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34ACD

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  1. Older, but very well maintained restoration of a rare, straight-8 1934 Auburn Deluxe 850Y Phaeton. Smooth and quiet running, strong brakes, and a two-speed rear end make it a great touring or caravan car. The car is on display and can be inspected at the California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front St, Sacramento CA 7 days/week from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM as part of the "Elegance In Motion" exhibit of classic era luxury cars. I am the Guest Curator for the special exhibit which runs through October. I've done a web site with photographs, a short video of driving the Auburn, and an inquiry page to submit questions or offers, or request a test drive. 1934 Auburn 850Y
  2. OK, the title to this thread is not too serious, but with this recession that never seems to get better, you never know... The Hollywood Version: A lot of Hollywood movies and TV shows have a scene with the the guy whose life seems to be too much to bear, going into his garage, shutting the door and starting up his car. Sometimes he puts a garden hose into the tail pipe and sits in the car until it's over. It doesn't seem to take long either way. Autopsy Results: Victim died of carbon monoxide poisoning-- apparently a fairly painless way to go. The Reality: Today I went down and smogged my 2003 Chevy Pickup with 100k miles on it. We have to do that in CA biennially for anything older than 1975. It's just an old work truck but I had to put new plugs in it anyway so I did that and then changed the oil before I went down to the smog station. When I got home I looked at the test results: ZERO detectable CO and hydrocarbon emissions at every RPM and load tested. Today's emission control technology seems to work pretty well. So apparently, if you are a victim of the economy who decides to end it all, and you shut yourself up in a garage and start up your modern car in good running condition, you will find yourself still sitting there hours later, pissed-off and $80 of gas poorer. It seems that Hollywood scene is a fiction unless you have the foresight to keep that antique car around.
  3. 34ACD

    GM EV-1

    The one I am talking about is at the California Auto Museum in Sacramento. The Peterson Museum in LA and another car. I think 5 or 6 were donated to museums by GM. When the batteries are charged the interior, gauges and other lights all light up. In fact it is pretty cool to see. But GM removed the computer chip that runs the drive train so it is permanently un-drivable. I don't have any photos of the EV-1 at home but I will take a few shots next time I have a docent shift at the museum and post them. Might be a week or so.
  4. 34ACD

    GM EV-1

    Well, I think you make good points Rusty. But the first zero emission target for vehicles sold in California was adopted in 1990 and the the EV-1, at least the surviving example I am familiar with, was manufactured in 1997. The targets for ZEV's have never gone completely away but have been rolled back and modified repeatedly at recently as this year. For most people today a battery operated car seems obvious and they wonder why no one thought of it before. That's why we have our EV-1 sitting next to a 1915 Rauch & Lang Electric.
  5. 34ACD

    GM EV-1

    Rusty, I always love those McCahill similes. I still think that the EV-1 had more to do with politics than any effort by GM back in the mid-1990's to develop an electric car as a product. If they were just doing a prototype they would never have released it to the public in any form. But they had to look serious for the CARB. That was 15 years ago and was strictly about meeting California air pollution rules. You have to live in California to understand how this state has never hesitated to tell businesses what to do and make it impossible for them not to. They still do but few industries are willing to write-off the biggest state in the union as a market. The only people looking at electric vehicles back then who didn't have to were a few innovators like Corbin's Sparrow car that could never attract enough capital to make it. GM like all the other car manufacturers was forced to deal with emissions particularly in California long before they began to realize that a business model based solely upon gasoline vehicles was not viable in the long term. The Chevy Volt is a product of that realization as well as the "green" movement of the 21st Century that began to create market demand for alternative fuel vehicles that really didn't exist in 1997 at a level that a conservatively run company would bother with. Now they are hanging their hat on the success of the Volt. Ironic.
  6. 34ACD

    GM EV-1

    There's a bit more to it. The Federal government has from the beginning allowed California to set its own manufacturing emission standards and set its own gasoline formulation rules because the state had more restrictive standards than the feds. They still do, which is why we pay more at the pump. In the mid '90's, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) had a requirement for manufacturers selling vehicles in the state to produce a "Zero Emission Vehicle" by a certain date. The EV-1 was GM's response. To their credit GM designed one from scratch rather than putting in a plug-in motor in an existing small vehicle. To their discredit they aggressively lobbied the state to change the rules and when CARB later rescinded the rule, the EV-1 program was scratched. I believe that most if not all of the EV-1's were leased to customers in California for that reason not because the state has weather compatible with battery powered vehicles. We have an EV-1 in the museum where I am a docent. A lot of visitors have seen the movie and know the story so it is a popular exhibit. The car is sleek and very aerodynamic and the interior is very attractive and well laid-out, almost as if it belongs in the cockpit of a small plane. But it is a 2-seater and is not a merchantable design for a broad market. It's limitations were primarily from the Nimh battery technology of the 1990's. We get a number of stories about it's cost per unit—everything from $30,000 to over $100,000. I suspect the real figure was something like $80,000 per car so I think that had something to do with the fact that all were leased as well. You can understand why they were all crushed since no manufacturer can make a product that they lose $50,000 per unit on and then have a continuing liability to service and produce parts for. The EV-1 was a small production, experimental vehicle like previously mentioned and was never intended to be a commercial success. It is probable that GM management never wanted it to be a success of any kind, but the design team, at least, seems to have taken the effort to produce a zero-emission vehicle seriously and it is truly an automotive milestone. If the EV-1 were made today with current Li-Ion technology I think it would sell as a niche vehicle since its styling is still very attractive and it has the caché of being the first of its kind, but it would still be a cramped 2-seater that would not reach a significant market segment. The Chevy Volt may use some of the technology GM developed in the EV-1 program but it would be a mistake to call it the evolutionary product of the EV-1. I wouldn't give GM credit for that kind of long range thinking. The real story is "Can you bring about technological change through government regulations?" and I'm not sure that the EV-1 story shows that you can.
  7. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that no one will ever collect cars later than the 60's because everything after will become shells of themselves once the plastic falls off, or suffer from a bland Honda Civic sameness. But then I realize that it's just my myopic vision and the fact that I too am a relic of that earlier time. Without question there is someone out there collecting 1980's computers, cell phones and video games and thinking about forming an "American Antique Electronics Club" which will have an annual swap meet in Cupertino where thousands will meet annually to swap motherboards and copies of Pac-Man and Visicalc. Car collecting will be come the quaint pastime of a few old codgers like those who collect saddles and civil war memorabilia today. Who knows what will be valuable tomorrow? Collect what you are passionate about and let the future sort out the rest.
  8. What is it with this thread? It seems like I've had most of the cars mentioned. One of the first cars I drove regularly was a '52 Ambassador—my mother's car. I haven't thought about it in years. It did have deep, extremely comfortable seats and armrests and I remember it also had fantastic ventilation. The main problem with it was that it was heavy and about the most under-powered car I have ever driven, even with the 4-speed hydramatic it came with. I mean you could just hear that poor flathead 6 straining to get the thing moving from every stop. Of course I was only 16 and had it floored most of the time. I think my dad figured I must have had something to do with the fact that the rod bearings finally gave out. I have no idea what they sell for these days if you can find one. Maybe they are a real under-rated treasure. The overturned bathtub styling isn't for everyone but I agree it would be pretty cool on a tour.
  9. Shush... My wife drives it most of the time and considers it her baby. After I had put a couple of years of work into the Auburn and said that's good enough for a driver, she came to me and said she wanted an "old" car too. Except it had to have air-conditioning. Hmmm... So we found the Mercedes for a couple of $Thousand. I put about $4000 into it. New German soft top and carpet, interior out of a pristine but wrecked '89 560SL (much better seats than the 450 and an arm rest), and bought Loni Anderson's unused 560SL hardtop to match off Ebay for $130. Then I took off the 300E alloy wheels it came with that were just wrong for the car. I was going to get a set of reproduction steel wheels that were right for the 450SL, but came across the Borrani's off a European SL and couldn't resist. Like I said, I have never considered the car to be a true collectible so although it's a bit "wrong" for a 450, it's all period and intended for a 107 Mercedes. Tuning up a '70's 107 isn't too difficult. Mechanical fuel injection that's easy to set the mixture, adjustable distributor timing but with electronic points, and everything pretty easy to get to. The only thing I don't like is making sure all of the vacuum lines are connected, but that's the '70's for you. Don't get me wrong. It's a nice, solid car and I enjoy driving it when she lets me. But I would trade it in a heartbeat for a 230SL if I could. Of course, I'd hear it about the lack of air conditioning...
  10. Thanks, Steve. I'm an Auburn guy but I can't tell you why the speedsters (at least the 35-36's) are so high priced compared to the other open Auburns except that they have always been the consummate head-turner. I don't think there is another car with more replica versions. But maybe its the replicas that are truly over-valued. I don't understand $60-70K for any replica. Speaking of underrated cars, I see that you have a 120 Packard. There is another docent at the museum I work at that has a 115 Packard Convertible Coupe that I admire. I think that the small Packards are every bit as nice as the big Packards of the '30's that have production bodies, yet they have always been treated like poor relations by the Packard purists. I wouldn't argue with adding them to this list of underrated cars. In deference to you and Rusty, I may be a little biased against my own 450SL because of what it isn't rather than what it is. It has a set of Borrani Record Wire wheels on it (Borrani made them for Mercedes in Europe for a couple of years in the '70's). I look at this sedan-like sports car with a 3-speed automatic sitting in my driveway like its pretending to be a Ferrari... which it clearly isn't the minute you get behind the wheel. It's basically just a sedan with a sporty, 2-seater body and Italian wheels. By comparison, if you've ever driven a 230SL or a 190SL that came before or an SL500 that came after, the 107's are like a truck. The German engineers who developed the 107's called it the "panzerwagen". And as for comparison to a '30's classic, here it is side by side with the Auburn. The only thing they have in common is that they both have wire wheels.
  11. Rusty, you certainly made me smile today... As a member of the Auburn-Cord Duesenberg Club and the owner of a '34 Auburn Phaeton as well at the 450SL, I got a kick out of your description of a Duesy. They are heavy, not exactly a sports car, and certainly get terrible gas mileage, too. Of course they are a lot more... like the most powerful automobile made for decades to come and every one of the 400 or so made, custom-bodied pieces of rolling art. The 107 SL's are very good, solid cars just like the 240D's, 300E's and the other Mercedes made during that period. A good one is well worth the current prices they are getting, probably won't lose value in the years to come, and I don't hesitate to suggest a 107 Mercedes to someone who wants a well made 2-seater from that forgettable era. But I don't think they will ever be collectible and I have a hard time agreeing with your comparison with the classics of the '30's since I own one of those too. It's like comparing Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth (OK maybe Bonds is a bad example). 107's are just too common and without any engineering or design feature that advanced the technology of the day other than the fact that Mercedes had much better build-quality than most cars of the 70's and 80's. So I guess as an owner of a '73-89 SL, I have to agree and say I like them too. They are solid, reasonably fun to drive and should last for years to come if cared for. I just don't find them "Underrated" or especially collectible which was the question of the original poster.
  12. Since a couple of my cars have been mentioned I can't help but add my 2¢. '34-'36 Auburn Convertible sedans (phaetons). I have a '34. I agree that in its day it was a very underrated car—$1200 for a smooth, powerful 8 cyl with dual ratio rear end and swoopy ACD styling. It remains a great car even today if you want a true classic era automobile for driving, but underrated? Not undervalued anyway. '73-'89 Mercedes SL (107 bodies). I have a '77. For the dismal 70's I agree it was a pretty decent car. But it is heavy, gets poor mileage and is hardly a sports car. In fact, if you look at the evolution of the SL series, what came before and what came after the 107's were much better cars for their time. Yes you can find them today for a lot less than the 230 to 280 SL series, but the 107's were basically semi-sports cars with sedan drivetrains that did not break any new ground. That and the fact that so many were built over so many years will never raise them to collectible status in my opinion. I have to agree that the step-down Hudsons are truly underrated, or at least under appreciated. They broke new ground for suspension, styling and power after the war and even had considerable success at the race track. How many other production sedans can say that? I would also add the early 50's Lowey Studebaker Coupes. Put them next to their contemporary's from Ford, Chrysler and GM and they really stand out.
  13. Exactly. However, the original James Cunningham Co. started by making horse drawn hearses and even Civil War mess kits over their 120 years. They got into the large car business in 1907 under the Cunningham name and occasionally bodied other vehicles like Packards and Cadillacs. They never produced in volume. The company basically ended in 1937 making custom bodied-flathead Ford towncars much like Brewster. The very last vehicles made by Cunningham actually were pre-war half-tracks for the military. There are some reports that Cunningham made small garden tractors as late as the 1940's—a fascinating company in the history of the automobile. The California Auto Museum also has one of the Ford-Cunninghams on display occasionally, owned by the same individual.
  14. There is a Cunningham ambulance currently on display at the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento. It is owned by a descendant of the Cunningham family who also owns a 1928 Cunningham limo that is also occasionally on display there. They are both large, wonderful vehicles with a very early V-8 engine of their own manufacture. Briggs Cunningham had no relationship to the original Cunningham cars made in New York except that I believe he once owned one of the earlier vehicles.
  15. Mark, I had a thought... I've been a docent at the California Auto Museum (formerly Towe) for about 4 years. Anyway, the new docent class is graduating on May 14, a Saturday, and they have a "show and shine" for people to bring their cars that morning with a pot luck lunch following the short graduation ceremony. I am sure your Studebaker President would make a big hit and most of the people there will not have seen it before (or my Auburn for that matter). Maybe we could meet in Galt, and caravan up River Road to the museum. It's a nice drive along the levee that wouldn't take more than an hour. I could get the word out and I would bet a number of CAM members would like to meet up with us in their cars in Galt and make the caravan an event. Email me and we can see if that sounds like a plan. Does you brother still have the blue President Touring car that is in the foreground in the photo? My apologies to the original poster for high-jacking this thread but your joy ride seems to have inspired us out in Northern California.
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