where this Pierce went?


    “And as we wind on down the road

    Our shadows taller than our soul…” (“Stairway to Heaven”)


    Stills from Led Zeppelin: “The Song Remains the Same”, film (1973/6)



    The Credits on the movie indicate that the Pierce-Arrow is a 1928, but gives no other information on ownership, etc.


    The credits further obscure the year, and offer limited info. on the ownership, as you indicate. Though I’m by no means an expert, it appears to be a Club Sedan from ’30 (or a carryover) by the bumper, hub cap profile, and individual cowl doors, along with the higher interior door handles. A closer look at the car, frame-by-frame, reveals a black/yellow 1973 California license plate with the numbers HJV 907.

    I’ll admit this gangster sketch is very strange with all of the clichés. Pinstripe suits, loud ties, and handkerchiefs in the pockets, and of course the Thompsons with the “Type C”, 100-round drums. Lotsa firepower there from an unlikely ride. Would expect such a drive-by from one of the early Ford V8s, or a straight-8 Essex Terraplane, or a Buick. I guess you don’t want my type at the movies ; )



    It’s a 1929 or 1930.  I can’t tell if there are courtesy lights on the splash aprons–if not, it’s a late-1929 133 (133″ wheelbase as appears proper from proportions) equipped with hood doors rather than louvers, OR a 1930 Model C (132″ wb).  If you can see round courtesy lights, it’s a 1930 Model B (139″ wb).  Those headlight lenses appear to be flat rather than convex which would be 1929.  The auxiliary lights also look like the smaller 1929 units with flat lenses.  The 1930 headlights are one-year convex “happy face” prisms, and the 1930 aux light lenses are miniatures of the HL lenses.  The sidemounted spare brackets appear to be 1930.

    I appreciate the extraordinary effort to capture movie frames, but I’m not sure someone who does not know the particular car can positively identify it.  By the way, that’s a **1963** series of Calif license plate which has a current year of registration sticker only on the upper right corner of the REAR plate, and those plates remain valid today.


    Thanks for the info. about the California plates, and this was also confirmed by a good friend of mine who indicated that the black/yellow are almost a trademark. Perhaps this color combination/range extended from 1963-1968, or beyond? “School me” on that as I’m unfamiliar with western plates. He also said that the car was owned by John Bonham, and is familiar with Bonham’s “hobby” in the dragster circuit, but more so the drummer’s interest in classic cars. This is the sort of knowledge that comes of being a bassist for Badfinger, and running parallel and performing with Zeppelin and bands of that era, I guess. Funny how one stumbles upon, and arrives at answers for these car questions quite unexpectedly…

    As for the Pierce particulars, the headlights and parking lights are of the curved prism type of ’30, and the courtesy lights on the splash aprons are also round, matching the indications for the same year. Interesting that the spare brackets are also without mirrors, though I don’t have the faintest for all of the bespoke features for the As, Bs, or Cs. Some of this is in the ’30 Pierce parts catalog/schematics.

    Anyway, my research indicates that there was a mirror mount point in the clamp for ’31 that wasn’t there in ’30, at least, so that would limit the model-year range, but I know there were carryovers of earlier parts in later years within the company, and various owners’ modifications later on.

    I appreciate everyone’s contribution to this post. Perhaps I’ve made more of one car than needs to be, but it’s a Pierce-Arrow after all…




    Carl, Wikipedia has an exhaustive article on Calif license plates at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_registration_plates_of_California

    The mirror-less top clamp on the sidemounted spares is the same as on my 1930 roadster.  A different clamp with mirror was in the 1930 accessory catalog.  Mirrors-on-sidemounts require another person to adjust while you critique them, or about 30 times of getting-in-to-check if you’re doing the job by yourself.

    Thanks to the late Lee Garoyan, a mirror product that works only on slanted-windshield cars (B roadster and tourings, A 7-p touring) is reproduction stainless mirrors for 1928-29 Model A Ford open cars–with a minor modification.  The thread on those repro mirrors must be changed from 5/16-18 to 1/4-20, then remove the chromed screw on the side of each stanchion and thread in the mirror.  It’s a 5-minute job to replace for judging.  Perhaps others have some ideas for mirrors for closed cars.


    Anyone else notice that the Archer is present in the still frames, but missing in the moving scenes?


    Great info. about the license plates and mirrors, George – I appreciate the schooling, as with many aspects before…

    Bob, I think film continuity editing is in your line. The archer absence is as night-and-day when one is reminded of the fact.

    Thanks, Gents!




    John Bonham was a huge car enthusiast.

    The Led Zeppelin song Trampled Under Foot is all about his love of cars.


    For sure…always need to check for those cracked heads!


    Another Pierce connection comes through Led Zeppelin manager, Peter Grant. His car was auctioned in 2012.

    Looking at the model designation on this one, though, it isn’t a Model B, but a 133. (Quite the provenance that one PAS member has with this one!)


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