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Creative financing, or...everyone is a wealthy 'real' doctor?


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Okay, I would LOVE to have an EARLY car, such as the 1913 Pope-Hartford for sale in Hemmings for $275,000 right now (although can it be worth anywhere near that much)?

Or, the 1910 Maytag, unrestored (!) that comes up on the main photos page is really neat. (What is that car worth these days? That IS a genuine question).

So, I have a college education, have a decent job, above the average income in America, I am a 'doctor', but not a 'real' doctor, as I am a veterinarian. But, despite that, to just frivolously spend $275,000 on a car, or anywhere near that, seems unfathomable, so how do YOU all do it? Is there some sort of creative financing out there, or are all of you simply the top 1%? I just don't know how everyone else does it, AND, why, despite my years of education, owning one, or several of these cars, is not an option? Or maybe, the REVERSE is true--why are they SO incredibly expensive, as not everyone is like Jay Leno. I HOPE MAYBE as the last truly GREAT generation passes on (sad to see this happen, or even mention this), MAYBE in 25 or 30 years, no one out there (other than a few souls like me (and I will be a septuagenarian then), will even want this 'junk'.

Comments, anyone? With student loans, a mortgage, stagnant wages in this country, just doesn't seem possible. The ONLY way this 'might' happen, unless prices come way down, is if I sold a rental property I own some day and used the funds to purchase a car like this. BUT, that rental property took a lot of scrimping and saving to make it happen, and it has been a 21 year ordeal now, so it seems rather foolhardy to sell it some day and blow it on something this frivolous (and, due to depressed real estate prices these days, I could sell it and still have to come up with a huge chunk of change to afford that Pope-Hartford.

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Oh, ONE more thing. How do you even consider doing something like this when your wife would say NO, even at a tenth the cost, or less. She was about ready to roll my 1917 Maxwell to the curb the other day on trash day, I think.:D

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Generally a well thought out car purchase will maintain its value over time. Note I said "well thought out". Set aside some money that you can live with if you lose it, 10k, 20k, whatever and then find something you like in that bracket.

The guys dropping 2,3, 400k on a car are in a much higher bracket than the top 1%.

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I haven't seen the ad for that Pope Hartford? But it does sound over priced, unless it is the Portola Roadster. And even then, I would expect it to be one of the few real ones, not a couple of recreations I know are out there. I am NOT and expert or appraiser, but I would expect a Pope Hartford touring to be between $120K and $175K.

I do know a few top three percent people, why they even speak to me? I may never figure out. Actually they are very nice people that happen to love antique automobiles as much as I do.

As for me? I am broke. Life did not treat me very well. Well educated, but no degrees. I worked hard and did good work most of my life. I struggled to get every antique car I ever had, and unfortunately was not able to hang onto any of the ones I wanted most to keep. A good income was no match for family troubles and illnesses. On the other hand. I still have three tourable model Ts, one a brass era car. I have two other early car projects I hope to get back to working on (one a high-wheel horseless carriage). I can have almost as much fun on a tour with a 1915 Ford runabout as I ever did with the 1915 Studebaker I used to have (and I really loved that Studebaker!). I may never get to own another Pierce Arrow (it was a '25 series 80 sedan). Then again, maybe I can yet finish the restoration of the 1927 Paige sedan that my dad started over fifty years ago and never finished.

It is all about the cars, and the special connection they can provide us with to our great history! It is about the passion for that history and its cars! We all have to make choices. Anyone of average means can get and enjoy a decent car to fit in with most areas of the hobby or the major clubs. $5000 to $10000 can get a really good start into either the HCCA brass era or CCCA full classic automobile. These cars would likely be older restorations and need a fair amount of attention. But both of those clubs are high end and you could often find yourself touring alongside cars worth a quarter million or more. And your old Studebaker makes you part of the fun.

If you are a bit better off. $30K to $50K can get some really nice cars in almost every major sub area or group in the hobby, other than some really big buck Marque specific clubs. Even there, the lower end Locomobile or Marmon can be had for under $20K (right now on eBad), and you still get to park next to the quarter million dollar Sportiff. The safety Stutzs of the late '20s can be had, and are still a Stutz and a full Classic.

So enjoy the hobby, at whatever level you can justify affording. And who knows? Maybe your wife would learn to like hobnobbing with the "Really Rich"! (Just don't count on them buying lunch for you.)

Drive carefully, and do enjoy! W2

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My first thought is that you I have set your sights a bit too high. If you are going that route why not desire a Mercer Raceabout (I do). I am with Wayne Sheldon. I have a brass era collection but started in the mid-1960's with a Model T and then Model A. They were restored and sold and I moved on to brass. Every car was in poor shape and with sweat and tears I restored it and used the money to move up. This still can be done. The question is, what do you want a brass-era car for? Do you want to tour in it or use it for shows and gathering trophies? There is a big difference in price and cost. If you are serious about a brass-era car, I would suggest joining the Horseless Carriage Club of America (HCCA) and start learning all you can about these cars. You may be surprised to find out that the 'upper' end cars may not be the best to drive (my thing is touring). Where do you live? Find out of there are any brass-era tours in your area (if you are near Wisconsin I'll tell you one that will happen here next fall) and come see the cars and talk to their owners. You will find that a good number of them area not rich (some not by a long shot), but almost all are friendly and many wives are part of it, including mine who is out in the garage with me polishing brass and making gaskets. My other suggestion is get a brass Model T. Good starter car with parts available. See if you like the hobby before setting your sites higher. Like Wayne I have seen my income decline significantly in this economy. I have not sold my best cars (yet) but may have to. Nothing is easy in life. By the way, I get this from the other side. When I do drive or display a car I have people (typically younger people) come up and ask what they are worth (first question) and how did I get so rich to own them? This is not (for me) about money or how big of an income one has, it is about history and the people who love history, and in this hobby it is through the cars. Be patient, do you homework, save money and try a pre-1916 Model T. Who knows, you may get know some of us 'older' collectors well enough that some day one them will leave you one of their 'junk' when they pass.

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$275,000.00 for a Pope might be a bit high but probably not that much. High quality "brass" cars are for whatever reason on a definite upswing price wise. And a Pope Hartford is definitely in the high quality category regardless of body style. I doubt you would be able to find a documented "Portola" at this price.

These cars are definitely for the 1 % / investor / collector. There have been several, Million $ plus brass car sales over the last few years.

And you are correct , most of us can only dream. Small brass cars are still reasonable, and if you are actually going to tour with them lots of fun.

Problem Wives are ... a PROBLEM !!! I can't help you with that one; luckily mine is "OK" with my old car affliction, at least for now. In my defense my wife knew more or less what she was getting into, when she met me I was already up to my eyeballs in old iron. But every spouse has a breaking point, mine is getting close. She expects the herd to be thinning out soon.

Greg in Canada

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The "top 1%" are the ones buying the "top 1%" of the cars, and it trickles down from there. I'm raising a family of 5 on a modest income, so I have a 1939 Buick Sedan. It's all relative.

As far as the wife goes, mine approved of my car after I sold it to her as a Halloween Party prop. She and her mother throw crazy Halloween parties, and the car fit the bill for a 20's/30's party in 2009. It was a win-win.

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I just checked Hemmings, they have 2 Popes listed. The roadster ; if really a "Portola" is quite reasonable at $275,000.00 The 4 pas. touring despite the provenance is probably on the high side at nearly $400,000.00. Both are superb. You just need the correct lottery ticket.

These are both top shelf cars. They have been "big ticket" cars for the past 50 plus years of the old car hobby. Just look at the previous owners listed for both.

For laughs look at real estate in what is my home market {Vancouver B.C. Canada}. A tear down on an average lot is 1.5 million. Almost no one who works for a living can pay a price like that for a basic house. But we have a whole city in the "absurd price " category, and sales are brisk. We have been rated " one of the most unaffordable cities on earth" , but people keep buying. You don't even want to think about what a nice place on the west side costs.

Makes cars like the Popes look reasonable.

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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Responses to the above comments:

I would love to have a sharp looking early car, such as a Pope-Hartford. The purpose would be just to have it and enjoy it, take it for a spin down some back roads, maybe out to have ice cream or dinner and back. Run down to the local car show one afternoon a year and talk to other car enthusiasts. Don't see the point in collecting trophies, that create clutter and collect dust. I like cars with patina, such as the 1910 Maytag on the home page pictures right now. I don't think a car has to be 100% original. For example, a head gasket on a Model A I am working with has a modern replacement that is superior to the original, and so reliability is more important than originality here, for a functional part, but as far as appearance goes, most visual parts should be original or nearly so.

Still, don't understand why cars as these cost so much. Doesn't seem like there are HUGE numbers of folks out there into this stuff???

Couple of comments above state it isn't easy and struggling for everything you have, and, ain't that the truth!!!! I grew up in a fairly wealthy area where many folks had tons of money, mostly without ever having to go to work a day in their life, of parents who would, anywhere else, been firmly middle class, but, because money was mostly not worked-for amongst many of the folks, prices were artificially high, and that made us lower middle class. However, I was led to believe that you get yourself a college degree, there will be tons of opportunity for advancement and many opportunities in private companies. (Just look at all those corporations listed in the fine print in the Wall Street Journal, all of which hire thousands of individuals). Ain't so easy. No connections...not the right education. So back to school I went! So much for the idea that keeping one's hair short, dressing okay, and not embellishing tattoos allover one's body was the ticket to a corporate dream job! Despite what the media perpetrates, there isn't much opportunity out there to make it beyond the 'middle class', and lots of opportunity to slide beneath that. So, I hear you!!!! I have struggled and worked hard to achieve what I have, and, despite it seeming to be lots of opportunities, wages are stagnant and employers have little need to bump up wages! To me, $50 is STILL a lot of money!

AVS619 said it right: Nothing is easy in life!

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You haven't indicated why you want a brass car.

Is a $400,000 Rolls Royce really worth the money when a new Buick will drive you in similar comfort? The same answer applies to a 100 year old car. It is the desirability of a car model and condition that drives the price. I know of a gray 1913 Stevens Durea that drives very nice available for about $175,000. It is a big car and drives like one.

You can also purchase a 1909-1914 Hupmobile Model 20 for $20,000 or so in restored condition. This is a small 2 passenger car that runs about 30 MPR. Keep in mind that most brass cars only have brakes on the rear and they are lacking in a panic stop. Hupmobile added a 1912 Model 32 with an improved engine, 3 speed transmission, and a back seat.

Hupmobile's claim to fame was its dependability. # employees left Detroit in November 1911 droving to San Francisco on their first leg of a round the world sales promotion. They spent 3 months in Australia and New Zealand before going to Japan, China, India, and Europe. The trip was 14 months and the car was on show in January 1913 before driving to Detroit for the February Car Show. The car they drove had no roof, windshield, or front doors. The car is on display at the Crawford Museum in Cleveland.

I also know of a a blue 1923 Paige touring car seating 7 touring car available for about $65,000. The restoration cost close to $85,000, completed in 2012, and has the AACA Senior award. This car is in the condition as when it left the dealership in 1923. It is an open car with a 6 cyl engine and 4 wheel brakes.

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Oddly, when it comes to new cars, I really could care less about the 'wow' factor. I mean, a Mercedes or BMW means nothing to me, I previously drove a Ford Escort over 221,000 miles, and I currently drive a VW Golf that is 10 years old.

When it comes to early cars, yes, I could have a Model T or Hupmobile. But, isn't that Pope-Hartford unique, not everyone has one, and it looks rather sporty?

I love my 1917 Maxwell, not that expensive, not everyone has one, and did not cost a ton of money. Having said that, when it comes to a Brass-era car, a really fancy Brass-era car just seems more attractive than one that is not.

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Oddly, when it comes to new cars, I really could care less about the 'wow' factor. I mean, a Mercedes or BMW means nothing to me, I previously drove a Ford Escort over 221,000 miles, and I currently drive a VW Golf that is 10 years old.

When it comes to early cars, yes, I could have a Model T or Hupmobile. But, isn't that Pope-Hartford unique, not everyone has one, and it looks rather sporty?

I love my 1917 Maxwell, not that expensive, not everyone has one, and did not cost a ton of money. Having said that, when it comes to a Brass-era car, a really fancy Brass-era car just seems more attractive than one that is not.

Your sentiment is the same an mine. The last car that I drove had over 260,000 miles when I sold it and my current driver a Chevy Silverado just turned over 200,000 miles. I would rather put my money in a brass/nickel car, but really trucks.

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I HOPE MAYBE as the last truly GREAT generation passes on (sad to see this happen, or even mention this), MAYBE in 25 or 30 years, no one out there (other than a few souls like me (and I will be a septuagenarian then), will even want this 'junk'.

I doubt it. The continued value of brass cars knocks the "nostalgia argument" into a cocked hat. Aside from the odd car made into a farm truck, there probably isn't a single person alive who remembers seeing a brass car on the road when it was still a viable vehicle. Back in the 70s my colleagues and I dreamed of the day when the "old timers" would retire and all this great early brass would come on to the market at reduced prices. Its never happened and there is no reason to think it will happen in the future. I actually regret that because I am writing from the perspective of someone with very limited means who, like you, really admires brass cars. I had to look for a long time to find one I could afford that also met my requirements (bigger than 30HP... 4 cylinders etc.) In the end I had to settle for a rather pedestrian example in very dismantled condition and with lots of parts missing. I've been working on it 3 years now and I suspect I have at least 8 or 10 more to go, by which time I'll be in my 70s.

I have noticed that the brass car world is, while not closed - fairly elusive. The people I've met are not likely to be seen at local car meets as they have long been driven out by the loud 50s pop music, hot rods and 50s - 70s iron. I have no problem with people liking those things, but it creates an atmosphere that is not terribly convivial or even interesting if your area is early cars. Nevertheless, having paid the price of admission by buying a car, even a wreck, I find myself able to connect with other brass car enthusiasts more readily. I've since seen two or three more cars I might have been able to afford. That said, the only way in for those with limited means is to do much of the work yourself, something that seems unlikely in your case if only for your other commitments. They are not all as expensive at the two Pope's you mention. Its likely that very decent 30HP, 4 cylinder cars can be bought in the $35,000 - $65,000 price range. Still too much for me, but hardly more than many new cars with all the advantages of something that is not likely to dramatically decrease in value provided its reasonably maintained.

I will also add that much of the advice offered on this forum seems to be predicated on the notion that you'll have everything done for you. I'm fortunate enough to have started in old cars when I was in my 20s and so take a certain amount of the "it'll cost $10,000 to get it done" talk with a grain of salt, especially if you are not wrapped up in the points judging nonsense. So, yes its doable. Its not as expensive as some would suggest, although it certainly isn't throw away money to anyone I know. Look for an older restoration. These were often fairly superficial and under the 50 year old paint is an essentially original car. One really critical thing to look for is good castings... there is no really economical way to replace a broken cylinder jug (though often they can be repaired). Good upholstery is much more important than mechanicals. I wouldn't hesitate to buy a non-runner... there is always some risk involved but, as a friend of mine said about early machine tools "they're simple souls." There are no pot metal parts, or weldments. Nearly everything was made on fairly simple machines and, given time, can be again. Many smaller items, like carburetors, lights, horns and magnetos were proprietary and easily found or something else substituted for them. It does take patience and imagination but I think the reward is there.

Edited by JV Puleo
grammar (see edit history)
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Hi JV and MRCVS {and everyone else of course} I also dreamed of a time when the price of the larger (40 HP and up) cars would drop; and as you say it never happened, and shows no sign of ever happening. Finally took the plunge and bought my basket case 1912 Staver Chicago ( about 15 years ago). It's a huge project but bit by bit I am gathering the parts , contacts , skills, money and experence to progress on it. It's been collector owned for many , many years. Others have found parts and information about it over the decades, and piece by piece parts have been restored. Lots of frustration but I enjoy all the hours spent on it, and I am learning a great deal about early automobiles.

As I mentioned in an earlier post the upper line, larger brass cars have more or less been the domain of the very well off since the old car hobby began. If you ever experance a Mercer , Pope, Stutz, Locomobile, Pierce etc. first hand you will realize why they command such high prices. And nothing on them is inexpensive. They are also quite rare and owners tend to keep them for along time , so few are on the market at any one time. All this tends to push prices up and keep them up.

My dream of a 40 Hp. gas light,brass car is piece by piece taking shape, but is a major commitment of time , energy, persistence and yes quite a bit of money.

There really isn't any other way for all of us average , middle class guys.

I know what you mean about the standard advise of get a good education, decent career , and all the other things will fall into place. I did the same as you, and have had similar disappointments. Even a somewhat above average income is not nearly enough for the purchase of even a roughish, intact, high quality, big brass car. A do it yourself kit of the basic components is all I was able to swing as a starting point. But for me it's the journey not the destination that is important.

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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I am actually glad that brass era cars continue to remain desirable and valuable (in a dollar sense). Consider the many millions of dollars total spent by hobbyists every year to restore, preserve, insure, and house horseless carriages. Even I have to acknowledge that a part of my house mortgage is paying for the garage with two antiques in it, and the sheds with a few others (while the modern cars sit outside). If the most desirable cars were not worth a quarter of a million or up? The lesser cars would be losing their garages and being lost to time. To me, the main point of the hobby is the history, and preserving it, including keeping the cars for future generations to see.

If the price to me for that is that I have to do the best I can with a "lesser" car? So be it. The brass model Ts I have may just have to do so that I can go on a wonderful tour and follow for miles that Locomobile or Thomas Flyer I love.

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Hi JV and MRCVS {and everyone else of course} I also dreamed of a time when the price of the larger (40 HP and up) cars would drop; and as you say it never happened, and shows no sign of ever happening.

I know what you mean about the standard advise of get a good education, decent career , and all the other things will fall into place. I did the same as you, and have had similar disappointments. Even a somewhat above average income is not nearly enough for the purchase of even a roughish, intact, high quality, big brass car. A do it yourself kit of the basic components is all I was able to swing as a starting point. But for me it's the journey not the destination that is important.

Greg in Canada

Okay, some comments:

I am not quite sure if prices will stay high indefinitely. I am making a generalization here, but the Millennial generation has been really nailed by the bad economy, so I don't know for sure if the job prospects in the future, and high incomes, will be there AND if those with the high incomes will even have an interest in very early cars. I have a home that, someday, I would like to sell. It is in an area where real estate has fallen upon bad times due to no jobs (which was always the case in the area) and a lack of interest in quaint housing by the younger generations (which was NEVER the case before, and it was a vacation place for those with means, but not really the case anymore!) The reasons, a realtor told me, is that the younger generations, as a whole, do not have the means that earlier generations had, due to poor jobs and high student loan debt. And, if they do, House & Garden television has ruined them. They want homes with all the amenities...granite countertops, media rooms, Jacuzzis, walk-in closets, etc., all the things you will likely not find in your average late 18th Century home.

Okay, about education and disappointments: I am not particularly a depressing sort, nor suicidal, so all is good. But, now I shall get philosophical:

1) I knew early on that I had an interest in early cars, and knew it was an expensive hobby. I also knew I had other expensive interests, and I knew this at an early enough age to do something about it (e.g., pre-college), so that, I thought, I could do something about it.

2) I was told, you have good grades, you should go to college. I fell for that one, hook, line, and sinker! Worse yet, I was told in college, it doesn't matter what you major in, corporations love liberal arts graduates. Believed that one, only to find, upon graduation, that I was worth 50 cents more than minimum wage! I had gone to college intending to work my way up the corporate ladder, in order to fund these expensive ($$$) hobbies.

3) In reality, colleges are nothing more than for-profit institutions, and they prey upon those with little real-world experience. Fortunately, I set my sights so high that I could only attend the local state university, and, anyways, had I gotten in to 'those' institutions, I could not have afforded them, anyways. In reality, I was a moderate sized fish in a very small pond in high school, but did not realize that. When, in my day, 25% of individuals attended college, and my class rank was in the 10-20% range, I was smack dab in the middle of those who generally attend college. Nothing extraordinary about me at all.

4) If you do go to college, major in business or engineering. NOT that it will provide the means to collect early brass cars, but it can decrease the chances of having to go on for graduate education, OR it will enable you to more likely be able to work for a major corporation, and maybe you can rise to the top, but probably not, because...

5) You will have NO IDEA how competitive it is out there in the real world. Not only to even get a good job, but, once you are in that 'good job', to rise above that entry level job. Most will end up going no further, as it is a pyramidal hierarchy out there. Can't be any different! And, why is it so competitive to get into Ivy League institutions? Better chance of having those corporate connections...maybe?

6) I grew up middle class in a very wealthy area, which means that it was like being lower middle class, due to what my parents had, and what everyone else had. As a result, I saw lots of expensive hobbies amongst those who never had to work, and came to the conclusion that, despite what my parents said, in that it was not the real world, it really was! Wrong!

I think that, with rare exceptions, and those will always be there, the opportunity to rise to the top is a myth. You are, more or less, socioeconomically where you were born, and there is more opportunity to fall lower than to go higher. I think that 'working for someone else', unless you are corporate brass, is not the way to get ahead, usually. Owning your own business is, but, for every one that succeeds, 3 or 4 fail, so the odds of success are low.

But, like I said, such is life.

But, I have learned as I get older, I don't HAVE to have an early brass car, or any of the other things I thought I would have when I was 18, there are things I would like and like and need are far different.

Plus, I have few expensive hobbies now, and never had them. I fund my retirement to the MAX, as, obviously, this is more of a priority than a brass car, I pay my bills on time, and I live the middle class 'dream', I suppose. And dream about that early brass car.

Okay, enough philosophizing, for now.

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I read what I wrote a few days ago, and, I guess, I could philosophize a little more, but, I think, the disappointment is what one's priorities are based on income...e.g., the salary is not necessarily there to fund hobbies, no matter what they might be, AND, most extra income is used to fund one's retirement.  If you had told me at 18 years old that I would have to fund my own retirement, I would have thought that this is a most preposterous statement!!!  Don't companies do that?  Isn't that what a pension is?  But...so it is!  Now that the concept of funding one's own retirement is commonplace, there goes a lot of spending power to purchase early brass cars.  In my case, $18,000 a year is gone, evaporated to fund my own retirement, and, of course, this is pre-tax dollars, so despite what I have saved, cut it by a third to pay taxes.  (Yes, I am aware of Roth IRA's, but $18,000 a year with the tax benefit is tough enough...on my income I cannot afford the Roth IRA option).  And, if you look at the ridiculous amount we all pay in taxes, if only we paid the proverbial 10% tithe as mentioned in the Bible, we would have so much more to spend on hobbies.

 

I guess, as I have gotten to be mid-career, I have simply realized that my income will never be enough to support expensive hobbies, career advancement is a myth, and maybe there might be one brass era car in my distant future, and that saving for retirement is a much more significant goal than a brass era car, as painful as it is to say that.

Edited by mrcvs (see edit history)
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I guess, as I have gotten to be mid-career, I have simply realized that my income will never be enough to support expensive hobbies, career advancement is a myth, and maybe there might be one brass era car in my distant future, and that saving for retirement is a much more significant goal than a brass era car, as painful as it is to say that.

Interesting thread , , , ,  quick comments:

--- You should set your sights on cars which  are in your comfortable cruising altitude.  I can't afford Pope Hartfords and Silver Ghosts, so I don't even lust over them.  But I can other afford medium-high end cars.  Right now I want a 1914 Cadillac.  Might be a stretch, but I can do it.

--- Brass cars have gone steadily up in value for as long as I've been into the hobby.  What I would have overpaid for even ten years ago would be considered cheap today.  that said, like any investment, there is a risk that we are at the top of a bubble and the only place for prices to go now is down. 

--- That said, always buy what you love.  Then if the value crashes, at least you have had a hell of a lot of fun and you still own something that makes your heart skip beats.

--- Divorce is more expensive than cars.  When I bellyached over the cost of rebuilding the engine on my 1914 Franklin, he said that at least I have something to look at in the garage.  On his divorce she cleaned him out and he had nothing left to show for it. 

--- that said, maybe I'm lucky to be single (never married) but if you are married, you need to live with her, so you are forced to bend to her will at times.  A wife who likes old cars is a pretty rare bird.  You need to choose --- would you rather have a woman or a brass car. Once you've made the choice, just remember that you can't always have everything you want in life.

--- It's OK to take out a loan to buy a car provided that you have the funds somewhere to cover it without losing your home or ability to feed yourself.  Especially at today's interest rates, a loan might be a good way to achieve that dream.

--- The 1%-ers and those who buy cars for $200k, $300k, $500k, $1M are not like us.  They are investors or people who need to launder their money.  You won't see a $300,000 brass car in the parking lot at Wal Mart or at the ice cream stand taking the neighborhood kids for a summer evening ride.  When cars get to that altitude they become like high priced art works --- stashed away in climate controlled warehouses to be sold at some future auction to another 1%-er.  Too bad, but that's how the hobby has devolved.

---My brass cars are are not Model T priced yet I do drive them everywhere and frequently. No matter what you own, drive it and have fun.  It's not about what you own but the enjoyment you get from it.

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quote>>>The 1%-ers and those who buy cars for $200k, $300k, $500k, $1M are not like us.  They are investors or people who need to launder their money.  You won't see a $300,000 brass car in the parking lot at Wal Mart or at the ice cream stand taking the neighborhood kids for a summer evening ride.  When cars get to that altitude they become like high priced art works --- stashed away in climate controlled warehouses to be sold at some future auction to another 1%-er.  Too bad, but that's how the hobby has devolved.

<<< End quote.

 

 

 

No offence but where did you get this from?   I know dozens of guys with 500k plus cars and they more or less have the same impulses as the guys with 50k cars. 

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We had a customer/friend who drove his '21 Silver Ghost 10's of thousands of miles. Don't assume that the 1% only care about cars as "investments". That has not been our experience. Also don't assume that show cars are not mechanically perfect. Some are, some aren't, just like all other classes of antique cars. We work for a customer who has had literally hundreds of antique cars, many of which were not high dollar cars by any stretch of the imagination. I doubt he ever made a dime on any of those he sold over the years. Also, please explain exactly how one "launders" money by buying antique cars and paying someone to restore them and selling them at a loss.

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Again...philosophizing...BUT, isn't it obscene that we even have a 1% or 5% class in this country, however you want to define it?  Wasn't America built on the principle of a middle class, and yet you have the very nicest things, such as really nice brass cars, available to only the 1%-ers?  Of course, the middle class is becoming a thing of the past, to make way for an elite class, and a working-class poor, and not much else.  I would think that if we were all middle class, like most of us should be, that top notch brass-era cars would indeed be available to the middle class, as we all would be such.  But, of course, they would not be giving them away, but maybe cost a year's wages or so.  That is, not everyone would have one, but attainable to anyone who truly wants one.

 

I think that having an super-wealthy class in this country has ruined it for most everyone else.  I think I was aware of this at an early age.  I come from working-class stock, but noted many 'neighbours', more or less, who never worked a day in their life, had Ivy League degrees, never saved and had anything they wanted.  It created irresponsibility, conceit, and snobbery!

 

Okay, off my philosophizing soapbox, but it is making this great country much less great than it once was.

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I am afraid the trend of a shrinking middle class is not unique to the U.S. Here in Canada it has been if anything more pronounced than in America. The house speculator/ landlord group has amassed an enormous fortune {mostly on paper at this point} . Unlike the U.S., Canadian house prices have in general risen, and continue to rise to dizzying highs.{Toronto and Vancouver being the most extreme} One fairly large group is shaping up to be lifelong tenant's and another smaller but still quite numerous group to be ever richer landlords. The wealthy want home ownership to be out of reach of many Canadian's, that way they are locked in to being life long renters.

  And most western economy nations are in more or less the same boat. The "wealthy " as a group increase somewhat in size/ depth of wealth. And the middle class in general shrinks/ falls more behind in purchasing power each year.

 I work with a number of people who could sell one of their investment homes (often 2 ,3 or more in number} and buy cash either of the Popes that started this conversation. And these are just regular middle class working guys.{or appear to be until they sell the extra homes} The difference is they generally immigrated to Canada with a good education; didn't spend all their extra money on old iron, knew the long term payoff of being a landlord {often the situation in their home country}, and invested in second and more houses.

  The fact that our local real estate market {and all of Canada to a lesser extent} has seen an almost unbelievable price increase is a bonus, but the stratagey would have been profitable in any event. {just not "overnight" million's as many Vancouver area investors have realized}

   Everything you say in your above post rings true with me, but I don't see any way of restoring the middle class to the position they once enjoyed, there are just too many economic  forces against it.

  Or the right lotto ticket !

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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To me, playing with cars is a 'middle class' hobby.  If you are poor, you are lucky to own a car, and certainly not an antique car (although I saw a Toyota Camry with antique plates on it yesterday and I was rather surprised...maybe more at how old I have gotten, than anything else!).  And, if you are rich, first, you are more likely to wear a suit, I should think, and hang out at the country club, than play around with cars, and, second, aren't your hobbies supposed to be collecting Van Gogh paintings?  Okay, maybe a generalization here, but it is sad that Brass Era cars have largely become an 'investment', as they were never intended as such, especially when they were new.

Edited by mrcvs (see edit history)
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I think that you have at least partially missed the point of several previous  posts.

  There are quite a few affordable brass cars out there. Either the smaller; lower H.P cars, or larger cars that are projects . 

  The large; restored or well preserved original , high H.P. cars have been expensive both when they were new and since the early 1950's.

You can have a lot of fun with a brass Ford T, smaller Buick, Maxwell , Overland , and many more.  Brass T  speedsters circa 1914-15 {avoids the really expensive early T parts}  can be built comfortably in the $15,000 - $20,000 range. And they can be just as much fun as the 1908 - 1912 40 -60 H.P.  "jugernaughts".  The smaller Buicks also offer great value for money , and have an enthusiastic following.

  You just need to be realistic. I am as much a admirer of Pope, Pierce , Stutz, Mercer, Alco, Marmon etc. as anyone else. But I know that it is most unlikely I will ever own one. Or a Spitfire, P- 51, etc, , I grew up in an aircraft family. I still treasure the odd chance I get to see any of the top rank machines. If nothing else they are an inspiration. 

 

Greg in Canada

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Yes, maybe I forgot the point of the earlier posts.  And perhaps I have strayed...I don't think I am a socialist, but, then again, many of my ideas are socialistic, at heart.  I think that one or two good objects, be they an expensive Brass Era car, a Van Gogh painting, or whatever suits your fancy, should be available in a lifetime...I guess I am saying that nothing out there should cost more than $50,000, more or less, except real estate, and then it shouldn't be ridiculously expensive...and does the world really need yet another McMansion.

 

If you look at other posts, I am struggling with this Model A, and it has not been running since only last year.  Someone good with Model A's and with a multitude of parts and equipment could probably have had it running in an afternoon, but it takes me much longer to figure it out, and I am moaning about that.  So, your long-range plan with your 1912 Staver is indeed commendable...my hat off to you!  I guess I just do not have the patience to wait that long.  I'd rather have the opportunity to save for about ten years, and buy my fully-functional one of a kind top notch Brass era car for the low to mid-five figures...but, not reality.

 

Yes, I could, and maybe will someday, have fun with a low-end Brass era car...but it sure is fun to dream, isn't it?

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I had to "paper route" my way to an antique car.  When the economy tanked my wife said no to me borrowing money for this hobby.  So I sold old Cadillac Parts (I used to collect old Cadillacs so I had pieces to sell); I worked overtime and saved; I saved my bonuses from work; I am a published author, so I saved portions of my royalty checks. Eventually I was able to scrape the money together to buy a non running 1937 Ford.  Car sat for 50 years.  I put about $4,000 into it and got it running and safe to operate.  I am no wealthy doctor by any stretch. 

 

I have been reading your threads, especially the Model A thread.  A decent antique car can be had in the $10,000- $20,000 range.    You already have a car.  You are having a hard time getting it going.  I am sure you are frustrated.  Hang in there.  The more you mess with it, the more you learn and the better you will get.  Join the Model A club in your area.   Go to the meetings and make friends with the guys.  Go to the events and learn all you can.  The Model A folks are a friendly bunch.  They will help you.  Save some more and pull that troublesome engine of yours and have it gone over by some one who knows what they are doing. 

 

It has been pointed out before in the various threads: Spending a ton of money is no guarantee that you will not have problems.  Some of the satisfaction of this hobby is finding and solving the problems.  You will get there.  Hang in there.  The problems CAN be solved.  What man has done, man can do.  It took me over a year to get my car going.  You can do it too.  Good luck with your Model A.  See you down the road. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

When owning an old car, it is not just an experience, it is an adventure.  I just put a new gas tank in my truck this week and the next thing the carb had gas running out the inlet.  Float or something sticking. If it is not one thing, it is another thing.

 

As for affordability and the middle class, much of that has been taken away by the politicians with the increasing taxes.  The continued rising tax burden has wiped out the middle class. When I was young the taxes on a gallon of gas was about 5 cents.  Now it is in the 50 cents a gallon.  AND that is just at the pump.  Take into consideration all of the taxes the businesses pay to get the gallon of gas at the pump and 50% of the cost of a gallon of gas is probably taxes.  (US Michigan pricing)  Exponentially more in Canada, Europe, and other parts of the world. 

 

Gas taxes is just one item.  Think of your income taxes, property taxes and the tax burden for working I am confident is more than 50% of your total earnings when looking at the components of your purchases of products & services.  A lot more than just a few years ago. 

 

Off my soap box for now.

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When owning an old car, it is not just an experience, it is an adventure.  I just put a new gas tank in my truck this week and the next thing the carb had gas running out the inlet.  Float or something sticking. If it is not one thing, it is another thing.

 

As for affordability and the middle class, much of that has been taken away by the politicians with the increasing taxes.  The continued rising tax burden has wiped out the middle class. When I was young the taxes on a gallon of gas was about 5 cents.  Now it is in the 50 cents a gallon.  AND that is just at the pump.  Take into consideration all of the taxes the businesses pay to get the gallon of gas at the pump and 50% of the cost of a gallon of gas is probably taxes.  (US Michigan pricing)  Exponentially more in Canada, Europe, and other parts of the world. 

 

Gas taxes is just one item.  Think of your income taxes, property taxes and the tax burden for working I am confident is more than 50% of your total earnings when looking at the components of your purchases of products & services.  A lot more than just a few years ago. 

 

Off my soap box for now.

You are indeed correct, without a doubt!  After you are done paying taxes and for household expenses, there isn't much left over.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I wish I'd had the chance to respond to this thread earlier. I own a Duesenberg, Auburn, Cord, Packard and Locomobile -- all very expensive cars -- plus two Buick Rivieras and a Lincoln convertible that aren't very expensive. I've never inherited anything, I grew up in a poor neighborhood, I volunteered for Vietnam and my college degree is in a low-paying profession. But what I did have was an extremely high work ethic. I've simply outworked all my peers for decades, learning a lot along the way and getting better at what I did, and over time it was recognized and rewarded (I've always worked for others). It wasn't until my mid-40s that I could buy the Auburn, my late 50s when I bought the Packard and Locomobile, and my 60s when I bought the Duesenberg and Cord. So you can't make sweeping generalizations -- everyone's situation, talents, choices and resulting opportunities are different.  

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I wish I'd had the chance to respond to this thread earlier. I own a Duesenberg, Auburn, Cord, Packard and Locomobile -- all very expensive cars -- plus two Buick Rivieras and a Lincoln convertible that aren't very expensive. I've never inherited anything, I grew up in a poor neighborhood, I volunteered for Vietnam and my college degree is in a low-paying profession. But what I did have was an extremely high work ethic. I've simply outworked all my peers for decades, learning a lot along the way and getting better at what I did, and over time it was recognized and rewarded (I've always worked for others). It wasn't until my mid-40s that I could buy the Auburn, my late 50s when I bought the Packard and Locomobile, and my 60s when I bought the Duesenberg and Cord. So you can't make sweeping generalizations -- everyone's situation, talents, choices and resulting opportunities are different.  

 

 

I agree with the hard work.  I have always worked hard/smart and watched my money.  Typically a full time position and a part time job to pay for the extras which includes the cars.  Do not have any boats, planes, snow mobiles, 4 wheelers, motorcycles, cottages on the lake, etc....... .   Don't smoke, drink very little if at all, no girl friends, etc.  Still married to wife Version 1.0.(She is the best decision of my life!) Just a few cars/ trucks.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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Good points, however the same amount of hard work does not always result in similar results. There are many variables ; often more or less out of a given person's control , that can determine if someone ends up with a Dodge or a Duesenberg.

  Local employment opportunities , cost of living , real estate costs etc. can have a tremendous effect on ones disposable income.  I am glad to hear that you were able to afford a Duesenberg  on the proceeds of a modestly paying career but I don't think that sort of result is realistic for most of us.

  I have followed a similar plan to yours, but I am only 56 [ 57 in a couple of weeks] now so during a different decade at each step. Despite a lot of effort on my part ; and at least partially thanks to the reality of wages that for the last 25 years have not kept up with inflation,  my results have been far less than yours. Far, Far  less.

  An Auburn in my mid 40's, just a pipe dream I am afraid.  Mortgage and family expenses insured that my 40's were bleak indeed for disposable income. And now that I am in my later 50's although the mortgage is over with, todays rapidly rising cost of living makes any substantial hobby outlay a fantasy at best.

 I know people that have made conservative investments in real estate and ultimately multiplied their purchase several times over. But they are the exception, the outliers that all the stars and planets lined up for.  Most of us ,despite our best efforts will fall far short .

    I also have a bit of experience with Duesenbergs. A good friends Father owned a model J since he was a young man. The car was in reasonably decent shape when acquired and was comprehensively rebuilt by my friends father over many years. As my friends father approached old age and the car was as yet unfinished, my friend and his brother together with the father {a retired major air line pilot} combined resources to finish the car while the father was still alive .  The plating , paint , and interior were beyond their abilities {and almost all of the rest of us}. Just these things plus some final metal work added up to over $250,000.00.  It is a model J after all, no point in cutting corners, upon the fathers death a few years ago the car was sold for in excess of $1,000,000.00.  I would say your modest career has been very good to you.

 

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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In my own case my career choices and location have played a large part in my ability to participate in all things "old car".  I grew up from a middle class background in the Vancouver B.C. Canada area.  I studied Marine Engineering in College and make my living as a Engineering officer on one of the large vehicle ferry's that travel between the Vancouver area and Vancouver Island {Victoria B.C , our provincial capital}.  My career choice and student debt load resulted in a somewhat delayed entry into the home buying market, this put me in the middle of a rapidly rising market as many wealthy Asian's fled from Hong Kong to the Vancouver area. My pretty basic house ended being just shy of $300,000.00.  The Asian immigration continues to this day and has resulted in real estate that is truly staggering , especially in Vancouver proper {I am out in the suburbs where the rise has not been as extreme}.

  Although I didn't have to pay the Million plus that a buyer today is facing, the whole area has seen rapid and substantial climb in the cost of living . So much so that this area is consistently rated one of the most unaffordable places on earth. My income; while going up a bit over time, has not even come close to keeping up.

  The ironic thing is that when interesting cars have come up for sale locally they have often been priced at a pretty attractive level . The owners know if they are going to get a sale then export/ transportation costs need to be factored in to the asking price. Many, many  local collector cars have left this area over the last 20 years or so. This is no doubt as a result of so few of the local potential buyers having any disposable earnings {myself among them} . The local economy has MANY very wealthy residents; but they are for the most part re- located Asians who are mostly interested in the current offerings from the high end European makers. I get the impression few if any of them have any interest in vintage cars.

 I suppose at some time I might consider moving to a more cost effective location. But I grew up here , my extended family lives here, my wife's career is here. All of these factors make a move pretty unpractical ,  when it would be would be largely to free up funds for the old car hobby. My wife would rather I grew up; quit playing with cars , and took in some travel. She used to be a big supporter of my hobby, but these days sees that circumstances have changed and it has become more of a struggle / less of a pleasure so her support has materially lessened.

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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Despite a lot of effort on my part ; and at least partially thanks to the reality of wages that for the last 25 years have not kept up with inflation,  my results have been far less than yours. Far, Far  less.

Wow...you can say that AGAIN!  The bane of my existence.  I stepped into the job market in the early '90's, fell head over heels for the LIES that college guidance counselors made those of us who were Gen X believe was true...didn't seem possible that anything other than that could be true...e.g., baby boomers retiring in huge numbers, no one to fill their shoes, etc.  Simple supply and demand dictated one could pick and choose one's job(s), each one being better than the last!  Didn't seem at all possible that wages would be flat!  Reality:  Job opportunities limited, you take what you can get.  These days, lucky enough to have a second job (which I do) that pays for hobbies, but Ford Model A's and T's are the best one can really do on (limited) excess wages--forget about the Packard, Pope-Hartford, etc.

 

Doesn't really seem 'fair', but, then again, life isn't fair, isn't it.  The PROMISE was that if you get good grades, work hard, you can have virtually anything you want.  Good old American greed has placed real money in the hands of the few, and you can work for these folks, or try and be self employed, and maybe make it okay, but unlikely to hit it really big!

 

I don't want to sound like a whiny Gen-Xer, and I probably do, but I think of all the opportunities that were out there after WWII, and they seem to have fizzled by this point.  (And those who had all that opportunity due to the vibrant post-WWII economy certainly paid the price by living through the Depression).

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I wish I'd had the chance to respond to this thread earlier. I own a Duesenberg, Auburn, Cord, Packard and Locomobile -- all very expensive cars -- plus two Buick Rivieras and a Lincoln convertible that aren't very expensive. I've never inherited anything, I grew up in a poor neighborhood, I volunteered for Vietnam and my college degree is in a low-paying profession. But what I did have was an extremely high work ethic. I've simply outworked all my peers for decades, learning a lot along the way and getting better at what I did, and over time it was recognized and rewarded (I've always worked for others). It wasn't until my mid-40s that I could buy the Auburn, my late 50s when I bought the Packard and Locomobile, and my 60s when I bought the Duesenberg and Cord. So you can't make sweeping generalizations -- everyone's situation, talents, choices and resulting opportunities are different.  

I have a strong work ethic.  I work so hard during the week that I am dead tired come Friday evening, and need the weekend to recharge, and still work at least one Saturday a month!  I think a lot of what you accomplished is simply being in the right place at the right time.  Your wages were not FLAT the first 25 years of your career, you had more job opportunities, and were in the right place at the right time when those cars came up for sale, plus you bought some nice cars that, in hindsight, were (relatively) bargain-basement prices.

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Funny enough in my field {Marine Engineering} there are expanding job opportunities. A good percentage of existing Engineers are looking at retirement within the next 5 years.  Unfortunately the drawbacks of this career have made it pretty unattractive .

  In most marine positions you are away from home a lot. I don't "liveaboard" as our service is local, but I do work 12 days in a row with the added hurdle of 4 early AM's, followed by 4 PM's, followed by 4 very activity intensive {our maintenance time} graveyards. I then get what the company calls 6 days off ; but I work until 6 AM. on my first day off, so I don't think of it as a real day off. Try doing that for a few decades, your body clock is in a constant state of upheaval. Is it any wonder that I will be retiring in a couple more years . Take the years I spent in college at the start off and it doesn't leave that long a money making period.

  As well the education standards are high, and the number of Transport Canada {think D.O.T./ Coast Guard} licenses , exams and endorsements I need as part of my job would astound most non- transportation industry people.  Everything from Fire fighting {I am team leader in Machinery space fire situations}, Marine rescue craft, First Aid, Dangerous goods, and quite a few others. O yea I must be able to operate / trouble shoot / and do complete overhauls on all the equiptment on our ship. The learning starts when you are young and continues to the day you retire.

  When I first started the wages were pretty good {and would have been very good if the Canadian Artic oil industry hadn't collapsed about the time I finished college}. But as I have stated in previous posts, things have gone rather downhill over time.  Makes a 9 to 5 office job look like heaven .

  Don't get me wrong; its not like I am a roughneck in the oil patch or a crab fisherman off the coast of Alaska , but it is a job that takes a lot out of me and over time has not given as much as I would have hoped back.

 

Greg in Canada, a whiny tail end of the baby boomer

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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I thought I would drop another opinion on this subject or class and opportunity, that we are all a part of.  I certainly do agree that the "Middle Class", as we know it, is probably shrinking.  The "Modern" world we live in is evolving to who knows what.  Now for my thought about the state of our hobby and a comparison, from my perspective.  I wonder if the those average fellows from a couple of generations ago, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Horace Dodge, felt it was tough, a dismal future no chance for a brighter tomorrow, probably so.  But they kept working and trying.  Not that different from we of today.  However, in 1899, folks in my area (all agriculture) were living in sod huts and dug-outs.  On the other hand, the Vanderbuilts from Ashville No. Carolina were using an horrific amount of money (wealth) to build an American Castle.  They had capitalized on the RR opportunity to make their money.  My ancestors were so happy to be in a country where private ownership of property was available to the "Common" folks, we were living in the land of opportunity and yes, a sod hut.  Yes, things have evolved from then.... nice homes, all the food we can eat, cars and recreation also if we choose.  We probably still look pretty good on the world scale.  My thought is, the state of money, well being, and the equality is not that much different now from then.  My Great Grand dad, by 1912 owned a Locomobile, which cost probably triple what his house cost, and it was his choice.  I suppose we all spend the money we have mostly like we want, even though we choose to have a family and the related costs...that is our choice.  I am also a wage earner, by the hour and still am active in agriculture on the family farm.  Money has been and is tight.  I do, however, have a great time with the hobby and what I do vocationally.  When time allows and shortly being retired I hope to do more.  Maybe I will never own a nice "BIG" early T head car that would cost BIG dollars, but I do have a couple of cars that do satisfy me.  I have owned, bought, sold, traded and still do, as that is an option, as we all  arm wrestle with each other for our "dream" car.  Deals are everywhere, we just need to be looking and be ready when opportunity knocks.  Lower in this forum, note my question about a project I just purchased that fits the description of a "BIG" T head.  It may not be Pope Hartford or Simplex, but it does have a huge T Head engine (Wisconsin) that does locate the project as a heavy weight.  Lastly,  I hope that we Americans vote wisely as we select our political leaders, so that as Middle Americans, we have a chance.  Our Middle area is based on effort and work not on being entitled to Government give-away programs.  We need to have a dream and keep it alive. 

Edited by alsfarms (see edit history)
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I'm sure the public perception for many people is that the wealthy bumbled in to it or inherited their money. My observation is that 90 percent of the time you have someone who started with nothing,  worked their asses off,  took risks and put themselves in a position to be lucky.

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39 Buick 8, good point.  When we have it too easy.......we get wasteful and lazy and just expect to be taken care of.  That statement is a generalization, however, as I know lots of folks who still have personal goals and are willing to "get after it" and move towards a personal dream. 

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