Graham Man

Pre War Cars - how fast is fast?

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That is exactly what it is engineered to do. The better and more synthetic the oil, the better it does this job.  -   CC 

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My 37 Buick Special has an 120mph top speed on the speedometer face so one time I plugged in my GPS and opened it up for two miles on a dead level road. It topped out at 93mph on the accurate gps and 105 on the optimistic speedometer. This was on a paved road and radial tires so I'd guess half that speed was close to the norm in 37 with bias ply tires, tubes, and a gravel road. Had TERRIBLE wind noise at that speed.

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13 hours ago, mcdarrunt said:

My 37 Buick Special has an 120mph top speed on the speedometer face so one time I plugged in my GPS and opened it up for two miles on a dead level road. It topped out at 93mph on the accurate gps and 105 on the optimistic speedometer. This was on a paved road and radial tires so I'd guess half that speed was close to the norm in 37 with bias ply tires, tubes, and a gravel road. Had TERRIBLE wind noise at that speed.

I read one of the new VWs has a 240 MPH  speedometer and has a top end of 127. Your Buick;s marketing team was more accurate or realistic.

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I asked this question in the Studebaker forum quite some time ago. In my GL Dictator (1929-30) I have never gotten it over 45mph. My engine starts to cut out at the higher rpms. I might be able to tune that out, I don't know but perhaps a valve job, new points and cap may make the difference. Even with that being said when approaching 40mph the car develops quite an alarming shudder. It's not constant but comes and goes as you travel. I usually take the back roads where my top speed might be 35mph so I don't get launched over a humped intersection, break a wheel in Hoosier pot hole or simply vibrate the car to pieces from poor road patching jobs. The car sounds good at 30-35mph, the engine seems to be tuned for this speed. Incidentally, 1929 was when Indiana raised its speed limit above 30mph. Of course the federal government would impose a national 30mph speed limit to save fuel during WWII.

 

I also have recently acquired a 1969-70 Siata Spring that uses the Fiat 850 engine, transaxle and suspension. I did run it at 55mph on the highway once but the tach was showing 4200 RPM in fourth gear. I suppose this is okay since I believe the speed limit at that time was 65mph but this might be excessive for a nearly 50 year old engine. One consolation is that in this tiny car 55mph feels like 110mph in a modern automobile, it's kind of like comparing a mini-bike to a Harley Davidson. 

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'25 Dodge Touring (no top) is pretty comfortable at 40-45 on a straight smooth road.  It can go a little faster but I sense that the engine doesn't really like to be at the higher rpm.

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5 hours ago, keninman said:

I asked this question in the Studebaker forum quite some time ago. In my GL Dictator (1929-30) I have never gotten it over 45mph. My engine starts to cut out at the higher rpms. I might be able to tune that out, I don't know but perhaps a valve job, new points and cap may make the difference. Even with that being said when approaching 40mph the car develops quite an alarming shudder. It's not constant but comes and goes as you travel. I usually take the back roads where my top speed might be 35mph so I don't get launched over a humped intersection, break a wheel in Hoosier pot hole or simply vibrate the car to pieces from poor road patching jobs. The car sounds good at 30-35mph, the engine seems to be tuned for this speed. Incidentally, 1929 was when Indiana raised its speed limit above 30mph. Of course the federal government would impose a national 30mph speed limit to save fuel during WWII.

My Pontiac cut out occasionaly when I first stated driving it, was caused by corroded connections at the ammeter.

Shudder could be castor, camber or a broken spring leaf.

Even with a high rear end ratio you should be able to drive 55 fairly easily without the cutting out and shudder.

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In 1936 the Buick Century was introduced. It was named Century to recognize that it was capable of 100 mph. I have driven my 1937 Century at nearly that speed, but it routinely feels like 60 to 65 mph is its most natural normal every day cruising speed. I drove it in normal Interstate traffic on a 2 day trip from North Carolina to Indiana without problems while keeping up with traffic without any issues. 

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2 minutes ago, MCHinson said:

In 1936 the Buick Century was introduced. It was named Century to recognize that it was capable of 100 mph. I have driven my 1937 Century at nearly that speed, but it routinely feels like 60 to 65 mph is its most natural normal every day cruising speed. I drove it in normal Interstate traffic on a 2 day trip from North Carolina to Indiana without problems while keeping up with traffic without any issues. 

 

This is also a century - 100kph   😉

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It’s interesting that many of the fastest pre war cars were not necessarily the most expensive. The big Buick’s along with the Auburns seem to offer the best value for speed back in the day. Also just one or two years difference in platform of the same marque can make a world of difference. A supercharged Auburn with a two speed rear is a wonderful car to drive.....but it’s small, and the build quality of the body and hardware ar middle of the road.......but a fantastic value when new. I like any car that drives well in modern traffic, and there are quite a few “sleeper models” that fall through the cracks. Big Stude and Reo come to mind. CID is where it’s at on MOST pre war cars. “There’s no replacement for displacement.” 

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12 hours ago, Tinindian said:

My Pontiac cut out occasionaly when I first stated driving it, was caused by corroded connections at the ammeter.

Shudder could be castor, camber or a broken spring leaf.

Even with a high rear end ratio you should be able to drive 55 fairly easily without the cutting out and shudder.

This one isn't occasional, as you get to about 45mph the engine gets very rough, missing and unless you let off the accelerator you will actually begin slowing down. I have had the springs and front end off of her last year, the springs and king pins are fine but the steering joint are sloppy. I tried to do some adjusting but it did not help. 

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18 hours ago, keninman said:

I asked this question in the Studebaker forum quite some time ago. In my GL Dictator (1929-30) I have never gotten it over 45 m.p.h.

...when approaching 40 m.p.h. the car develops quite an alarming shudder.

 

One well-known collector I know had a similar shuddering

problem in his '30's Packard.  At first he thought the problem

was in his steering damper.  Instead, he found that the tires needed

to be shaved to make them perfectly round.

 

Shaving tires was a common practice, because out of the mold,

the tires weren't perfectly round.  Shaving takes small slices of

rubber off the wearing surface to even out the tires.  It's a practice

that's forgotten today, but he said it solved his problem. 

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My 6-cyl. '36 Pontiac coupe with the high rear end (4.11!) cruises quite comfortably at 55. New front spring shackles really helped reduce the amount of "wander."

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