Brooklyn Beer

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

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If this is in the wrong place I apologize but it seems like a logical place to ask this question.  Come Spring I am going to be looking at buying a late 20's - early 30's car and do not have a set make or type though am partial to Pontiac styling. 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.  I have not ever owned or worked on a car from this era.  Have had a 1940 Ford 1.5 ton truck and do have a 1946 Dodge, 49 Roadmaster, 65 Fury III convertible, and 80 Z28 (HS car).  My mechanical experience is not the best but surely not the worst. Not afraid to tackle any project with help and guidance (Thank you AACA forums) of experienced people when getting into something I have never worked on before.  So here is what I what like to know as I continue to research what make and model of car would be best for me. (and eventually my nephews)

 

Parts availability.  What make is easy to get parts for when it breaks?  Heard horror stories about this problem with some 20's cars

 

Reliability.  What make is noted for it's reliability with just normal scheduled maintenance in regards to around town driving? No touring, etc. 

 

Ability to work on.  What make has good shop manuals and simplicity that an average auto hobbyist's garage tool inventory can easily work on.

 

 

 

I look forward to folk's opinions and explanations as to why they feel as they do about this or that. Just what what and why that make compared to this make is better (or worse) in what standpoint.  Have a few months before going shopping. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1920's and 1930's cars are lovely, they generally are not high speed by today's standards - but all are generally torque-y, very easy to work on compared to today's standards of cars, and used parts are surprising available (but often more challenging to find and expect certain things to possibly not be available and need fabrication which often means more expense involved) - you need to join the club for whatever you get and reach out to people with the same/similar car, wood frame work tends to be hard for some people and certain cars are die-cast trim wonders and that can at times be a challenge, and related.  The cars you listed are excellent primers for pretty much anything. 

 

I do recommend you start off with a driver or close to one to start - if you find something later that floats your boat more then sell X and move on.

 

As to clubs - Join the AACA and Horseless Carriage Club for a year to start.

 

 

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GM cars had used a lot of wood in those years.  Fords and Ford parts are common but the inside of the car can be a bit on the small size.  Dodge had all steel bodies since the early 1920s. The late 1920s the Dodge cars were 12 -14 inches wider than the Fords and with more leg room.

Ford Dodge.jpg

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I second the idea of joining some clubs and getting a lay of the land.  No need to rush in to anything.  

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1 hour ago, 28 Chrysler said:

GM cars had used a lot of wood in those years.  Fords and Ford parts are common but the inside of the car can be a bit on the small size.  Dodge had all steel bodies since the early 1920s. The late 1920s the Dodge cars were 12 -14 inches wider than the Fords and with more leg room.

Ford Dodge.jpg

Yep. That's my 1931 Dodge Brothers coupe on the right. I had a Model A and did not fit in it very well. I am 5'-7" tall. My DB has LOADS of room for a bigger guy.

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parts availability, ease of maintenance and easy resale?????????????

 

Model A ford.

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All good advice above.  I would check in with regular poster Matt Harwood who may still have a very reasonably priced Pontiac 2 door sedan ready to rock since you mentioned Pontiac.

 

Quick pitch for a late T or better, imo, a Model A to get feel for the era.  Always a ready market for an A if you decide its not for you, a bit more market risk with non Ford, non CCCA cars I think.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, keiser31 said:

Yep. That's my 1931 Dodge Brothers coupe on the right. I had a Model A and did not fit in it very well. I am 5'-7" tall. My DB has LOADS of room for a bigger guy.

 

 

Yes, I am 6 ft  so room needs to be considered.  I also like the idea of all steel as opposed to wood. That also needs to be considered as I live in TX and times humidity can get quite low for weeks on end.  How would that affect the wood structure as well as wood wheels?   Reading that Dodge changed to a 6 cylinder in 1929 (?). From a reliability and workmanship standpoint what is considered the best year in Dodge Brothers?  Say from 1927 to 1932.  I know these are only personal opinions. I will look into a Dodge Brothers club.  Just an FYI on the size of people in the 30's yes they were smaller. Even before depression times malnourished them. I do WW 2 living history and the average soldier going into WW 2 weighed about 155 pounds, stood 5-6, and wore a size 36 suit.  Based on uniform allotments to the QM.

Edited by Brooklyn Beer
spelling (see edit history)
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23 minutes ago, mercer09 said:

parts availability, ease of maintenance and easy resale?????????????

 

Model A ford.

Thank you.  I see Model A's listed everywhere and with prices every direction !  will follow the market trend.  Seems a model A is available for every budget.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Brooklyn Beer said:

... I am going to be looking at buying a late 20's - early 30's car and do not have a set make or type though am partial to Pontiac styling.

 

The typical closed car from that era can be quite affordable.

Cars 1916 to 1927 or 1928 are even more affordable, since

they have even less demand, and many of their owners are

older.  Some cars of the years you note are considered to have

styling so beautiful that it wasn't surpassed for several decades.  

 

Matt Harwood is a collector-car dealer and AACA member

who frequents this forum.  He's knowledgeable about

antique cars.  And, as Steve Mack noted above, he has

a 1929 Pontiac 2-door sedan for sale that you might like to look at:

 

http://www.harwoodmotors.com/vehicles/inventory_details.php?id=911

 

 

 

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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also if you go on the Ford Barn- you will have all of the help you will ever need.........

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Yes, the Model A market is all over the place but their is order if one takes the time to research.  Fine point cars using NOS parts and little or no repro stuff, rare bodystyles like the A400 or two door phaeton will command a premium.  Many newer, older restorations, projects and the occasional original show up for much less.  As Mercer says, Fordbarn is a great resource.  

 

At 5 foot, 9 inches, 230 lbs i could stand to lose a few but fit in my 30 roadster just fine.  28, 29s are generally tighter and tudors have adjustible seats.  Little wood in tudors, roadsters, lots in sedans.  

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Consider a Studebaker; Pretty reliable and great club to work with. Some of their cars were a little bigger than Ford or Chevys of that era. Yes, I am biased cause I have owned many Studes. but only have one now. A 1927 Studebaker Commander Sport Roadster.  Now, don't the rest of you guys get me for plugging my preference. There a lot of good Brands out there. Respectfully,  Commander Dave

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I have looked at Studes and like the history with them as much as say a Packard.  Plus just a different car then is normally seen. So I am tossing this Hemmings ad out there for no particular reason just to get your opinion on what I should be looking for with a studebaker. What are some of the critical area's common to problems etc.

 

https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/cars-for-sale/studebaker/rockne/2077698.html

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You have to consider what your plans are for a car touring or showing. A late teens or early 20s car  have limited events. Too new pre 1916 for HCCA and two slow for other events plus reliability. If you want to tour you have to consider a source for parts. Or for show an expensive restoration that you will never recoup in that vintage era.  I for myself would go for a Ford A for a first earlier car as there are many eligible events, great driving, easy for parts and an all fun car to drive. If you have a problem with an A on tour there is always several experts around on As that would be glad to help you out.

Then after you got your feet wet the A is an easier car to part with if you choose a different direction.  And yes as above Mat Hargrove would be the fellow to set you in an early car. 

Besides you would be able to come to Kingston Ont. for the AACA National Vintage tour Aud. 4 to 9.

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Touring, showing, etc is basically a local thing for me. As much as I would like too, traveling distances require taking the dog with me so I tend to stick less then 2 hours drive. I have the ability to trailer so no big deal. I doubt I would ever go to a show for points, judging, etc.  Way out of my league.  Really looking for a car to drive 5 miles into town a couple times a week for errands and then the occasional local show and shine.

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10 hours ago, Steve_Mack_CT said:

I would check in with regular poster Matt Harwood who may still have a very reasonably priced Pontiac 2 door sedan ready to rock since you mentioned Pontiac.

This looks to be a very good car.  My 30 Pontiac is basically the same car and it has given me 59 years for 400,000+ miles after my Grandfather put 99,000 miles on it in 29 years. I have been in every state west of the Mississippi.  Only had to be towed home once.  The pressure plate fell apart the day after I had been pulling stumps with the car.  26-28 Pontiacs are better than the same year Ford or Chev but are not nearly as good as 29 and up.

 

3 hours ago, commander Dave said:

Consider a Studebaker; Pretty reliable and great club to work with. Some of their cars were a little bigger than Ford or Chevys of that era.

I had a 26 Studebaker, a much superior car to the Pontiac but when children arrived sentiment won out over practical.

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From the advent of the automobile until maybe the mid-1930s there was continuous and rapid technological changes made to cars. A bit like computer or mobile phones today: A couple of years difference in design can make a huge difference product. And like now with mobile phones, the lower priced lines generally picked up features and engineering a little after the high end lines. All this to say that the difference between a late 1920s car and an early 1930s car can be considerable and for any given year the higher priced makes were more likely to be a more advanced or refined vehicle.

 

You've had the Model A Ford suggested. And it has lots of things going for it, most notably a huge supplier base for parts. I suspect that early Chevrolet suppliers exist too that may have a large range of reproduction parts. But the Model A has a steel body, etc. The further you go from Ford and Chevy the fewer reproduction parts you'll easily find, so the more the need for joining a marque specific club to help find that elusive widget you need.

 

On the topic of reliability, I notice you have a 46 Dodge. By 1933 Chrysler had come up with a pretty decent mechanical design and the running gear in a Dodge from 1933 is strikingly similar to that in your '46. Four wheel Lockheed hydraulic brakes and the same basic engine with full pressure feed lubrication, aluminum pistons, etc. In fact, other than the head it uses the same engine gasket set as your '46. I find that most tune-up/wear parts I need for my '33 Plymouth I can get from my local auto supply store. They might have to order them from the local warehouse, but I can usually get what I need in a day or so. So you might consider a 1933 or up Dodge. Unfortunately body and trim parts will be much more difficult to find than for a Model A Ford so you need to keep that in mind when looking at cars.

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One thing that’s not mentioned often is that quite often these cars have ideas/approaches that didn’t pan out in the long term which can make things a bit foreign.

 

e.g I have a 1922 Cadillac that has fork and blade conrods which weren’t widely used 

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21 hours ago, John_Mereness said:

1920's and 1930's cars are lovely, they generally are not high speed by today's standards - but all are generally torque-y, very easy to work on compared to today's standards of cars, and used parts are surprising available (but often more challenging to find and expect certain things to possibly not be available and need fabrication which often means more expense involved) - you need to join the club for whatever you get and reach out to people with the same/similar car, wood frame work tends to be hard for some people and certain cars are die-cast trim wonders and that can at times be a challenge, and related.  The cars you listed are excellent primers for pretty much anything. 

 

I do recommend you start off with a driver or close to one to start - if you find something later that floats your boat more then sell X and move on.

 

As to clubs - Join the AACA and Horseless Carriage Club for a year to start.

 

 

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

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Of course I will endorse the sentiments of those that have suggested the Model A,  but I do agree that Dodge made a very fine automobile.  A marque not mentioned yet that I feel doesn’t get the recognition is Nash.  I think you get a pretty good bang for the buck there, they were a well made car in many ways ahead of the Fords but they just don’t command the same prices because the hot rod crowd has driven up the value of 30s Ford bodies.

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I started skimming through classifieds just to look at base line pricing VS car quality.  Has there not been a 24-28 ford that has not been hot rodded???  There is no way the market could support that many to buyers.  I went on to look at Studebaker and Dodge Brothers and oddly those early-mid 20's open touring cars started looking very interesting indeed, Ford included.   But I have to ask.  What is it based on mechanical' s that make the Studebaker VS the Ford VS the Nash VS the Dodge different.  High points VS Low points

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5 minutes ago, Brooklyn Beer said:

What is it based on mechanical' s that make the Studebaker VS the Ford VS the Nash VS the Dodge different?

 

I'll let others delve into specifics, Brooklyn, but from

old automotive accounts I've read, there was a MARKED

difference in that era between low-priced, medium-priced,

and high-priced cars.  Today, you can buy a Honda Civic or

a high-line Mercedes-Benz, and both will be competent and

comfortable to take you on a trip across the country.  In the

old days, comfort, smoothness, and reliability were very

different between, for instance, a Chevrolet and a Pierce-Arrow.

 

One writer 100 years ago explained it as such:  You wouldn't

expect a small boat to do the things that an ocean-going yacht

would do.  Even so, you shouldn't expect a small runabout car,

to be used for errands around town or driving to work, 

to tour the continent as a large car would do.

 

Those vast differences between grades of cars were reduced

over many decades, but even a 1971 Chevrolet Vega would

be louder, harsher, and less comfortable than a Chevrolet Caprice. 

So, even the difference between a Ford and a Dodge or Buick

from your years of interest should be noticeable to you.

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Are you a person who changes your own oil or takes it to a shop?  When you need work done do you think more about labor cost or parts?

 

If you are mechanical anything is possible, if you rely on others money makes anything possible.

 

Knowing where you are will help determine the best car for you

 

 

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