Sharps45-70

Best Late 20's / Early 30's Car for Touring?

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There are some interesting choices in the medium priced field. Possibly more practical, and economical than the luxury Packards, Cadillacs and Pierces.

 

Cars like the Hudson Super Six and Studebaker Big Six were the fast cars of the late 20s. I knew an old time collector who had a dozen cars but in the sixties and seventies his favorite tour car was a Willys Knight sleeve valve sedan.

 

Buick, Chrysler, Nash, and others made some nice six cylinder and straight eight cars in the period.

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7 minutes ago, Rusty_OToole said:

There are some interesting choices in the medium priced field. Possibly more practical, and economical than the luxury Packards, Cadillacs and Pierces.

 

Cars like the Hudson Super Six and Studebaker Big Six were the fast cars of the late 20s. I knew an old time collector who had a dozen cars but in the sixties and seventies his favorite tour car was a Willys Knight sleeve valve sedan.

 

Buick, Chrysler, Nash, and others made some nice six cylinder and straight eight cars in the period.

As much as I like the middle price field, I want to keep the discussion focused on the overall best drivers of the period, regardless of the price field they are from, though most will tend to be from the higher price fields as they have the higher quality and more impressive engineering. Still fun talking about all the marques!

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35/36 Super-Charged Auburns, due to 150 horsepower, light 3800-pound weight, two-speed rear axles with highest (fastest) gear ratio approaching 3-to-1 on some cars, easy steering, reasonable quality (not nearly up to Packard, Cadillac, Pierce or Lincoln but good enough), plus their share of flash and style thanks to outside stainless steel exhaust, pretty dashboards and lots of aluminum under the hood that you can polish up if you like.    

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EDINMASS must be quite a character from all the comments.................

 

Ok, confession time.......I haven’t responded because I was on the Duesenberg tour. Just got home.......
 

The most important concept on this thread is properly sorted and serviced. Most any medium priced car from the 1929-1934 era is decent and drivable. Some are better drivers than others, and the quality of build, coachwork, and fit and finish vary quite extensively.

What is the best? Well..........that depends......on countless permutations. 
 

Here they are in descending order from the top.........

 

Duesenberg

Duesenberg

Duesenberg

Duesenberg

Duesenberg

all the rest in almost any order depending upon ones bias...........

 

There are many great cars that are not well understood that offer fantastic value for your dollar, The Stude President is one of them. I can think of bunch of others. I prefer Pierce-Arrow..........over all the others. I could make the same argument for a few others. I have never been one to own something commonplace, I like the unusual. Pierce best fit my personality. 
 

There are some very cool cars out there that are so rare they are not well known......a Sunbeam Twin Cam Six comes to mind. It’s high on my list. Just not in my budget.
 

By the way.........we did 1700 miles in a total of ten days with the J in the last few weeks. One day was 275 miles over back surface roads in the rain........it can be done.......it’s not easy..........that’s why so few do it. Over the entire time, not one service, adjustment, or repair was needed. I did open the hood to check the oil.......nothing else.

 

 

 

 

 

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Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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18 minutes ago, edinmass said:

EDINMASS must be quite a character from all the comments.................

 

Ok, confession time.......I haven’t responded because I was on the Duesenberg tour. Just got home.......
 

The most important concept on this thread is properly sorted and serviced. Most any medium priced car from the 1929-1934 era is decent and drivable. Some are better drivers than others, and the quality of build, coachwork, and fit and finish vary quite extensively.

What is the best? Well..........that depends......on countless permutations. 

 

Here they are in descending order from the top.........

Duesenberg

Duesenberg

Duesenberg

Duesenberg

Duesenberg

all the rest in almost any order depending upon ones bias...........

 

There are many great cars that are not well understood that offer fantastic value for your dollar, The Stude President is one of them. I can think of bunch of others. I prefer Pierce-Arrow..........over all the others. I could make the same argument for a few others. I have never been one to own something commonplace, I like the unusual. Pierce best fit my personality. 
 

There are some very cool cars out there that are so rare they are not well known......a Sunbeam Twin Cam Six comes to mind. It’s high on my list. Just not in my budget.
 

By the way.........we did 1700 miles in a total of ten days with the J in the last few weeks. One day was 275 miles over back surface roads in the rain........it can be done.......it’s not easy..........that’s why so few do it. Over the entire time, not one service, adjustment, or repair was needed. I did open the hood to check the oil.......nothing else.

There's the man! ;)

 

I doubt I will ever be able to afford a Duesenberg (though I won't stop trying), but I am interested in hearing your opinions comparing the other big marques; Packard, Pierce Arrow, Cadillac, Lincoln - just to name a few. I am curious as to your bias toward Pierce Arrow, and if it extends to all Pierce Arrows, or just a certain time frame (1934,1936-1937 for example). It seems to my untrained eye that Pierce Arrows and Lincolns seem pretty undervalued compared to the Packards and Cadillacs I otherwise hear mixed things about. With the Lincolns, is this possibly due to their reputation as being "Fords on steroids?"

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I don't think there's any such thing as "best." It's like asking, "What kind of woman makes the best wife?" My wife is a voluptuous blonde. Your wife may be a thin brunette. Neither is better, right? 

 

Duesenberg is obviously something special. But I would argue any expensive car from that era will deliver a superior driving experience but their personalities are quite different. And as Ed mentioned, the state of the car is sometimes more critical than what the car is. I've had affordable cars that drove great and expensive cars that drove like turds. Putting any car right will go a long way to improving your end experience.

 

All that said, cars with Ross or Gemmer steering boxes tend to have excellent steering (provided it's in good condition). I have a Marmon Sixteen right now that you can steer with a finger as long as it's rolling. My 1929 Cadillac, on the other hand, feels like a city bus with a broken power steering pump and doesn't get better no matter how much I tweak it. Some really were better than others. As AJ points out, the cars got exponentially better throughout the early '30s, probably by bigger leaps and bounds than any other period in motoring other than the very earliest days. They perfected making cars reliable so they were focusing on improving refinement and performance. The difference between a 1929 car and a 1935 car is remarkable, even though the basic specs might be the same (beam axles, leaf springs, mechanical brakes, etc.). I find the 1932-35 zone to be the sweet spot for old cars--they still feel and act old but they are easier to drive and offer somewhat more robust performance. My '29 Cadillac feels pretty primitive compared to, say, the '32 Buick 90 Series I owned a few years ago. The Car Which Shall Not Be Named (a 1935) felt quite a bit better than either of those on that one occasion I was able to drive it even though it was trash.

 

There is no best. There's only finding the one that suits you best. I've longed for a '34 Packard all my life but when I finally got one I wasn't blown away by it like I hoped. Maybe that was reality not matching an imagined dream, or maybe my car wasn't quite as good as it could have been, but it didn't amaze me. My advice is always to drive everything you can possibly afford and pick the one that makes you smile the widest. You might be surprised when the car you thought you wanted turns out to be a dud and something you never imagined makes you fall in love. Be open-minded and open to cars you wouldn't have ordinarily considered and you can end up with something really special. 

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Given the criteria, I'd start with at least a 300 CID (250 if blown) engine and either a two speed rear end or an OD. At least two carbs. That is pretty much the minimum for a 70 mph cruise. Conventional three or four speed tranny (unless you really like to tinker stay away from the Wilson Pre-Selector). DOHC 8 is a big plus. Keep in mind that HP was measured differently then, torque is more important.

 

Next, 2 to 4 seater ?

Open or closed car?

 

That should narrow it to a short list and can concentrate on sevicability ? Club with parts vendors ? Marque Forum ?

 

Good luck.

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What kind of woman makes the best wife?

 

 

 

If I was to comment I expect I would be suspended indefinitely!

 

 

 

When it comes to the high dollar stuff........the big headlights, custom designer body, the advanced chassis, and head turning good looks are all desirable attributes to a great car......or a good wife!

 

Now.....do I get warning points?🤔

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Like the proverbial stopped clock,  Ed is right about this.  There is basically the Duesenberg Model J and then everybody else.   There NO American comparison except for maybe Marmon 16.

 

The downside is all cost.  If you want to get picky,  you are driving around on a 1928 chassis that has the ability to go much faster than it can stop or turn.   There are many later 33-34 chassis that are better refined, easier and more comfortable to drive,  and while you are shifting to high the Model J will be blowing by you on the outside.

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According to contemporary reports the best driving car of the 20s was Franklin. If you want to cover miles in an hour, vs miles per hour, the Franklin often made better time than more powerful, supposedly faster cars.Ride, handling and steering all came in for praise. The full elliptic springs, wooden chassis, steering, scientific light weight and balance made the difference. Have seen reports from Franklin owners on this board that seem to confirm this is still true.

 

As for the Duesenberg is it still possible to buy a good driver for a million?

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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Matt........I have a very easy fix for your difficult to steer 1929 Cadillac...............remember I had a dozen early Cadillacs when I was in my youth driving and collecting CCCA Classic Cars. The fix was simple...........sell the Caddy and buy a Pierce! Problem fixed! Along with a bunch of other issues.....all at the same time.  Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. 👍

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Think I might look for a Stutz DV32. My kind of car. OTOH early '40s Buicks were great road cars.

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Just now, padgett said:

Think I might look for a Stutz DV32...........


Properly dialed in, they are fantastic..............that’s from experience!👍

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9 hours ago, Graham Man said:

I guess I do not understand the problem with updraft carbs?  I have several Graham-Paige cars all with updrafts.  I have been driving them personally for the last 15 years.   My 1933 just sat for over a month, cranked over and started right up last weekend.

 

My favorite quote from a car show  "What is a young guy like you, driving a old car like that?"

 

I own several eights and small sixes, all 1928-1933, the Graham-Paige eights (and big six) are geared higher than the small cars.  My 1929 Graham-Paige 827 will cruse at 70mph all day and has larger brakes to stop it, my 1931 small six likes 45mph.

With the Lincoln L's the carb sits in a valley in the V-8 and they just toast up to the point that you cannot overcome vapor lock.  You can get a little relief from blocking off the engine pre-heater/exhaust cross over, but ....  Cadillac V-8's of same era have same issue.   It has to do with the formulation of the gasoline. 

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6 hours ago, jrbartlett said:

35/36 Super-Charged Auburns, due to 150 horsepower, light 3800-pound weight, two-speed rear axles with highest (fastest) gear ratio approaching 3-to-1 on some cars, easy steering, reasonable quality (not nearly up to Packard, Cadillac, Pierce or Lincoln but good enough), plus their share of flash and style thanks to outside stainless steel exhaust, pretty dashboards and lots of aluminum under the hood that you can polish up if you like.    

Not many people successful with touring with the supercharged cars - there is a whole lot of extra stuff going around.  Plenty of people touring with the non-S/C cars though. 

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I think everyone is in agreement  the Duesenberg is the top dog. I suppose the question becomes one of "what's next?" Is it a V-16 Marmon or Cadillac? One of the many V-12 cars? What makes those Cadillacs hard to steer compared to another equally sized car? Does the steering gear truly make that big of a difference, or is it more down to tire size/front end weight?

 

I assume a closed town car or sedan would be the best from a comfort perspective, but could a case be made for an open car aside from the lighter weight? I know they can get chilly! 

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3 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

According to contemporary reports the best driving car of the 20s was Franklin. If you want to cover miles in an hour, vs miles per hour, the Franklin often made better time than more powerful, supposedly faster cars.Ride, handling and steering all came in for praise. The full elliptic springs, wooden chassis, steering, scientific light weight and balance made the difference. Have seen reports from Franklin owners on this board that seem to confirm this is still true.

 

As for the Duesenberg is it still possible to buy a good driver for a million?

The ride on a Franklin is fabulous and probably the only car that you can drive over the worst or railroad crossings and never hit the brakes. 

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2 hours ago, edinmass said:


Properly dialed in, they are fantastic..............that’s from experience!👍

They are pretty neat and I believe the second highest HP rating following a Duesenberg. 

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I thought the RR PI Springfield was pretty impressive as far as steering and braking, it just fell short in the gearing (lots of torque, but not enough top end speed) and way too complicated. 

 

I do not know about other RR PI, but I had half point steering - much like a race car.

 

I had a bear of a time figuring out how to shift it until I believe Ed asked me if it was one of the later cars with an internal transmission brake - it was as it turns out and that just takes a whole different shifting mindset.  Also, had to count to 30 or so prior to shifting upon start-up.

 

Still a really large and heavy heavy car.

 

 

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Call be a glutton for punishment, but I have a soft spot for L-29 Cords (and well aware of their driving faults).  I also have a special garage spot for a Lancia Lambda Touring. 

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5 hours ago, edinmass said:

Over the entire time, not one service, adjustment, or repair was needed. I did open the hood to check the oil.......nothing else.

 

On the AACA National Vintage tour in Kingston this this year with cars from 07 to 31 attended none had to be towed all week.  

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On 10/27/2019 at 11:33 PM, FLYER15015 said:

I drive my "31 Chrysler Imperial (CG) all over central Colorado, and we live @ 8500 ft.

 

Mike in Colorado

1931_chrysler_imperial_4_door_sedan_limousine_906e6c9e79.jpg

A friend use to have a 31 Cabriolet (it was turquoise in color and is now red and owned by Brent Merrill) and was restoring a sedan or 7 passenger sedan (never saw it, but I think he was painting it blue) - I asked him one day why Imperials were so few and far between and his reply was they are fabulous cars and people drove them into the ground to the point there was nothing left of them. 

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12 minutes ago, John_Mereness said:

The ride on a Franklin is fabulous and probably the only car that you can drive over the worst or railroad crossings and never hit the brakes. 

 

What makes the ride so good over other cars?

 

2 minutes ago, John_Mereness said:

Call be a glutton for punishment, but I have a soft spot for L-29 Cords (and well aware of their driving faults).  I also have a special garage spot for a Lancia Lambda Touring. 

 

I love the look of the L-29's as well. Wonderful proportions, colours, and details. I agree I wouldn't want to tour one, but damn wouldn't I want one anyways!

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7 hours ago, Sharps45-70 said:

From my understanding, the problem is not so much updraft carbs in general, but their particular location on Lincoln Model L's in the V of the block. The heat can be quite a problem for their updrafts, but if I am wrong, Lincoln L experts please correct me so we have have accurate info on the thread. 

Correct !

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On 10/27/2019 at 9:33 PM, FLYER15015 said:

I drive my "31 Chrysler Imperial (CG) all over central Colorado, and we live @ 8500 ft.

 

Mike in Colorado

1931_chrysler_imperial_4_door_sedan_limousine_906e6c9e79.jpg

 

I would like to know more about this. You don't hear much about them, and ai have always loved the long proportions of the hood and fenders. Would you be able to enlighten me on some of the driving characteristics/features?

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