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Opinions re. Condition II


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Hello there,

 

It is quite unfortunate that I deleted the entire previous string (post) regarding a few 37 and 38 vehicles I was interested in; as well as a 39...;) There were some interesting and fun replies from a few forum members I wish I still had.. I was actually trying to edit my last post and ended up deleting the entire thing, not much of a computer guy I'm afraid!!

 

Anyway, here is one I was seriously following...

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1938-Buick-Other/292425369684?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l9372

 

Surprised to see more action above, than a nice running counterpart. Maybe the year makes all the difference regardless...

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1937-Buick-Special-40/222810987521?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l9372

 

While this still lingers, way above the market value... Would make a nice car with a few changes.

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1937-Buick-Series-40-/122950421100?vxp=mtr

 

And this Roadmaster still for sale as well, needing too much work for the asking price, but still a nice original...

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1937-Buick-Roadmaster/162723811858?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l9372

 

Lastly, and probably the best priced for an honest driver is here... I would more than likely get this one, if I had not decided to wait for a 38 Century... A hard decision to make in many ways... Why can't I have both!..;)

 

https://mcecars.com/vehicles/448/1937-buick-40-special

 

With a nice short video and song below....

 

 

 

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#1: Current bid is fair money. Nice woodgrain, looks original. Looks like Raphael Green. A friend has a car that color, and it's sharp! #2: If you can get past the upholstery.....otherwise, not bad. #3: Run, don't walk. '37 Roadmasters have a lot of wood framing, and at that dealer price, there must be a lot wrong. #4: Not too many folks looking for a purple car, and a good repaint is more expensive than you might think (remove fenders, etc.)

Folks will start pulling cars out of winter storage soon, and you should see more on the market. Be patient!

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Philip , I clearly recall from all the previous discussion , that you ABSOLUTELY MUST have a Century. I also remember why. Now where I am confused is I recall potential availability of just EXACTLY the Century for you. Owned by a gentleman well known for his abilities and honesty , vouched for by Matt , his name might have been John. What is the status of that one ? And no , I haven't forgot about owing you the story of my hunt for the oldest V8 Cadillac which would satisfy my needs. There was a point in the evolution of these cars at which the world's first inherently balanced V8 was offered. 1924 , though I would have had to go for the almost identical '25 if the cookie crumbs had fallen on just the right one. Combined with Cadillac's first use of 4 wheel brakes (rather good ones for the era) , it defined and narrowed my search. Took just over 3 years to find it (I call it the "Summer Car" , it was never intended , nor ever was , driven in Winter). Sold originally in Michigan before the balmy globally warmed Winters we blissfully enjoy these days , the original owners must have had a "Winter Car". That one took around 20 years to find. Both are original , unrestored cars. Well worth the clearly defined search. I sure wish the 1927 Sedan had come as quickly as the open , 7 passenger touring did. I recall you did want me to recount that search. There will be pics , but first , what has become of the "Century of the Year" , "John's" (?) car. Seems you have a low patience threshold. Is this a factor in that particular car ?    - Carl 

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5 hours ago, philipj said:

 

Owned by an old white guy: look at all that O-gauge train stuff. :o

 

5 hours ago, philipj said:

And this Roadmaster still for sale as well, needing too much work for the asking price, but still a nice original...

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1937-Buick-Roadmaster/162723811858?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l9372

 

Seller has a lot of negative feedback.

 

The only advice I would offer is this: think seriously about what you want from this car, then decide if you can live with a car that is challenged to keep up with modern traffic (e.g. a Special) or if a higher comfortable cruising speed (e.g. a Century) would be more appropriate.  If you're still undecided, cruise through the forum to see what others have to say about their period cars and the costs and hassles of adding overdrive and/or swapping rear ends.  The point is that settling for something that doesn't quite meet your wants might lead to frustration rather enjoyment.

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The Roadmaster looks like a lot of car for the money. I wouldn't necessarily chalk up the price to the car having major issues--that same dealer sold a '37 Century coupe a few weeks ago for under $24,000 (I was in talks to buy it when someone walked in and grabbed it at full asking price--smart of them). They don't seem to know how to price these cars and are either getting them from people who don't follow the market very closely or their heirs. Don't write it off simply because it seems too cheap. I don't see any description with a laundry list of issues, but what I do see is what appears to be pretty good paint, a tired but serviceable original interior, a scruffy but not rotted undercarriage with some recent work, a tidy engine bay with no glaring faults or incorrect parts, and maybe some new chrome. The only thing that makes me twitch a little bit is that generic VIN tag but if the numbers match the title, your state will register it without problems. There's probably also a number on the frame.

 

Gateway isn't known for having a staff full of knowledgeable car guys and I'm betting people on this board will know more about the car just by looking at the photos than any of their sales guys will. I would also recommend an in-person inspection before buying (as in, you go personally to look at it) given the spotty quality of their inventory. But that looks like the winner in this particular hunt to me.

 

I don't know if it has any value to you, but the 1937 Buick 80 Series is now a Full Classic as well. That opens up some doors and may even bolster the car's value in the future.

 

I understand wanting one thing and one thing only--I only wanted a 1941 Century sedanette, not a Special, not a 4-door. So if you want to hold out, I get it. But if I were looking to get into the game with a car like this and I wasn't being too specific, the Roadmaster up there would be my first stop.

 

Just my $0.02.

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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6 hours ago, philipj said:

Hello there,

 

It is quite unfortunate that I deleted the entire previous string (post) regarding a few 37 and 38 vehicles I was interested in; as well as a 39...;) There were some interesting and fun replies from a few forum members I wish I still had.. I was actually trying to edit my last post and ended up deleting the entire thing, not much of a computer guy I'm afraid!!

 

 

philipj , can you give the actual title of the thread you deleted? I'll try to revive it no promises.  you have several going both here and in the AACA I get lost trying to keep up but I get lost easily anyhow. Are you sure this is not the one you think you deleted? 

e

 

 

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Phillip,

 

From everything you have posted in the past, I think you want a 1937 or 1938 Century. If, however, you decide a slower car is OK with you, go look at that Roadmaster. While it is far from perfect, it is a nice looking car at a nice price. The only substantially "wrong" things I see on it are an aftermarket steering stabilizer, the red wheels, the replacement serial number plate, the valve cover painted the wrong color, the aftermarket gas filter, the sealed beam headlight conversion, and the wrong heater. As long as the serial number plate matches the paperwork, that car in that condition appears to be a reasonably priced car. If I wanted a Roadmaster, I would seriously consider that one. 

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Hello All,

 

I hope I don't appear to be wishy washy... I should emphasize that I really appreciate all the input being brought up for discussion here.. The reason why I decided to relist the cars we reviewed before is not so much because I have changed my mind (not at all) I am hoping that someone else looking for a car might find this information useful... There is no doubt that I am waiting and choosing a 38 Century, since I realize now I will be happier down the line with that car than any other.. Carl, to answer your question, my #1 choice is indeed the vehicle belonging to John (Original/unrestored/running) for which I have not all details or photos. Should know something tomorrow.. My #2 is actually a Century model 67 (more desirable than the 61?) that has not run for 10 years and will need a bit of work to get on the road.. Lastly, I have another 38 Century model 61 that has been all redone, but with the incorrect motor (fireball) and needs little work... It sure would seem like the easiest and obvious choice since it is all done, but pricing is another matter... As soon as I know more and decide on a car, I will post the rest on the information I have available if anyone is interested.. I wish I could have more than one car, but I can only afford one! so I better make the right choice for now and down the line. That includes any work that the car may need.. If I really had it my way, I would have a  38-61, 38-60 C and 38-67...Not asking for much, am I?..;)

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philipj,

I went Gateway a week ago Sat.  and saw the '37 RM. Most of the items needing attention were already mentioned by others, except the running boards, they were worn. Did not open the hood or look underneath. I'm about 30 minutes from Gateway, I'd go look again on your behalf. Does Gateway have a lift, not sure if they'd let one drive it, esp. with the snow/icy roads. There may be some method to check if the door wood is bad w/o pulling the interior panels off, perhaps someone may suggest a way.

Let me know if I can assist further.

Jerry

BCA #1518

AACA

ROA #8691

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Hello Jerry,

 

Thank you for offering to look at the roadmaster... A few weeks ago I would have been all over your offer, but as I mentioned earlier, I have decided to go for a 38 Century; since it has a better suspension, is faster and a year newer!..;) However my wife likes the finer grille/nose on the 37 model which I have come to appreciate...

If we must examine the roadmaster for a second, just to pick one flaw.. say the steering stabilizer; that tells me the front end is in need of service and must have a lot of shimmy going down the road... (and if that's their idea of a fix, what else have they done to the car? ) In the same fashion, the exhaust has a patch repair, the headlamps are incorrect (Very expensive retrofit to originals) and it has a transmission leak (at least they're upfront about the condition). Also fitted is a 12V battery (but somehow still 6 volt) needs an interior and a few other minor things, so 19K is way too much if you start to add it all up...  Don't get me wrong, I like the car, down to the red wheels (It was my first find online) , but I still feel it is dealer priced...Naturally. 

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An exhaust patch would be the least of my worries.  It's hard to buy a single pipe for a lot of these cars.  Everyone wants to sell you a whole system.  If you were getting ready to sell a car,  would you put a whole new system in it, knowing you won't get a dime more out of it if you do?  Same goes for most mechanical work.  No one pays extra for the mechanicals but they pay extra for paint chrome and interior.  I could sell a beautiful looking car with a seized motor,  much quicker than I can sell a cosmetically needy but solid car that has all new mechanicals and drives like a new car that year did.  Ask me how I know. 

As far as leaks.,  most old cars leak, unless they are very fresh.  All those old seals dry out and don't bounce back.  The old style seals are just not as good as many modern ones.  

I have a friend that worked as a field engineer for Cadillac and he said in the 1960's the new Cadillacs leaked on the show room floor. 

Just things to take into consideration while you are looking. 

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Totally agree with Matt in regards to the 37 Roadmaster. Of what links you put up the 37 is the winner. First its a 320 driveline with all its perks. Second its very low mileage I repeat low mileage! and it sure looks it to me by the fact that it has its original carpet which is quite telling. The interior and dash is untouched and quite amazing really for a car this old. Dash paint steering wheel and gauges are beautiful untouched shape. The price is negotiable and if I was fixated on this period Buick I would not hesitate to start here and make a cash offer. . Just look at the engine compartment and you can see the time capsule it is. I dont see this car as anything but a drive and enjoy and tinker with car . Cannot see how good the repaint is but this is a lot of car for the money and the year you said you liked. Outside of a 37 two door duel fender mount spare coupe or rag top roadmaster which are really pricey this is it,  or a Century a wee bit shorter and lighter.   Looks to have a damping shock on the tie rod that might indicate rebound in the steering caused by worn king pins and tie rods drag link etc but I kind of doubt it was needed as even worn Buicks dont flail around like Fords over the railroad tracks when things get loose. Also the whole thread about how bad it is having wood in its construction is a bit over the top. Wood last thousands of years if cared for or stored properly. I am betting this 37 was stored very dry for a long time. And buying from Gateway is a bonus for many reasons and sometimes dealing with an owner is quite dicey and frustrating.  After having owned Specials Centurys and Roadmaster straight eights I could never be happy with the 248 drive line. The 320 spoils you even as it burns gas like a DC-3 . I just converted my 41 duel carbie Century to parallel linkage with matching AAV 16 Strombergs. It was really easy to do using off the shelf inexpensive Summit racing parts and all bolt on no modifications needed.Too cold for figuring out mileage but I think it might actually improve with this setup as if I care!  Point is power and speed in a vintage car is fun ...a very good thing! ...No great thing!   

 

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Sight unseen and having no idea of his price, I would still give serious consideration to John Young's 1938 Century that you have mentioned.

 

As I said earlier, If I wanted a Roadmaster, that one that you posted the link to is a good looking car at a good price. I personally would not want a Roadmaster instead of a Century, but if I had the space and the money to have another car, I would put that Roadmaster on the list for serious consideration. 

 

If John's 1938 Century does not work out for you, I may have a winner for you now. I previously made you aware of this car, but I now have the photos that I was waiting for. Please check out the first car on the advertisements page of the 36-38 Buick Club website,  a 1937 Century that I just added to the website: http://www.3638buickclub.org/advertisements.html

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Roadmaster is a BIG car. Century gives you the 320 motor in a more manageable package. The Roadmaster's roomy rear compartment is nice, but you're not driving from the back seat. That '37 Century on the 3638 website looks like a great car, and a good price.

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The only way I could be happy with a Century or a Special is with an overdrive. Either car with the stock gearing is not very good on the freeway but both are just fine around town. Our 38 will cruise effortlessly at 65 or 70 mph at the same rpm's as if it was going 40 or 45 mph with the stock gearing when it is in overdrive. Ours is a Special and although its fine a Century with the same set up would even be better. I like the 37 model a lot but the 38 even more. To me they both look good but the 38 has the suspension that made the Buick ride famous. The 38 was the last year for the floor shift which for me is a must and has no wood, at least in the Special. 

REAR GREAT.JPG

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Well yes, given Mr. Young's reputation for outstanding cars, his 38 Century is high on my list as #1 candidate-as mentioned earlier... Granted this is an unrestored but  running and complete vehicle as I understand, I hope that everything is in order and I can enjoy it as it is for a while.. I like patina and originality, provided it functions as it should and it is mostly there cosmetically.. I only have two photos of the car which I am presenting, since they always speak volumes. I hope I am not jinxing myself for doing so!.. I wanted to keep this a secret-have something exciting to show later!..;)  but here it is! The Roadmaster is nice, but still a bit overpriced in my opinion for the work needed...

 

The 37 you mention belonging to Mr. Price is also a nice candidate... I spoke to him about the car and he mentioned he had recently replaced the radiator, water pump, carburetor,  had the fuel tank relined plus additional turn signals... He did also mention that the car needs a clutch, interior work, wiring (only front was done) some paint touch up, tires,  and reseal or replace the  right rear quarter window (leaking) and judging by the photos the correct headlamps? Sorry, but to me, that is the one feature of these cars that sets them apart and must be right... Having the correct headlamp lenses. A nice car indeed, but I am hoping for the 38 you see below!

Gray Ghost.JPG

image1.jpeg

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Las Vegas Dave, I have admired your car for a while... Love the color and of course the overdrive. Can you still purchase it? Where from? Can you post detailed photos of your vehicle, including the overdrive of course!  Don't mean to take this off track, since he is not selling, but I do think his car is just fine!..;)

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While I have my cards on the table, I might as well show you my last candidate... 38-61 restored about 10 years ago... It has a 49 fireball engine. Needs the speedometer repaired, 2 spare tires and something regarding the clutch pedal spring... Clutch pedal does not fully return upwards sometimes. I thought it was odd unless something is missing or not adjusted properly... Price is right up there, 22K! untouchable for me...

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Edited by philipj
Upside down.. (see edit history)
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Not to put a damper on the excitement of the hunt, but I might interject a comment about keeping your expectations reasonable. You say that $22,000 for that nicely restored Century sedan with sidemounts is way too much but that the cheaper Roadmaster is overpriced because it has needs (and I don't think a running, driving Full Classic senior Buick for under $20K is overpriced by a long shot, needs or no needs). Once you dip into the sub-$20,000 price range you're going to find cars with needs. There will be no restored, perfect, fully operational Buick with all its parts intact for under $20,000. You dismissed the Roadmaster because it had an original interior and a leaky transmission (which I guarantee is the torque ball, an affliction that is VERY common in old Buicks) but embrace another car with a longer list of needs and dismiss a yet another good one as too expensive. You're kind of setting yourself up for disappointment no matter which way you choose to go--a cheap car will have a lot of needs and a good car is too expensive.

 

It is always my advice to spend more money up front and buy the best car you can find. If you have to reach a little, so be it. If that $22,000 Century appeals to you, that's probably the one you should own. If it's a bit of a reach, find a way to make the reach and get into the game instead of spending another season on the bench. It's still cheaper than buying a fixer-upper and waiting for the money to fix it. Always buy a finished car--don't fall into the trap of thinking with a little elbow grease you can fix up a car with needs and have something great for less money. We will all vouch for the fact that it doesn't often work that way. If you need a cheap buy-in, well, then prepare yourself that you'll be buying a car with a list of needs that may not be ready to go immediately and you'll spend a lot of cash fixing it (you may not know this yet, but one thing always leads to another when fixing up an old car).

 

Personally, I think $22,000 for that Century is a good deal and it seems like the right car for you at a price that's only a small reach out of your range (unless your range is $15K at which point you're going to be VERY disappointed with your potentials). Spend a little more up front, save a lot on the back end, that's usually how it works.

 

Once again I'm reminded of my favorite saying, dropped on us by a fellow board member here: the bargain hunter usually screws himself. Keep that in mind while comparing cars and not just their price tags. Value is more than just how much you pay.

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Last candidate: I wouldn't discount the later-model engine too much if everything else is right. The balky clutch pedal might be the result of the counter-balance spring on the clutch intended to lighten pedal action, or the mechanism needs needs cleaning/lubrication. But if it's not, changing the clutch is a bear. Price is optimistic, and hopefully negotiable. It's been for sale for a while.

Good luck!

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8 hours ago, LAS VEGAS DAVE said:

The only way I could be happy with a Century or a Special is with an overdrive. Either car with the stock gearing is not very good on the freeway but both are just fine around town.

 

Dave,

 

I am guessing your meant to type Roadmaster or Special. If you meant to type Century you have no idea what you are talking about. That statement is 100% wrong.

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Phillip,

 

Matt Harwood is right. Buy the best car that you can afford. 

 

I still don't know the price of John's car. If you can afford it, buy it. If you can't you could buy Mr Price's car and have a nice drivable car with probably another $1,000 worth of additional work. That would be a Century well under your stated price range, even with having to pay for shipping. The headlights can be converted back to original. That is not that bad a job. There are a few different ways to do it. My 1937 Century came with a sealed beam conversion kit. I converted it back to the original lens with hidden sealed beam bulbs behind original lenses. My 1938 project will have the original headlight system.  Everything else that is wrong with Mr Price's car can be resolved with minor mechanical skill and a little bit of money. The worst thing about his car is how far away from you it is. 

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This gets interesting... I am not trying to be unrealistic or be a bargain hunter by any means, I just would like (ONE) good solid car... Unfortunately, I only have so much at my disposal today for it... My idea, perhaps unrealistic in this sense is this: Can I purchase a turn key vehicle for say 19K/20K? If I must scrape everything I have now, or perhaps after tax season 22K..

 

I don't recall stating that the finished Century was way too much, (the Roadmaster is in my view/and still say poorly maintained) but just "untouchable" out of my monetary reach today... And believe me, my wife is learning alongside and agrees that a completely finished car is the best way to go in the long run, but is also aware of the much higher cost...

 

But let's just work with 20K for the sake of argument.. Frankly, I would love to get the finished Century for that amount (it has been for sale for a while, and you must ask yourself why? ) If the clutch issue is not as simple as adjustment or lubrication (as stated by Suchan, then I'm up the creek probably with 2K in repairs) and I have not fixed the speedometer, fuel gauge (Another thing I remember) or anything else...

 

On the other hand, considering an original vehicle in good order, let's say 16K (just to have a figure) would that be a really poor choice if the car is intact and driveable without issues?  If we talk about a torque ball reseal? How expensive a repair is that? So, not trying to be harsh or dismissive, but wondering about the

4K or 5K making a world of difference in purchasing a "Better" car; yet still finding that they're not all completely right!  Where should I place myself not to be set up for disappointment? I am struggling with it thinking, gee.. I have to wait even more for a "perfect" car which will be probably much more than 22K..

 

On a better/happier note, I am officially in the Buick Club as of today!... Maybe the only member without wheels, but still hopeful...:)

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With all due respect I also cannot agree with the comment that all Buicks need overdrive. Might be nice on a 248 model but to be fair the Buick engineers knew a bit about the issues of sustained engine rpm from racing and aviation motors. In my lead footed youth ferrying cars for money I have driven all manner of vintage vehicles pre and post war straight through coast to coast across the old Rt 66. Sometimes pulling a trailer and in spite of a couple burning vast amounts of oil and blowing water pumps and maybe brakes issues I only ever spun a main bearing one time on a knocking for years worn out 39 Dodge 1 ton overloaded and overheated somehow thinking that the Wynns engine rebuild in a can I added would carry the day. Anybody here blown up a Buick eight from sustained speedy cruising?  I drive my  41 Century at 65/70 in summer heat and it never feels over taxed or over revved and will go a lot faster without blowing up I'm sure.  Really would love to hear about Buick engine failures on otherwise well maintained cars showing normal cooling and oil pressure readings from 65/75 cruising. And in the spirit of this theme.. BUY A CENTURY!  The seller of a car that the owner has restored properly is losing money and so will you if you buy a money pit. Only reason to buy a project is it is so rare a model you have no choice if you really want one. 

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Philip, I am finding these discussions very interesting, but I wonder whether you are overthinking this thing a bit.  You seem to be searching for a formula that will guarantee that you will get a great car at a great price that you are happy with.  I don't think there is any such formula.  Just for starters, I see two different schools of thought reflected in the advice you are getting.  One school says always buy a "finished car," i.e., let someone else pay for the expensive stuff.  Another school says always buy an untouched original and beware of the "restored" car because you never know if the work has been done right.  The reality is that both things can be true -- it depends completely on the quality of the work that has been done.  And although it obviously helps if the seller is someone who has a good reputation, the only way to really come to an accurate conclusion about the quality of work that has been done is to thoroughly inspect the actual car, not just look at pictures and read the seller's description.  So it's not easy.  The value of an old car is highly subjective, but the one thing we know for sure is that the actual cost of restoration is constantly going up.  So I agree that you are better off with a car where the big ticket items have already been paid for, but in the end you are going to have to compromise in some way.  I know from my own search that you are not going to find the "perfect" car, and you are going to be taking some degree of risk no matter what you end up buying.

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1 hour ago, Lawrence Helfand said:

With all due respect I also cannot agree with the comment that all Buicks need overdrive. Might be nice on a 248 model but to be fair the Buick engineers knew a bit about the issues of sustained engine rpm from racing and aviation motors. In my lead footed youth ferrying cars for money I have driven all manner of vintage vehicles pre and post war straight through coast to coast across the old Rt 66. Sometimes pulling a trailer and in spite of a couple burning vast amounts of oil and blowing water pumps and maybe brakes issues I only ever spun a main bearing one time on a knocking for years worn out 39 Dodge 1 ton overloaded and overheated somehow thinking that the Wynns engine rebuild in a can I added would carry the day. Anybody here blown up a Buick eight from sustained speedy cruising?  I drive my  41 Century at 65/70 in summer heat and it never feels over taxed or over revved and will go a lot faster without blowing up I'm sure.  Really would love to hear about Buick engine failures on otherwise well maintained cars showing normal cooling and oil pressure readings from 65/75 cruising. And in the spirit of this theme.. BUY A CENTURY!  The seller of a car that the owner has restored properly is losing money and so will you if you buy a money pit. Only reason to buy a project is it is so rare a model you have no choice if you really want one. 

 

   Thanks, Lawrence.  My sentiments as well.  They will run all day at speed.  Lower rpm pleases the driver. Car does not need it. 

 

  Ben

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1 hour ago, philipj said:

And believe me, my wife is learning alongside and agrees that a completely finished car is the best way to go in the long run, but is also aware of the much higher cost...

 

I think that folks are suggesting the opposite: the finished car may well be the lower cost.  It may be higher up front, but by the time you've got your bargain project up and running, you paid more for the cheap car -- not to mention the time and enjoyment you've lost in the process.

 

9 minutes ago, neil morse said:

Just for starters, I see two different schools of thought reflected in the advice you are getting.  One school says always buy a "finished car," i.e., let someone else pay for the expensive stuff.  Another school says always buy an untouched original and beware of the "restored" car because you never know if the work has been done right.

 

IMHO, there's merit to both approaches.  The real risk is in buying someone else's uncompleted project.  If it were that cheap or easy or fast to finish, it would be finished.  You also have less confidence in work that was done by a fellow who couldn't finish the job; it brings into question everything that he says he fixed before running out of steam.

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1 hour ago, philipj said:

The clutch on the $22K car, if it needs replacing, isn't that expensive, just a pain. You have to pull the rear end due to the torque tube. Ditto for the torque ball. If 'you can do the work yourself, no problem, and not expensive at all. It's unfortunate you're  getting stressed by all this, and all of  us. The $22K car at a slightly better price is good.  The '37 Century in Sonora is good. The John Young car is good. If you have some mechanical skills, all would be good choices. If you're going to hire the work, the $22K car is probably the best bet. Congrats on your BCA membership!

 

This gets interesting... I am not trying to be unrealistic or be a bargain hunter by any means, I just would like (ONE) good solid car... Unfortunately, I only have so much at my disposal today for it... My idea, perhaps unrealistic in this sense is this: Can I purchase a turn key vehicle for say 19K/20K? If I must scrape everything I have now, or perhaps after tax season 22K..

 

I don't recall stating that the finished Century was way too much, (the Roadmaster is in my view/and still say poorly maintained) but just "untouchable" out of my monetary reach today... And believe me, my wife is learning alongside and agrees that a completely finished car is the best way to go in the long run, but is also aware of the much higher cost...

 

But let's just work with 20K for the sake of argument.. Frankly, I would love to get the finished Century for that amount (it has been for sale for a while, and you must ask yourself why? ) If the clutch issue is not as simple as adjustment or lubrication (as stated by Suchan, then I'm up the creek probably with 2K in repairs) and I have not fixed the speedometer, fuel gauge (Another thing I remember) or anything else...

 

On the other hand, considering an original vehicle in good order, let's say 16K (just to have a figure) would that be a really poor choice if the car is intact and driveable without issues?  If we talk about a torque ball reseal? How expensive a repair is that? So, not trying to be harsh or dismissive, but wondering about the

4K or 5K making a world of difference in purchasing a "Better" car; yet still finding that they're not all completely right!  Where should I place myself not to be set up for disappointment? I am struggling with it thinking, gee.. I have to wait even more for a "perfect" car which will be probably much more than 22K..

 

On a better/happier note, I am officially in the Buick Club as of today!... Maybe the only member without wheels, but still hopeful...:)

 

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Hello Neil,

I'm afraid you really nailed it here... There are two schools of thought, but they're are valid points to be considered. I understand the degree of risk involved and there is no magic answer; short of me seeing and driving any of these vehicles... I will hopefully drive the finished Century in about a week, but my favorite continues to be Mr. Young's car... As soon as I have all the information I will make the best decision possible and live with it. Regarding a "perfect example" I believe they exist in the 30K range, but that will not happen for me unless I win the lotto! .:)

On a separate note, does anyone know of any trusted/qualified shop in So. Florida that can work and really knows these cars? Thank you.

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I should have finished the statement with the words UP FRONT... as correctly pointed out by KongaMan..  

"And believe me, my wife is learning alongside and agrees that a completely finished car is the best way to go in the long run, but is also aware of the

much higher cost.."  He also brings up a valid point about any unfinished project.. Just as me avoiding obvious shoddy repairs on any listings... 

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14 minutes ago, philipj said:

Hello Neil,

I'm afraid you really nailed it here... There are two schools of thought, but they're are valid points to be considered. I understand the degree of risk involved and there is no magic answer; short of me seeing and driving any of these vehicles... I will hopefully drive the finished Century in about a week, but my favorite continues to be Mr. Young's car... As soon as I have all the information I will make the best decision possible and live with it. Regarding a "perfect example" I believe they exist in the 30K range, but that will not happen for me unless I win the lotto! .:)

On a separate note, does anyone know of any trusted/qualified shop in So. Florida that can work and really knows these cars? Thank you.

John Young is a fine gentleman, and he'll sell you an accurately described and reasonably priced car.  Since you're in the same quadrant of the country, why not fly over, meet Mr. Young and his staff,  and drive the car? 

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I promise there will be shoddy repairs on any car you buy, no matter the price or condition.

 

Expect it. It's part of owning an old car. There have been how many dozens of mechanics under the hood of a car built in 1938? How many of them cared about making it the way the factory did it? How many simply put it back together as well as they could just to keep the car running? Most of these cars for a vast majority of their lives were nothing more than low-cost transportation, not collector's items. In 1955, if you had a 1938 Buick Century sedan, it wasn't because you were a collector, it was because it was all you could afford. Do you think the mechanic at work at that time was especially careful or concerned about correctness? Do you think the owner could afford to pay someone to "do it right?" Unlikely.

 

Restored cars are no guarantee, either. I expect that any car I get from an auction house will be 20% worse than advertised. I expect #1 quality cars with top awards will run just well enough to limp on and off the trailer. A trailer queen that runs right is rare, make no mistake. The car was 90% done, it looked like a car, mostly operated like a car, and the owner got sick of writing checks so he called it done and figured he'd take care of the rest later. They never do.

 

There are no guarantees with old cars and original doesn't buy you mechanical excellence any more than restored does. I like original cars best because if they're well preserved, they're often better, but many also have needs and deficiencies that you need to address and/or overlook. My 1941 Cadillac 60 Special was voted the best original unrestored car (HPOF) in the country in 2012, but the carpets were shot, the paint had many thin spots, the chrome was pitted, the engine bay was filthy, and when I bought it, it needed a  fuel pump, carburetor, gas tank, wheel cylinders, hoses, lines, shoes, master cylinder, tires, battery, etc., etc., etc. Drove great when I was done, but it was probably $5-6000 worth of work to take it from "decent original " to "drive it anywhere" reliable. And I never fixed the clock or the radio or the antenna or the windshield wipers...

 

Plan for unknowns. Even if a seller is being straight with you, there are likely things that he doesn't know about and/or things that he could live with and you cannot. Expect to spend money on a car after the purchase. How much depends on where you start. Very few of us aren't upside-down on our hobby cars--I'm in the business and I'm grossly upside-down on my '29 Cadillac and '41 Buick (never mind my '41 Century on which I will be RIDICULOUSLY upside-down when it's done). Buying the car is only the first check you'll write, I'm sorry to say.

 

Buy the best possible car that balances the things you want, but keep those wants reasonable--any car you buy is going to need time and money to be what you want it to be. That's why you should make price tag like the third or fourth most important thing on your list, not first.

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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24 minutes ago, KongaMan said:

I think that folks are suggesting the opposite: the finished car may well be the lower cost.  It may be higher up front, but by the time you've got your bargain project up and running, you paid more for the cheap car -- not to mention the time and enjoyment you've lost in the process.

 

THIS!^^

 

Yes, any car you buy will need some work, no matter how perfect it looks, but don't buy a project if you want to drive! It is easy to say to yourself "oh I will just fix this little thing and that little thing..." etc. Restoration isn't for everyone. If you want to drive, buy a finished car. Any work that is already done when you buy the car you are getting for about 1/3 the cost (or better!). You wont get everything, but the more you can buy this way the cheaper it is. The difference is huge.

 

Craigslist is full of cars that have "lots of money invested, just need someone to finish it up". Life has way of dropping a piano on your head just as you have the car far enough apart that it wont drive anymore.

 

Fully sorted cars that also look good rarely come up on the market. It is tough to get there even for people with a lot of money. People who made it to that point often are not interested in selling. Sometimes you get extremely lucky and hear about a really well sorted car through a club that the owner became too old to handle the manual steering, or is getting remarried and moving to Bermuda, or died, or something. Otherwise, buy the best car you can possibly get, and start daily driving it around town and see what troubles crop up. If you bought well, in about a year it may very well be good enough to take on long trips. Good luck!

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Thank you all for your insight... I fully understand the fact that this is not a simple 1,2, 3 situation.. I will use my best judgement and experience acquired from restoring (WWII jeeps mostly) but I still feel it is useful when choosing an older car.. If possible, I will fly to a location to look and drive the car... Mind you, at that point I will be 90% sure that that is the vehicle I want...

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49 minutes ago, philipj said:

On a separate note, does anyone know of any trusted/qualified shop in So. Florida that can work and really knows these cars? Thank you.

 

Just to underscore the point that others have made: if you're looking for shops, you're looking at writing checks.

 

15 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

There are no guarantees with old cars and original doesn't buy you mechanical excellence any more than restored does.

 

What it does buy you is not having to redo bad work -- especially because the seller is usually going to bump the price because he sees value in that work. That is, he'll want to charge you for a poor paint job, when your appraisal is that it needs to be redone and you have no idea what's hiding underneath. 

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Almost every old car I have bought,  atleast in the last few years have been more than I was going to spend and even more than I was thinking of spending,  but every one,  I was sure happy I reached as far as I dared,  even borrowing a little money to get what I wanted.  If you can come up with most of the money and only have to borrow say 2 to 4 thousand dollars to make it happen I will guarantee it's worth it.  The field of cars opens up dramatically every step up the ladder you make in price. 

Just like selling.  Every body looks at a $5000 car, half as many people can come up with 10,000, and again half as many or less at 15,000.  Just go up from there with every 5 thousand dollar increment and watch the number of potential buyers half.  This is especially true with more common vintage cars where there is a large market to chose from.  

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