keithb7

The Allure Of The Airflow

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I am a Mopar enthusiast. The more I learn the more engaged I become.  The Airflow cars are very appealing to me. Rarely seen and beautiful. Arguably the best engineering of the era. Some day I hope to see one in person at a car show or elsewhere. I’d love to own one some day. 

 

I’m curious...As the Airflow did see limited production,  how much of a a struggle is it to keep them running due to parts availability?  I can’t image performing a full restoration.  

 

Joining the Airflow car club must be helpful I suppose. Are reproduction their parts specialists out there? Serving the market? Sort of like Andy Bernbaum? Or is the Airflow market just too small?

 

There is a 1936 C10 Imperial airflow for sale up here in Canada and it’s certainly got my attention. I’m thinking about up-keep and support for a car like this. 

 

For example brake drums? Nearly Impossible?  And big $$$? 

Thx. Keith

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Hello Keith,

 

I am a newbie to the Airflow community (1yr), although I've been involved in the automobile restoration hobby for most of my adult life.  I have a 1936 C9 that I believe is a "survivor" car with around 60K miles on it.  My primary point of comparison is a 1937 Buick, frame-off restoration completed in 2009.  My experience with my limited ownership:

  • Mechanical parts seem to be available, through Bernbaum's and other sources.
  • Small parts and trim can be are difficult to locate, and are frequently unique to the Airflow.  For example, the light switch on my car has been replaced.  The original switch is also the high beam indicator (in the middle of the knob).  Although my lights work with the replacement switch, I am having no luck locating a reproduction of the original switch.
  • I had to do a complete rebuild of the brake hydraulics.  Excluding the rear wheel cylinders, all of the components were available new from various suppliers.  The rear brake cylinders are unique to 1936 and have different size pistons for the leading and trailing shoes;  Mine required re-sleeving.  This was the most expensive part of the work.  I had a local old-car specialist do the work;  my total bill was $3500 for the entire job.  I did not need either shoes or drums, although both appear to be available should I have needed them.  I presume that I could have saved several hundred $$$ by doing the brake work myself;  I chose not to do so because I was concerned that my expertise would not transfer easily from a GM restoration to a Chrysler.
  • The Airflow club is very helpful.  I have been able to obtain necessary manuals etc through the club, and have received excellent technical advice when I have asked for it.  I believe that my Airflow was used by a prior owner in a number of the Airflow Club tours in decades past.  I would not hesitate to drive mine on a tour, however I a not certain I would drive from Colorado halfway across the continent to get to a tour.  That may change once I am more familiar with it.

In summary, if you are looking at a C10 Imperial, that is a top-of-the line Airflow and should retain its desirability.  Mechanically, these cars are well engineered and are solidly built.  I would be attentive to purchase a car that is as complete as possible, as it's the small, unique stuff that can be very difficult to obtain. 

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First order of business is to join the Airflow Club of America. I've been involved with these cars since 1972 and can say without reservation that they are wonderful well engineered cars. In well sorted mechanical condition, we  have club members who drive them at freeway speeds from coast to coast. In fact the club has a prestigious award for owners who have driven coast to coast.

Help is available and freely offered to anyone working on a restoration. While some body and trim parts may be a challenge to locate, club members can frequently offer either the needed part or a lead to find it. Reproduction parts are available from the club store and also privately from some members. (I have been reproducing Airflow doorsill scuff plates since 1987)

Last thing I will mention is that we have an annual meet where Airflow enthusiasts gather to exchange parts, stories and make new friends. This year it's being held on June 5-9 in Charlottesville VA. We'd love to see you there if you can arrange it. Info is available at www.airflowclub.com  Let us know whether you get the car (hope you can). There's plenty of support available.

 

Best regards

Jim 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks folks for your help. I called and spoke to the seller/owner of the C10 Airflow. It sounds like more work than I am prepared to take on currently.  A low budget restoration was performed years ago. Corners were cut. The car deserves much better. 

 

Due to the very long distance to view the car, the rarity of parts, lack of local support, escalating costs of rebuilding, and more I am going to pass on this Airflow. 

 

I sure hope to see one someday in person. If I’m really fortunate one day I’ll find the right one to buy. 

Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)

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An Imperial Airflow coupe is the one to own. It is the only one that has any hope of paying you back your restoration costs. It's also the prettiest. Don't turn that car down because it needs work. ALL old cars need work, and that coupe is surprisingly reasonably priced even if it has substantial needs. We don't do this because of the financial upside, but an Airflow coupe won't bury you as deeply as a sedan and you will always have the only one at virtually any show.

 

Parts are not that hard to find and that one seems complete with all the difficult components--trim and detail parts. Mechanical parts are quite a bit easier to source and repair. There's nothing mechanical on an Airflow that is any more expensive to repair than any other car. They're not complicated or unique in that regard. Don't let sorting the car and repairing things scare you away--as long as it isn't rusty and trim isn't missing, it can be repaired without spending a fortune. Enjoy it as you fix it up, don't insist on perfection. Just get in and drive!

 

If you can afford it and want an Airflow, THAT is the car to own. Period.

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I'm not an airflow fan but I like this car.   I agree with Matt.

 

However,  this sentence gave me a headache:

 

Only 200 of this model were ever produced -- 10x less than the 4-door's 2,000 units.

 

Google was able to explain for me:

 

https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/114392/ten-times-fewer-the-number-versus-one-tenth-the-number

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A 1936 C10 Imperial Airflow...I don't doubt that it's the one to own. For various multiple reasons the time is not right for me on this one. 

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