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Why I like orphan cars


Frantz
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I got into orphan cars by accident. As a teenager in the 1990s I stumbled into AMC Eagles. Perfect for a fellow who wanted a cheap older car that could go camping. I really hadn't been aware of AMC and didn't grow up in a car loving family. From there I loved all things AMC and it started me looking at other brands that were no more. I love the history and the stories. And like most folks who own cars, I do enjoy sharing about them. Now what makes orphan cars so much MORE fun is that you don't have a whole lot of people telling you about your car (well sometimes you do, but it's often hearsay and incorrect information). In looking for a good affordable pre war car, I've mostly ignored the big three. Unfortunately I think the big three cars generally become little more than a year. Folks aren't as interested in the innovations seen and used. There is less wonder. When you get a company that hasn't been around since the depression then folks are more interested in hearing about the car. I enjoy trying to absorb what I can about a brand and helping to carry the information forward. Many of my friends are double my age because of my interest in old cars and they often ask me how I got into it. It started like many with performance, but the key to my passion is the history and the stories of the companies. All this came to mind as I read through the model A for sale. While I'm 36 and not a "young person" anymore, I read folks complaining about young people in the hobby and feel I'm part of that age group. I think folks are sorta on track with the "we don't relate with the car" because that's true. But for those of us still into old machines, just keep in mind, it just means we are in it for different reasons. For me they tell a story of a time, and I just prefer lesser read stories.

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+1 and has always been true. Would qualify a bit further and say I tend toward halo cars. Often oddball "exercises" produced in low volume and since I like two seaters with 6 cyl engines that reduces things further (or the market is finally coming around to my tastes).

 

This began when a college student in Michigan and I found that cars with AC also had better heaters and higher capacity electrical and cooling systems (may be why I never had a cooling problem with a Vega - AC cars got real radiators.

 

And then there is the social mix. It is a fact that from about 1973 to 1998 it was not PC to be a gearhead and people were being told that to modify a car was a federal offense. Mix in the NMSL (55) and the rise of the personal computer/gaming and was not a good time to enjoy turning a wrench. Since that generation is now in the 21 to 45 year old age group it is no surprise that interest seems to be declining.

 

Not all bad, there are some really interesting cars out there that were built in that period that are very low priced since there is no demand. Orphan and halo cars often since they did not sell well when new.

 

Add to that I really wonder about the designers today that do not seem capable of something as simple as a cooling system. True that job is more difficult when you must sesign for an engine that turns 600 to 7000 rpm and not 700 to 4800 rpm as before VVT. It is an interesting time.

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21 minutes ago, Restorer32 said:

I too like orphan cars, especially early ones. We restored 2 Pullman autos, a 1908 and a 1910 as well as a 1917 Bell,  all built here in York, PA.  Interesting to see different approaches to design and engineering plus it's a challenge to get them on the road and keep them there. 

I would have liked to purchase one of Paul Vaughn's Pullmans this year at auction as he had me over to his place several times to share his knowledge of Pullmans. Just not in the cards yet, but I think I'll be a custodian of one someday!

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First I think we all like the underdog story, seems to be an American thing.  Started chasing Graham-Paige cars about 20 years ago when I found out my Grandfather had one.  He always had impeccable taste so they must be good?  The orphan car clubs are tight knit, a lot of the members know my kids names.  Our meets are international, and just fun to attend, we all share our Graham-Paige stories.  We currently have about 1500 known remaining cars in the registry, so a pretty small numbers.

 

Image result for graham owners club international meet

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8 minutes ago, Graham Man said:

First I think we all like the underdog story, seems to be an American thing.  Started chasing Graham-Paige cars about 20 years ago when I found out my Grandfather had one.  He always had impeccable taste so they must be good?  The orphan car clubs are tight knit, a lot of the members know my kids names.  Our meets are international, and just fun to attend, we all share our Graham-Paige stories.  We currently have about 1500 known remaining cars in the registry, so a pretty small numbers.

 

Image result for graham owners club international meet

I'm going to look at a Jewett this weekend. We might end up friends if I can strike a deal.

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Orphan cars are interesting, and full of great history. I have owned Studebakers, Hudsons, and  a Henry J. The Hudsons that i have owned were very well built, and great running cars. Studebakers with overdrive are also wonderful running cars. I have owned Fords and Chevrolets of the same era, and orphan cars had to do things a little different to compete, and that is what made them unique and very enjoyable. Now it is hard to think that popular cars like Oldsmobile, Mercury, Plymouth, and Pontiac are now orphans. 

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One of my favorite orphans is Franklin,particularly 1929 (steel frame instead of wood.same style "radiator"as '25-28) and especially a close coupled sedan. Not likely going to happen, having settled on a 1929 McLaughlin-Buick club sedan. My only orphan is my '40 Packard coupe.

Good luck with acquiring the Jewett.

Edited by J.H.Boland (see edit history)
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Orphan cars have been a staple in my family since the 50's.

That is when one of my uncles picked up a '29 Franklin Victoria.

After that came our '26 Rickenbacker and '29 Pierce Arrow in the early 60's.

That same uncle with the '29 Franklin has since owned various late 20's and early 30's Franklins over the years.

In the past few years another Rickenbacker, a '25, has been added to the family but it needs a little work before it will be road worthy.

 

If you want an orphan car with a real low number of surviving cars I suggest you hunt down a Rickenbacker.  😁

Less than 40 known to exist from all production years.

Plus, the history of the man behind the car, Edward Vernon Rickenbacker, is the stuff of legends and tales that are larger than life.

He was an absolutely amazing and fascinating man.

What other car can boast the slogan, 'A Car Worthy of its Name'?

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I don't know what  you mean by Orphan cars, I just own mainstream stuff, like:

Graham, Studebaker, Corvairs, Subaru 360, Willlys, Packard,   😁

 

Hard to go anywhere in a Corvair without people talking to you and telling you many hearsay stories that are not true/they always know someone who owned one , etc.

Hard to go anywhere in a Graham without people asking "what is it?"😉

 

Honda 600 was the car sold in the US for several years. Used to see several in Richmond when I was driving my Subaru 360. 

 

And that is right, without Malcolm Bricklin importing the Subaru 360 and forming Subaru of America dealer network, there would not have been Bricklins, or Subarus for that matter!

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A few of my favorites are - 'Rickenbacker? Is that a foreign car?' My response is, 'Nope, made in Detroit.'

And, 'Pierce Arrow? Don't they make motor homes now?' No, you're thinking of Pace Arrow.

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My first car purchase was a 1974 AMC Javelin back in 1982..... I think I paid $700 for it. Great car with the 304 V8 and a three speed on the floor ! I think the styling of the Javelin was a head of it's time...  and it was the only AMC in the High School parking lot !

 

Steve

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, mercer09 said:

orphan cars are wonderful, till you need parts.

 

you better be a machinist or have a big wallet..............

 

why I now spend so much time on model A Fords.

I'd like to get machining tools... hence the generator thread last month!

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I own 3 devauxs to 31 and a 32 some times it’s a little depressing trying to find parts when you walka swapmeet and find nothing,and then your excited to find a beat up hubcap,I remember in the 70s a guy telling me he didn’t have any foreign car parts,when I can I purchase any parts possible over the years I’ve helped others with what theyve needed,owning 3 devauxs and a moon tells my story,    Dave

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I got into orphan cars because they where inexpensive,in 1970 when I bought my first 31 devaux,I payed 250.00; my buddy bought a comparable 30 Chrysler for 1.500.00 ,over the years it gets a little depressing trying to find parts.but I’ve made some good friends and helped others at times,I remember going to a swapmeet in the seventies with a buddy of mine and a vendor told me he didn’t have no damn foreign car parts to this day when I see my old friend he always laughs and says I don’t have no damn foreign car parts,now I have 3 devauxs and still can’t find any parts,   Dave

 

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6 hours ago, mercer09 said:

orphan cars are wonderful, till you need parts.

 

you better be a machinist or have a big wallet..............

 

why I now spend so much time on model A Fords.

 

 

^This^

 

I'd guess one could build a Model A from scratch using reproduction and/or commonly available original parts.  Pretty much the same for T and V-8, and Chevy is getting there.  But I owned a pre-WWII Plymouth, an orphan but not all that rare.  It still could be a challenge finding parts.

 

I love orphan cars, but I'll leave it to others with more fortitude (and money) to own, restore, and drive them.  I'll stick to Fords.  😎

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I may be thinking of "orphan" in a different context. I'd always thought of "orphan" as meaning makes that aren't produced anymore, so that could include big three brands like Desoto and Oldsmobile. I wonder if the OP didn't mean "independents" when talking about AMC or Studebaker. Of course, they're orphans, too (many decades over.) 

 

But that brings up another issue of semantics...were AMC and Studebaker really "independent" makers in a true sense? AMC was Hudson and Nash merged. Packard bought Studebaker in the 50's, so was everything after that point independent? True, they didn't market individual marques after the mergers for very long, but they did for a while.

 

I actually love the independents, though I don't own one. I end up going to ebay to look at old cars just for fun (not a great place to buy generally) and I usually look at them before  Fords and Chevys.

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James I guess you can call it what you like, but by any other name it still feels the same. We could refer to nearly all American cars as orphans today, but that doesn't mean that they are "independents." But does it really make any difference what they are called, because we know what they are.

 

In a world that is dominated by Chevrolet and Ford, the world for us who own some of the, seldom seen, independents is a different experience. From the people we meet, to the people interested in our cars, makes a car get together a different experience.

 

I'm an unabashed car lover and collector. A good car is a good car no matter by whom it was made. I feel fortunate that I never let myself  be painted into a corner, by a love affair with any single marque. In spite of owning several marques, it has become very clear, over the years, if I show up with one of my Studebakers, my day is going to be different.

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20 hours ago, Frank DuVal said:

I don't know what  you mean by Orphan cars, I just own mainstream stuff, like:

Graham, Studebaker, Corvairs, Subaru 360, Willlys, Packard,   😁

 

Hard to go anywhere in a Corvair without people talking to you and telling you many hearsay stories that are not true/they always know someone who owned one , etc.

Hard to go anywhere in a Graham without people asking "what is it?"😉

 

Honda 600 was the car sold in the US for several years. Used to see several in Richmond when I was driving my Subaru 360. 

 

And that is right, without Malcolm Bricklin importing the Subaru 360 and forming Subaru of America dealer network, there would not have been Bricklins, or Subarus for that matter!

 

If you live near the midwest you should bring your Corvair and Subaru to the Air Cooled Meet at the Gilmore Car Museum next year (every year) on the Saturday before Father's Day. This show is put on by the H H Franklin Club who have their museum - the Franklin Automobile Collection at Hickory Corners - at the Gilmore Car Museum. :-)

 

Roger

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You can find plenty of  interesting orphan cars just from GM in the '70s- '80s: Allante, Fiero, Reatta, Skyhawk, Sunbird, Vega that are quite undervalued IMNSHO at the moment. If you prefer something larger then the Cadillac Seville and Pontiac Phoenix (first one). Always thought the prettiest of the '73s was the Buick Centurion but few ever heard of them

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1 hour ago, padgett said:

You can find plenty of  interesting orphan cars just from GM in the '70s- '80s: Allante, Fiero, Reatta, Skyhawk, Sunbird, Vega that are quite undervalued IMNSHO at the moment. If you prefer something larger then the Cadillac Seville and Pontiac Phoenix (first one). Always thought the prettiest of the '73s was the Buick Centurion but few ever heard of them

 

I always thought the definition of an orphan car was one that the manufacturer was no longer in business.

Not a model that was discontinued but the manufacturer was still around.

 

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I would have been all over that Xander.  Nice score. They don't look like that around here.  I have a guy that approached me about buying his 51 or 52 4 Door sedan at the show,  but haven't heard from him.  Doesn't sound rusty but very needy including a shot interior.  Now if it looked like this,  I would have been very excited. 

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