Matt Harwood

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Everything posted by Matt Harwood

  1. 3.9 really should have been standard across the board. I guess the shorter gears made around-town driving easier and there were no highways at the time, but it really transforms the way the car works. My Limited has 4.20 (really 4.18) gears but with the taller tires, it works out to about the same as a 3.9 on the road. I arbitrarily keep it to about 60 MPH, but it does creep up on me sometimes. I don't know what my father's Super would have had and I don't really recall that much about how it drove--I was only 8 years old at the time. We traveled to Flint in a convoy with a '36 Roadmaster convertible sedan, a 56 Buick convertible of some kind, and a boat-tail Riviera from the early '70s. I don't recall doing anything special to accommodate the older cars, although 1978 was a different time in terms of traffic and overall speeds. Thanks! I talked to a lot of people about it at the Chrysler meet--everyone loved it. In fact, we would not have purchased it if it weren't pink. Melanie absolutely loves it and while I've seen green ones and blue ones and white ones, none of those are as appealing. If you're going to have a '50s car, you may as well go with a pastel, right? The problem is that most "manly" men won't even consider driving a pink car, so we were able to pick this one up very reasonably after it sat on the market for more than two years. It will be one of the last we sell if it ever comes to that. It's just a great car. The one thing I learn as I spend more time in this hobby is that the unusual attracts more attention even though most people push away and run towards the common. Nobody wants pink, they want red or black. But this pink car attracted more attention at the show and at the Woodward Dream Cruise than most of the other cars. In the same way, everyone wants perfection while the cars that seem to attract the most attention are the survivors that are a little scruffy. Yet everyone spends all their money and effort trying to make red and black cars perfect instead of enjoying slightly scruffy and slightly unusual cars. It's like they can't quite make themselves believe what they're seeing--like the first time you jump out of an airplane with a parachute or something. What were we talking about again?
  2. I just took this photo at the Henry Ford on Friday. Not only does the Royale absolutely DWARF the Duesenberg, it also cost more than five times as much as the Duesenberg ($8500 vs. $43,000). For additional contrast, note that the Duesenberg cost almost 20 times as much as a Ford ($495). Hugely expensive exotics have always existed. And, interestingly enough, they've often worn the Bugatti name.
  3. I don't think it's quite right to say the '41 Specials are unsuited to today's world, but they don't run at 70 MPH, either. However, even a big series '41 Buick will get a little busy at 70 MPH. My Limited will run pretty happily at 60 or 65, more than that it starts to get busy. Overdrives are a good solution and there's a friend on this board (Lawrence Helfand) who has added an overdrive to his '41 Century; that car should run at 75-80 MPH without effort, although you need to remember that it still has 1941 brakes and suspension. My father drove his 1941 Super business coupe with a 248 to work daily in the 1970s and 80s--more than six years of daily use, including highway trips, before it was unceremoniously totaled by a drunk driver. I recall that we drove it to Flint from Cleveland for the 75th anniversary of Buick, all highway, some 300 miles each way, completely without incident. I don't recall how fast we were running, but I don't recall us feeling overwhelmed by the journey or that we were a rolling roadblock. Anyway, the small series cars are wonderful up to about 55 MPH and then start to feel a little stressed. Still not bad for 80 year old tech. I find that traffic seems to manage working with old car on the highway. Sure, they go roaring past, but modern drivers all seem to manage without an any ill effects. I think the danger of an old car on the highway is more perception than reality. I have run my '29 Cadillac at 55 MPH on long highway trips and never really felt vulnerable, albeit it's a bit stressful to worry about the machine at those speeds. As for the '56 Chrysler, we do still have it and it's a fantastic car. We've done quite a bit of sorting, but whomever owned it before us did a lot of quality work so it hasn't needed anything significant beyond brakes, U-joints, and some electrical repairs. I also added Imperial wire wheels supplied by a fellow board member. In fact, we just drove it up to Detroit last Wednesday and got home last night. That car runs 70-75 MPH without effort, but obviously it's 15 years more modern with twice as much horsepower. Even compared to my Limited, the Chrysler is vastly more comfortable--it was kind of disheartening to take a long trip in it as a passenger simply because it was so good. Quieter, better airflow management in the cabin so it's much cooler without being loud and windy, and superior ride and handling. It's not even a fair fight. It was pretty much a modern car, sans A/C (which we're going to add next winter). Here are some shots from the Walter P. Chrysler Club national meet and our drive up there. Ultimately, if you like the looks of '41 Buicks and this fastback styling, but need more performance, Century Model 61 sedans use the exact same body on a longer chassis with the big engine. And they are not notably more expensive than the asking price of this Special for a decent one.
  4. Please don't take it the wrong way, Ed, but you just made my point for me. If we want to know what's really killing the old car hobby, it's the OEMs cranking out all these ersatz "collector cars" that are comfortable, fast, and easy to drive. You don't need to work or bleed or sweat for this hobby anymore, you can merely lease it at the new car dealer.
  5. Some photos from today. If you haven't been there, it's pretty remarkable. People line the sides of Woodward, there are parties going on everywhere with music and cook outs, and cars cruise up and down Woodward all day. There are also car shows in every single parking lot. The whole thing is maybe 8 or 10 miles long, both directions, so it's A LOT of cars and people. Cruisers are supposed to keep to the right two lanes so the commuters can still use the left two lanes, but obviously that wasn't happening and I think if you're a local and don't know this is going on and try to go to the grocery store, you probably shouldn't be behind the wheel. There are cars EVERYWHERE. There were a few interesting cars and we may head out later and see if there's more action and better cars later this evening. By far the #1 most common car was the late-model Mustang, followed closely by C5/C6/C7 Corvettes and late-model Challengers. The most common "old" car might have been 70-72 GM A-bodies. A half-dozen Model Ts were zipping up and down the street, and there's always some really wonky stuff like the giant shopping cart, which I thought was just too cool. Most people were behaving, although there was considerable police presence everywhere you looked--I'm sure this is a very lucrative weekend for the local constabularies. Plenty of revving engines and burning rubber, and one moron doing a burnout until something expensive-sounding gave way and then the police rolled up. If you're a car guy, it's worth a trip to Detroit, which is still a great city. There were cars and people from all over the country and all over the world here having fun. I would have personally liked some more variety, but I guess that's the direction the hobby is headed. If there's someone to blame for the reduction in participation in old car meets, it might be the OEMs cranking out modern muscle cars that are easy to buy, easy to maintain, and easy to drive. More than one person said that they'd never go back to driving old cars again. That's sad.
  6. That's certainly a big part of it. They're a bit limited simply because of gear ratios and changing to a taller gear can hurt driveability because the 248 doesn't have the same torque as the 320. There's also the consideration that the Specials are particularly plentiful--they made more than 100,000 of these sedans while they only made about 12,000 Century versions (I don't have the exact number but it's an order of magnitude fewer). The nice thing is that the small series cars are very easy to drive with great steering and brakes and a big car feel going down the road. If you don't need the highway driving and don't go on long trips, it's a complete non-issue and a small series car can be delightful. I desperately miss my 56C Super convertible, which was wonderful around town and even Melanie loved driving it. Yes, at about 55 MPH it was a little busy-sounding and stressful, but it probably wasn't hurting the engine--it's largely psychosomatic. Those are the two primary factors keeping values down on Specials. It's probably similar for any 4-door sedans of the vintage and it's a universal truth throughout the hobby that bigger engines tend to be more valuable. But at the same time, I don't think the Buick's performance suffers compared to any other marque--they were built for the time in which they lived--that's not a defect. It does, however, reduce interest today where everyone wants easy and fast. Case in point, I just got back from the Woodward Dream Cruise where the #1 most popular cars were late-model Mustangs, followed closely by C5/C6/C7 Corvettes, followed by late-model Challengers. Fast, easy to drive, no hassles. We've gotten shockingly soft as a race, this Buick is just one example of it waaaay out on the fringes of the hobby.
  7. Aren't those fresh, bright wires awesome? I almost feel like wearing gloves when I'm working with new wires like that just so they don't get dirty. My Limited has a new harness in it, but some hack with greasy fingers (not me, amazingly enough) not only made it filthy but chopped and cut it so it would fit the way HE decided it should. Ugh. Good wiring is one of the single most important things on an old car, both in terms of function and safety. If there's ever a problem in the future, this is going to make your life (or someone down the line) a lot easier.
  8. Really nice work, Neil. That kind of stuff isn't my strong suit and I feel intimidated every time I have to grab a soldering iron. You're doing a great job!
  9. I think it's awesome that he has such great stuff squirreled away. Yes, storage conditions could have been better but as a car guy it's still exciting to think that there are such things out there. They're complete and rusty, but not rotted, and that's an important distinction. There was plenty of surface rust on the '38 V16 I sold, but that sucker was SOLID. Mostly when you hear about a "guy who has old cars stashed away" and you finally see them, it's a bunch of AMC Rebels and '70s Plymouth Furys with trees growing through them. I realize that I'm often the first guy to say that cars like that Cadillac V16 don't make any financial sense, but I also like to point out that the journey is often more important than the destination. I'm jaded because everyone I talk to in my career expects to make a profit from their hobby. It's maddening and makes my job harder. But I think there are still a few guys out there who like projects and getting things done who don't necessarily want a basket case or to turn things into hot rods. I don't have a lot of experience selling projects and I don't really know what rodders want. My impression is that everyone in the rodding scene is tired of the same old crap like 32-33-34 Fords, which you can now buy in plastic or steel by the trainload. They all get built the same way and for many rodders, it seems to be the building more than the driving that excites them, so the market is flooded with very similar cars. When these guys get bored, they decide that the thing that's boring isn't HOW they're building the cars (cookie-cutter parts from a catalog), but WHICH cars they're building. After two or three 3-window coupes, they think, "These are boring. How can I get noticed? Hmmm. I know! A Marmon hot rod!" Then they build it the same way they built all their garden-variety Ford hot rods and are confused when it's still boring. I don't know. There's definitely some creep into high-end cars within the rodding world, but it's still not the norm and I don't know that a vehicle like this at this price would appeal to any rodder. I believe that different is often better, but expensive and frumpy isn't necessarily what they want even if the finish line is going to be a six-figure build. We understand the value proposition for a restoration, they understand it for a rod, but I'm not convinced that many guys are interested in cutting up a $30,000 basket case to build a rod the way we are willing to tackle a $30,000 restoration project. I don't know why, and that's just my impression, so I might be way off base. But I seriously doubt that V16 Cadillac will end up with a big block Chevy and 20-inch wheels.
  10. Agreed--the dash is gorgeous! That is surely original and very well preserved. I don't doubt the mileage, either, but I do think that it has had quite a bit of work over the years. A true survivor should be completely untouched, but that valve cover, for example, looks to have been repainted. Maybe it's just because it's on top and easy to clean that it looks so much brighter, but between that and the air cleaner, it looks a little fluffed to my eye. Plastics are often tough to call, but my experience says that no matter how well preserved, time kills that primitive plastic no matter what you do. I have an NOS steering wheel that is chalky. Not ruined, not cracked, but certainly not shiny and smooth, either. It has been wrapped up in waxed paper for 80 years and has probably never seen sunlight. But time does a number on it just the same. Plastics are the #1 item I look at on cars of this vintage to determine originality simply because there's almost nothing you can do to keep it from unwinding, even just a little bit. Either way, it's a nice car. It would be an ideal pre-war piece for someone who wants one to drive that's still fairly competent and modern-feeling. But at that price, you can probably get into a Century or perhaps even a Roadmaster sedan. Maybe not as nice, but I'd trade a bit of nice for a bigger motor 10 times out of 10...
  11. That's a lot for a Special sedan, no matter how nice. In my opinion, a good original car is desirable but not more valuable, if that's a difference without distinction. To me, a good original car will make me overlook flaws that would be unacceptable on a restored car for a comparable price, but I do not assign a massive premium to an original car unless it has a significant pedigree to go with it (like the 0-owner 1970 Plymouth Superbird I have with 28,000 original miles--the selling dealer's name is still on the title). I'm not entirely convinced that's an original car, either. The interior plastics are way too nice, the engine bay is too hodge-podge, and while it's tough to judge in photos, that paint just looks too good to be nearly 80-year-old lacquer. The paint on my Limited is only 30 years old and it's visibly worse, even in photos. Any small-series Buick 4-door can be had for under $20K all day long. It makes me sad to say it, but it's fact. There are too many alternatives to drive the price any higher. Is this one notable better than the other one for $14,000? Maybe. But $10,000 better? Probably not--you can buy a lot of fixing up for $10,000. This is a nice car. The bid on Bring-A-NitPicker was too light, but not by 100%.
  12. The 820s are much, much too big. They are trying to make radials that look like bias-ply tires, and that's commendable and I think in many cases they've been successful. My initial recommendation for Earl's car was the 700R15 that Diamondback sold based on a Yokohama carcass, but if I recall correctly those were not available at the time Earl was shopping for tires. Diamondback was also still in limbo on their "Auburn" radial, which is apparently now available in limited release. Shortly before Earl, I was going though this exact same situation with my 1941 Cadillac 60S which wears exactly the same size tires as his Roadmaster on exactly the same size wheels. I ultimately chose the 760R15 Coker radials which were just about ideal. They were larger than the recommended 700R15 but in comparison to the original 7.00-15 bias-ply, they were much closer overall. Whatever the numbers were that led to the 820R15, they weren't right. Looking at just the height or just the tread width or whatever wasn't enough. Here's the Cadillac after it was fitted with the Coker 760R15 radials: I thought they looked pretty correct and they did ride and handle beautifully with reasonable steering effort. I hate to admit that I loved those Coker tires, but they looked great and worked well. I sold the car shortly thereafter so I can't comment on longevity, noise, or resistance to whitewall staining. Everyone knows I prefer Diamondback, but since they couldn't sell me anything to fit this car, I went with Coker and was satisfied. Now that Diamondback offers their Auburn radial in sizes that should fit, I would probably start there and see which one looked right. If I was unsure of sizing I might buy one and try it out before buying a set or I would trust them--they seem to know sizes a bit better. Comparing the numbers doesn't always tell you the whole story. I looked at these Cokers for a long time before deciding on the 760R15 even though it seemed wrong on paper. I'm glad I chose that size because the 700R15 would have been too small. I suspect that Coker is cheating a bit with the sizing (undersized) to make them applicable to more cars and the 760s were closer to the right size than the 700s that were "supposed" to be correct. Does this help?
  13. Spent the day at the Henry Ford. Most of you know how amazing it is, but as incredible as that place is, I took only two photos: You will note that the Duesenberg sits on a 144-inch wheelbase and is considered a massive car. The Bugatti just DWARFS it. I've seen it before but every time I'm there it just takes my breath away. Such an extraordinary thing. For those wondering about that brand new Bugatti supercar for which someone paid $18 million, please consider that this car cost $43,000 in 1931 when you could buy a new Ford for $495. Just amazing.
  14. Who wouldn't want to buy that car for a fraction of its actual value? Sign me up for two at $7000!
  15. Why does it matter where the discussion is as long as the people participating are OK with it? We're discussing a car for sale, just not polluting the original poster's thread. Isn't that what you wanted?
  16. The '38 Cadillac V16 limousine I sold a few years ago, I actually sold twice. The first buyer was a guy who was going to put it on a late-model Suburban chassis or something. He didn't want it stock, he was going to cut it up. I talked him out of it and eventually sold it to someone who would restore it. Usually I don't feel that it's my place to tell people what to do with the cars they buy from me, but in that Cadillac's case, I told him he'd spend more on such a conversion than he would on a restoration and that it would be worth less (both of which are 100% true). I did want to discourage him from buying a car like that and cutting it up. Unethical? I don't know. But I do try to be an advisor (Melanie calls us match-makers) when people with little experience are buying old cars. He surely would have regretted buying the car before he was finished with the project, but by the time he came to that realization, the car would be too far gone to change paths. I feel justified in my decision even though it is perhaps none of my business to do such things.
  17. Got to the registration table early this morning to sign up and there was a bit of chaos. Left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing and there were two or three other sets of hands in between. Eventually I called Melanie to come down and straighten things out because she's good at that kind of thing and I'm a blunt-force instrument. She solved the problem, got us registered, and I moved the wagon into position so it wouldn't be in anyone's way in class E. The day started rainy but by 10 AM the skies cleared and it was just beautiful for the rest of the day. The pink wagon was a big hit, which kind of surprised me, but when my oldest son said, "There's not much color here," pointing to the show field, I understood. Lots of white, gray, beige, tan, and off-white cars, but not a lot of colors. The pink wagon was able to stand out, even though we were kind of in the back corner. Only two other cars in our class, so I guess we'll win a trophy (all cars were judged by all participants). Here are more photos of the show: Our class, including a lovely 1957 Imperial sedan in roughly the same color as Melanie's wagon and a mostly original DeSoto Sportsman that is the guy's daily driver: The only pre-war car at the entire show was this handsome no-nonsense Plymouth sedan, and it had a crowd around it all day. That only reinforces my belief that pre-war cars are still special to the average show-goer and they NEED to be out there circulating. If you don't show other car guys that pre-war cars can be used and enjoyed just like their 60s-70s-80s-90s-00s cars, then we're going to lose a whole generation of enthusiasts and cars. Seriously, most car guys (never mind the general public) just doesn't get it with pre-war cars. From the conversations I've had and overheard, most guys don't even realize that these old cars are actually usable as cars. Want to revive the hobby's interest in older cars? GET THEM OUT AND DRIVE AND LET EVERYONE SEE YOU DOING IT! One thing I can say is that Mopar guys do love their wagons. More than a few very nice family cruisers here from all different eras, not just ours. Love them all! I voted for this 1948 DeSoto Carry-All as my pick for best of show. Nice restoration and a very unique car with folding rear seats that open to the trunk for an extra-large cargo bay. Really a nice car! I also really liked this 1947 DeSoto Custom Suburban, which has the same kind of cargo bay and an extended wheelbase. He arrived too late to register for the show, but parked adjacent to us. Lots of modifications (including power steering), but you can tell this guy uses and enjoys his car. I'm definitely OK with that! Other interesting stuff: One thing I wasn't really into was that all Chrysler products were welcome. I mean, I understand that it's the Walter P. Chrysler Club, but when you show up in a rented 2019 Chrylser minivan and put it on the show field (in fact, there were two brand new Pacificas, both the same color), it kind of diminishes the show. That's just me, and I don't have any say in how the club is operated, but seeing that the single biggest class at this show was full of brand new cars and minivans and Jeeps was kind of depressing. Those aren't interesting and won't attract the public to our hobby and it might even have the opposite effect. It's kind of like giving all the kids trophies regardless of how well they play the game. Just my thoughts. Tomorrow we're heading to The Henry Ford and Saturday we're hitting the Woodward Dream Cruise. That's going to be AWESOME!
  18. Yeah, but putting too much pressure in them means they'll ride like bricks. I know Earl did a lot of research to make sure he got the right-sized tires, but the moment he told me what he bought I knew they would be much too fat. There was a lot of discussion and many options were presented before the purchase, but somehow the wrong tires still got on the car. Coker should know better with their fitment guides and even though diameters and tread width are the same, section width is what makes radials look like radials and why his tires look too fat. There are narrower WWW radials that look right even though on paper they may seem too small. Not that any of that is useful now. I think you should be able to recover maybe 60-70% of the cost to the right people. Those tires are best suited to large post-war cars; they're too fat for anything pre-war. Put them out there and see what happens or maybe a guy with an early '50s Buick or Cadillac might want them. Used tires can be scary for some folks which is what keeps prices down, but people will always leap at a bargain. Make them impossible to refuse.
  19. Western Union = scam. Every time. Just knowing that will protect you from 70% of them.
  20. You can lower it, just not below the high bid, for the reasons I outlined above. They don't want bidders being "tricked" into buying something they didn't expect to buy. It doesn't really work the way a real auction does (although I've seen more than a few guys who unexpectedly bought a car at a live auction because the reserve was lifted and they were the bidder left holding the bag). Bidding--it ain't a sport.
  21. And the video. This is a COLD start. It really does run that well!
  22. Sometimes it feels wrong to pay too little for a car, and that's probably the case with this 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix. It might just be the finest of its kind on the planet and someone (I don't know who) spent what had to be an astronomical amount of money on the restoration. Yet here it is, the best of its kind, available for $26,900. Maybe that seems like a lot for a Grand Prix hardtop, but please take a few moments to look this one over carefully--I assure you it's even better in person than what you see here. It is finished in its original code V Mission Beige and while it's not especially exciting, it is extremely well done. That sheetmetal is completely unmarked and just as straight as the day it popped out of the press. Not a single rust spot, door ding, or patch anywhere on the car. I don't know where it lived or what it did with its time, but it's unmarked or the restorer who did the work made every possible weld completely invisible. The chrome was all refinished so it really sparkles the way only a fresh car can and it even has T3 headlights up front. As nice as the bodywork is, however, the interior is where you'll fall in love. It's totally correct 590-K Gold brocade fabric and vinyl and it's exceptionally well detailed. Everything you can touch is probably new, and if you need to know whether the money was spent, just take a look at that clear plastic steering wheel. Everything works, including the ice cold A/C and power windows, and you're going to slam those doors pretty hard because the seals are new and it seals up so well that it's almost air-tight. It's silent in there. There are auxiliary gauges under the dash for oil pressure and temperature, but that's it for modifications. The trunk is properly finished and that's where the only demerits can be found: there's some mild surface spot rust on the trunk floor that is pretty typical--those rubber trunk mats trap moisture and it's all but inevitable. The engine is a correct YF-coded 389 cubic inch V8 rated at 325 horsepower in the Grand Prix. Experts will note that the 1966 Grand Prix 389 was not available with Tri-Power, which was added during the restoration (the original 4-barrel intake and carb are included). The setup was recently rebuilt and tuned, so it starts instantly and idles smoothly, and it does indeed make this big coupe hustle. The engine bay is very well detailed with only very minor signs of use, mostly on the exhaust crossover where all Pontiacs burn the engine enamel off the heads and intake. They did get a little creative with the fuel line routing, and I might try to clean that up to really make it look OEM, but to their credit they used a proper filter with a return line--I believe those are pretty danged rare. The TH400 shifts crisply and with 3.25 gears out back, it's a superlative highway cruiser with the A/C cranking. Ride quality is what you'd expect for a luxury car from the '60s: smooth, controlled, and totally isolated. There's not a squeak or rattle anywhere in this car and you can hear the bumps but you sure don't feel many of them. There's a fresh dual exhaust system, the brakes and suspension are rebuilt, and as long as you're looking around, check out how clean those original floors really are. 14-inch wheels with hubcaps look right and carry fresh Goodyear whitewall radials that ride and handle great. Another car that just gets everything right. I'll admit that it doesn't grab you like a red car might, but one drive in that gorgeous interior will convince you that the guy who owned this car in 1966 was well and truly The Man. That guy didn't need flash, and this car totally nails it. As I said, the price is $26,900, which is more than the price guides say it should be, but then again, you're getting the restoration for thirty cents on the dollar and the car is free. Pretty hard to beat that, don't you think? Thanks for looking!
  23. Can you change the reserve to whatever the current highest bid + $1? That way the next bid will own the car. Ebay knows their users--they aren't buyers, they're button-pushers. If you could remove the reserve, that would force the highest bidder to buy the car, which he probably doesn't really want to do. He's just sport-bidding so that he can tell his buddies that he "almost bought one" but someone else got it at the last minute. And even if you do manage to get another bidder to break the reserve, there's still only a 40% chance he'll actually buy it rather than vanish without a word. Welcome to eBay...