Brooklyn Beer

Advice / input on buying a late 20's - early 30's car

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Posted (edited)

If you are looking for a more robust build and mechnical quality  example then don't go for a Ford or Chev from the '20's. However, like others have mentioned, parts availability is easiest for the Fords by a long way, and very cheap too.

 

Regarding hotrods, try finding a non hotrodded Ford model B ('32 onwards), I have never seen an original one here in Australia.

Edited by maok
spelling (see edit history)

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You can sink way more than you bargained for into a Model A too....... :wacko:

There is a lot of wood in the Model A.

If the top is not in GREAT shape the chances are the underlying wood isn't either.

That's a common thing to look for in most 20's and earlyish 30's cars and no part of doing the fixing is easy, pleasant or cheap.

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Lots of good stuff. Keep it coming. Looking at the price differences between Studebaker, Buick  VS Ford, Dodge, Chevy, just what is it that made (make) then such a different car and upscale model? Was it just creature comforts or a big difference in mechanicals?  I have read good info on how Packards were assembled like a Swiss watch.  What made Buick and Studebaker stand a step taller then lower priced models?   

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There is a lot of wood in the Model A.

 

 

 

BUT APPARENTLY FAR LESS THEN IN CHEVIES AND OTHER MAKES. i BOUGHT A 31 CHEVY ROADSTER AND HAD A HELL OF A TIME GETTING PARTS. mOST CHEVIES WERE SCRAPPED BECAUSE OF ALL WOOD BODIES.

 

NO SO WITH THE FORDS...........WHY SO MANY ARE WITH US TODAY!

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You are going to get a really wide variety of opinions considering the audience.   My opinion (besides the advice I already gave for joining a bunch of clubs) is to sit back and wait for the best 28-32 car that happens to fall in to your lap over the next 18 months.    What that car is depends on your budget.    If you have 10k to spend,  then the low to mid priced suggestions make sense.  If you can get up in the 20k range you might be able to find a nice car among the lower end of the big Classics.   But has been stated many times on the forum,  you can have as much fun in a Model T as a Model J,  just depends on what floats your boat.

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I am far from an authority on prewar cars but I was fortunate enough to own three "big Classics" - a 1928 Pierce-Arrow model 81, a 1932 Cadillac 370B V-12, and a 1934 Packard model 1100. My overall impression was that cars made a light year shift in technological advancement in the six years between 1928 and 1934. My Pierce was considered state of the art in '28 but the driving experience seemed archaic compared to the later cars, with the Packard feeling very modern in comparison. Keep this in mind and get real driving experience in the cars you add to your list before buying.

 

My only other comment is that there are many bargain priced prewar cars out there right now and it is a good time to buy as long as you have your eyes open to potential difficulties regarding parts and service availability. Good luck! 

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A Ford is the best bet as far parts availablity, less body wood to rot, Club help etc. Model A’s have four wheel brakes and will do 45 easy and maybe 50-55 with an overdrive. Early v8 Fords are an option too but a little more pricey than and an A. Non Fords of this era have few parts being made. You can get just about anything for an A or v8 Ford in a day or so vs a longer search for non Ford parts.

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On 1/7/2019 at 8:39 AM, Curti said:

John, I would have suggested the very car you are restoring.   Parts availability , great club, drive all day at 60-70 mph.    

Yes, I generally recommend an Auburn 1926 through 1936 - great drivability no matter with most any year you get (all be it 34-36 is a great improvement over earlier series cars), wonderful club, solid place to park your money, good parts availability (especially for the 34-36 cars), and the list goes on and on. 

 

I generally have no fear with 1928-1935 Ford cars as well (a couple of T's around here too, but just depends on what you want to achieve via drivability - we live right in the thick of things in town and an A to V-8 is a better choice).   Sidnote:  I like the more traditional chrome grill of a 35 :) 

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13 hours ago, alsancle said:

You are going to get a really wide variety of opinions considering the audience.   My opinion (besides the advice I already gave for joining a bunch of clubs) is to sit back and wait for the best 28-32 car that happens to fall in to your lap over the next 18 months.    What that car is depends on your budget.    If you have 10k to spend,  then the low to mid priced suggestions make sense.  If you can get up in the 20k range you might be able to find a nice car among the lower end of the big Classics.   But has been stated many times on the forum,  you can have as much fun in a Model T as a Model J,  just depends on what floats your boat.

April I am looking at a 20-22k budget for a car.  Why I am doing my homework now. Not locked into any car in general.  Just would like pre 32.  When did mechanical fuel pumps come in?  I have also see a few articles on people putting overdrive in model A's which seems interesting

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Posted (edited)

 

 " Would like a driver car I can take out in the evenings that is solid, dependable, and not rare by any means.  A car that is easy to grasp and learn on."

 

What I get from this question is the OP is not looking for a car needing much restoration work, but if it needs some mechanical upkeep, it should be basic and easy enough to work on.  Not rare would mean parts should be readily available and the OP actually states that as another criteria later in the post. 

 

What amazes me is all the negative comments about wood framed bodies and parts availability for Chevy. If the OP purchases a "SOLID" car as he stated he is looking for, wood won't be an issue. Today, we never put our cars through the weather that they were put through when they were new. There are plenty of wood body cars, with excellent condition wood, out there in the same price range as an A and some T's that are in great shape and actually, have a much more "solid" feel and sound to them than a steel bodied car plus better HP and drivability.  Close a door on a 32' Chevy and a 32' Ford and you'll know what I mean. Drive a Ford A or T all day at 35-40mph. Drive a 31-32 chevy at 45-50 all day with more power and better brakes. Kind of a no brainer.

    If someone buys a good solid wood bodied car, they will not have any more issues with it than those without the wood. The OP states a $20-$22K budget. I can tell you a very nice, reliable, completely solid, wood framed car can be purchased. That kind of money would buy you a very nice rumble seat coupe and virtually any restored sedan.  I restore different brands of Fisher bodied cars. Great driving and super easy to work on mechanically. I do woodwork but again, I restore them and once they leave my shop, I'm confident the owner will never see a wood issue in his lifetime. To try and scare someone away from a wood bodied car with all kinds of horror stories or lack of parts availability is not proper advice based on the OP's original question and his budget. To inform him, if looking at a wood framed bodied car, to make sure the wood is solid and if he's not sure, to have someone experienced look at it for him, would be proper advice.  As far as original and aftermarket parts for Chevy, 330,000 31' chevys were made and another ton of them in 32', both years outselling Ford. Yes, there are a lot more Fords on the road because of the steel bodies, but there's still a ton of original parts out there from the chevys that aren't on the road. Aftermarket parts are also very plentiful for the 29 and up Chevys. 

Edited by chistech (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

On the A phaeton, nice enough car, top is incorrect but better looking than the correct black cobra grain top. An example of whsts typically seen in terms of creative license but likely not an issue. 

 

If you want a pre 32, easy to maintain, drive and resell and can go low 20s you can get an A in the bodystyle of your choice likely with a touring engine (insert vs. Babbit bearings, a little more hp) and poss od set up.  These generally help vs hurt value in all but the fine point cars, and are usually the quickest to sell. 

 

Join MARC and the monthly is really high quality, always a few good cars availble in classified section..

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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-if you don't mind a closed car how bout that nice honest looking 1930 Cadillac for sale here in AACA forums? obviously upkeep wont be as thrifty as a little ford but what a value!

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11 hours ago, Brooklyn Beer said:

Just throwing this out there as this caught my eye.  In this price range what jumps out at you both good and bad      https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/cars-for-sale/ford/model-a/2185956.html

I am not an A expert but have lot of friends with them. Others will chime in on what to look for in terms of correctness. The Mitchell Tranny that comes with it could be a nice addition and I believe adds overdrive that pushes the cruising speed up a bit and no double clutching and you could keep up with those 31-32 Chevies at least on flat ground. I have one friend with one and he likes it. I do not know the  cost of a Mitchell but they are not cheap. 

 

Tom Muth

Cincinnati, Ohio

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And with that I think I should point out Mitchell makes 2 different types of product for the Model A.

 

The first is an Overdrive that goes in the torque tube. This is not a planetary deal, it is an auxillary (second) transmission with 2 speeds, direct and overdrive. It is more comparable to a Warford for a model T, except that it has helical gears (much quieter) and is fully synchronized!.

 

The second thing Mitchell makes is a set of fully synchronized gears for the model A transmission. With this, the model A is no longer a crashbox and basically anyone can drive it. It is still 1:1 direct drive in high gear like a stock model A.

 

If you have enough money you could do both!.

 

If it were me I would go for the Overdrive before I would go for the fancy transmission gears. A cruising gear is more important to me. I can shift a crashbox.

 

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Join a club of a particular make you seem to be attracted to visually. Also  join an AACA region or chapter. When you are in the region or chapter there should be members who would not mind giving you a ride around in their cars. This way you get to experience the ride and view out of the car., see how effective the brakes are , and the car as speed. This all should be done to a fairly extensive extent if possible before you buy anything. I agree that you will need a car with enough horsepower and cylinders to move you down the road at a comfortable 50-55 mph if you need to get it that fast to get around a situation on the road or out of the way of someone else. I owned a 4 cylinder 1931 Plymouth model PA sedan for decades - hydraulic brakes so stopped great and was a very peppy car, steered well etc. I do like the 320 cu in straight eight Packard and Buicks,  ,  to take the time and expense to install a after market overdrive is ok, but why? How many cross state or country trips will you need a sustained 50-60 mph? Cadillac V8's pre war are wonderful as well. I am only commenting on cars that I have had some considerable experience with and hours on the road with. Pierce Arrow made a wonderful 8 cyl car and if you want something mechanically "exotic" an air cooled Franklin 6 cyl will keep you going down the road all day long at 55mph and the 1930-33 Airman share the same ignition parts ( cap, rotor etc) with the 1950-54 Chevy. I drove my 1931 Franklin Airman over 40,000 miles.

See if someone won't give you a ride around for a while in something you find attractive and would possibly like to own one just like it. Do not be afraid of a car with a wood framed body, just be sure to check it out to see if it is solid.

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Posted (edited)

Actually, in thinking about it, op might find an interesting non Ford alternative in that price range, the Caddy, Franklin options or the nice buick coupe elsewhere on the forum could fit the bill.  Great thread!

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)
58 minutes ago, Steve_Mack_CT said:

Actually, in thinking about it, op might find an interesting non Ford alternative in that price range, the Caddy, Franklin options or the nice buick coupe elsewhere on the forum could fit the bill.  Great thread!

All three of these brands would have wood framed bodies and the Franklins even used wood on their chassis. Just pointing that out. But again, if the wood is good, it will most likely remain good for todays antique car usage. Because a car has a wood framed body, it shouldn't be disregarded or not recommended as a candidate for the OP's consideration. Hey, Rolls, Pierce Arrow, and Packard used wood longer than GM did and nobody disregards those cars at anytime. I'll take my 32' Olds DCR over any steel framed bodied car in its price and year range any day! Yup, I'm biased!😀

Edited by chistech (see edit history)
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3 hours ago, tomcarnut said:

I am not an A expert but have lot of friends with them. Others will chime in on what to look for in terms of correctness. The Mitchell Tranny that comes with it could be a nice addition and I believe adds overdrive that pushes the cruising speed up a bit and no double clutching and you could keep up with those 31-32 Chevies at least on flat ground. I have one friend with one and he likes it. I do not know the  cost of a Mitchell but they are not cheap. 

 

Tom Muth

Cincinnati, Ohio

Now, if you were fortunate to purchase a 31-32' chevy that has had it's differential gear set changed to a Larry Jackson 3.5 ratio set even that overdrive A would have a hard time cruising with that Chevy all day long. 

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Christech - yes Franklin used wood in their frames/chassis but by 1929 all chassis were steel thru the end of their manufacture in 1934, The longer wheelbase 1928 Franklin's had a steel chassis.  Just wanted to make sure everyone was aware of that fact. The Franklin club also has excellent technical support as to what parts are available, who fixes what and where etc. The 1932-34 Franklin Olympic series 18 were Reo Flying Clouds with Franklin providing the engine, trans., hubcaps, hood, and shell. The engine the Olympic used was the same as the engine in the larger Airman series but the Olympic was much lighter weight wise.

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5 hours ago, Bloo said:

"And...................................... I can shift a crashbox."

 

 

Hey Brooklyn'  : do you know how to double clutch 'em up and down smoothly ? Or even match revs shift without touching the clutch ? One more STRONG point in favor of the delightful Model A being an entry level car for the automotive period you would like to experience. Blow shifts, grind them cogs, break 2nd gear, no big deal. Easy repair, plenty of parts availability. I let people drive my old Cadillacs, love the view from the back seat ! Some of the guys who are good at shifting the crashboxes  and I put on a smug, superior attitude against synchromesh transmissions. However, the best way to begin learning how to double clutch a crashbox, is on a synchromesh trans. Call it crashbox 101, in which learning the "dance", the coordination of 4 limbs until it becomes routine, is the first step. You want to get to the point where you can double clutch a snap-quick 3-1 downshift as your car loses momentum on a grade.

 

O.K. Now having earned that "Gear Jammer" T-shirt on the Model A, you have really come to love that A. Hanging around and comparing other cars of the era, you have a baseline from which to select the next step. It will be easy to sell the A, quickly if you sell somewhat under market if need be. Consider your ownership to have been an inexpensive, fun learning experience. And, if you are really lucky, that A might have given you an opportunity to twist a wrench from time to time.

 

The larger cars from the late '20s to the early'30s have a very different road feel from the A. Try them out. But you can be sure your first Model A Ford will always hold a special place in your heart.    -   Cadillac Carl 

 

P.S. Lemmee see if I can find a picture of me riding shotgun, or in the back seat of one of my crashbox driver training cars (I have 2 spare transmissions for this one) ..................... Yup. Found a couple. This is "Doc Hawk" out of 'Vegas earning his T-shirt

 

 

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20 hours ago, Brooklyn Beer said:

. . .  When did mechanical fuel pumps come in? . . .

 

Different manufacturers rolled in "modern" features at different times. For Plymouth specifically and, I think, Chrysler manufactured cars in general:

 

Four wheel hydraulic brakes: All Plymouths from the first in 1928 (Chrysler from 1924).

Full pressure engine lubrication: All Plymouths from the first in 1928

All steel bodies: 1930

Mechanical fuel pump: 1930

Automatic spark advance: 1931

Thin shell replaceable engine crank and main bearings: 1933

Synchronized transmission: 1935 (constant mesh transmissions with sliding dog clutches used earlier, by 1933, but no synchro mechanism).

 

I think GM was the first with synchronized transmissions, maybe 1930 or 32. I am sure someone on this thread will know.

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Synchromesh made its debut in the 1929 Cadillac. Dr. Hawkins and myself developed a cynical sneer to accompany discussion of '29 and later synchro' Cads. Oh, all right. I do confess to a bit of the "sour grapes" syndrome on my part. I have a feeling "Doc Hawk" is straight-up serious, but he will have to speak for himself. Here he is. Ask him.   -  CC 

 

 

7C92A52A-F6E5-4F67-A59A-FDBA24492AA4.jpeg

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9 hours ago, md murray said:

-if you don't mind a closed car how bout that nice honest looking 1930 Cadillac for sale here in AACA forums? obviously upkeep wont be as thrifty as a little ford but what a value!

 

I agree, I was very interested in that car but no matter how I rearranged my garage it just wouldn’t fit In without removing my workbench altogether. It’s a great looking car!

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10 hours ago, md murray said:

-if you don't mind a closed car how bout that nice honest looking 1930 Cadillac for sale here in AACA forums? obviously upkeep wont be as thrifty as a little ford but what a value!

Have not seen this.

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