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OK, I can't put it off any more


Matt Harwood
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I've been holding off announcing the newest member of the Harwood fleet, but since I started spending real money on it today, I figured that the time is right.

The son of a local collector is liquidating his father's collection, and among the cars was this one, sitting alone in a corner:

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It's a 1929 Cadillac 341B 5-passenger sedan. 140 inch wheelbase, 341 cubic inch flathead V8, 95 horsepower, 4.75 rear gears, and massive 20-inch disc wheels. Dark green with black fenders and a yellow pinstripe.

It has been sitting in an unheated garage for 5 or 6 years, unused, and I was able to purchase it at a fair price considering it didn't run. Some oil in the cylinders, a cleaned up carburetor, clean plugs, and a new battery, as well as some fresh gas in a makeshift gas tank, and boom! it fired right up. A test drive revealed that it pops out of 2nd gear violently, so the transmission is being rebuilt as we speak, and I just took the driveshaft and torque tube down to Lloyd Young in Columbus to have a Borg-Warner overdrive unit installed for touring.

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The car was given a high-quality show restoration in the '70s and apparently won quite a few awards. Right now it's filthy with years of dust on it and an interior full of spares, but it is solid, paint is very, very good, and the interior is very presentable. It was toured extensively throughout the '80s, and a surprising number of folks remember the car as a staple of local tours. Let's hope it's still as reliable as it was back then.

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Before I hit the road in earnest this summer, I'm going to install new tires (sorry, West, but I love the whitewalls) and re-route the fuel line, which is currently running through the passenger compartment. Yikes! It runs using an electric fuel pump, but I plan to get the vacuum tank working properly. The gas tank is being cleaned and refinished, and the aforementioned overdrive will be in place in about 2 weeks.

The bumpers have been re-chromed but never installed (that's the beautifully restored bumper on the back of the car still wrapped in paper). It's loaded with accessories such as a Tropic-Aire heater, spotlight, single driving light (not a Pilot Ray, sadly), and, of course, the sidemounts. I also got a trunk to go with it, but it's a little ragged. And yes, before you ask, the cool V8 engine cover is included.

What does this mean for the Buick? Nothing. I don't have a workshop now that I've sold my house, but as soon as I do, I'm getting back to work on the Century ASAP. But my thoughts on buying the Cadillac are this: I'm tired of going to the ballpark without a glove. I earn my living working with collector cars, and I don't have one of my own that I can bring to events. I also spent the last decade of my life delaying my own dreams to make someone else happy. I've decided I'm done putting off things I want to do because tomorrow may never come. Selfish? Maybe, but I could get hit by a bus in the morning, having never owned an 8-cylinder Full Classic with sidemounts. It's not a Packard, but it's a step in the right direction.

So anyway, I just wanted to share it with the guys who I know will understand my excitement. Look for me at every event within a few hundred miles, because I'll be driving the doors off this one. I'm planning on debuting it at the Stan Hywett Father's Day show in Akron, and I'm already booked for the CLC Nationals in Dayton this summer. And I don't own a trailer...

It's been a long time since I've been this excited, so much so that I haven't even noticed the terrifying sucking sound coming from my bank account. Looking forward to meeting and touring [finally] with all of you.

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Very Nice!

That picture of all the cars on the shelves is amazing. how did they get them down? do you know?

They actually have a platform that attaches to a massive forklift. Roll the car on the platform, the forklift raises the car, and then you just roll the car onto the shelf. It's amazing. It's a storage facility with about 100 cars in it, ranging from some pretty mangy late-models, to things like a pair of stunning Ferrari Lussos and some early Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts. My car was only there as a transition between where it was stored and on its way to a shop to get the transmission rebuilt.

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Matt, the jumping out of 2end does NOT require transmission overhaul, or even removal. It a simple fix, and quite common to the first generation Cadillac and LaSalle cars with the new synchro's set up. I would go with a high speed rear and keep the torque tube intact. I have owned quite a few of these cars, and the steering and brakes are marginal at best, and the gear splitter may get you into trouble. A good rear end gear change will usually work fine and it's less expensive and can not be detected. The car looks great. By the way, it looks like the fuel system is bypassed. DO NOT RUN THAT CAR ON AN ELECTRIC FUEL PUMP! It will overflow and burn. The Cad/Johnson carb can only take 1/4 pound of fuel pressure. Ed

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Thanks for the info, Ed. Can you elaborate on what the transmission needs? I have a Packard expert working on it, and it's similar to the Packard units, but he's going in cold. Any insight you have is probably much appreciated, especially since the clock is running @ $65/hour. Ha!

I'm sold on the overdrive, though, especially since I don't intend to show this car competitively. Lloyd has a '30 Cadillac of his own with one of his overdrives in it, and he's driven it over 20,000 miles, so I don't have any worries about the durability. I'm honestly not doing it for more speed, because, as you mention, the limitations of ancient suspension and brakes are substantial. Mostly I want to be able to keep the engine running at low RPM without being a moving speed bump. 60 MPH is all I want, and with the overdrive, it should be right about 2000 RPM. That's just peace of mind for me.

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Matt

What a great looking car! I completely understand what you mean about not knowing about what tomorrow will bring. You see, all my life I have wanted an old car to drive and work on. Well, I always put this "dream" off, because there always seemed to be something more important that needed to be done. A couple of years ago, I got a real cancer scare. I was found to have a very rare and aggressive type of cancer. Fortunately for me, they got it all (I hope) and it has not come back. Its amazing how ones thinking changes when something like that happens. After the surgeries and everything, I started looking for me an old car. OK, its not a car like yours, but hey, its a start. Even though its still being paid for, in a year or so, it'l be all mine!

Enjoy your new toy. Thank you for your post, and the great photos. It really brought a smile to my face!

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Congratulations. The only problem you're going to have at Stan Hywet is everyone thinking it's still Wayne Darling's car as I think he had owned it since at least the mid 1970's. Wayne used to drive it up from Salem almost every year; so I don't think it will take too much to get it on the road again. It hasn't been sitting THAT long.

By the way, when you say Cadillac meet in Dayton, are you referring to the Cadillac/Lasalle Club National Meet? It's actually in Dublin, not Dayton. Dublin is a suburb of Columbus, NE side. The meet is mid August.

Edited by K8096 (see edit history)
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It is indeed Wayne's car. I feel very lucky to have it, and his son who sold it to me made me promise to hang on to it and treat it well. I didn't know Wayne, although I remember seeing his name a lot when I was younger going to meets like the Hale Farm and Village show every August. I kind of feel lucky to be a part of Wayne's legacy and certainly don't mind if people continue to refer to it as Wayne's car. His son, Tom, is a great guy and I've enjoyed getting to know him as well.

I'll be at the CLC National--I thought Dublin was in Columbus, but all the materials on the show made it sound like it was nearer to Dayton. Meh, either way, I'll be there. :)

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Matt,

Congratulations, that is a fine looking car and should a great road car with the mods you are doing. I have no idea if it is possible but adapting power assist for the brakes might be something to look into. My 32 has that and the brakes work very well. Good luck!

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Pretty good glove to bring to the ballpark, Matt! Congratulations. I have a friend who is not a regular AACA poster who knows these cars very well and has a couple of them, I will get you his info via PM in a day or two.

Enjoy and yes, for what it is worth I would stick with the WWW on this one for sure - it can carry them just fine!

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Enjoy and yes, for what it is worth I would stick with the WWW on this one for sure - it can carry them just fine!

I disagree on the "for sure" part of this statement. Take a look at how nice Don's 1928 Pierce-Arrow looks with the black. It's a coin toss in my opinion. A plain-jane sedan with disc wheels probably would have been delivered new with black.

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Hey, who are you callin' plain-jane? :)

While I agree that it most likely came with blackwalls, I personally have always liked the flash of whitewalls. I'll be replacing the current Lesters with identical tires, especially since the sidemounts have zero miles and are probably OK as spares--no need to replace two additional $400 tires if I can avoid it. There's a certain stateliness and formality to a car with blackwalls, but the whitewalls, to me anyway, add eye appeal that all Classics should have. It just pops and you can't help but feel that you're in the presence of something special when you see it. The blackwalls mute that feeling.

Here's a 1929 Packard in similar colors with a similar body wearing disc wheels and blackwalls. We sold it not too long ago, but I think it might have sold faster with whitewalls. It's a little too monochromatic for my tastes, but the catalog shows this exact car in this exact color wearing blackwalls, so I can't argue with the owner's decision. But it inevitably becomes just another big, plain sedan that blends into the background among much flashier cars at a show. When I show up in that Cadillac, I want people to see something special.

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versus

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PS: Does anyone have a source for things like spark plug wires (cloth covered) and windshield wiper blades? I'd like to correct a few other things before I start driving.

Thanks for the kind words. It's awfully hard to concentrate thinking about this thing all day and night. I can't wait.

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And West, what about flashy (fleshy?) hood ornaments? It has a plain cap on it now, but I definitely want a naked lady out there leading the way. I'd even settle for the Cadillac "tooter" but those are really hard to find and scary expensive.

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Matt

Before I saw your last post, I was going to argue oranges and apples, as the Cadillac's wheel trimmings, bigger hub caps, make a big difference. Also, I was also going to say that the type of tire you get is very important. In my opinion, the smooth side tread of the white sidewall currently on your car is not the best as far as looks are concerned. The second photo you show, the Cadillac with the Buffalo wire wheels, has a very "aggressive-looking" side tread design, that is a must for that car. You can get that type of tire in both white and black.

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Matt,

Congratulations on your acquisition. Great looking car whichever way you go. I personally prefer blackwalls.

When I see a car like that with the Whitewalls, the Whitewalls really draw your attention. When you see the same car with the Blackwalls, you see the other details on the car itself, that you don't really see when your eyes are drawn to the Whitewalls.

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Honestly, I don't think I'm going to be able to live without the whitewalls. While I agree that it looks pretty good with the discs and blackwalls, I've always dreamed of having a Classic with sidemounts and wide whitewall tires. I've been waiting 30 years to own a car like this.

The big thing is that I need to buy at least 4 new tires because those on the car now are pretty old. By buying matching Lesters, I only need four, but if I go with a different design, I'll need 6. Six tires + six tubes + six flaps + six shipping + six mount/balance = $ouch

However, if I do go with six all-new tires (and I agree about the more aggressive side tread), how about these:

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Sometimes it is a matter of perception - like Matt, my memories of these cars go back to shows as a youngster in the 70s, they all had WWW, except for foreign Classics. While I can appreciate the look of an "aggressive trread" BW as West points out, I stuck with WWW when I replaced my tires this past year, virtually no wear but sidewall cracking. Matt, four new 700x16 Firestone tires and tubes cost me around $900 for 4 but I feel more confident on the highway now. At least I have resisted the urge to add Trippe Juniors or even fog lights up front... :)

Great to see an older restoration "brought back from the back of the shed"!!

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Honestly, I don't think I'm going to be able to live without the whitewalls. While I agree that it looks pretty good with the discs and blackwalls, I've always dreamed of having a Classic with sidemounts and wide whitewall tires. I've been waiting 30 years to own a car like this.

The big thing is that I need to buy at least 4 new tires because those on the car now are pretty old. By buying matching Lesters, I only need four, but if I go with a different design, I'll need 6. Six tires + six tubes + six flaps + six shipping + six mount/balance = $ouch

However, if I do go with six all-new tires (and I agree about the more aggressive side tread), how about these:

Matt,

These are the same tires I put on my 32 Cadillac. I picked them because the tread and sidewall design are almost a perfect match for the tires shown in the original shop manual! I never condidered blackwalls because the 32 came standard with whitewalls. You are right about the cost being a pain but those six matching tires do look great and all new is safer if you plan to drive the car.

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Just re-read this and see Matt is looking at $400 a wheel; ouch is right... We eased the pain a bit by buying two at the beginning of the season after a friend suggested replacing the fronts first due to more side to side pressure from steering and possibly more weight on them. Then picked up the other two at Hershey. You may consider this approach if you are matching to what you have now especially. If you pick up at a show you can cut shipping and maybe even sales tax...

Wonder how my new Audi would look with 2" WWW. hmmm.....

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