Sign in to follow this  
ericmac

Ethical questrion, Sedan to Phaeton conversion

Recommended Posts

By my reading of the Judging Guidelines a vehicle with a Non-Authentic body can be shown in AACA competition but would receive a mandatory 40 point deduction. First Junior would be doable, Senior would be tough. National Awards are not based on point judging but are much more "subjective" I believe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feared this thread would stir up a real hornet's nest. Please forgive me if the question offended anyone. One point that was made that I intend to address is "we haven't seen the car. Based upon the photo of the parts car West posted, my Franklin appears to be a pretty comparable car from a condition standpoint. Much of the mid section of the body is simply gone and the wood superstructure of the top and windshield assembly has rotted away.

Answering another point, I own TWO 1929 Franklin Sedans. It is the parts car I am considering converting to a pheaton. I have seen a few Franklin sedans with the roofs hacked off. I have no interest in that sort of appearance. At the end of the day I want my car to look exactly like a factory Franklin 7-passenger touring.

I really appreaciate all the interest in this thread. I will get some photos of the car in question posted in a couple days.

Eric

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the condition is comparable to the Sterns parts car I say go for it... but I place no value on awards and that seems to be where the differences of opinion arise. I see no ethical issue at all if the starting point is beyond reclamation. In fact, you would be doing the old car world a service in getting another one together and usable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My problem is not with the restoration of the cars in question. I myself have a Model T Ford with a body that I myself built to look like a 1911 Open Runabout. I have received many compliments on the workmanship and am very proud of the car, but I also never claim it to 'real'. To let these cars deteriorate and not allow them to be 'put on the road' would do a disservice to the old car hobby. I also think that the quality of work is exceptional. My problem is giving the cars a prestigious award when not original. We worry about the Red Line tires or radial tires when they were not on our cars when new, the type and arrangement of top and curtain fasteners, etc. A re-bodied Classic must have documentation to prove whether or not the re-body was done by original or subsequent owners, rather than by someone just to improve its value, but a total fake is given this high honor. I don't get it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First off, I think the Stearns Knight phaeton is a wonderful car and credit is certainly due to the restorer. However, I think if the AACA is going to give National awards to vehicles such as this (those that are knowingly presented as re-bodied or modified-bodied cars) than there should be a separate class for these vehicles which clearly states what they are. The CCCA allows modified coachwork cars in the club, but they are designated in the roster as "new coachwork/altered cars". Obviously, there are some "new coachwork/altered cars" that the owners either knowingly or unknowingly list as originals but there are still a good amount of these cars that are properly listed as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is the difference between what the SK gentleman did and what a lot of restorers do when they buy several cars to make one good one. As in, they buy a sedan and a convertible and make a convertible out of the sedan because it is in much better shape than the sedan. Then they say that it is a factory convertible using the vin tag from the convertible. He took a sedan and made it into a phaeton using factory specifications. From what is known there were phaetons made and therefore he is not making something that never existed. Beautiful car...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to say, I'm really on the fence on this car. It is an incredible car, fabulous in every detail and I loved getting a chance to look it over at Hershey. This car and I share a class and I hope he doesn't intend to get his Senior at Charlotte this year - It'd be a hard act to follow for my Marmon. I recognize that the Phaeton conversion is historically significant but there are a few things that I have not quite wrapped my head around.

First, The AACA has always frowned on rebodied or highly modified body vehicles. Always. Since day one. It used to be fairly common in the hobby for cars to be rebodied and the attempt to save the closed or frumpy body styles that were being converted to Speedsters/Phaetons was a goal for the club as far back as I can remember. All of a sudden It's nominated for a national award by the same club? I'm not mad or petty, these are just concerns I haven't fully reconciled.

Second: Judging. We all know it's rebodied, as was pointed out earlier, that's a 40 point deduction. With a threshold of 365, how did this car receive an award and will this always be the case when this car is judged. Are we making exceptions for one car? Is it that rare or incredible? I saw several meticulously restored one off cars with their original body on national show fields last year that were quite impressive and did not receive national award nominations. It is a beautiful car and would be so amazing in a museum or concours or tour or movie or personal collection but is it right that it's competing as something it's not: an original car?

Third: In the course of discussion about this car phrases like "parts car for two restorations" "rotted wood in the doors" and "would never be restored" are often used. When I look at pictures of the original car I think that both of the cars I finished this year were in worse shape when we began, as I'm sure were 1000s of other cars out there.

Cars that have their original body.

Choices that were made to preserve the historical significance of the car.

To keep them original and AACA eligible.

I think that using the lines "No One would restore it" or "Too far gone is a bit of a stretch. These are good words to say if you are a used car salesman but the Stearns Knight Sedan is a full classic in fairly complete shape, no worse than so many cars in our hobby and in our club started out. It's bit of rhetoric that rings less valid to me the more I hear it.

I am not "dissing" the car or the fabulous work that went into it but I am still fairly unsettled about its' participation as a competing AACA show vehicle and what the nomination for a National award, whichever award it has been nominated for, says about the AACA's stance on rebodied or highly modified cars.

Going back and reading some of the other posts, Steve Moskowitz's post and others make the point about the collector and future purchaser of the car, a few folks worry about the market value of the car but what worries me is the corruption of the game. The AACA is not in the habit of decoding VINs - Fine, but we don't have to decode, the history of the car is known. Yes, our system judges the car on how It "could have left the dealer". Well a sedan couldn't leave the dealer as a Phaeton. That's not a factory option package added on or a fancy paint job and trunk option, it's a rebodied car. Plain and Simple.

How does this affect the long term honor of the competition of AACA? I'll never be able to afford a big Full Classic Phaeton but maybe a sedan. Now if I buy one to restore I have to decide if, since it;'s no difference to the AACA and I could recieve the provenance justifying AACA Junior/Senior/National Award, Should I convert sedans to phaetons and use the AACA system as my way of proving it's legiitimacy so as to increase my profits? Do I need to loan it to the museum to achieve this kind of reward?

FInally: Considering the Full Classic status of All Stearns Knights. Why doesn't it compete as a Classic? Or is it easier to gain this provenance in 27 F where the competition is lighter.

It's all a bit tawdry feeling and leaves me unsettled. If it ends up being the car in 27F (27-29 8-cylinder -four wheel brakes) that beats me out for Senior and I have to spend the money to tow the Marmon to another National to achieve Senior, I'm going to have an even more sour taste in my mouth.

Edited by sambarn
unfinished rant (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sambarn-My thoughts exactly. Thank you for phrasing it so well. If this car were to be entered in a Concours-type judging where the bulk of the judging is based on beauty vs. authenticity and with no specific guidelines as to point deduction, I could certainly understand its potential to win a top award. However, in a point system, such as AACA, where the rules are clearly defined and understood by the judges and tabulators, I fail to understand its ability to compete and/or win at a top level. Like Rusty 12's comments, I also think that it might be time for the AACA to think about adding class for cars with new coachwork. Many of the leading concours-including Pebble Beach-have featured classes for cars with new coachwork. In today's world, there are some spectacular examples of significant automobiles with either altered or completely recreated bodies that are certainly a tribute not only to their original designers but to the modern day coachbuilders as well.

I also agree that this Stearns Knight is a stunningly beautiful car and I certainly give a lot of credit to the owner for its spectacular recreation, which is a different word than restoration.

Edited by motoringicons (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FInally: Considering the Full Classic status of All Stearns Knights. Why doesn't it compete as a Classic? Or is it easier to gain this provenance in 27 F where the competition is lighter.

It's all a bit tawdry feeling and leaves me unsettled. If it ends up being the car in 27F (27-29 8-cylinder -four wheel brakes) that beats me out for Senior and I have to spend the money to tow the Marmon to another National to achieve Senior, I'm going to have an even more sour taste in my mouth.

First, it was judged in Class 18C, not 27F. I'm not sure where you got that information.

Second, I suspect Mr. Giddings registered unknowingly in the wrong class. It should have been judged in Class 19A. The registrar missed the mistake, probably because the car fit the criteria for the wrong class.

Edited by West Peterson (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

West you are so right. I got all rant-y and didn't check my facts. Heck I don't even know what 27F is. It should have been 18C. And I believe you are right that it should have been in 19A.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Certainly not the first recreation to go thru AACA judging but I must admit the National Award did cause my one eyebrow to arch a bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading all of this has pretty well made up my mind. I think with my better '29 Franklin 7-passenger Sedan, I will restore it to the hilt and see how it does in judging. Hopefully it will be well recieved. With the other car, I think I will assemble the remaining parts into a phaeton and not worry so much if it is a perfectly restored car. In fact I don't think it will be, instead I see it as a "rebuilt car". I might even commit some "travesties" such as adding a dual brake system and perhaps upgrade the fuel delivery system a little. If it is pretty enough to go to a concours event and I get invited I will go. I will not show the car at an AACA or CCCA event nor will attempt to do so. This is no "dissing" of either club. In fact it is the opposite. Out of respect to the aformentioned club's stated mission and from a perspective of historical accuracy, it simply won't be a car that belongs on their show fields. On the other hand, will I drive it in and to HH Franklin club events and try to wow everyone with its roadworthiness? Absolutely! Will I let my kids sit in the back with their tools and toys and ice cream cones, even if they scratch the paint and spill a drop? Why not? I might even upholster it in vinyl and paint it some strange creative color....like maroon with orange fenders (like the car in Franklin's '29 ads by the way). As I look at this thread I suspect rebuilding (not restoring) the car as a phaeton might give me license to have a lot of fun with the car.

I really do appreciate all the opinions voiced here. Believe me when I said I was not trying to stir up a hornet's nest; I was just trying to make up my own mind about following another member's lead.

Eric

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope I get to see it finished one day at the Trek, and maybe get a ride.

Something else you might consider, depending on your skills and taste, is building a station wagon. I would like to build one some day, and I think a '28 or '29 long-wheelbase chassis would be ideal.

Edited by Steve Braverman (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eric, I think you've created an interesting and lively topic, and perhaps one that needs to be discussed every now and then in a club like this. As others have pointed out, there's a wide gray area for cars like this and opinions fall on both sides of the fence. All the relevant thoughts have been nicely worded already, so I won't add any except to say that I think it's a beautiful car, but like those fabulous re-created Cadillacs that recently sold at the Milhouse auction, they should exist outside of judged competition. They can be beautiful and accurate, but I find that assigning a club's highest award (particularly the AACA) to something like that does a disservice to the club, its members, and the hobby as a whole. No, it isn't the club's job to police restorations, but I do believe that if you are going to give it the highest honors possible, particularly in a situation where the history is known, a rebody should be a disqualifying factor.

No less beautiful for it, certainly excellent to see an otherwise non-existent car at a show, but if the AACA is going to continue to be the gold standard of clubs and thereby the awards earned, this is a rather obvious line to draw in the sand.

Now, when it comes to your Franklin, if you have no intention of judged competition, I say go for it. You'll have fun doing the build and you'll have fun driving the car, and as long as you don't try to pass it off as something it's not, I don't see the problem. Even though I make my living in the hobby, I think there's WAY too much focus on "what is it worth?" rather than just having fun with an old car. Enjoy yourself, be honest with folks, and let the future value take care of itself. Why do we expect old cars to be a profit center? Just go have fun!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I appreciate all the responses. Steve, I have thought of the wagon idea but really prefer a phaeton. I think Matt makes some good points here too. Without people in the old car business and profiting from the hobby, we would not have such an extensive network of aftermarket suppliers nor would it be as simple to track down the car of our dream. One of the Franklins I am talking about was found on eBay (which some wags call evil-bay...I disagree). Without that service I would have never found the car which actually was my father's second car ever! It went all over the country only to be found by me on line some 50 years later. To Matt's other point, if the cars are not fun why do this. I agree, there is money to be made but I have never looked at any of my cars as financial investments. Instead they are investments in my own mental well being...and a good one at that!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Who would want to drive around in a tent when they could have a solid roof? My guess is that is why there are so few phaetons built and even less still around. I have the same problem, great looking 1929 sedan, would make an even better looking phaeton. Would love to find an original phaeton but they do not exist and cannot afford it if I did find one. I am guessing if you did it correctly you would not loose money even starting with a nice sedan...unfortunately I have seen a lot of projects started and never finished. My prediction is I will never find my phaeton project and will be still happy driving my sedan.

post-67048-143142381446_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is another interesting topic that was mentioned early in this thread is what happens several owners down the road, specifically at auctions. My family has collected Stanley Steamers for years. Many of them were "put together" in the 60's -90's, and are now passed off as original cars. I sat at the Hershey auction a few years ago where a known "sweepings" car sold, and there was no mention of it being a fake. I was sitting next to an avid Stanley guy, and he could not believe what was being said (and not being said). Many of these cars have engine and other major components from much later cars of different horsepower etc.

I own a 1911 Locomobile 48, which is a very original car, including original interior. Several of these cars have sold at auctions for mega bucks, and were spectacular cars, however I know of one that has sold for big money, with a totally wrong rear body section. It is not obvious how wrong it is until you compare it to the real thing. This year there was a "1914" Locomobile, that was mentioned in the catalog as actually being a 1921, but not mentioned on the stage. A friend of mine tried to buy the car, and luckily did not win the bidding, as he didn't realize it was not a true 1914! At the same sale a 1930 Packard dual cowl phaeton sold, nothing mentioned on the stage. When I inspected the car in the parking lot I realized it was a cut down sedan, and only had a small * on the bottom of the ID tag that said it was not a real phaeton.

I'm only 33 years old, but at some point I wonder if I'll be one of the few that knows the true history of some of these cars.

Didn't intend to get off subject, if you can build a correct phaeton body for your car, it would definitely be more correct then many of the cars I've mentioned here, and I would think be much more correct on any show field. Why should a car with a new body be any worse then any of the cars mentioned, most of which had AACA senior badges on them, with complete new bodies. Who draws the line, an original metal body with new wood? an early car with an all wood body that is all new? how about a car with original wood, but the aluminum skin was bad and replaced, how about many of the aluminum body Pierce's with recast aluminum?? The bigger question is how correct is the job?

Edited by Adam Walkup (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eric, I like your decision to 'go for it' and make a re-creation of the Phaeton, and at the same time make it a better car for your intended purpose, ie: a nice car to drive around in, safely [4 wheel brakes] and to have fun in: naugahyde instead of leather, different colors than 'normal'.

The fact that you are planning on a few modifications clearly will keep the car from being pawned off in the future as an 'original' .

Kudos for the thought, integrity, and thoroughness you show about making this decision.

Greg L

Edited by GLong (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking back at copies of my old Hershey show registration applications

from 2009 and 2011, I noticed the following text:

"I also acknowledge in signing this registration form that the body and

engine are authentic and of the same style as that originally fitted to this

chassis at the time of the vehicle's original manufacture, as required by

the official judging rules."

That paragraph was not on the 2013 application.

Have "official judging rules" been relaxed on this subject? Can someone explain why?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lots of very good issues raised on both sides. Here's one point that I didn't see raised, though I may have skimmed past it. With some classic cars, the customer could order from a list of as many as a dozen body styles to be built on a particular chassis. Or, the customer could take the chassis to an independent coachbuilder for a non-factory or non-catalog body. Cars with bodies made by Figoni et Falaschi or Chapron or Saoutchik are not looked down upon because the bodies weren't made by the Bugatti, Delahaye, Talbot-Lago or Delage factories. Customers also could take their barely-"used", almost new cars back to the factory or a coachbuilder and change the body completely or have a later engine swapped in. Some of those "non-original" cars are highly revered and highly "awarded" today.

With cars of that era, who's to say that later owners shouldn't have the same options? I believe it was either Nethercutt or Mullin who stated that he didn't care what color a car was painted originally, he should have the same color options that the original owner had. That is a valid argument. I realize I am stretching the comment about paint color a long way to body styles, but the general idea is the same - (certain) cars were made to customer order (really putting the "custom" in "customer"), and many were significantly changed without destroying their classic standing.

Change is almost inherent. How many concours-quality cars have bodies that were recreated to their factory style, but without using even a scrap of original metal? Why should a car with no significant trace of the original body be considered more "correct" than a car that is otherwise factory-correct but for being restored with a different but also correct body style? I realize you're going to say "Because it left the factory that way," but my point is that there is an argument to be made that (assuming honest description) a re-bodied/recreated/replica car with an original chassis and engine should only be viewed as different in terms of market value, not worthiness to be considered on the concours field. All of us can site examples of a box of parts being "restored" into a concours car. If you are going to object to correct but non-original bodies, I am going to object to "factory" cars with an insignificant amount of original material remaining, and we will all find ourselves on a slippery slope.

I am very lucky to have avoided this issue with my car. I found a war-damaged original chassis and engine and am having a correct but non-original body made for it. It left the factory as a cabriolet, but that body did not survive the war at all. The car is being restored (my choice from among all the "r" words) as a roadster. This chassis could have been originally used this way. My car will not be allowed on some judging fields, and even if so will suffer a huge penalty, even though it will be restored in all ways correctly. I accept those rules and also the effect on market value. I am glad I did not have to face the question whether to remove an original cabriolet body in order to have a roadster, because I'm not sure I could have. After all, both body styles are relatively rare, and both are beautiful. I am merely placing myself in the same position as the original customer and choosing from among the original catalog bodies for this chassis.

Edited by 540K (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I also acknowledge in signing this registration form that the body and

engine are authentic and of the same style as that originally fitted to this

chassis at the time of the vehicle's original manufacture, as required by

the official judging rules."

A good lawyer could turn this language inside out to the point it could have any of several meanings or at least leave a jury uncertain, despite what was intended and how it is perhaps commonly interpreted. Just saying - "It depends what your definition of "is" is. :cool:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A "good" lawyer could get around the intent of the rules?

In my eyes, a GOOD lawyer is interested in justice, fairness,

and knows right from wrong. And that's from the words of a

retired state supreme court chief justice.

Skirting the rules is where lawyers give themselves a bad name.

There may have been a very good reason for changing the qualifications,

and maybe we can hear from AACA officers on the specifics.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Look in the latest issue of AA and the letters to the the editor. Ken Sommers' letter is very interesting and to the point. The response by Herb Oakes is confusing and appears to open up a can of worms.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this