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Why do so few Marmon Sixteens survive?


Guest DanStr
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I know less than 400 were built in a 3-year period. I know the Depression was raging. I know people donated cars to scrap-metal drives during WW2. I know that many people gave up on orphan cars (particularly huge, expensive, rare orphan cars)....:)

But even factoring all of the above in...297 (give or take) GONE?!? Would time, rust, and wrecks do that many of them in? ... :confused:

Or are there some still out there lurking in garages, barns, sheds, what have you?

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I would say it's because when a luxury car gets to be about 9 years old, stuff starts to break and parts start to get hard to find. Maintenance costs are FAR more than the car is even worth at that point and no one feels like paying the price. The few cars that do remain are abused by owners because they can't afford to fix them, so they are run into the ground. That's true with almost every luxury car. Unless the car has low mileage, no one is interested in saving it because it's not worth it. In 1941, a Marmon 16 was the equivalent of a 2002 Cadillac DeVille today. I know that you can't really compare a Marmon 16 to a 2002 Cadillac, but in historical reference, that's the equivalent.

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I know less than 400 were built in a 3-year period. I know the Depression was raging. I know people donated cars to scrap-metal drives during WW2. I know that many people gave up on orphan cars (particularly huge, expensive, rare orphan cars)....:)

But even factoring all of the above in...297 (give or take) GONE?!? Would time, rust, and wrecks do that many of them in? ... :confused:

Or are there some still out there lurking in garages, barns, sheds, what have you?

Actually if less than 400 were built and 400-297=103 remain, you are looking at a 25% survival rate. That actually sounds pretty good to me for any car built 75 or so years ago.

For example, for the 1933 model year there were 49,826 DeLuxe Plymouth Two Door Sedans built. Last I looked, the Plymouth Owners Club showed 6 known survivors. I happen to have happened on some more. But even if you multiply the known survivors by 100 you get only a bit over a 1% survival rate.

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Actually there are 79 Marmon sixteens that are known today, slightly less than 25%. It can also be noted that sixteens are the most common marmon model surviving and also the most valuable. Quite a few of the engines found a second life in racing and research as it was quite an advanced design for the late twenties and people recognized it as such.

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Someone once mentioned to me, or I read it (again, it's hell and fun getting old), that had there not been a World War II, then what we now call pre-war collector cars would be common.

I believe that high end cars survived in greater percentages, only because human nature realized that they were worth saving. The more common cars were seen as metal not yet melted, and thus were sacrificed.

And, I'm not sure that mechanical excellence had much to do with it, more so styling.

Example, the 36-37 Cord. By 1941 or 1942, they had to be as aggravating in shifting as they are now, yet of the 2500 or so built, 1300 or so remain.

On the Marmon, 25% survival rate is really good....and there may still be a few out there not yet known, big unrestored Classics seem to keep popping up, and it's a big world out there...

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This is where I will lament about not dragging off that 16 cylinder Marmon for $50.00 that I saw in a lady's yard back in Auburn Hills, Michigan when I was 16 years old in 1969. It was basically a bodiless chassis, but that engine was a sight to see. It had all of the sheet metal from the front bumper to the cowl. I was on the property to pick up a 1936 Dodge Brothers 4 door sedan for $25.00 so I was not there to pick up a giant Marmon. I DID love those scalloped front fenders, though. What an attractive front end that car had.

Edited by keiser31 (see edit history)
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All of you make valid points, especially when talking about percentage of survivors...:).

I guess 1-3% survival rates for lower end makes and models might be due to LACK of rarity, e.g. "...that Chevy-Plymouth-Dodge is just another old car...."....?

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I would think one percent or so would be a default basis foranycar which would testify to low mileage and careful maintenance and storage.

Perry

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Does someone know the number of cars now owned in the CCCA, in the roster?

Let's say, for discussion, it's 5000 cars.

In my opinion, for every Classic car in the roster, there are 2 more, at least out there not registered.

So, 15000 cars.

Total Classic production? 1.2 million or so, documented.

Hmmmm. 15000 Classics divided by 1.2 million Classics, 1.25% survival rate.

That sounds about right....

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Guest GreenSixteen

As the president of the Marmon Club, and as the guy who started the Marmon registry, I have been asked to put in my two cents here. We have in our club registry 96 Marmon Sixteens; BUT, we count everything anyone has ever seen since records were first kept beginning in 1955 (with work done by Bill Gibson of the VMCCA). When you separate out the parts cars, chassis, and vehicles that haven't been seen since 1968, you quickly reduce the number to 82 known Marmon Sixteens. But, there aren't that many. The easiest identification plate to find on a Sixteen is mounted in the engine compartment on the firewall. However, it is the body number, not the chassis number, (Marmon numbers do not match), and in some instances when owners registered with the CCCA or with us, over the years they have mistakenly given us the body number rather than the serial number, and the car has been listed twice. We have a member of the club who is actively trying to straighten these things out, and he currently believes the number of complete survivors is about 71.

Why so few? Because Marmon built no more than 390 of them, that's why. (That too is under investigation, and the true number was probably more like 375). Still, that is a great survivor rate, mainly because these Sixteens were always seen as something truly special. As others have pointed out above, lesser makes built in far larger numbers have many fewer survivors, both in absolute number and by percentage. That is true too of other Marmon models. Marmon made over 110,000 cars during its 30 year run, and we know of only about 650 survivors of all models combined. More than 10% of those are Sixteens.

Is there a chance a few more are hidden away in barns? Yes (although the last "new" car to come to the attention of the club is the one I own, which was added to the list for the first time in 1994). We know of 9 Sixteens that haven't been seen in a long time; 5 since 1955, the rest since 1968. (Two more have disappeared since 1985). Surely not all of them were parted out. So, there is some hope- but parts cars are now just about impossible to find, so if you find part of a Sixteen, you may never find the rest....!

This year, we had two great gatherings of Sixteens. Six came to Indianapolis for the Celebration of the Automobile last May (two others broke down on the way), and 9 came to the Glenmoor Gathering in September (8 in the show, 1 across the auction block). We did both of these shows, as well as the Vintage Race Weekend Show at Watkin's Glen, to which I drove our Sixteen with my Dad in the passenger seat, back to the place where, after the first Grand Prix in 1948, he took this same car airborne over the railroad crossing after the end of the race. He and the Sixteen were big hits with the spectators, then and now!

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In many ways the Marmon 16 fans are lucky that they are a misunderstood car that scare off lots of potential collectors. The fact is they are very under rated automobile, probably due to their lines not being quite as attractive as the other cars in the same class. I have driven four or five of them, and I can assure you that if you test drive a V-16 Caddy and a Marmon side by side, you would never look at a Cadillac V-16 again. The Marmon will just drive circles around the Caddy. While I can't say I have driven every CCCA classic platform, I have driven most of them, and the 16 Marmon is in the top five of American super cars. (CCCA)

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I happen to be the care giver for GreenSixteen's V16 Marmon. I only say its a awesome Automobile, elegant yet understated. I has many fine details throughout out the entire automobile that discerning eyes see and appreciate. My opinion is there are cars and there are automobiles, the Marmon V16 is definitely an automobile.

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can any one tell me how to find out where to go to find out how many of what ever car you might own in my case i have a 71 buick riviera

Go back to the "General discussion" area of the forum and scroll down to the "Buick" forum...they may know.

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