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A-List Classics...and others


ericmac

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Many times over the years I have heard mention of "A-List Classics." To me that has been fairly self explanatory but as I have considered this further I wonder. To me, an A-List Classic would include things such as V-16 Cadillacs, V-12 Packards and Pierce Arrows, Duesenberg Js, Stutz DV-32, 540 K Mercedes, Minerva, Hispano Suiza and so on. But as I considered this further I started to think there are probably A-List Classics, AA-Classics and AAA-Classics. The AAA cars would be cars than nearly anyone could consider as a contender for Best of Show at Pebble Beach. They would be one-offs or truly special/important cars with incredible provenance. The AA-Classics would be cars that that could garner an invitation to Pebble Beach and might even win a major award there but would not necessarily be a one of a kind car. I am thinking of a car such as a V-12 powered Auburn Boattailed Speedster, a Mercedes 540K Cabriolet B or maybe a Cadillac 452 V-2 Roadster with factory coachwork.

 

So what about the lesser cars though? Without offending anyone  started thinking there are probably B-list, C-list and so on Classics. Again, hoping not to offend anyone I have actually owned a couple cars I would think of as an E-list Classic (E for entry level, but still a Classic). I think of horse-collar and closed body-style Franklins, 6 cylinder pre '25 Packards, Lincoln sedans with stodgy coachwork, (do I dare say it) '46-48 Lincoln Continental coupes in so-so condition,  and so on. These are the cars we scratch our heads over as we say unbelievably "but are still a Classic" yet the car can't generate the price of a decent Ford Model A...or in the case of some Franklins, a less than decent Ford Model T even if they run.

 

Next in line we have the D-list Classics, which I think of as the 6 and 8 cylinder powered closed cars of the CCCA. They are the cars with either little following, or cars that people do not think of being "worth it" from a restoration perspective, yet they can be highly desirable cars in the eyes of many. I think of an 8 cylinder Auburn sedan, a 90 series Buick, nearly any Nash except the open cars, pre-29 Pierce-Arrow sedans, and nearly any sedan of European origin that needs work. While these are incredible cars they are not the cars that many collectors seek out, yet they are delighted to own them when they are found.

 

How about a C-list Classic? I think this is where we get into the production model open cars and some of the higher end closed cars. I think of factory bodied open Lincoln, 8-cylinder Cadillacs, 7-passenger touring cars, some Cords (especially the 810-12 sedans), later (post '35) Packards with closed bodies and great cars of nearly any manufacturer hat need a lot of work.

 

A B-list Classic? Believe it or not, I would suggest Duesenberg J's with replica coachwork, Cadillac V-12 and V-16 with closed coachwork, open cars with factory bodes like '39-48 Cadillac, Stutz, Marmon., Packard closed cars, some Rolls-Royce with series production bodies (not a Henley Roadster, of course, but one of several touring cars on the 20-25 chassis).

 

My goal here is not to start World War 3 among CCCA enthusiasts but really trying to understand the stratification of the cars that are part of the club...and there seems to be a lot of stratification. What do you think? Am I nuts or making sense?

 

Eric

 

 

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OK........short and sweet.............. In collections like Neathercutt, Gilmore, and such.......there are terms for the different "level" of CCCA Classics. The terms I consistantly hear from the managers of collections of that level is..........

 

"All the boxes" and then:

Grade A

Grade B

Grade C

 

 

Now remember the level of these collections...........and we are NOT talking about condition. We are referring to the car as art, sculpture, and industrial design. Thus a nice, correct V-16 Cadillac Limo first series would be a "C" due to the fact its rather common, not a stunning car in the scope of design, and was basicly a "standard top of the line factory car with factory coachwork". I would be glad to own any "Grade C" car for myself. Grade "B" would be there deseriable and less seen models(staying with V-16 Caddy's) like a Town Car, Convertible Sedan, or a Landaulet. Still all factory coachwork.......Fisher or Fleetwood. Then the only grade "A" list Cadillacs would be the Roadster or Sport Pheaton ....and that is it for grade "A" on a V-16 with factory coachwork. Last we have the "checks all the boxes" car........a star of any collection, something one-off, with GREAT lines and styling..........not some frumpy strange thing that makes you want the standard sedan............ notice I don't name a car or post a photo........don't want to rain on anybody's V-16, as I don't own one. The "all the boxes" V-16 would be the cars pictured below with drop dead gorgeous bodys, of a flamboyant design done for an auto show or salon.........see below. 

 

OK- now it's time to bash me.........

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All the above cars are one-off designs By Hartmann, Rollston, and Murphy. All are examples of "checks all the boxes", and usually are a good bet for Pebble Beach best in Class and probably a good bet for Best of Show nomination. 

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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I had the privilege of working on the Murphy car when it was part of the McMullen collection, maybe 25 years ago. Some of the upholstery needed work and it seems like one of the doors needed something. It's beautiful in photos but was absolutely phenomenal in person.  

 

Ed, your gradient makes sense. I am happy if a car I own checks a box at all!

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Changing the subject a little.  I saw a note about an X being researched for CCCA status and the reply I saw back to club President went something along the lines of CCCA is good at what it does and needs to continue focusing on being good at what it does, and the AACA is good at what it does and needs to always be focusing on being good at what it does, and .... And, the CCCA need to cater/meet the needs of all  the cars in its membership and .... 

 

My point:  there was a hierarchy of car from day one and also a hierarchy within every brand, but so few of any particular thing for the most part, you just need to be glad they make up a grouping and respect them whether a sedan, convertible, restored, pile of parts, and/or .... 

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I for the post part agree with the original post,  although I would add that anything in the A, AA and AAA bucket needs to have iron clad provenance to go with usual chassis and styling requirements.

 

There are a few "accepted by all" cars that would be in that AAA bucket that are not what they seem.

 

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  • 5 weeks later...
On 1/4/2020 at 1:52 PM, alsancle said:

I for the post part agree with the original post,  although I would add that anything in the A, AA and AAA bucket needs to have iron clad provenance to go with usual chassis and styling requirements.

 

There are a few "accepted by all" cars that would be in that AAA bucket that are not what they seem.

 

I agree there. I worked on a A to AAA list car once that was to arrive at the shop as an 8 cylinder car, but by the time it arrived it was a multi-cyllinder car.  I often wondered how many were in on that particular nod-nod, wink-wink car. 

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