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Museum cars?

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I am considering the purchase of a 1912 Metz that has been a Museum exhibit for a number of years (history is a bit sketchy). Seller claims it was last run 2 years ago, but I can't varify. He also claims car was restored in the 60's . the cosmetic appearance is outstanding. I told him that the car needed to be running and varified by video.

 

My question is, what is the collective opinion is regarding purchase of a Museum car?

 

Rod

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Posted (edited)

If you do a search on this site for "Museum cars" I think you will find that most people here do not regard that as a positive attribute. Cars do not respond well to being static displays and the vast majority of museums that have cars are incompetent to maintain them as anything else. Expect to have problems. I am not certain that insisting that they get it running is a good idea... the sump is probably full of sludge and running the engine may do serious damage.

 

You might be better advised to insist that the engine turns over by hand and that the car has compression. If both of those are the case, you will still have to take a good look at the internals before trying to start it.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)

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What is the environment of the museum? Was it in storage or active display? Cars of this era store well and may be easier to get into running condition far easier than recent additions to collectible community. However running is different than driving condition. This has a friction drive. Are you familiar with that? Just because a car is a museum car doesn't make it correct. Early cars have castings of varying quality. What you want to do with the car makes a big difference in what a museum car will do for you. If it is the Metz advertised here I would want to verify the color. Price seem fairly good on that one.

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I agree with J. V. above.  To a knowledgeable collector,

a "museum car" is usually a car to be wary of.  They may

look beautiful from 20 feet away, but usually they aren't

even cosmetically excellent.

 

IF (and that's a big word) the car was run 2 years ago, I doubt that

its mechanical systems were all addressed, it was taken for

a few 50-mile rides, and it was proven reliable.  Museums

rarely do that.  It's very likely that that car may have been idle

for many, many years in that museum.

 

If there is a car there you really like, don't let its overall idleness

scare you away.  Just bid accordingly--more intelligently maybe

than others--and know that you'll have to do quite a bit of work

before you make it reliable.

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On any car you buy I would expect some degree of mechanical work for whatever your anticipated level of driveablity - even cars toured with need attention and it is not uncommon to get something that has just come off an AACA, HCCA, or CCCA tour to need plenty of work and the flip side of the coin is that stuff that never gets driven usually has bugs to fix too.   As to museums - a lot of nice cars have been put in them and the storage conditions are usually favorable - perhaps a good place to look for a really solid car to begin with. 

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Posted (edited)

Sidenote:  We have friends with a "100 point" Metz and I would not drive it 2 feet (all be it they have driven it a couple blocks - and even they have sweated through their clothes doing that) - hard decision as car is really exceptional, but it basically needs re-restored.  And, I can go out to other friends and take their probably 1967 brush painted and bandaged Metz and head out of the garage for hours.   The people with the 100 point car bought theirs because they loved the other one and ...

 

Same goes for some Auburns around here that people misinterpreted when I said car was "easy" (not realizing what my definition of  "easy" is  and how many hours upon hours I spend in the garage so the car can sail out without issue) and took it upon themselves to buy a car that looked pretty but needed a good going through (and of course they are not happy as they did not plan on that).

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)

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Great response! The car in question is the first Metz here: https://www.hcca.org/classifieds.php?cars.

 It also is very close in looks and description to the one listed on this site. The hcca car i'm looking at is offered at 24,000.00, it is also listed on the Robert Platt classic car site at 25,000.00. the one on this site is $32,900.00. They all are located in St Louis, and are green. I'm suspecting the same car and same seller. I first saw the HCCA car and thought to offer $22,000.00, but then thought maybe $20,000.00 would be tops. Now I'm leaning toward no more than 18,000.00.

I understand all the pros and cons put forward here and am probably more concerned with his getting it prepped prior to starting it now.

Decisions -- decisions?

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The good news about a Metz car is their simplicity. They basically have a simplified Model T engine (minus the planetary transmission) and with a high-voltage Bosch magneto. A Model T guy could check out the engine for you. The transmission is, of course, a paper friction wheel. This will probably need to be replaced, but they are available. The differential is tiny, but does need lubrication. There are no glaring defects in the car's design, but you'll need to check all the bearings, the crankshaft, spokes, etc. before you go touring.The timing gear is a steel/fiberboard sandwich that sometimes needs replacement. If the finish looks good, it was probably in a heated building, which beats a shed or barn.

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I see it's for sale by Robert Pass.

He used to have Passport Transport, the old-car transport

company.  Now he is a dealer in antique cars, usually

better ones.

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I have acquired two museum cars.  One from an auction for a smaller museum that did not maintain the cars and the other that was on loan to a major museum that maintains their cars.  My 1913 Cole came from a small museum and it was there for 10 years without much maintenance done on it at all.  It cost me about $7k to get everything going and working again well.  The car was fully restored before it went into the museum so cosmetically it was fabulous and it was even overhauled mechanically, but sitting that long without use necessitates a good going through again of all systems.  Also, you don't want to start it without getting it prepped.  I wouldn't be surprised at all if they didn't drain the gas out of it.  So, I have had no issue with getting something from a museum but just be aware of the price going in to it.  

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15 minutes ago, kfle said:

My 1913 Cole came from a small museum and it was there for 10 years without much maintenance... 

 

Congratulations on getting the Cole back on the road!

I drive all my cars, and tell people that I don't collect paper-weights.

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I bought a 12 T that had been on display from 1949 and then stored in a garage for eight years. But had been run occasionally and maintained to an extent. What I found was the mechanics are fair but I am still  rebuilding the engine and trany. I also found parts that come off easy were long gone. It was still a very good deal for me and thank the guys on this forum for my perches of it.

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Posted (edited)

In my opinion - cars were meant to be Driven ......

 

Model Cars in most museums are dislay props.

 

This is 1904 Ford Model B Serial Number 52 ....

 

The only acknowledged Ford Model B known to exist in the world that is regarded

as being largely original and unrestored.

 

The other Ford Model B cars known are in either private collections

or museums - none of which have been known to actually run in 

the lifetime of any person among us .....

 

With the exception of the Bill Harrah 1905 Model B which Stu Laidlaw had running many years ago when Bill was alive.

 

Yet - against all conventional wisdom and regard - this car is currently

being brought back to Life to actually run.

 

This is only possible because the Owner is definitely not your average 

collector car custodian.

 

Jim

 

 

4167BF6B-0D74-4109-9D95-737D9193E18C.jpeg

Edited by Trulyvintage (see edit history)

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I have a small  2 cylinder brass era car that spent many years in a museum.   It had suffered a lot of corrosion inside the engine and transmission.  This would have been caused by atmospheric moisture condensing inside the engine at low  ambient temperatures.  Had the engine been started occasionally this would dried out avoiding the problem.    Most of the transmission parts were pitted but usable however the cylinders above the ring line were so deeply pitted that the only practical solution was to sleeve the engine and fit new pistons.  

Nothing terminal but if it had been run occasionally it would have been in better condition.

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Whether it's running or not, it's best to buy a car being fully aware that you may need to do an engine rebuild. So the best thing to do is find out how much it costs to rebuild an engine for a Metz (worst case scenario), and make an offer on the car accordingly.

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Posted (edited)

Had a fellow club member from Canada that bought a "museum" car that was supposedly a good runner. He made it about 100 miles on his way to a car show here in central NY before the end of a connecting rod took out a football sized hole in the side of the aluminum engine base.  Seems that many years earlier, no one fastened the ends of the rods correctly because it was just going to be a museum display.  

 

Having spent 9 years working in one of the largest museum systems in the US, I've seen many instances of just making displays look good enough to be shown because money is always tight for most museums.

 

NEVER assume a museum car was done inside as good as it looks outside. Once it's yours, drop the pan and inspect everything before you drive it. It's far cheaper  and faster than fixing a damaged motor !!!!!! 

 

Paul

Edited by PFitz (see edit history)
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What PFitz  says is important. Some years back I had a nice classic era car that had been in a major collection /museum for quite a few years. It had been through at least three other collectors before it came to me. All of them said it was a great running car and drove very nicely. However, I know none of them drove the car very much. I had had the car only about a week before I had checked through things myself. Two things, the rear end, and the distributor drive gears, did not have a drop of grease in them. One good club tour, with normal antique driving speeds, could have done a thousand dollars damage to that car. Fortunately, I checked before driving more than a few slow miles, and the car ran flawlessly for a couple thousand miles of wonderful club tours and outings.

 

As for Metz? I do have a project pile for one, and have read quite a bit about them. If the one being considered is the one I think it is? I have not seen it in person, however, I have seen a few advertisement listings for the car. There are a few things not quite right on the car. Color is not right, but it does look good and some people wouldn't mind that. The car is missing (? not showing?) the belly pan. This is somewhat important on a Metz as the fan is cast in the flywheel, and without the belly pan, may not move enough air through the radiator. Some Metz owners put model T fans on them, and although not correct, seems to work fine.

I have never driven one, but have talked with several owners that have toured with them quite a bit. Every owner I have personally known, liked the cars. As Horseless Carriages go, the Metz 22 is fairly fast, basically reliable, and really a kick to drive! On top of that, the engine is similar enough to a model T Ford in design and dimension that several important parts can be replaced by the model T part if needed (with some modification).

 

You could do much worse for an antique. However, I would suggest having someone familiar with Metz automobiles look it over with you

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We were at the Smithsonian in DC a couple of years ago, and I wasn't that impressed by the automotive related stuff. It's a wonderful place, but cars really don't seem to be what they do. They were a part of static displays and certainly not run. That's fine for old airplanes - which have stress and safety issues - but old cars could at least be started. The problem is, places like the Smithsonian can't have vehicles with tanks full of gas in buildings frequented by tourists, let alone ventilation for running vehicles.

 

That's where we, the small time collectors or restorers, come in. We can keep one or two old cars in good structural, cosmetic and running condition while the big places can't. We serve an important function.

 

There's a car museum off the interstate in a neighboring state, and I enjoy visiting the place, but they have scores of old vehicles in shelters that have no walls in some cases. Only roofs. Makes me cringe a bit, but it's a family owned place and I guess they can't afford to keep every car in the best possible condition. They have a select couple of dozen or so that they maintain and store properly.

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There were cars in the Harrah collection that had empty engines .

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Posted (edited)

The problem with many museums is all-too-often they don't have much money to work with and pay for qualified staff.  A lot of their staff are volunteers who are not trained to maintain complex items in the collections.

 

When I was on the board of a car club, we received a letter from the Smithsonian. They had a very early car of a make that Club was formed for, in one of their storage facilities near DC. It had been damaged during a wind storm and they were asking if any members of the Club would be willing to  repair it,.... for free. 

 

Paul

Edited by PFitz (see edit history)

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My 1927 Pierce Arrow Model  36 enclosed drive  was in  the  Oberhaus Museum. This car  was  restored with no expense  spared.  Before I  drove the  car,  I  went  through the  whole  car  and had  to  change all the  fluids .The  transmission and  rear  end had  2  light  of an  oil in  them. I  changed it  out  to  the  proper weight of  oil  that P A called  Special Compound.   In  2  years,  many  shows and  have  driven it  to all of  them.  Over  500 miles. Worst thing  is  I  ran  out  of  gas. See pic.

Limo Dilivered 033.JPG

Limo first  show 003.JPG

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I completely agree with what everyone is saying about a car that has been sitting for a long time. However, a Metz is about as simple of a car as you can find.If I was going to resurrect a car that has been dormant, this would be an easy one to do. I personally know the car that you are talking about and it is a well preserved, honest, and real car. It is not worn out, abused or compromised by bad restoration attempts. I think it would be a good and relatively easy car to freshen up and enjoy. Also, Robert Pass is a good guy to to business with. If you have any questions about this car, don't hesitate to contact me directly at: motoringicons@hotmail.com or  734-730-4274

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Well all these comments are very interesting and my decision on making an offer all depends on what time of day it is.

Based on everything stated in these responses, what would you guys think is a fair price to pay for this thing. As I stated above the asking price is all over the place, depending on which ad you see.

 

Rod

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If that Metz is a Wells Museum car than it could very well have been there for decades.  I first went in there 40 years ago and I've been in there maybe all of half a dozen times.  .  The place 40 years ago that I remember was fairly primitive but I remember the cars being very old and more of the barn find look.  Fast forward 15 years ago I found the place again after moving back to the area.  The cars were very beautifully detailed, quality cars, with a goodly number of early models and unmolested original cars.  The building didn't do the cars justice.   Cars were  practically touching, the nose of one was right up to the back end of the car in front. In short to take one car out of the pile would entail almost moving half the cars out.  I don't know of one of their cars being publicly displayed at a local car show.  I believe most of the cars never saw any use.  It was sad to hear that they weren't opening again when they got to the end of the 2013??? year.  I tried calling to find out what was to become of some Stanley pieces but couldn't get anywheres.  No way could I find contact information through the internet.  Letters got returned.  I fell in love with the barn find U.S. Long Distance they had 40 years ago behind chicken wire and often wondered what became of it.   I talked with Doug a couple of years ago who got the car.    

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