Jump to content

"Showroom Stock" not always the best thing to do.


Recommended Posts

There has been a lot of the usual discussion of the street rod vs. restoration thing of late. In general, I'm inclined to agree with the restorers, but to take a car back to factory is sometimes not a very good thing to do.

Most cars go to the junkyard with all their original bits intact. The engine, transmission, rear end, everything are all stock. In most cases today the head and the oil pan have never been off the engine. When I junked my Dodge Neon, it was 100 percent stock and all that ever had been replaced was the CV joints and one brake rotor. It was a perfectly good car structurally. The transmission finally gave out and its market value was less than it would cost to fix it. This is essentially unchanged today from fifty years ago except that back then most cars had a lot of rust damage that made them structurally questionable or impact damage.

A car that gets a different engine or transmission, custom bodywork, or is fitted with custom equipment when it is new or a late model with value, is statistically rare, maybe more so today than fifty years ago, but even then wasn't common. It usually has a story and that story is often interesting and sometimes historically important.

The best example I know of was, sometime in the late 1980s, a 1940 or 1941 Packard that was found in a garage outside Kansas City when its owner died. The car had been fitted with a four cylinder Cummins diesel engine, because diesel fuel wasn't rationed in the war, and the car was to be used to take the owner's wife to the doctor or hospital when necessary. The husband was a Navy Captain at the time and the wife had a serious respiratory ailment which was why the car was bought in the first place, it being the only air conditioned car available at that time. The installation was done with Cummins factory assistance, and was a beautifully engineered affair that involved several custom castings of aluminum such as a bellhousing and oil pan. Back then, that engine was more expensive than the car itself and today would be an interesting collectible in and of itself (yes, there are old diesel engine collectors).

The wife died sometime right after the war and the car went into the back of a shed, on blocks. The owner, who survived the war, remarried and that was the end of that, until the owner died and the offspring sold the estate.

The car was bought by a Restorer. And Restore it he did, just the way it came out of the Packard factory. The Cummins engine and all the castings were unceremoniously hauled to the scrap yard and kicked out of the back of the truck. The factory documents including a letter signed by Clessie Cummins were thrown out too.

What had been a unique piece of history was just another moderately common Packard.

I don't know where that car is today, but if it's now a Street Rod with an LS6 under the hood, a nine inch Ford rear end and the suspension lowered to an inch off the pavement, I'd enjoy seeing it.

Less dramatic examples include the Fordillacs and Studillacs built in the 50s, most of which were not "hot rods" but intended for people who wanted a faster, inconspicuous car, ham radio operators' cars fitted with Leece Neville alternators and high voltage three phase tapoffs, the Wilcap diesel conversions in the 70s and Ak Miller's turbo and propane installs.

Many dealers in the pre-EPA days offered modified cars to buyers, too. Nickey Chevrolet in Chicago was one of the more famous ones. Sure, you can rip all that stuff off, but you are making something that was distinct and sought after in its day into something ordinary and common.

We need to cultivate judgment and an appreciation of real history (as opposed to the current narrative) when dealing with these important and fascinating cars.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with you. I have always enjoyed a car modified with period equiptment, whatever type it is. And a car made as an original one or two or however many number of individualized constructions at the time of manufacture is really not replaceable. They are a special part of automotive history. I don't mind Hot Rods that are made of parts and frames of cars that are no longer restorable. I do hate to see old cars in good condition be stripped to make rods and I would call the Packard described above in this category even though it was not made as all the rest were at that time.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I do hate to see old cars in good condition be stripped to make rods

It is something we all have to get used to, as the mostly older people who like stock prewar cars are either not buying any more, nor restoring any more. Then, if the cars are no longer desirable to "stock" "buyers", then either the car gets modernized or gets shoved back into poor storage if it does not sell.

I do a simple search for 1932 cars on ebay, using this search on cars/trucks: "1932 -ford". I am not really interested in looking at a hundred 32 fords, so I get results for every other make, by using the "minus ford". The search, once a week, gets only about SIX cars! I see some great cars, but in stock form, you can't really cope safely and peacefully with todays driving conditions...so they don't get good bids.

I have 2 1932 cars; one a stock engine Nash, and a Ford old style 50s rod. I hope I can find a place to drive the Nash in peace, but I doubt it. I will never rod the Nash, and likely will never sell it, so it may sit there as shop art.

Link to post
Share on other sites
It is something we all have to get used to, as the mostly older people who like stock prewar cars are either not buying any more, nor restoring any more. Then, if the cars are no longer desirable to "stock" "buyers", then either the car gets modernized or gets shoved back into poor storage if it does not sell.

I have 2 1932 cars; one a stock engine Nash, and a Ford old style 50s rod. I hope I can find a place to drive the Nash in peace, but I doubt it. I will never rod the Nash, and likely will never sell it, so it may sit there as shop art.

A lot of old cars can be made to keep up with traffic today and still look stock or nearly so, without being a "rod". Whether the Nash falls in that category i don't know. I know that you can make a Model A/B Ford put out about eighty horsepower and still look dead nuts stock from the outside. The car will then do okay except on the turnpike where everyone goes ten over the limit.

But some old cars just aren't meant for the highway and should be kept for city or country use. Or do what a friend did with his Bebe Peugeot, put it in the living room.

Link to post
Share on other sites
It is something we all have to get used to, as the mostly older people who like stock prewar cars are either not buying any more, nor restoring any more. Then, if the cars are no longer desirable to "stock" "buyers", then either the car gets modernized or gets shoved back into poor storage if it does not sell.

t.

I surely can't agree with this statement, there are lots of us "older people"' and a couple of younger people too, who are both buying and restoring stock early cars. Your generalization is broad and false, as are most such statements...

As far as drivability in modern traffic, stay on the back roads and enjoy the scenery, just rushing to get somewhere isn't the point of driving an old car. My 1931 Pierce Arrow can do 70 mph all day long, but I still prefer back roads for the enjoyment of driving a vintage car.....

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to agree with Trimacar. I recently sold my 1929 Model A Ford Phaeton. I have both shown the car up to Repeat Senior Grand National, as well as driven it on multiple tours. I sold it with intentions of replacing it with a 1930's car for extensive touring. I enjoy showing and judging, but touring is more fun. I don't need such a pristine "showcar" anymore, but the car that I buy for touring will be original or restored to original condition. I see no reason for modifications to a car to be able to drive it extensively. When I want to drive on the Interstate, I will drive a modern car.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I have to agree with Trimacar. I recently sold my 1929 Model A Ford Phaeton. I have both shown the car up to Repeat Senior Grand National, as well as driven it on multiple tours. I sold it with intentions of replacing it with a 1930's car for extensive touring. I enjoy showing and judging, but touring is more fun. I don't need such a pristine "showcar" anymore, but the car that I buy for touring will be original or restored to original condition. I see no reason for modifications to a car to be able to drive it extensively. When I want to drive on the Interstate, I will drive a modern car.

Well, that's a defensible position, but if I had a Model A I guarantee I'd have hydraulic brakes at least and probably some period correct stuff along with an engine build to give me as much compression as reasonable and a full counterweighted crank. That said, my original point wasn't so much about altering an existing original car as undoing a modified one simply out of a sense that "original is best". Indeed, if I had a PERFECT really original (not restored) A I'd sell it at a premium to someone wanting such a car and get one that's not perfect because it wouldn't be perfect anymore after driving.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Without trying to be be obnoxious, If properly restored Model A Ford mechanical brakes are reliable, and will skid all four tires, why would you feel a need to "upgrade" to less corrrect and no more reliable hydraulic brakes? I must admit that I get tired of hearing that you have to change to hydraulic brakes on a Model A Ford. If the car's brakes are worn out and neglected, fixing them correctly is just as good or probably better than changing to hydraulic brakes. The original Model A Ford design was a great design. It is a great car. Most people have more experience with worn out and abused Model A Fords and tend to use that as their reference point of what a Model A Ford is like. Try a good correctly restored one for a change.

.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, that's a defensible position, but if I had a Model A I guarantee I'd have hydraulic brakes at least and probably some period correct stuff along with an engine build to give me as much compression as reasonable and a full counterweighted crank. That said, my original point wasn't so much about altering an existing original car as undoing a modified one simply out of a sense that "original is best". Indeed, if I had a PERFECT really original (not restored) A I'd sell it at a premium to someone wanting such a car and get one that's not perfect because it wouldn't be perfect anymore after driving.

Lefty, didn't you really mean to begin this thread on the HAMB web site? They love modified cars over there.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I surely can't agree with this statement, there are lots of us "older people"' and a couple of younger people too, who are both buying and restoring stock early cars. Your generalization is broad and false, as are most such statements...

As far as drivability in modern traffic, stay on the back roads and enjoy the scenery, just rushing to get somewhere isn't the point of driving an old car. My 1931 Pierce Arrow can do 70 mph all day long, but I still prefer back roads for the enjoyment of driving a vintage car.....

I defend my statements. There are a few still buying, but it is very limited. My son says his generation "might" have a bit of interest in a 60s muscle car, but that it would need to be a Mustang or Camaro, because it is a brand still made in modern time that they can relate to. He says they have no idea what a GTO is :)

I look at what is going on in the marketplace over the last 40 years, and I see a day when the typical prewar "average brand" car won't be worth much at all. Not talking classics, just car brands that a typical person bought new.

As far as who wants what... I spotted the viewing stats on this site a few months ago...the TOP NUMBER ONE "brand specific" forum on AACA is the Buick Reatta forum. There's the proof. People want a modern driving car that has all the modern junk, is still fairly new, parts somewhat easier to get..etc etc. Then look at some of the other brand-forums that are only old cars...Just 2 or less people viewing...because...Nobody cares anymore. However, the prewar Dodge boys are putting in a good amount of posts, though.

In my area of CT, the Model A's are still holding their own as far as being driven, but real pricing has dropped drastically in 40 years. Back then, a excl quality resto 30-31 roadster w/sidemounts etc, was worth what a brand new LTD or Impala at the showroom. Not anymore.

As far as back roads in my area...they are also going to fast, tailgating, cell talking, try to pass, .... and the poor economy is not helping their demeanor...they are either rushing to get to a job they hate, or rushing home to a life they can't stand. The world has changed... Truth

Edited by F&J (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have driven A Fords with mechanical and with hydraulic brakes. I agree that when perfectly adjusted the mechanicals work OK but they don't stay that way, constant adjustment is needed, and since the car can always be converted back I personally prefer hydraulics for consistency and safety in my opinion. I am not for making anyone convert theirs, I'm just saying that's what I'd do.

Henry Ford was a very smart guy in some ways and very stupid, to be blunt, in others. I won't get into his non-automotive opinions, but he had a famous aversion to hydraulic brakes, and to six cylinder engines because he got the crankshaft firing angles wrong on one of his early models. Mechanical brakes were not used on any other American make of car for many years, AFAIK, before Ford finally went hydraulic in, I believe, 1939 (someone correct me if I'm wrong.) That famous (and, having owned five of them personally, in most ways well designed) example of Henry's best pal over in Germany's hobby car for the masses, the Volkswagen, had mechanical brakes as originally designed too and this was changed out in the first few years of postwar production. Most of the early cars in Europe were converted to hydraulics too at some time in their life because if not constantly adjusted they were squirrely. I have never driven a mechanical brake VW, but those who have say it's a handful to adjust and it only stays that way for about twenty stops.

As for HAMB, yes, I read it, but those guys are beyond redemption:-) However, most of what they do is based on all repro stuff or on common enough cars no one cares.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chrysler had hydraulics in the mid 20's, as did Hupmobile and others....the technology was available, but for the size car mechanical brakes were fine, the engineers at Ford weren't stupid, and a million cars can't be wrong...

I too have driven a Model A that was correctly restored, and the brakes were great...

Link to post
Share on other sites

We are certainly off the original topic... oh well..

the engineers at Ford weren't stupid
No, but they darn well knew they were under Henrys thumb. He died in 47, and the 49 models were finally on coil springs. Who would have imagined that the old Horse Buggy transverse springs would still be on any auto in 48? Only Henry.
Link to post
Share on other sites

F&J,

While I would like to see more people on the Model A Forum here, there are too many alternatives out there. Fordbarn and some others are way more active than our Reatta Forum here. There are several reasons why the Reatta Forum is the most active one on this site, but that does not mean that it is the only collector car that people are interested in. I don't think that the prewar hobby future is nearly as limited as you seem to think. Feel free to point me to any of those low priced Model A Fords. I am in the market for a 1931 Fordoor or Town Sedan, preferably a Slant Windshield one, but will consider 1930 or early 1931 as well. The prices that I have seen have certainly not been less than they used to be.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think that you can ever accurately forecast trends in this hobby. I personally prefer cars from the 30's even though I was born in 1960. My kids also like cars that are much earlier than their years of birth. There are more young people out there that like those early cars than some people seem to think. Some of them grew up in the hobby, and some did not. Although lots of folks think that the Model T Fords and Model A Fords are all going to be for sale cheap because none of the "younger generation" will want them, I keep seeing young people driving Model T Fords and Model A Fords. I am sure that there are some regional differences, but the hobby is alive and well. AACA membership is growing and while it tends to be an older person's hobby due to a lot if different reasons, there are still young folks who will continue to collect, restore, and drive the early cars.

Link to post
Share on other sites
F&J,

While I would like to see more people on the Model A Forum here, there are too many alternatives out there. Fordbarn and some others are way more active than our Reatta Forum here. There are several reasons why the Reatta Forum is the most active one on this site, but that does not mean that it is the only collector car that people are interested in. I don't think that the prewar hobby future is nearly as limited as you seem to think. Feel free to point me to any of those low priced Model A Fords. I am in the market for a 1931 Fordoor or Town Sedan, preferably a Slant Windshield one, but will consider 1930 or early 1931 as well. The prices that I have seen have certainly not been less than they used to be.

This ad says a great deal:

Ford : Other Roadster in Ford | eBay Motors

Notice it is all stock and all there, but did not come up when I searched "Model A Ford". It DID come up under "Street Rod" even though it isn't.

(I hope it's OK to post an auction link. If not let me know.)

Link to post
Share on other sites
We are certainly off the original topic... oh well..

No, but they darn well knew they were under Henrys thumb. He died in 47, and the 49 models were finally on coil springs. Who would have imagined that the old Horse Buggy transverse springs would still be on any auto in 48? Only Henry.

Henry would never even have made the A if it had been wholly up to him. As I understand it he'd have made the T until he could sell no more and shut down the shop. Some of his ideas were good and some were not so good. Fords improved a lot after he died but GM took over the number one slot and kept it for sixty-plus years.

His reluctance to change made Atwater Kent and a dozen or more others millionaires in making improvements on an aftermarket basis. What worked great in 1909 was not so good in 1926. I'm not saying all Model T owners should have to put Atwater Kent distributors or Ruckstell axles on their T's, but most people understand that they are as much a part of history as the T itself and should be appreciated as such. My whole point was that this same continuity should be extended to historically correct vehicles that are different from how Henry made them in the same way. This is NOT like putting SBCs and Nova subframes on prewar cars, not in any way.

Link to post
Share on other sites

heftylefty,

You apparently did not read what I indicated I was looking for. Wrong year, wrong body style, wrong condition...

Even though that car has a lot of stuff that is obviously not restored to original condition easily visible in the photos, it will be interesting to see how high it goes. If you want an idea of what is happening in the Model A market, look at completed auctions on Ebay. You will see a lot of folks paying high dollars for cars that are in lots of various conditions. There are lots of other sources of research besides Ebay that you can research as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites
heftylefty,

You apparently did not read what I indicated I was looking for. Wrong year, wrong body style, wrong condition...

Even though that car has a lot of stuff that is obviously not restored to original condition easily visible in the photos, it will be interesting to see how high it goes. If you want an idea of what is happening in the Model A market, look at completed auctions on Ebay. You will see a lot of folks paying high dollars for cars that are in lots of various conditions. There are lots of other sources of research besides Ebay that you can research as well.

It was just an example. I knew it was not what you wanted, but shows that this car is apparently worth more in the mind of the SELLER as street rod tin than as a proper Model A. I hope it gets restored stock or mostly stock. A little more money would get the buyer a whole new steel bodyshell if he wants a rod and that way it's less work for him and the old car isn't wrecked. That said, I'm not going to buy it as I have enough cars.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This subject gets talked to death for no reason. There's a simple bottom line to this whole issue:

Like women, the limitations of old cars are part and parcel of their very appeal. If you don't like the limitations, you don't like the car. The complete package, faults and all, are ultimately more challenging, fulfilling, and rewarding then a stand-in.

The world is full of moneyed guys with armloads of women they neither understand nor respect. They just like what they look like, or what they think the woman makes them look like. It's no different for cars.

Link to post
Share on other sites
It was just an example. I knew it was not what you wanted, but shows that this car is apparently worth more in the mind of the SELLER as street rod tin than as a proper Model A. I hope it gets restored stock or mostly stock. A little more money would get the buyer a whole new steel bodyshell if he wants a rod and that way it's less work for him and the old car isn't wrecked. That said, I'm not going to buy it as I have enough cars.

I don't understand your logic posting that as a response to my post that you quoted. Also, it comes up just fine when I search for Model A Ford on Ebay searching "Title and Description". Looking at the ad, I can understand why it came up while you searched for "Street Rod", but the opinion of one seller on how to best list a project car on Ebay is not something that I am going to lose much sleep over.

Link to post
Share on other sites
This subject gets talked to death for no reason. There's a simple bottom line to this whole issue:

Like women, the limitations of old cars are part and parcel of their very appeal. If you don't like the limitations, you don't like the car. The complete package, faults and all, are ultimately more challenging, fulfilling, and rewarding then a stand-in.

The world is full of moneyed guys with armloads of women they neither understand nor respect. They just like what they look like, or what they think the woman makes them look like. It's no different for cars.

To get back to the example I brought up in the original post, the car was a certain way already, with limitations and also good qualities. The purchaser did not like how it was and bought it anyway and proceeded to change it drastically (again) on the arbitrary presumption that it was supposed to be a different thing altogether.

In doing so he turned a unique and historically fascinating piece of artisanship into a much more common, generic item. Had he restored it as it was when it was put in the barn-which would not have been that tough, the car had no rust, there was no mouse damage or mold, etc, and the engine had been pickled with heavy oil-he would have had a car that would not have been eligible for show judging in the standard class but would have been a head-turner and would have gotten him a lot of positive attention if exhibited properly. In fact, it turned out later that the Cummins family would have bought the car had they been offered it for enough to buy a correctly restored stock one and then some.

The owner, who has since passed on, didn't care.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to know more about this "example". The story sounds sort of suspect to me. Cummins first engine was installed in a Packard. Your story sort of sounds like an urban legend based on that car. Assuming the story to be true, the owner did what he wanted, which seems to be what you are advocating in some of your other posts. He or she who pays the money for a car gets to decide what he or she wants to do with the car. As for me that would be to restore a car to its original condtion.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I would like to know more about this "example". The story sounds sort of suspect to me. Cummins first engine was installed in a Packard. Your story sort of sounds like an urban legend based on that car. Assuming the story to be true, the owner did what he wanted, which seems to be what you are advocating in some of your other posts. He or she who pays the money for a car gets to decide what he or she wants to do with the car. As for me that would be to restore a car to its original condtion.

I don't think Cummins' first engine was installed in a Packard or any other car, as I recall it was a genset that went into a yacht. There were a few Cummins engines installed in both race and road going cars by Cummins themselves but by WWII they had given up on putting diesels in cars and stuck to the heavy trucks, except for a couple of Indy racers. One took the pole position in 1950 or 1951 and DNFed as I recall. You have to recall that a Cummins engine was the price of a whole luxury car in those days and then some, even the smaller ones. American manufacturers of diesel engines gave up on small diesels that could fit in a car because given the volume an imported Perkins or Mercedes engine was far cheaper even with the tariffs. The profit and volume was in truck engines, particularly for Cummins, which depended entirely for their sales a high level of performance and reliability because unlike Detroit Diesel, Mack, or Caterpillar they had no truck chassis or heavy equipment to sell their engines in at a combined profit.

I saw the car myself with the diesel engine and perused the paperwork. It was certainly a prewar Packard with air conditioning, and it was certainly a four cylinder Cummins engine equipped with what was called the "disc pump" as opposed to PT injection. I did not have the money nor a place to put the car and paid it no more attention until I met the seller about a year later, by which time the car was sold. The seller only knew who bought it, I contacted the guy and he told me what he did. As you say, he did what he wanted. He did tell me that he would have let me have the engine if he'd known anyone would have wanted that old piece of junk. It was long gone to the smelter by then.

I didn't take any pictures nor did I ask to get copies of any of the paperwork. I suppose you could contact Cummins to see if a copy of the Clessie Cummins letter to the original buyer is in their archives if you are really interested.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Without trying to be be obnoxious, If properly restored Model A Ford mechanical brakes are reliable, and will skid all four tires, why would you feel a need to "upgrade" to less corrrect and no more reliable hydraulic brakes? I must admit that I get tired of hearing that you have to change to hydraulic brakes on a Model A Ford. If the car's brakes are worn out and neglected, fixing them correctly is just as good or probably better than changing to hydraulic brakes. The original Model A Ford design was a great design. It is a great car. Most people have more experience with worn out and abused Model A Fords and tend to use that as their reference point of what a Model A Ford is like. Try a good correctly restored one for a change.

.

And if you have a car that came with hydraulic brakes, they'll talk about upgrading them to discs.

I think the point is that somehow people are conditioned to think there must be a huge design flaw in older vehicles that needs to be fixed before they are "safe for modern traffic". Might be lack of power for one person. Fade prone drum brakes for another. Weird and strangely different front suspension for a third. And, another favorite, a modern rear end with a "better" ratio for high speed cruising.

Drove back from a show this last weekend. Drove out by back roads and highways but on the return trip, like a horse headed for the stable, took the freeways. About 870 miles which I split into two days driving with the speedometer (accurately) sitting at 60 MPH. On both days, first day at the hotel, second day at a restaurant, people recognized me as the driver of "the old car that was keeping up with traffic". Here is a list of my mods away from stock on this 1933 vehicle:

1. Electronic regulator for the generator.

2. Quartz-halogen headlight bulbs.

Not sure how other "low priced" cars of the era would do. But I know there are 80 year old cars that, if good mechanical condition, will run pretty well in modern traffic. It is a lot more fun, though, to wander through the back country at 35 to 45 MPH.

However all that is a diversion from the original topic which is how to deal with a vehicle that was modified when new or, at least, a long time ago. In the case of the Cummins equipped Packard I am inclined to agree with the original poster: That setup was unique and historically significant and I would like to see things like that preserved rather than returned to stock.

Link to post
Share on other sites

gotta say that i enjoy this type of discussion and it IS in the proper place on this forum! i now agree with the first post...but still prefer a modern rod to utilize a modern 'repop' body or maybe a truly unwanted body. (also gotta wonder how long before THIS thread is closed....:P)

Link to post
Share on other sites

heftylefty,

I was not quite correct in my post late last night. Actually Cummins created the first Diesel Car, by installing one of his engines in a used Packard. From the Cummins Company website:

"After a decade of fits and starts,

during which time the diesel engine failed to take hold as a commercial success,

a stroke of marketing genius by Clessie Cummins helped save the Company. Cummins

mounted a diesel engine in a used Packard limousine and on Christmas day in 1929

took W.G. Irwin for a ride in America's first diesel-powered automobile. Irwin's

enthusiasm for the new engine led to an infusion of cash into the Company,"

So, while I can find nothing but your eyewitness account of the example that you cited, I will not dispute it. I will just point out again that this site is paid for by the Antique Automobile Club of America. The purposes of the AACA are not to promote modification of vehicles but restoration of vehicles. A new poster who seems to want to promote modification of vehicles over restoration tends to get on folks nerves here rather quickly.

As far as your statement of, "I suppose you could contact Cummins to see if a copy of the Clessie Cummins letter to the original buyer is in their archives if you are really interested".

I'm not interested. I am here to discuss antique car restoration, not modification.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The best responce on this thread,

Quote;

"The purposes of the AACA are not to promote modification of vehicles but restoration of vehicles. ...I am here to discuss antique car restoration, not modification."

I like both kinds of cars, and like birds of a feather, I discuss them on different sites.<!-- google_ad_section_end -->

After enjoying and reading this thread I went to HAMB and the first thing that I viewed was a vidieo about B17's , B25's and a Mosquitoe bomber.

Not exactly what is suppose to be on the site, but nothing but complements on the post.

Edited by Roger Walling (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites
I defend my statements. There are a few youth still buying, but it is very limited. ............... He says they have no idea what a GTO is :)

Here's where the touring segment of the AACA can help educate those fellows who do not know what a GTO is! I'm not condoning this, but back in my time a stock '64 GTO could pull the front wheels off the ground, something that will get your attention and help you remember what was special about the first muscle car. (My friend had an early Corvette that would do the same thing)

As far as who wants what... I spotted the viewing stats on this site a few months ago...the TOP NUMBER ONE "brand specific" forum on AACA is the Buick Reatta forum. There's the proof. People want a modern driving car that has all the modern junk, is still fairly new, parts somewhat easier to get..etc etc. Then look at some of the other brand-forums that are only old cars...Just 2 or less people viewing...because...Nobody cares anymore. However, the prewar Dodge boys are putting in a good amount of posts, though.

The Reatta Forum is very active, but I'd say that the younger members of our hobby spend more time on social media. Most of those old prewar guys are too busy in the garage working on their old cars. Yes, and maybe adjusting mechanical brakes. :)

Hey, working on them soothes the soul.;)

As far as back roads in my area...they are also going to fast, tailgating, cell talking, try to pass, .... and the poor economy is not helping their demeanor...they are either rushing to get to a job they hate, or rushing home to a life they can't stand. The world has changed... Truth

A bigger truth has never been told. Still, as someone else said, drive the back roads, even use a slow moving sign if necessary. There is no more fun in this world than enjoying the country side in an old car, driving it as it was meant to be driven, leisurely.

Wayne

Edited by R W Burgess (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems like we have one of these threads every week. Someone asking a question about modifications or looking for tolerance of modified cars and posting it on a site that is CLEARLY not set up to accept it. The usual results with extreme comments from strong adherents on both sides with no resolution, sometimes resulting in angry comments. I think the majority are like me and think there is room for all - I don't currently own a hot rod but wouldn't mind having a nice one. But at the same time I'm going out of my way to preserve an original prewar car in its "Showroom Stock" condition because I know how rare something like that is. In the end I doubt people's minds are going to change much.

I do like Wayne's statement:

Still, as someone else said, drive the back roads, even use a slow moving sign if necessary. There is no more fun in this world than enjoying the country side in an old car, driving it as it was meant to be driven, leisurely.

post-51036-143141867492_thumb.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
heftylefty,

I was not quite correct in my post late last night. Actually Cummins created the first Diesel Car, by installing one of his engines in a used Packard. From the Cummins Company website:

"After a decade of fits and starts,

during which time the diesel engine failed to take hold as a commercial success,

a stroke of marketing genius by Clessie Cummins helped save the Company. Cummins

mounted a diesel engine in a used Packard limousine and on Christmas day in 1929

took W.G. Irwin for a ride in America's first diesel-powered automobile. Irwin's

enthusiasm for the new engine led to an infusion of cash into the Company,"

So, while I can find nothing but your eyewitness account of the example that you cited, I will not dispute it. I will just point out again that this site is paid for by the Antique Automobile Club of America. The purposes of the AACA are not to promote modification of vehicles but restoration of vehicles. A new poster who seems to want to promote modification of vehicles over restoration tends to get on folks nerves here rather quickly.

As far as your statement of, "I suppose you could contact Cummins to see if a copy of the Clessie Cummins letter to the original buyer is in their archives if you are really interested".

I'm not interested. I am here to discuss antique car restoration, not modification.

Didn't know Cummins' first vehicle was a car. I knew they did a few before WWII much like Gardner in England did several high end cars both as transportation and a rolling demonstrator.

Again, the reason for this thread was NOT to exhort owners of Packards to go find rare Cummins diesel engines, pull out the factory engine and convert them over. To do that today would be kind of stupid, I think. It was to bemoan the fact that someone took one that was already done, and done very well, with Cummins factory support and custom castings not replicable today, and destroyed it.

In England, several of the Gardner works cars-Rollses, Lagondas, Jaguars, and maybe an Aston Martin- have been restored to the condition the Gardner Works constructed them, often with one-off engines. I think that's the exactly correct thing to have been done. That is restoration per se, in the sense that something is going back to a prior condition. Others have stuck Gardners and Perkinses and whatnot in old Rolls as a method of getting a big car that is cheap to run, some of those conversions are "bodge jobs" and some fairly well done, but that isn't restoration. It does keep the car on the road and out of the "breakers" (junkyards), but that's another matter.

Some will just never accept that the restoration of a Gardner-Rolls works car to Gardner's standards IS restoration since it didn't come out of Crewe (or is it Derby?) that way. To them, I'm a Lutheran arguing with the College of Cardinals and therefore this is not worth pursuing, since we have differing True Religions, and True Religion is not for logic or debate. (I'm using an analogy and not wanting to discuss religion religion here.) But others will understand just what I mean and it's for those I write. The True Religionists are no different than the people on HAMB who just have to put a small block Chevy in everything because that's THEIR True Religion.

Link to post
Share on other sites
F&J,

While I would like to see more people on the Model A Forum here, there are too many alternatives out there. Fordbarn and some others are way more active than our Reatta Forum here. There are several reasons why the Reatta Forum is the most active one on this site, but that does not mean that it is the only collector car that people are interested in. I don't think that the prewar hobby future is nearly as limited as you seem to think. Feel free to point me to any of those low priced Model A Fords. I am in the market for a 1931 Fordoor or Town Sedan, preferably a Slant Windshield one, but will consider 1930 or early 1931 as well. The prices that I have seen have certainly not been less than they used to be.

Well off the topic again, but the second subject about the "apparent" changing of peoples "wants", are worth mentioning (IMO) As far as Medel A "sales" that I have handled: A good friend in his late 70s passed away about 3 years ago; a life long A guy. His family , extended family, and one friend bought all of the estate cars except one. A 29 Murray sedan. The eldest son asked me to sell it for the family and wanted no part in the sale, and asked me to store it, and sell it quickly. I was asked for a quick sale price by the son and I said 4500 should do it. I sat on it for several months, but only used Ford Barn and Hamb. I was even PM'd on the Barn, telling me it was way too cheap! I replied that "hey. it is still here though"

Finally sold to a guy on the Barn for 4150, paid for right away in person, but i had to agree to store it a few months. I had to take the deal, as he was the only buyer. This car ran nice and was useable, and was in the funeral prossesion BTW. I believe the passed owner bought it for 5800 a couple of years prior.

When I mentioned the old pricing on A roadsters... I was talking comparative values, not actual dollar amounts. I said a A roadster was worth what a then new LTD or fancy Impala had for a new car sticker price.

I wish things were not going this way, but as a former part time flipper, I won't touch a average prewar car anymore, as it is way too risky. I dealt with cars I really liked, because I at least got to own them for a short spell :) . I think it is a game of musical chairs...at some point, there is only one person left.

One thing I have learned is that the market pricing of cars as well as parts, was always driven by flippers. The flippers have backed off for good reason; the economy, the dwindling market, etc. This brings prices downward in a hurry.

Going too long here..but...there is a local advertized 32 Pont 6 wheel coach in what appears to be Senior quality restoration... begging for months for the firm price of 15k. I really like it, but don't dare stick my heirs with it. :( Another very elderly friend who is very antique car savy said today :"who would want it enough to buy it, and I will bet he could not find a buyer at 10k".

post-59419-143141868239_thumb.jpg

post-59419-143141868244_thumb.jpg

post-59419-143141868248_thumb.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

F&J, I can see how your viewpoint and experiences might make you think that pre-war cars are "risky", but would like to review the point further.

Judging the prewar market based on Model A's is like judging the postwar market on early Thunderbirds, there are a LOT of them out there, and basically it's a commodity purchase. On most early cars, you might say "gee, I want a 1931 Pontiac", and you take whatever color and options happens to show up. On Model A's and Tbirds, you first decide that you want "a slant windshield late '31 sedan" or a "red 1956 with automatic", THEN you go looking. Since so many cars are available, prices are kept in check, although from what I've seen a really nice 30-31 Model A deluxe roadster will still bring mid-$20K (which will buy an Impala by the way, or pretty darn close).

Now, let's look at some other market segments of pre-war cars.

Brass cars, or HCCA eligible, are bringing strong dollars. Anything pre-1915 that's decent will bring good money, even a chassis as a project is $5-10K. There's no lack of interest in the early cars, and there's surely no one around who drove them in their youth. Any decent mid-range pre-1915 car is at least $25K, and many are much higher. From what I see, the market is as strong as ever for those cars.

Model T's, while they should be somewhat of a commodity also, seem to bring good prices for good cars. In addition, the Model T Ford clubs seem to be very strong, with many people driving the heck out of their cars. Interest is very high in these cars, as they are reasonably priced, fairly easy to fix (probably easier to fix than drive!), and they're eligible for a lot of tours. Read the forums on the MTFCA and you'll see strong interest. There are also a LOT of young people and families touring in Model T's.

Your point that "run of the mill" cars might be suffering may be true, but good cars still bring good prices, and people are interested in them.....

Link to post
Share on other sites

F&J, looked like a nice old "A". Wish I saw that one right in my backyard for four grand, I miss my old "A" but I don't frequent Fordbarn anymore or HAMB. Too bad it was not on AACA - maybe you would have reached a more interested crowd.

Anyway, forgetting rods vs. restored for a moment if OP is referring to that fraction of 1% of cars modified and documented well in period, that is an interesting point. Makes me think of an early 50s Packard I read about in the Cormorant once, which the original owner, an engineer or something simillar had held for around 40 years. In that time, he made minor modifications to help preserve and improve his pride and joy, carefully documenting each of them in a very detailed maintenance log. The car went to a collector who valued that as part of its history, and has elected to preserve it in it's "original" as modified/maintained/documented by the original owner - condition. Clearly valued enough by Packard people to feature in the PAC periodical. Personally, on this particular car my approach would be the same. In this case, the mods were not what I would consider "hot rodding" and represented the original owner's dedication to keeping the car in top form. Also, this particular car (early 50s Packard sedan - can't recall model now may have been a lower level like a 200) is a nice, but not extremely rare or desirable car. Since we are not talking about a Caribean convertible, the added interest seems to enhance the car's historical and possibly even monetary value in this case.

Admittedly examples like that are few and far between, but could be interesting discussion if anyone can come up with others.

Simillarly I had a great visit with an older gent a few years ago at a show in CT, where he had a stunning '36 Ford roadster, which had some unusual trim attached to it he had fabricated himself. He went on to tell me how the car was set up with OD (I think) so he would not be a "slug" on the Merritt Parkway here, and how he worked for Dragone Bros. for years, as a restoration mechanic. I would not change a thing on that car either, although the mods were likely much more recent to me, in this case, they are integral to the car's history. The car was also clearly not a hot rod despite the personalization. Another stone stock restoration in this case, on a desirable but not super rare car would not benefit this one, IMHO, although others would think differently.

Lastly, I believe AACA does now recognize period hot rods although I do not know enough of the specifics on this to speak intelligently to it. That is just a side comment and getting a bit away from my post which is really to spark thought or discussion about those rare "grey area" cars.

So it is a tough call in some cases, even for a member of this (AACA) church. :)

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT
added a couple of thoughts (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites
There has been a lot of the usual discussion of the street rod vs. restoration thing of late. In general, I'm inclined to agree with the restorers, but to take a car back to factory is sometimes not a very good thing to do.

Most cars go to the junkyard with all their original bits intact. The engine, transmission, rear end, everything are all stock. In most cases today the head and the oil pan have never been off the engine. When I junked my Dodge Neon, it was 100 percent stock and all that ever had been replaced was the CV joints and one brake rotor. It was a perfectly good car structurally. The transmission finally gave out and its market value was less than it would cost to fix it. This is essentially unchanged today from fifty years ago except that back then most cars had a lot of rust damage that made them structurally questionable or impact damage.

A car that gets a different engine or transmission, custom bodywork, or is fitted with custom equipment when it is new or a late model with value, is statistically rare, maybe more so today than fifty years ago, but even then wasn't common. It usually has a story and that story is often interesting and sometimes historically important.

The best example I know of was, sometime in the late 1980s, a 1940 or 1941 Packard that was found in a garage outside Kansas City when its owner died. The car had been fitted with a four cylinder Cummins diesel engine, because diesel fuel wasn't rationed in the war, and the car was to be used to take the owner's wife to the doctor or hospital when necessary. The husband was a Navy Captain at the time and the wife had a serious respiratory ailment which was why the car was bought in the first place, it being the only air conditioned car available at that time. The installation was done with Cummins factory assistance, and was a beautifully engineered affair that involved several custom castings of aluminum such as a bellhousing and oil pan. Back then, that engine was more expensive than the car itself and today would be an interesting collectible in and of itself (yes, there are old diesel engine collectors).

The wife died sometime right after the war and the car went into the back of a shed, on blocks. The owner, who survived the war, remarried and that was the end of that, until the owner died and the offspring sold the estate.

The car was bought by a Restorer. And Restore it he did, just the way it came out of the Packard factory. The Cummins engine and all the castings were unceremoniously hauled to the scrap yard and kicked out of the back of the truck. The factory documents including a letter signed by Clessie Cummins were thrown out too.

What had been a unique piece of history was just another moderately common Packard.

I don't know where that car is today, but if it's now a Street Rod with an LS6 under the hood, a nine inch Ford rear end and the suspension lowered to an inch off the pavement, I'd enjoy seeing it.

Less dramatic examples include the Fordillacs and Studillacs built in the 50s, most of which were not "hot rods" but intended for people who wanted a faster, inconspicuous car, ham radio operators' cars fitted with Leece Neville alternators and high voltage three phase tapoffs, the Wilcap diesel conversions in the 70s and Ak Miller's turbo and propane installs.

Many dealers in the pre-EPA days offered modified cars to buyers, too. Nickey Chevrolet in Chicago was one of the more famous ones. Sure, you can rip all that stuff off, but you are making something that was distinct and sought after in its day into something ordinary and common.

We need to cultivate judgment and an appreciation of real history (as opposed to the current narrative) when dealing with these important and fascinating cars.

What is showroom stock? I had a 1959 Pontiac Catalina that my dad special ordered as a "A" stock automatic drag car. From the factory it came with some Super Duty parts. It also came with a solid lifter cam and lifters in the trunk because Pontiac would not warranty a car with a solid lifter cam. Through the dealer we removed the vacuum control from the tri-power carbs and install factory mechanical progressive linkage. Cars built like that today bring big bucks. Was the car stock? Does the cam in the trunk compromise the car?

Another example would be the 1964 Pontiac GTO that was used in the Pontiac vs. Ferrari GTO shootout by Car & Driver magazine. Jim Wangers, who was a executive for Pontiac's advertisement agency handled almost all of Pontiac's press fleet through a Pontiac dealership called Royal Pontiac. Was that GTO modified? The engine received a 2nd stage Royal Bobcat engine treatment, and to top it off the engine wasn't a 389. Royal, under Wangers direction installed a 421 H-0 Bobcat. Is the car stock? Not on your life! Does it look stock? Absolutely, only a trained Pontiac eye can tell because dimensionally all Pontiac engines are the same and a 389 with 3-2bbl carbs uses 421 cylinder heads. That car is alive and well today, and is worth big bucks. Would it get past a AACA judge? Unless he knows Pontiac's very very well.......Probably. It certainly got by the editors of the magazine!

A little FYI here about a stock GTO....any GTO including Wangers ringer car. While a GTO is a fast car, a stock GTO even with headers and slicks will NOT pull the front wheels off the ground. With today's tire technology and some suspension work you might be able to get the left tire to come off the ground for a hundredth of a second on a stock, Bobcatted 421.

Where we did see some cars doing wheel stands was when the factory race teams were supplied with factory experimental race cars in A/FX, B/FX and C/FX in about 1963, which were a step above Super Stock. Why did we start seeing wheelies?? because the factory started altering the wheel base for better traction. Moving the rear wheels forward put a lot of weight on the rear end to almost a teetering point. Those cars began to look very FUNNY and out of this classification ( Factory Experimental ) came a new classification, when the factory support went away which has endured to this day known as FUNNY CAR. These old ex race cars are also very collectible and are worth big bucks. Even though these cars are modified, most all car clubs recognize them at their events, even the clubs that have a mission statement that says they are all about preservation, historical value, and restoration. Go figure.

Edited by helfen (see edit history)
Link to post
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...