Dynaflash8

Is hobby interest in pre-WWII cars Dying?

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, 1912Staver said:

Your car has many fans who certainly don't want to throw it away.  But money is a problem for many middle class people once they hit their 50's.  

The new society might not generally want a 1939 Buick. But lots of people age 50 and up still have up to 30 years left to enjoy cars like your Buick. They just don't have any or many earning years left. So hobby cars need to be in the modest price range for it to work for them. Kids education and retirement savings are first and foremost.

Repeat, there are hundreds of people who do not want to "throw it away".

 

Greg

Staver: I am very very much middle class.  Did you read that my Dad was a route laundry truck Driver in Washington, DC?  I was making $4,040 dollars a  year in 1959 when I got married.  I had to borrow the $120 for the '39 Buick I bought to restore to look like my first car.  My Dad, who thought all old cars were foolishness,  made me sell our second car, a '49 Buick, to buy a refrigerator after he helped us get our first $10,500 house in Glen Burnie, MD for that reason.  But I persevered two years later when I borrowed that $120.  He only began to believe a little when I sold my restored 1941 Buick Limited in 1981 for enough to pay off my mortgage on the new house in Severn, MD.  He told his friends his son found somebody "crazier than he was" to pay all that money for it.  My wife and I had to hire a babysitter for our once month night out to go to Chesapeake Region meetings and that's all we could afford.  Yeah, for the first ten  years we weren't even up to being called middle class, but we budgeted, scrimped and saved and I stayed with the same job I hated for 35 years so I could claw myself up, never higher than middle class.  I never went to college.  I made many mechanic and body men friends in the hobby who helped me restore at home.  Another friend and I bought obsolete Buick-Pontiac and some Chevrolet-Cadillac & Olds parts from dealerships and sold them at flea markets and through the mail.  That made a big difference, but it was hard work on nights and weekends.  I couldn't buy this car in 1967 for $1,000 because Dad wouldn't help and I couldn't borrow that much.  By 1970 I was able to pay $1700 to another guy who had been able to afford it for $1,000.  I guess I made money on it in 1985 when Jenkins bought it, but I gave it all back to him plus a lot more when I bought it back in 2000.  As I said, all these years I've loved it and driven it, but it's also been my one "hold-back" for my old age.  Here that is and there it goes with all the promises the hobby made until now.  It's too bad Mom & Dad didn't have a '55 Chevy, huh?

Edited by Dynaflash8 (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, mercer09 said:

a nice 39 convertible coupe sold at Hershey this past fall for less then 19k.

nowhere near the condition of this car, but a good driving car with an old amateur restoration.

 

I was surprised it was that low and half tempted to buy it. but I already have about 20 cars around here and need to sell more then a few off.

And it wasn't that nice.  It needed a whole lot of stuff.  I just sold the guy $518 in parts for it when he visited about a month ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, auburnseeker said:

I will say a convertible sedan , especially of the late 30's variety of any make is less sporty than a convertible coupe.  Sporty sells, always has.  That's probably one of the reasons there has been little activity on your car. 

I remember seeing a few very nice 41 Convertible sedans for mid 40's not all that long ago,  perhaps even when the market was better, and they weren't selling.  I thought wow what a deal on those, can't believe they aren't selling.  I imagine it's only gotten worse.  I have seen some pretty nice 41 to 47 Caddy convertible coupes lately for the money I think you want out of yours, so in many cases you are competing with cars like that as brand and model loyalty dies so that only flash comes into factor. 

 

Good point--always look at what else that money will buy. I've found that there are two kinds of buyers for most cars: the specific buyer and the opportunity buyer.

 

The specific buyer wants a 1939 Buick Special convertible sedan. That's what he wants--not a '38, not a '40, not a Century--so he looks at all of those and buys the one that best meets his condition/price ratio. This is how I bought my 1941 Century.

 

The opportunity buyer has $XX,XXX to spend and looks at everything in that price range. Maybe he has a few specific makes or a range of years he's interested in, but he's not looking for any one specific year/make/model. That's how I acquired all my cars except the Century. I had a certain amount of money, I wanted a certain type of car, and I shopped until one made me fall in love. Melanie wanted a 1965-1968 Mustang convertible for under $25,000, one that wasn't red or white. That was it. So we looked at all of those until we found the right one and bought it. When I bought my '29 Cadillac, I wanted a big Full Classic with sidemounts. I had $XX,XXX to spend. I shopped until I found the Cadillac, but along the way I looked at Packards and Lincolns and even an Auburn. I had quite a few choices and picked the nicest car for the money rather than spending more for more car--all I had was all I had. I bet most buyers have a similar process.

 

It's illustrative to look on, say, hemmings.com and just browse by price. Put in the price of your car and then look at what other cars are available for the same or less money. A lot, right? How many of those are more desirable/more valuable/nicer/faster/more powerful/more prestigious than yours? Just by doing that you can quickly determine if you're in the right ballpark to capture the opportunity buyer (which is a majority of the hobby).


What else can I buy for that money? We should all ask ourselves that question before we paste a price on any car we're selling.

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That was exactly the point I was trying to make earlier.  People who don't have quite enough money might like the car. People with enough money are probably looking for a higher stature car than a 1939 Buick Special.

Your buying habits line up exactly with mine Matt.  Generally an opportunity buyer, every now and then a specific buyer. We may be more alike than you think.

 

Greg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 5/13/2019 at 8:16 AM, edinmass said:

One more short comment on ANY pre war car.......the younger generation of old car buyers almost exclusively want two doors.........touring cars and sport phaetons were once the top of the heap, now it's roadsters, coupe, conv coupe, phaeton, touring, club sedan, town car, conv sedan, and sedan.......basicly in the exact order I listed the cars. Many collectors will not buy a convertible sedan for a bunch of reasons, and having owned more than 50 pre war cars, I have never purchased one even to flip.......they have always been a hard sell. 

Ed, you should try a Convertible Sedan, they are really nice cars and after having several now I would run to a convertible sedan for touring with before anything else  - joy to have everyone inside, place for luggage, put the top down if you want, as little or as much air as you want, in a downpour you are at least somewhat dry given nature of the beasts of the time :)and .... (personally, I would say the hierarchy should be - Roadster, Convertible Coupe, Convertible Victoria, Touring, Convertible Sedan, Coupe, Club Sedan, Town Car, and Sedan and/or Coach).  As previously mentioned, I know plenty of people that went after other things and then somewhere along the line got into a Convertible Sedan and now would not have it any other way.  

 

As to convertible sedans, we always had early 30's Convertible Sedans (and some came and went more than the Franklin that we had for eons) and then I went out and found a 1935 Auburn 851 Phaeton - and that easy replaced all the earlier cars and actually prefer it over a 1941 Cadillac.   I put friends in a 35 Packard Twelve Convertible Sedan and they are loving it (took them a while to get over its size being having a large collection of smaller size cars, but grew on them quickly thereafter).   Not many people get the opportunity to try a Convertible sedan though as they tend to be fairly rare in any brand car (and would tell you "generally" they are harder and more expensive to restore  than most other body styles too). 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Dynaflash8 said:

Staver: I am very very much middle class.  Did you read that my Dad was a route laundry truck Driver in Washington, DC?  I as making $4,040 dollars a  year in 1959 when I got married.  I had to borrow the $120 for the '39 Buick I bought to restore to look like my first car.  My Dad, who thought all old cars were foolishness,  made me sell our second car, a '49 Buick, to buy a refrigerator after he helped us get our first $10,500 house in Glen Burnie, MD for that reason.  But I persevered two years later when I borrowed that $120.  He only began to believe a little when I sold my restored 1941 Buick Limited in 1981 for enough to pay off my mortgage.  He told his friend his son found somebody "crazier than he was to pay all that money for it.  My wife and I had to hire a babysitter for our once month night out to go to Chesapeake Region meetings and that's all we could afford.  Yeah, for the first ten  years we weren't even up to being called middle class, but we budgeted, scrimped and saved and I stayed with the same job I hated for 35 years so I could claw myself up, never higher than middle class.  I made many mechanic and body men friends in the hobby who helped me restore at home.  I couldn't buy this car in 1967 for $1,000 because Dad wouldn't help and I couldn't borrow that much.  By 1970 I was able to pay $1700 to another guy who had been able to afford it for $1,000.  I guess I made money on it in 1985 when Jenkins bought it, but I gave it all back to him plus a lot more when I bought it back in 2000.  As I said, all these years I've loved it and driven it, but it's also been my one "hold-back" for my old age.  Here it is and there it goes.

 

 

Your story sounds much like mine. Except that you had the money to buy a pretty expensive car in 2000. When you were close to 60.

I am about 20 years younger than you. It's  a certainty I won't be buying a car even close to the equivalent price to what you paid for the Buick when you were 60 ish. My generation has less prosperity than your generation had, and the younger yet generations are even further down the scale. 

I had a trade qualification, a 5 year technical education teaching degree, and a qualification as a marine engineering ships officer and I only made as much as my father with a high school only education made up until the last 5 years or so of my career. My generation got hammered in the 1980's just as we were starting out and never really made up the lost ground. Then hammered again during the 2007 recession.  My fathers generation ; he was 84 when he passed away at Christmas, was effected to a much smaller degree by those two events. During the first he was already well established in his career. During the second he was already retired.  I suspect you had a similar experience to my father.

 People in my age group are often squeezed by an ever rising cost of living combined with decades of stagnant wages. I don't  attempt to speculate about your financial situation however my father had a slow steady rise in income over the vast majority of his earning years. Almost always at least a little more than inflation, and an almost unbroken slow ,steady upwardly mobile standard of living.

 My wife's story is identical.  Vastly more qualified in her career  than her parents. Masters degree in Health Care management vs high school.  And practicing at a much higher level of skill and responsibility.  Significantly less financialy successful than her parents. They are also in their early 80's.

 

 

Greg

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am 70, been through the stroke, heart attack, by passes and have a quite modest collection of cars. Each sits in my garage for a special reason that means a lot to me. And maybe a few others, but it would be hard to find someone who liked them all. The garage is 135 feet from my house and I am just remembering the day I walked all the way to the garage holding my little pillow over the healing stitches in my chest. That was exciting. One car in there has been mine for over 40 years. When I turn 80 it will have been with me 50+ years.

Those cars don't owe me anything. I could walk away from them or give them away and still be happy with a lot of memories the cars and the hobby have given me.

My Wife and I have talked about the ability of my nephews to own and maintain any of them. My own children are not interested. My friends all have cars. The cars would pretty much be a burden, even to the most anxious to own them. And once the burden was realized, I think there might be more guilt attached because they wouldn't get the care.

A friend died a few years ago and left his wife with a few cars and inflated ideas of their value. I watched and saw the true definition of a curse.

My Wife has a spreadsheet showing each car with pertinent information and a very low price so she can divest quickly. I think it would be a blessing to her. She knows my best friends and I have told her to give them one if they show a sincere interest. Tools, too!

I am a strong believer in, what I call, the cost of ownership and the value of ownership can cancel out the residual value of almost any item. Today my main interest in the future would be 3/4 of an acre on Grand Cayman. The cars have served me well.

Bernie

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That was a good read Bernie, and a great outlook on things. As I read it I envisioned all the cars I like, guess we share the same passion, just enjoy totally different eras of cars. Bob 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The reason my wife does not cause me problems with my old cars is that I hide them away from the house and the wife and make my kids swear to tell mom that the cars belong to Uncle Robert. When that day comes that I can't enjoy the cars I'll deal with it like most people. I will die and my Estate will sell the vehicles for whatever they can get on a fast sale.   In short, I purchased these cars for pure enjoyment knowing that as an investment I would be better off buying stocks.  You cant drive your stocks or take a friend for a drive in your investment portfolio. 

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As to  dying, also certain pockets of the Country and certain European Countries where older cars are more popular than others (ie you are not alone in your enjoyment of them) - so the day to day perception gets easily skewed.  In Cincinnati, we use to be a hub of pre-war cars, but not so much anymore (all be it many still here sitting in garages, but they are not out daily in summer, not out at shows, and not many out on the regional tours and a lot has to do with age of people, not as fun to be the odd duck, not many people around here to work on them, parts availability, ease of driving, , and .... - people grab the something more user friendly from the garage first).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My take:

1. You don't want to sell the car, and you're upset that you are.

2. You're not getting what you think is appropriate value, and that upsets you more.

3. Folks are suggesting that others may like the car better if configured differently (i.e. rejecting your opinion), and that makes things worse.

 

So, if you net $30,000 on the sale and the buyer yanks the skirts, it's going to grate at you for years.

 

Go back to point 1.  Then pull the car off the market, bring it home, and drive the snot out of it.  Take it to the grocery store, the doctor's office, church, or wherever you go.  If you get a ding or two, so what?  If that's a $30,000 car, half the cars in the parking lot are worth more.  If you lose a couple of thousand from the wear and tear, big deal.  The payoff from your enjoyment will more than make up for whatever assessed value you lost. 

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John, I will not own a convertible sedan. They just have too many reasons to pass on them. The order of body styles I posted is the current order for the new younger collectors.......a Coupe on RARE pre war stuff is often much more expensive than the convertible coupe. So it’s roadster, Coupe, Conv Coupe, Sport phaeton, Touring, Club Sedan, Conv Sedan......ect. I didn’t list Conv Victoria because many companies didn’t offer them. I would place it between the Conv Coupe and phaeton. 

 

As always, there maybe one specific car or case where the above doesn’t apply. Recently, in the mega car category, coupes have far exceeded Conv Coupe prices. The market today is VERY driven by style, and most of the custom car coupes look better than the rag top.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ed Remind all the guys with Auburn Conv't sedans you run into that they really aren't anything very desirable and let me know when you find someone that wants to part with one.   I might just get that chance to own one yet. ;) 

Of course my luck that's probably one of the exceptions. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, KongaMan said:

My take:

1. You don't want to sell the car, and you're upset that you are.

2. You're not getting what you think is appropriate value, and that upsets you more.

3. Folks are suggesting that others may like the car better if configured differently (i.e. rejecting your opinion), and that makes things worse.

 

So, if you net $30,000 on the sale and the buyer yanks the skirts, it's going to grate at you for years.

 

Go back to point 1.  Then pull the car off the market, bring it home, and drive the snot out of it.  Take it to the grocery store, the doctor's office, church, or wherever you go.  If you get a ding or two, so what?  If that's a $30,000 car, half the cars in the parking lot are worth more.  If you lose a couple of thousand from the wear and tear, big deal.  The payoff from your enjoyment will more than make up for whatever assessed value you lost. 

Are you a psychologist?  Let's see, you think you can psycholoanalyze me huh.  I won't say what I'm thinking.  I don't give a royal damn where the car goes of what the take off of it.  I do hope a street rodder doesn't get it, but I've protected it from them as long as my life will allow.  As for getting what I think is appropriate, I haven't gotten anything yet.  I'm too old to drive the snot out of it and I don't want to do that here.  I would like to add the money to my pot and try to move the hell out of Florida and back to Virginia's Northern Neck, but we don't think we'll physically be able to do that.    I just want to see it go to a good home if it can. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Dynaflash8 said:

I don't give a royal damn where the car goes …  I just want to see it go to a good home if it can. 

Which is it? ;) 

 

Take control.  Defy the cheap, the uneducated, and the ignorant. Crush it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, John_Mereness said:

As to  dying, also certain pockets of the Country and certain European Countries where older cars are more popular than others (ie you are not alone in your enjoyment of them) - so the day to day perception gets easily skewed.  In Cincinnati, we use to be a hub of pre-war cars, but not so much anymore (all be it many still here sitting in garages, but they are not out daily in summer, not out at shows, and not many out on the regional tours and a lot has to do with age of people, not as fun to be the odd duck, not many people around here to work on them, parts availability, ease of driving, , and .... - people grab the something more user friendly from the garage first).

The brave new world.  Anyway, when I was on the AACA National Board I could see all of this coming.  That is why I designed and sold the AACA National Sentimental Tour to the National Board.  The Tour covers only 1928-1958 and is designed to keep these older cars collectible to the hobby members.  It makes a reason to have one of these beautiful old  cars in the garage.  The 2020 Tour in West Virginia is the reason I plan to try and keep the Suburban and the trailer for two more years.  After that, all bets are off.  Maybe then I'll find a 1955 Ford Fairlane Town sedan like the one I had when my wife and I were married.  One thing I don't want to do, above all else, is leave a bunch of old cars on my wife if I die first.  My wife is the most valuable thing I've got or have ever had.  I'm thinking of her first.  I don't want her to have to deal with trying to turn them into money.  I've got enough '39 Buick 40-60 mechanical parts to fill  a closed trailer.  Also have some 1941 and 1964 stuff too.  I am planning to buy a couple of spots at Hershey.  If I can go I'll take a lot of this stuff to sell.  If health says I can't go I just let that money be gone.

Edited by Dynaflash8 (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 minute ago, KongaMan said:

Which is it? ;) 

 

Take control.  Defy the cheap, the uneducated, and the ignorant. Crush it.

I just wrote you didn't I?  I don't want to do it again right now.  It's time for the ballgame.

Edited by Dynaflash8 (see edit history)
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Auburnseeker - Just because something isn’t my cup of tea, it doesn’t make it any less of a car. I particularly like club sedans. Lots of people won’t own one either. After 45 years in the hobby, I just know what I don’t want. As they say, to each his own! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Buick64C said:

 

I think you're conflating a lack of interest in old cars with a lack of interest in cars. Car culture among Millennials is very strong, you just need to look for it in the right places. 

 

Actually,  Eddy is right in a way.   More and more teenagers are not getting their drivers licenses.   This article has some stats in it, but there are lots if you google:

 

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/many-teens-dont-want-get-drivers-license

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, edinmass said:

John, I will not own a convertible sedan.

 

 

LIAR!!!!!   I know for a fact you would take a Murphy Convertible Sedan.   But,  your general point that convertible sedans are lower in the food chain is basically true.   I would personally take a convertible sedan over a touring car,  but that is just me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nope.  I would sell sell the factory convertible sedan body and build a replica taper tail. 😆

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whether your cup of tea or not.  You have to admit they have pretty nice lines from almost any angle. 

1932_Auburn_Convertible_Sedan_-_svl_(4610458068).jpg

5353614606_8919a0164d_b.jpg

97ac0b67b69529e5140571324892a8ef.jpg

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sure, they have “pretty nice lines”, and I am a fan of several different model Auburns, and one of the very first cars I ever drove was a 1929 speedster............but the body style just  does nothing for me...........I rather a town car, or a Enclosed Drive Limousine than the four door ragtop with roll up windows. I guess it can be chalked up to an additional eccentricity,  to be add to my personality deficit list.

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, alsancle said:

 

Actually,  Eddy is right in a way.   More and more teenagers are not getting their drivers licenses.   This article has some stats in it, but there are lots if you google:

 

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/many-teens-dont-want-get-drivers-license

 

Getting a drivers license’ is not a proxy for whether or not someone is a car enthusiast.   The proof of their interest can be seen in the events they go to and the content the create for the web. I would argue that not only are they passionate, they are more involved with cars because they have many more outlets then we did at their age. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Were chrome wheels common on upper middle class cars like Auburn's when new ? Or are the something later owners have added ? They look a little too over the top. Same with the wide white's  Very nice cars regardless . 

 

Greg in Canada

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...