Dynaflash8

Is hobby interest in pre-WWII cars Dying?

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4 hours ago, billorn said:

My Olds is a sedan. I wanted a 2 door but it was out of the budget. 

The car in the picture looks like a 4dr hardtop, not a 4dr sedan.  Myself, I'd rather have a 4dr hardtop than a 2dr hardtop.  Just a thought.

 

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Dynaflash,

l sold my 1930 Studebaker Pres. Thursday.It took two and a half years.

AACA forums,ClassicCars.com,Hemmings,generated over 20000 views,with less than 12 inquires.

I worked with the buyer for seven months,he paid me asking price plus.for waiting for him to take of his business.

He,s happy. I have mixed emotions.It took me six years to build.I did it to see if I could get an AACA Grand National

award, got junior and senior on first attempt.

I really don't care for the crap you have do to get Grand National Status..so I lost interest.

The right guy will come along,the catch is how much time you want to wait.

I have never lost money on any car I ever did.I do 99 percent of the work myself.

If you do not have a pretty fair skill set and have to "farm it out"you are allmost guaranteed to lose money

Your conversations lead me to believe you are in a struggle against time and money.

I hope it works out for you.

Only you and your wife can make that  call.

All the best.

Ken

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10 hours ago, Grimy said:

Greg, a very presentable and tourable Series 80 sedan or coach can be had for $25K or less--and if you find one needing refreshing and not having been run in awhile, under $20K.  Other bodies, such as the 4-passenger coupe I sold 3 years ago and any open body styles, are substantially higher.  80s do come on the market regularly, especially within the Club.  A 2014 Weis Award winner (=Best of Show at annual meet) sold for less than $70K.

 

For touring, I recommend a Mitchell overdrive for non-competitive 80s--makes it a different car entirely!  I put one in my sedan which has the deepest factory diff at 4.88 and now it cruises comfortably at 50 (previously comfortable at 36-37, screaming at 40-41).

 

I am surprised they can be that reasonable. Perhaps a sedan would be a good way to learn about Pierce 80's. One concern I have always had about sedans; apart from the obvious draw back to such a complicated wood structure body, is the extra weight of 4 door coachwork. Brakes on 20's cars can be somewhat marginal, I have always thought finding a body style that is as light as possible gives the brakes a fighting chance.  Perhaps too many years of Lotus ownership?

 

Greg in Canada 

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28 minutes ago, ols car dog said:

I have never lost money on any car I ever did.I do 99 percent of the work myself.

Time is money.  Not just the time spent on the restoration, but the opportunity cost of storing a car for years while pursuing a "fair" sale.

 

I'd also add that those who say they can't sell for a fair price are missing the boat.  In a buyer's market (which this is), price is determined by the buyer, not the seller.  The buyer almost always has several cars from which to choose.  If you want him to choose yours, you better be prepared to move towards his position. 

 

Finally, if you're selling a car that you restored, that car likely means more to you than it does to the buyer.  You're valuing with emotion; a prospective buyer is not.  Note the difference between what Dad says his car is worth and what his kids sell it for after he passes.

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36 minutes ago, 1912Staver said:

I am surprised they can be that reasonable. Perhaps a sedan would be a good way to learn about Pierce 80's. One concern I have always had about sedans; apart from the obvious draw back to such a complicated wood structure body, is the extra weight of 4 door coachwork. Brakes on 20's cars can be somewhat marginal, I have always thought finding a body style that is as light as possible gives the brakes a fighting chance.  Perhaps too many years of Lotus ownership?

Greg, I neglected to say that the 2014 Weis Award winner is a RUNABOUT (roadster) with disc wheels.  Photo attached.

 

An 80 cannot compare with a Lotus 🙂 but it does have a sheet aluminum body; steel components are fenders, hood, cowl, and splash aprons.  The 4-wheel mechanical brakes on an 80 are the same components used on the senior Series 33/36 which are almost 1,000 lbs heavier (body style for body style), and they stop VERY well IF adjusted as per the book.  Crankcase and trans case are cast aluminum.  Sedans and coaches may initially feel a bit top heavy, especially if you're accustomed to open cars.  I've gone down some seriously long and steep grades in my 80 sedan and never had a problem.  Published weight for a S80 sedan is about 3,700 lbs.  Beware of EDLs (Enclosed Drive Limos) is you are taller than 5'6" because sedan front seats are fixed and the chauffeur loses legroom in 7-passenger models.

 

Do you know Jay Gallagher in the Kamloops area?  He has a 1927 80 runabout that he tours VERY extensively, and I'm sure he would help you find and evaluate a suitable car.

1926 80 rbt Weis2014.jpg

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Posted (edited)

No, I don't know Joe Gallagher. But it looks like he sure has a nice Pierce ! I rarely get into the interior of B.C. but Kamloops really isn't all that far away  3-4 hours except in the Winter.

 Welcome news to hear the brakes are great for the era, that does make a closed car a practical choice.

 Until my $ gains back a bit of ground ; assuming it ever does, U.S. cars are going to be out of reach. That 33 % handicap is a hurdle too high. And very few Pierces turn up for sale in Western Canada. I know one person locally who is restoring a 1917 Pierce however it is one of the larger models. Otherwise they are a rare bird around here.

 

Greg

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)

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2 hours ago, 1912Staver said:

 

I am surprised they can be that reasonable. Perhaps a sedan would be a good way to learn about Pierce 80's. One concern I have always had about sedans; apart from the obvious draw back to such a complicated wood structure body, is the extra weight of 4 door coachwork. Brakes on 20's cars can be somewhat marginal, I have always thought finding a body style that is as light as possible gives the brakes a fighting chance.  Perhaps too many years of Lotus ownership?

 

Greg in Canada 

 

Speaking as the owner of a wood-framed '20s car with its original brakes, I'll say that your concerns are unfounded. As Grimy says, if the brakes are in proper condition you will not run into problems unless you're doing something foolish in traffic. As with any old car, lots of space, paying attention, and expecting the other guy to do something stupid are all part of the game, no matter what kind of brakes you have. I do not feel vulnerable or that I'm a hazard to others when driving the '29 Cadillac and with my family on board we've covered perhaps 12,000 miles in the last 10 years with that car, including several long trips. On tours, the owners of open cars envy our warm back seat and functioning heater when the weather turns cold and wet. We are rarely without passengers if the weather even remotely starts to look wet.

 

It is not reasonable to expect any old car to behave like a modern car nor for a big car to behave like a small one. But the concerns that you (and many others--the whole "stock brakes are dangerous in today's world" thing has gotten way out of hand) express are non-issues in terms of operation and enjoyment. Don't be stupid, don't drive it like a sports car, treat it appropriately, maintain it properly and you will find that any '20s car will take care of you in return.

 

The wood-framed body is a complete non-issue unless you're resurrecting a wreck. But if it's a complete, solid car, you will never have to address the wood. You're not storing it outside and driving it in the winter, right? It'll be fine--another common fear that's completely unfounded.

 

I recently sold a pair of rather nice Pontiac 2-door sedans, a '29 and a '30, both for under $10,000 in presentable, usable, driveable shape. Their 6-cylinder engines were considerably more powerful than, say, a Model A, and with 4-wheel brakes and relatively light curb weights, they were nice performers with 50-55 MPH cruising ability. Good cars with reasonable price tags are out there. Not Pierce-Arrow roadsters, but big sedans and off-brand cars certainly.

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Posted (edited)

The brakes on those Cadillacs are HUGE. I am not surprised they stop well. Mind you they are also very big cars. I have a 1926 314 rolling chassis I thought of putting a replica Robbins style Stutz boat tail body on. From a custom series roadster that was turned into a farmers wagon during the war, so the shorter W.B.The very large brakes were something that attracted me to the Cadillac chassis. I have driven open sports cars for much of my life so a open vintage car always seemed like a natural choice. I may have to broaden my criteria to meet my cost constraints.

 

Greg

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)

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My bit of contribution to this thread.  There are now so many choices for a person to make as far as era and type of collectible car or cars to own the prewar cars are not the only show in town anymore.  My first hobby car was a 1937 Dodge 1/2 ton pickup.  I was 36 yrs old at the time of purchase. Most all my friends either wanted street rods or muscle cars.  When I bought the dodge they naturally assumed it was going to become a street rod, which was NOT going to happen under my ownership.  I always admired 1930s autos so the Dodge pushed all the right buttons for me.  I never grew up with cars that old in the family so there was no nostalgia to connect with, my desire to own this era was mostly made from attending the Hershey fall shows.

 

If if I was in the market today, I would be shopping in the 1950s as the oldest contender, the reason, better road manners to cope with today’s level of drivers and the faster pace of driving in general.  It’s been 30+ years since I bought that Dodge.  You could still get around at 45 to 50 mph with minimal disrespect by other drivers who seem to always be in a hurry.  Today, not so much.  The phones and traffic congestion in general contribute to make driving a task and not a joy.  Now that I’m in my late 60s the nostalgia factor for 1950s and up cars is a bigger force than it was when I bought the Dodge.  The colors, models of cars and options all appeal a lot more than they used to and seeing them has a lot more connections for me.

 

There will be a market for pre war cars, postwar cars, muscle cars, sports cars and more.  Each person can choose the era they enjoy best.  Prices and desirability will continue to fluctuate to meet market demands.  What I do see as lacking is getting younger people into the hobby while us older guys are still around to share our experiences with them.   I know I was having the same issue recruiting new Boy Scouts to our troop.  It’s a harder today to sell young people on hands on activities but for many, when they do connect, it becomes a strong interest for them.

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3 hours ago, ols car dog said:

Dynaflash,

l sold my 1930 Studebaker Pres. Thursday.It took two and a half years.

AACA forums,ClassicCars.com,Hemmings,generated over 20000 views,with less than 12 inquires.

I worked with the buyer for seven months,he paid me asking price plus.for waiting for him to take of his business.

He,s happy. I have mixed emotions.It took me six years to build.I did it to see if I could get an AACA Grand National

award, got junior and senior on first attempt.

I really don't care for the crap you have do to get Grand National Status..so I lost interest.

The right guy will come along,the catch is how much time you want to wait.

I have never lost money on any car I ever did.I do 99 percent of the work myself.

If you do not have a pretty fair skill set and have to "farm it out"you are allmost guaranteed to lose money

Your conversations lead me to believe you are in a struggle against time and money.

I hope it works out for you.

Only you and your wife can make that  call.

All the best.

Ken

Time. Old age. And lack of patience.  Noting to do with money.  When I decided to sell it, I wanted to see it gone.

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Posted (edited)

There was an email directed to my website this week that might be of interest to this group. I've slightly edited it to remove names, etc. but I don't think I've changed the sense:

 

Quote

. . . I work at an after school program, and I wanted to let you know how helpful your page https://www.ply33.com/links was for a young man I have been helping with a science project about cars, horsepower, velocity, and other forces! He's been learning a lot, and at the same time I think has picked up a new hobby- classic cars! He thought your site was really neat, and enjoyed reading the articles and checking out the great pictures of classic cars! I thought you'd be glad to hear, and suggested we send you a quick thank you note!

. . . [he] has struggled to find activities and hobbies the last year or so, and it has been really great to see how much he has been engaged in learning about classic cars and mechanics- as a result of a science project no less! . . .

 

 

I had to actually see antiques driven on the road to get my interest in old cars going, it is nice to hear that younger people can become interested in older cars via the Internet. Note that everything on my website is targeted at pre-WW2 cars, so this "classic cars" interest must include that era. There will be a generation following us that will be interested in our pre-WW2 cars. It might not be as large a group as now but I think it will exist.

Edited by ply33
Formatting (see edit history)
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Pre-war cars...For future readers who may be newly interested in old cars and read this thread: There are great deals in 4 door sedans in my opinion. Here in 2019 I picked up a stock 4 door 1938 Plymouth sedan. Running and drivable for what I think, was a great deal. No it's no coupe.  It's a family wagon. They made 100,000 plus of them in 1938 alone. Actually they made 119,669 4 dr, trunk sedan 5 passenger P6 cars. Of that, 50,000 seem to be rotting in pastures currently. 50,000 were crushed or demo-deby'd. The remaining  have been chopped and have high performance V8 motors in them. I would guess there's not that many stock ones left around. Incidentally around here, there are few to ever be seen. Not many stock ones come up in my internet research either. Why? Because it seems few folks want them. Yet I am having ton of fun learning about pre-war engineering and design.  I have little so far invested and have no aspirations of making a buck when the day comes that I have to sell it. The family all piles in and we have a ton of fun in my 4-door cars. We chat and get caught up. We get ice cream and sit at look-outs and laugh together. We smile, honk and wave all the folks who show appreciation for the old 4 door family cars that nobody wants. We have lots of quality time together. 

 

Is there an opportunity here? A way to get middle aged family guys into old cars? Perhaps. Wouldn't be too hard to get your wife to agree. Cruises with the kids? Seatbelts? Easy peasy. Great memories to be had.  Throw the dog in and head out for a cruise.  Everyday, a vintage 4 door beats a family of 4, each on their iphones ignoring each other.

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@billorn I've noticed an interest in 4-door cars with folks that like to travel or tour with their old car.  Their comment is that it is easier to load and gives them the inside space they want for suitcases and possibly company.  

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5 hours ago, ply33 said:

I had to actually see antiques driven on the road to get my interest in old cars going...

IMHO, that's the crux of the biscuit,  A lot of old car buffs like to say the route to new hobbyists is engaging the public at car shows.  I disagree.  I mean, it helps, but it's far more valuable to show that the cars aren't just treated like the good china.  Drive to the grocery store, out to dinner, for a weekend getaway, etc.  Use the thing.  Far more people will see it when you're driving through town than will ever look at it in your garage, on a trailer, or at a show,.

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8 hours ago, Dynaflash8 said:

 When I decided to sell it, I wanted to see it gone.

 

I'm the same way.

If I even THINK about selling something my mind is already made up.

If it's price right it will sell.

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12 hours ago, keithb7 said:

The family all piles in and we have a ton of fun in my 4-door cars. We chat and get caught up. We get ice cream and sit at look-outs and laugh together.

image.png.a4d79c190b4b35225df33b59cb4fe64c.png

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My response to the title question: I certainly hope so... and sooner the better, as there are several pre-war cars I’d like to have and enjoy by driving their wheels off before I become physically unable, but unfortunately the type of rides I’m lusting after would likely continue to be out of financial reach for mere mortal like me, regardless of their perceived depreciation in $$ value.

 

In the meanwhile, I just continue to wear out the wearable parts in my current stable and replace them with new when they approach that worn out status.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, TTR said:

My response to the title question:  I certainly hope so... and sooner the better, as there are several pre-war cars I’d like to have ...

 

Well, a lower price might be an advantage--if that happens

enough to bring the prices down substantially.

However, I see some disadvantages:

 

---Less popularity means that friends in your club will not have

similar pre-war cars.  You won't have fellow owners close at hand to

network with, or even to show much interest.  A lot of enjoyment

comes from sharing the experience.

 

---Fewer people will know how to work on them.  Even if you

do the work yourself, there are times when you need at least

to consult with an expert.

 

---Fewer people, or no people, will be reproducing parts.

 

---Borderline cars that would have been restored, will no longer

be considered worth restoring.  There may not be enough demand.

So marginal cars may be scrapped or left to deteriorate further.

 

This certainly doesn't have to be the case--and some pre-war

car owners have been dealing with these conditions for many years--

but advantages come if your car has plenty of fellow owners.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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14 hours ago, KongaMan said:

IMHO, that's the crux of the biscuit,  A lot of old car buffs like to say the route to new hobbyists is engaging the public at car shows.  I disagree.  I mean, it helps, but it's far more valuable to show that the cars aren't just treated like the good china.  Drive to the grocery store, out to dinner, for a weekend getaway, etc.  Use the thing.  Far more people will see it when you're driving through town than will ever look at it in your garage, on a trailer, or at a show,.

 

It really depends on the car.

I do drive the Rickenbacker to run errands but I don't go in anywhere for any length of time.

Too many things made of unobtanium for me to let either the Pierce or the Rick sit anywhere unattended.

And that is why I have been leaning towards picking up a driver Ford Model A.

You can build one out of a catalog so I wouldn't have to worry so much about someone swiping a radiator cap or gas cap.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

 

Well, a lower price might be an advantage--if that happens

enough to bring the prices down.  However, I see some disadvantages:

 

---Less popularity means that friends in your club will not have

similar pre-war cars.  You won't have fellow owners close at hand to

network with, or even to show much interest.  A lot of enjoyment

comes from sharing the experience.

 

---Fewer people will know how to work on them.  Even if you

do the work yourself, there are times when you need at least

to consult with an expert.

 

---Fewer people, or no people, will be reproducing parts.

 

---Borderline cars that would have been restored, will no longer

be considered worth restoring.  There may not be enough demand.

So marginal cars may be scrapped or left to deteriorate further.

 

This certainly doesn't have to be the case--and some pre-war

car owners have been dealing with these conditions for many years--

but advantages come if your car has plenty of fellow owners.

Yes but,

These cars that will be market corrected will eventually end up with younger people who can afford them.  Right now 85% of us can not afford them! 

 

Earl's is a classic example.  It was restored and enjoyed in a different era when restoration costs and expectations were a fraction of the cost now.  I won't speculate what he spent to get that car in the beautiful condition it is in, but pick a generic car, like a 1936 Ford V8 4 door sedan.  Restored 30 years ago at a cost of $7000, very respectable.  The owner enjoys it for 26 + years and takes great care of it, puts modest miles on it and sees two speculation market increases in it's value based on nothing at all that he has done.  (See also real estate market pricing in some high demand areas)

 

Now 30 years later he has certainly gotten $7000 of pure enjoyment out of this car, many time that I suspect.  Awards, tours, friends.  Now he is old and wants to sell the car.  He looks at some dumb price guide or looks at similar classifieds and lists his car for sale at $35,000.  I mean why not, what an investment!  He imagines the European vacation and winter cruises he can now take.  But there it sits for sale, no buyers.   Why not offer this car for sale for $10,000?  Because "to him" he sees these other ads and gets as greedy as the next guy!  Why should he show love to the younger guy that is interested and can't afford a $35,000 car! Me? No way! 

 

It's a generational concept, and it will be until these cars trade hands a few times with market corrections.  Then we won't be having this discussion.  But right now there are thousands of these cars, owned by guys in their 70's to 90's where the cars need to go.  And they don't want to sell with the altruistic notion of passing along a car to a younger owner. Hell NO!   Let the other guy do it.

Edited by B Jake Moran (see edit history)

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10 minutes ago, B Jake Moran said:

But right now there are thousands of these cars, owned by guys in their 70's to 90's where the cars need to go.  And they don't want to sell with the altruistic notion of passing along a car to a younger owner. Hell NO!   Let the other guy do it.

Their heirs and assigns will have no such qualms.  It might be his pride and joy, but to the kids it's just Dad's old car.  He wouldn't sell it for $40,000; they'll take $25,000 and be ecstatic.

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You'd be very surprised by how many heirs don't treat this as "found money" but instead remember that one time that one day many years ago when he was just starting the restoration that dear old dad said, "This car will be worth $100,000 when it's done!" Then he restored it by himself in his garage using stuff he bought at the local hardware store.

 

Or how many heirs don't have any clue how much a car is worth but when they're at a gas station some random guy walks by and says, "Wow, I bet that's a $100,000 car!"

 

Or they see one on the TV auctions sell for big money and start counting their profits. Of course, theirs isn't a Boss 429 with matching numbers and a fresh professional restoration, but hey, an old Mustang is an old Mustang and they're almost the same color, right?

 

Boom! Big numbers stuck in their heads and they don't want to dishonor ol' dad's memory by selling short. Of course, they don't know how to drive that old car so it just sits unwinding in the garage until mom has to sell to go to a home and they really need to move it, in which case they call me with a non-running car with a deteriorated amateur restoration and insist that an expert told them it was a $100,000 car.

 

There's a big market correction coming and a lot of people are going to get kicked in the jimmy. It's gonna happen, it's gonna hurt, but the hobby will survive it. Think of it as the random forest fire that kills the scrub brush and lets the stronger trees live. Unfortunately, C- and D- level cars are the scrub brush...

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2 minutes ago, kgreen said:

The old car hobby that most could enjoy in years past was fueled by cheap and abundant supply....  

 

Yes, the hobby can thrive when cars are reasonably priced,

and to outsiders I always point out that most old cars are

affordable.  And almost always, they are surprised.

Presently, cars of the 1970's meet the "cheap and abundant" criteria.

 

However, old cars have not always been cheap and abundant.

I interviewed one of our local charter members, who was

active in the hobby back in the early 1950's.  The desirable

cars were the brass-era cars, and they were not easy to find.

They were still being discovered, and prices were not inexpensive.

There weren't the hobby publications that we know, so our

member did his own systematic searching, and also bought

a few cars at auctions.

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If the interest is high enough, the cars are affordable.

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16 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

There's a big market correction coming and a lot of people are going to get kicked in the jimmy. It's gonna happen, it's gonna hurt, but the hobby will survive it.

The flip side is that there won't be any corresponding correction in the cost of a restoration.  That is, the "restorable survivor" may be $15,000 when it used to be $25,000, but paint and parts aren't getting any cheaper, and labor costs aren't going to drop.  Which is to say that the old adage about buying the best car you can will be true more than ever.  IOW, you might be able to pick up someone's $100,000 restoration for $35,000, but it will still cost you $100,000 to get your project to that point even if your buy-in was a lot lower.  When you start looking at numbers like that, folks will quit restoring them.  Most folks understand that this hobby isn't an investment vehicle, but there's a difference between being slightly under water and being at the bottom of the ocean.

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