Jump to content

Antique car survival data.


Guest PackardV8

Recommended Posts

Guest RenegadeV8

Is there any reasonably current data on ANY make of antique car that indicates how many survivors there are to-date ???

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Nancy DeWitt

What a great question and an issue I struggle with all the time. I really appreciate the folks and clubs that maintain registries/databases for old cars (White Steamer, Cadillac V-16, Grant, Peerless, Horseless Carriage Club etc.) and figured I need to start the same for some of our obscure makes (like Henderson, Whiting, Biddle). These may not capture all the survivors, but they are a great start. And, as surviving cars get passed along to more internet-savvy owners, more of these vehicles will make it into databases. You just have to hope that the cars that go overseas don't disappear into obscurity.

A plea to museums: please put a list of your cars on your website so people doing internet searches can locate rare survivors!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest DaveCorbin

Dear Nancy and Renegade:

For several years, I have been collecting all kinds of data about Buicks in relation to their frame and engine numbers for the years from 1904 thru 1958. It now is complete and covers about 9.6 million Buicks. Much of the data was compiled and checked using survivor cars, since if my ideas about how Buick did things was correct, the survivors must fit the patterns of numbers that research finds. The compiled data is the "theory", the cars themselves are the "facts".

Based on this, it appears that the survival rate runs around 1% of the cars built. Some years (1939's as an example were notorious for overheating) are lower. Survival rates of convertibles and convertible sedans run higher.

One thing seems to be true of all survivors. That is the fact that when the car was from 12 to 25 years old, it was owned by someone who "loved" it and took care of it. That gets it thru the period when it's only an "old car", and it becomes a "survivor"

I would like to hear others in the hobby comment on this subject.

Regards, Dave Corbin

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There used to be a place in San Diego called "Automobile Clearinghouse" that had specifics on a ton of "surviving" cars from out past. I have no idea if they are still in business or even how they came up with their information.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Nancy DeWitt

Dave--Thanks for compiling those records. I'll have to follow up with you and make sure our 1912 Buick Model 29 is on your list. We don't have it in Alaska yet and if we have a serial number for it in the file, I won't know until Monday.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Gary Hearn

Any list of this type would be very difficult to compile unless it is a very rare make/model where the survivors are known. Below are the methods I see as being plausible:

* DMV records - This would only give you those automobiles that are currently registered or remain in the various state databases. The old records may not be accurate as the cars could have been sold and/or scrapped. I have many vehicles that I have yet to title in my name (some as new as 1996 that I do not use on the road) so any registration database is only going to capture a portion of those still in existence.

* Club data bases - This will provide you with data on the most ardent collectors who are members of a marque type club and who provide the club with information. I have a number listed in the Studebaker Drivers Club roster, but not all of those I own. In addition, the local Parkard club has never heard of me though I own a car.

* Voluntary registries - Again, this depends on getting the word out, mostly via club newsletters, old car magazines and the internet. We all know the age demographics in our hobby and the somewhat low adoption rate of new technology among older citizens. So in short, unless the question is added to the census form and answers can be provided without any repercussions, you will never get all the information.

As we all are aware, there are abandoned cars that are off everyone's radar screen that get brought back to life and would probably miss being counted.

Just my $.02 worth....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Any list of this type would be very difficult to compile unless it is a very rare make/model where the survivors are known.

Agreed. First, DMV records are state-by-state. It's tough enough to get the states to work together to combat auto theft, let alone help compile data on surviving antique cars. Second, DMV records only cover cars that are currently titled and registered. Anyone here have a project car that's not currently registered? ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This '49 Roadmaster was put up in 1964, and liberated in '93; it's never been titled or registered.

49_as_found_adj.jpg

Larger

the_49.jpg

Larger

dusty_3x.jpg

Larger

The '55 Chevy Bookmobile was put in nice, dry storage in 1991, after years of faithful service,

and had never been titled until I acquired it 2007. There was a 1975-6 Registration card with it,

and with that, and other data I was able to get the State of South Carolina to title it for me.

Edited by TG57Roadmaster (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

RenegadeV8,

Out of more than 107,000 Peerless cars and trucks built ( 1900-1931 ), probably less than 1,000 survive. I keep a record of this, and now have 292 vehicles on my list, but the number keeps growing. "New" Peerlesses that no one has ever heard of keep appearing out of nowhere. Since there is no central record-keeping of cars nationally or internationally, there's really nowhere to check. Law enforcement and state vehicle registration offices only do a sporadic job of record-keeping, long term.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I, too, sent away about ten years ago to the Automotive Clearinghouse (or whatever it was/is called) around San Diego, for info regarding my '62 Olds Starfire Coupe. It cost about $20 (back then), and they must do some sort of title search.

Checking the document they sent me on 9/9/98, they stated that there were 364 '62 SF Coupes in the country, with 8 in Ohio (which means I owned 25% of those in the Buckeye State back when I had the other one that now is part of the GM Heritage Collection). Would be nice to have one of those desktop calendars featuring one Starfire for each day of the year...

My friend Ted Loranz up in Massachusetts must have did the same thing; his '62 Starfire Convertible was featured in Hemmings Muscle Car a couple of years back, and I believe it stated there were 112 ragtops left in the US.

Again, I would emphasize that these must account for "registered" cars, don't know how they would track cars that have been parked in barns for decades.

Given the total production of 1962 Starfires (just under 35,000 coupes, and just over 7,000 convertibles), the extrapolated number of less than 500 '62 Starfires that can be accounted for would seem to confirm the 1% survival rate, at least as it pertains to titled cars.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I should add that, regarding the 1% factor, that the figure would naturally be much higher for a car that would have been more instantly deemed to be "collectible", such as a convertible, or a high-end limited edition car such as a Chrysler 300, a Chevy Corvette, or the two-seater Lincoln Continentals cited earlier (BTW, the white '56 Elvis bought new and was kept at Graceland until a few years ago, went for over $250,000 at an auction about five years ago).

Cars that could be considered to be, to use the phrase, "a class by itself" were not as likely to be ridden hard and put away wet. It often crosses my mind whenever I go to a gathering of old cars, whether it be at Hershey, or just down the street on a Sunday afternoon, just who were the people who took care of those classics we can still enjoy, and if only there was a way to somehow recognize who they were, and thank them for doing so. It definitely is the exception and not the rule that the current owner can have such an opportunity, if they bought the car from the original owner or family, or a long-time owner if they weren't the ones who bought it from the showroom.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

THere is at least one company that advertises they will tell you how many cars like yours survive. They are checking DMV records and as illustrated above the number can be super conservative due to cars like the Buick and Chevy truck above that are not registered. I cringe, everything some guy says his is the only one known to exist. Know by who? THe owner? his club members? a national DMV search? Unless only one car like yours was ever built there is no way a person can claim exclusive ownership on the only example.

I saw it happen at Carlisle one year. A guy came in with a rare Canadian built Model T, put it on display and claimed it was one of only 3 known in the world, (this is a Model T we are talking about) on a big sign. Of course not only was there another car just like his in attendance just by chance it was rented the space directly next to him.

Edited by Bob LIchty (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

THere is at least one company that advertises they will tell you how many cars like yours survive. They are checking DMV records and as illustrated above the number can be super conservative due to cars like the Buick and Chevy truck above that are not registered. I cringe, everything some guy says his is the only one known to exist. Know by who? THe owner? his club members? a national DMV search? Unless only one car like yours was ever built there is no way a person can claim exclusive ownership on the only example.

I saw it happen at Carlisle one year. A guy came in with a rare Canadian built Model T, put it on display and claimed it was one of only 3 known in the world, (this is a Model T we are talking about) on a big sign. Of course not only was there another car just like his in attendance just by chance it was rented the space directly next to him.

I find it hilarious that people describe their car as " one of 12" built, especially Chevy or Chrysler products. I always say back to them, "well you better keep it as I'll never be able to find parts for it if it's that rare"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...