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heavybond

American classic car that stands out from the rest of the world.

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There was a time when getting your driving license was one of the big thrills of life. Cars meant freedom, mobility, maturity, respect, power, speed, excitement, beauty, everything that makes life worthwhile in one glorious package.

Then some time in the seventies the whole country turned against the car. Today most young people couldn't care less about cars. They want the latest electronic gadget. Cars have turned into appliances. You don't care any more what kind of car you have, than you do what kind of toaster or refrigerator you have.

It used to be, cars changed style every year because if they didn't, nobody would buy them. Now they make the same car for 10 or 15 years, then replace it with one that looks the same. What's the difference? Who cares what their toaster looks like?

Cars today are appliances. Safe, reliable, economical on gas, and about as exciting as a pocket full of wet pancakes.

Really well said!

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In the early days, form followed function and so we have the look of the real antique cars. In the late 20's design came into the picture, and mass produced cars starting having some flair. 1932 to 1934 were probably the high point years for beautiful early cars. After WWII, for a few years design wasn't an issue, it was just feeding cars to the waiting public. In the 50's things got interesting, the 60's had some great cars, then the latter part of the 20th century began to get really boxy and boring.

When all cars are designed in a wind tunnel, and there are only so many ways one can stick a headlight or tail light in place, then all cars start to look alike. Also, and this baffles me, at some point color went by the wayside, and everyone wanted a white, gray/silver, or black car. Hard to tell anything apart....

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Since nobody's brought it up, I'll mention the '66 Toronado, although I'll agree with the Cord too.

I'll even throw in a mention of my little Corvair...

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There was a time when getting your driving license was one of the big thrills of life. Cars meant freedom, mobility, maturity, respect, power, speed, excitement, beauty, everything that makes life worthwhile in one glorious package.

Then some time in the seventies the whole country turned against the car. Today most young people couldn't care less about cars. They want the latest electronic gadget. Cars have turned into appliances. You don't care any more what kind of car you have, than you do what kind of toaster or refrigerator you have.

It used to be, cars changed style every year because if they didn't, nobody would buy them. Now they make the same car for 10 or 15 years, then replace it with one that looks the same. What's the difference? Who cares what their toaster looks like?

Cars today are appliances. Safe, reliable, economical on gas, and about as exciting as a pocket full of wet pancakes.

Ok I had to laugh at that. I just set down to dinner. You guessed it, Pancakes.

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Hi Everyone,

Thank you for sharing your ideas. I have absolutely no idea about classic cars. That is why I signed up for AACA and so far it has been very educational. I can't wait to read all the other threads and topics. My first post was about identifying a car I saw in a photo. Ever since I looked at that photo I was wondering what happened to American cars? Why do cars today look SO UGLY? Perhaps ugly is the wrong word, but maybe boring? Every car looks the same. American classic cars were stunning.

What time period did American cars started to look like everyone elses?

Ralph Nader, plastic and the great push to make cars a giant safety bubble is what I think to happened to most cars

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How about 1969 Superbird? The Cord, Airflow, Auburn, Packard are like the girl you want to bring home and show to Mom - classy, elegant, mature, sophistiacted. I was a nine-year old boy when I saw the Superbird - that's the girl you want to take home and show Dad and your brothers and friends - hot, dirty, fun, sinful.

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I like Auburn Speedsters too but you need to use a picture of a real one.

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Ya, but it has whitewalls ! How could you?

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The OP used a lower case "C" in classic , so I guess anything with four wheels can make his list. I've been in the hobby too long to not think of Classic Cars when classic is mentioned, so the L29 CORD would be my pick. Bob

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The OP used a lower case "C" in classic , so I guess anything with four wheels can make his list. I've been in the hobby too long to not think of Classic Cars when classic is mentioned, so the L29 CORD would be my pick. Bob

Lots of good choices mentioned here. I think the Lincoln Zephyr outdid the Airflow. Aerodynamic but much better looking than the Airflows and also sold much better at about the same price. I still stand in awe when I see a Zephyr Coupe or convertible. I admire the '36-37 Cords but the L29 made history when they made the first popular front wheel drive car and chopped a foot off the height of cars doing it. Perhaps it wasn't as innovative as others but a Duesenberg J Murphy Roadster still lights my fire and I'm 74 years old. After WWII, hands down, it is the '56-57 Continental Mark II. Nothing else has ever looked as classy and did it without the chrome that was being slathered onto cars at that time.

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I agree that the Cords are hard to beat though I would humbly suggest from a pure "gee whiz" standpoint, the '61-67 Continental Convertibles were hard to beat. They can wow a crowd and are very understated. I have always been impressed that they seemed to be the very last no holds barred cars built in this country. I believe they represented the very best of our notion that we could and did build anything we wanted. Watching that 7 foot long top lower into the trunk is a sight of pure technological beauty. For me, unless I win the lottery it is the next best thing to a Duesenberg.

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Two Studebakers stand out, one in the 50's, the 1953 Starliner/Starlite Coupe gave rise to all the Hawk models through 1964. When the "shoebox" was the norm no one ever really copied it and it stands alone as a timeless design. The other is the 1963 Avanti, unique in it's time but with many unique styling features finding their way into other designs for the next thirty years.

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The rules for this kind of post should be like the old NASCAR rules , the factory had to build at least a 100 of them. Like Chrysler Thunderbolts and Newports.

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Hi Everyone,

Thank you for sharing your ideas. I have absolutely no idea about classic cars. That is why I signed up for AACA and so far it has been very educational. I can't wait to read all the other threads and topics. My first post was about identifying a car I saw in a photo. Ever since I looked at that photo I was wondering what happened to American cars? Why do cars today look SO UGLY? Perhaps ugly is the wrong word, but maybe boring? Every car looks the same. American classic cars were stunning.

What time period did American cars started to look like everyone elses?

A lot of the problem is conforming to the federal standards. The cars need to be made as aerodynamic, light weight, and as fuel efficient as possible to satisfy the requirements. Thank the gooberment for that. Dandy Dave!

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A lot of the problem is conforming to the federal standards. The cars need to be made as aerodynamic, light weight, and as fuel efficient as possible to satisfy the requirements. Thank the gooberment for that. Dandy Dave!

Leave it to the goverment to take quality out of their list of "standards"

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The new cars also have some limitations to 'originality' from the production standpoint. Just a front or rear bumper on a '30's Pierce, Packard, Cadilac, Lincoln etc have about a dozen parts, and they need to be plated, assembled, aligned etc..

The average front bumper today is a plastic overlay, a plastic or metal backing or core, and two mounts.. They often are assembled by the parts supplier, and are installed as a single unit, and are auto-aligning to the grill or sheetmetal.

Look at just about any part from a prewar car, and what then took numerous machining processes. and usually several parts, fasteners, adjustments etc to create a part or device.

Today, an injection molded part with a single pass through a drilling and tapping machine will do the job..

Just look at a Startix.. a neat idea, but today could be replaced by a chip about the size of your thumbnail. and hooked to the existing starter solenoid.

When I'm working on some of my old cars. I just wonder what it would cost today, to use the old methods, materials and processes to make say 10,000 1931 ford coupes. Or 10,000 Pierce Arrow 1930 Model B coupes? Or 10,000 Auburn speedsters. ?? How about the V12 packards from 1935, and it's counterpart, a V12 Pierce. Of any body style..

I doubt that even with the 'economies' of scale [the production of 10,000 cars] that even the Ford would be more than $100,000. And the more complicated cars?? $500,000 at least.. Just making the complicated valve 'silencers', dual oil pressure/feed systems in the Packard V12 would be an expensive proposition.

And the early front wheel drive cars? superchargers ? etc.. Huge amounts of time, labor and materials

Greg L

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Heavybond if you want to know why cars are so important to some of us, try this.

Shut off every electronic device in the house. No cell phone, no texting, no ipad, no music, no video games, no Xbox, no nothing.

You are allowed to have 1, 12" TV set that gets 3 stations. You have one telephone screwed to the kitchen wall and two radios.

The oldest person in the house controls the TV. It is off most of the time. From 6 PM to 9PM you can watch what the oldest person in the house chooses.

You are allowed to use the telephone only with permission from an adult, for one 5 minute conversation per day. No long distance calls meaning you can't talk to anyone more than 10 miles away.

You have a tinny transistor radio you can listen to in your room.

Try that for a few days and see how long it takes before you want to leave the house and go where the action is.

If you lived in the country not having wheels was like a prison sentence.

Getting your driving license and a car of your own was a big deal.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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The new cars also have some limitations to 'originality' from the production standpoint. Just a front or rear bumper on a '30's Pierce, Packard, Cadilac, Lincoln etc have about a dozen parts, and they need to be plated, assembled, aligned etc..

The average front bumper today is a plastic overlay, a plastic or metal backing or core, and two mounts.. They often are assembled by the parts supplier, and are installed as a single unit, and are auto-aligning to the grill or sheetmetal.

Look at just about any part from a prewar car, and what then took numerous machining processes. and usually several parts, fasteners, adjustments etc to create a part or device.

Today, an injection molded part with a single pass through a drilling and tapping machine will do the job..

Just look at a Startix.. a neat idea, but today could be replaced by a chip about the size of your thumbnail. and hooked to the existing starter solenoid.

When I'm working on some of my old cars. I just wonder what it would cost today, to use the old methods, materials and processes to make say 10,000 1931 ford coupes. Or 10,000 Pierce Arrow 1930 Model B coupes? Or 10,000 Auburn speedsters. ?? How about the V12 packards from 1935, and it's counterpart, a V12 Pierce. Of any body style..

I doubt that even with the 'economies' of scale [the production of 10,000 cars] that even the Ford would be more than $100,000. And the more complicated cars?? $500,000 at least.. Just making the complicated valve 'silencers', dual oil pressure/feed systems in the Packard V12 would be an expensive proposition.

And the early front wheel drive cars? superchargers ? etc.. Huge amounts of time, labor and materials

Greg L

Jay Leno had a quote that I find endlessly useful in both old cars and old houses, which I love almost as much as old cars:

It used to be that labor was cheap and technology was expensive. Today, it's the other way around.

The quality of old things is often due to the lack of technology. They didn't know how many micro-grams of iron to put into an engine block to make it strong, they didn't have finite element analysis and computer simulations to tell them where to put the reinforcements, and as a result they just made everything big and heavy and strong so that it would DEFINITELY survive.

Then there are the craftsmen who did the work, who often took pride in their abilities to create something from nothing. Today, you have workers who do one semi-automated task. Think of the guy who had to not only invent a part, but draw it by hand on a piece of paper, then give it to a machinist who had to make it. I think there were a heck of a lot of very talented guys running mills and lathes who knew how to make something instinctively to interpret the drawings and get it right. Today, everything is done by computer and a human never touches it until it gets installed. There's definitely something to be said for the human element.

Our local CCCA club has a big show each Father's Day at Stan Hywet Hall in Akron, Ohio (you should come, it's an awesome show!) and the mansion, which was built by the founder of Goodyear Tire, is truly spectacular. There are hand-made details throughout the building that would be absolutely impossible to replicate today no matter how much money you have, simply because there's nobody left who knows how to do it. That's a truly monumental loss, but it's just too hard to make a living hand carving wood cornices for English Tudor mansions. But back then, you had guys working for $0.50/day who knew EXACTLY how to do it and you could easily keep them employed for a year.

I don't know what my point is except that I think by losing the idea of hand-crafting things of substance, we've cheapened our society as a whole and lost touch with the human element of objects, all in pursuit of efficiency and profit. Not necessarily a bad thing, but will anyone really seek out and want to live in a McMansion made of drywall and hollow-core doors and Home Depot light fixtures 120 years from now? Will anyone seek out the world's nicest 2014 Chevrolet Impala in 2114? Doubt it.

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post-31482-143142406347_thumb.jpgMatt, I agree with you, and in addition, the pattern makers and machinists had a sense of not only function but form (and yes, in this case form does follow function!)....

Last week I was having a truss rod added to the rear axle of my 1910 Buick at a local machine/metal fabrication shop. Loading it in my Suburban, the fellow commented how pretty it was, the nice shape to the reinforcements, they have a graceful, flowing shape to them.....I've attached a photo in which you can sort of see what I'm discussing....he also mentioned it was amazing that they were doing these things over 100 years ago....but there were engineers, and there were people who knew how to make things, and make them well....

Extra points to anyone who can identify the tank on the right, carrying for a friend! It's out of a 2 cylinder brass car, if that helps....

Edited by trimacar
add photo (see edit history)

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I will submit for consideration the humble Crosley. Americas's first post war Sportscar the Hotshot, first American 4 wheel disc brakes, overhead cam, slab side design, first car based all steel stationwagon, and a number of other considerations in addition to being a small car long before it was popular....plus 60 miles to the gallon in 1939!!

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Three cheers for the Crosley Hotshot !! It may not be the ultimate American classic but it certainly was the first post WWII American sports car and was very competitive in SCCA races.

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Cord 810 FWD, hidden headlights and coffin nose. It took 30 years later for the Toronado to come out and it had throwback styling cues to the Cord.

Honorable mention to the Bantam Jeep.

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As a five year old child I saw two cars, the moment that I saw each has been with me for sixty five years. One was a Cord convertible and I asked with my father, who was really not a car person, what it was. He said that it was a Cord or a LaSalle. He got it right but he also got it so wrong, it wasn't until years later that I was able to, definitively, put a name with one of the exciting cars that I have ever seen. The other was a Jaguar XK120, unmatched style and performance and as special now as it was then. Any list would be incomplete without one of the most beautiful cars ever produce, the Jaguar XKE.

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Bob, right year range, but 1909 Reo....

Interesting to see people agreeing somewhat with the Cord.....a lot of the other cars are interesting and may have great styling (such as the Packard Darrin), or great handling (not the Packard Darrin), or be desirable in other ways, but were not really innovative ......as was the Cord, both L-29 and, more so, the 810-812....

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