Ron Dame

Driving experience

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I'm not sure I really want to *own* a prewar Stude or any prewar car. Still, driving one is an experience that  I've not had. I'm less intrigued with smaller and more basic cars like a Light Six, Dodge, or the more basic cars, but in the larger, more elegant automobiles... sort of a bucket list thing. Just an hour or two of driving something opulent from that era. Or even a nice ride would be great.

 

I've driven a steam locomotive. I've piloted a small aircraft. All with a lot of supervision, which is grand, needed and well recieved. I'm in the southeast US. Can anybody help me tick this box off?

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Ron,

 

Depending on where in the Southeast you are, you might use the web site to locate an AACA Region or Chapter near you, or even some other club, and attend one of their meetings. There you might strike up an acquaintanceship leading to an offer. 

 

Other options might include attending a local Cruise Night, car show, or a cars & Coffee event. The best place to meet old-car folks is at an old car event. You shouldn't be surprised at how outgoing some of us are. 

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Marty has the right idea. I am sure you will at least get a ride or several rides in the cars you want to experience if you get to know people and they get to know you!

But be realistic in your expectations  and do not expect that to  happen after the first 5 minutes!  I don't see anyone letting you drive their car for an hour or two, that to me is unrealistic. To where?

Traffic conditions and later model cars with distracted modern drivers around you are something people who own the cars you speak of ( including me)  have to cope with besides the characteristics of a particular car.

Do you know how to drive a "stick" ( standard transmission) if so what have you driven before with a stick and did it have straight cut gears ? I have driven pre WWII era cars for over 50 years over 100,000 miles but if given the opportunity to drive a large horse power ca. 1906-1912 chain drive car now I would indeed be more then a bit cautious  even though I have done so in the past it wasn't for an extended period of time.

I am sure you didn't drive the steam locomotive for an hour or two. This is not a put down, just being realistic.

Hope you realize your dream and once again , follow Marty's advice.

Walt

 

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I had never owned or driven any prewar car until around 2007. I finally had some money set aside and decided to look for one. I found a very nice gentleman selling a 1924 Cadillac sedan and went to look at it with only a little online research to guide me, he told me all about the car and his long ownership and let me climb all over and under it. I asked him to start it and possibly take me for a ride, he did so on local rural streets - then he pulled over and suggested I drive it! I slipped behind the wheel and took off with his coaching, I was amazed at how archaic it felt, hard to shift, steer and brake but I was also amazed at the feeling of total mechanical connection between me and the car. I got it back to his garage without incident but I did not buy the car. That experience did lead to my ownership of three full classics and my current 34 Chevy. You will have to cultivate a connection to car owners that will let you drive their car(s), just remember they have a big piece of their life in that car so do the research and be sure you are qualified.

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If you would tell us where in the SE you are (that really is a vague description of a location) it would probably get you more logical answers to your request. For example there is a cars & coffee in Augusta Ga once a month but that is not going to do you any good if you are in southern Florida or North Carolina. 
I hope you can find what you are looking for

Dave S 
 

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I got my first and only pre-war car several years ago,

a 1916 model.  A friend who is a restorer taught me 

how to drive it, because it isn't at all like driving the

cars of the 1950's and up, to which I was accustomed.

 

"The beautiful brute," this type of large early car has been

called.  It takes strength in one's arms to steer;  the

clutch pedal takes some force, too.  The effort is much

greater than in my 1957 Buick without power brakes or

power steering.  However, the strength required is is just as

I've read in some early driving accounts, where "cramps in 

the calves" come from pushing down on the clutch.

That's why women of the era drove smaller, lighter cars.

 

And driving may differ from one brand to another:  you might

not be able to switch quickly from a Lozier to a Lincoln to a

Locomobile.  You may have to learn, as I did.  At first, learning

to drive the early car seemed daunting.  But I figured that the

original owner of the car might have just graduated from

a horse.  If he could learn, so could I!

 

 

1916 Locomobile 16 - Copy.JPG

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Ron Dame, I too had never driven a "STOCK" pre war car and yet bought a '38 Packard without blinking.  I was only nervous for a few minutes, as with 100 HP, all the torque, independant suspension, it was very like driving anything else except the shifter handle was really long, ha !  Loved that car and we would go anywhere anytime we wanted. Don't know, perhaps I just lucked out, but it was almost immediately comforting...and rode great too !  It was not the prettiest thing in the world, but so neat.  See pic attached.  Like the others have said, find the local AACA group and ask, someone in our North AL or Mid TN bunch that we were in either one would love to show you their car I bet.

Packard11.JPG

Edited by John Byrd (see edit history)
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There are lots of AACA members in the Southeastern US. The Southeastern US description is not nearly specific enough to help you. Please give us your city and state and we can likely find someone who can help you. 

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I just noticed where I have to choose to be notified of responses, so sorry for the delay. I'm in Asheville, NC. I've had over a dozen Studebakers, from 1955 to 1963, my current is a '63 Champ, and of all 47 cars (or so) only four have been automatics. This includes modern daily drivers. So yes, I can drive a straight easily. What I am not versed in, is matching gears in a non-synchro trans.

Honestly, a nice afternoon ride and a few moments behind the wheel would satisfy me. Our local clubs seem to cater to post war and hot rods, so there is no help there. I'll be in Chattanooga in August, maybe I can meet one of you all and talk? (and ride?)

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Ron,

 

If you ever travel down to the coast of NC, let me know. I will be happy to let you drive my 1937 Buick Century here in Wilmington NC. Other than that, I am sure we can find someone in your part of the state who can help you. The Greater Smoky Mountain Region AACA comes to mind. Hopefully someone form GSMR AACA will chime in here. 

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I realize the smaller mass-produced cars are not on your radar, however I am compelled to say I thoroughly enjoyed a country drive today in friend’s 1935 Plymouth coupe. It had no problem keeping up with traffic. It was tight, smooth and seemed to drive as it would have when new.  Of course heads turned our way, every person we passed. It was a fabulous experience that I won’t soon forget.  I reveled every minute and felt a little spoiled, if at least privileged. 

Certainly a bucket list item was checked off today, for me. 

 

6725EDDE-2405-4518-AF68-3D6058466088.jpeg

Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)
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3 hours ago, keithb7 said:

I realize the smaller mass-produced cars are not on your radar, however I am compelled to say I thoroughly enjoyed a country drive today in friend’s 1935 Plymouth coupe. It had no problem keeping up with traffic. It was tight, smooth and seemed to drive as it would have when new.  Of course heads turned our way, every person we passed. It was a fabulous experience that I won’t soon forget.  I reveled every minute and felt a little spoiled, if at least privileged. 

Certainly a bucket list item was checked off today, for me. 

 

 

1935 was the first year for Plymouth to have synchros in 2nd and 3rd. And it is the first year that they started using the newer fore-aft weight balance lessons learned when designing the Airflow. Result is the '35 Plymouth rides and drives much more like a modern (40s, 50s & 60s) car than the '34 or earlier Plymouths. And it is the first year for the full length water jacket so the engines are interchangeable with Plymouth 6 cylinder engines through '58 (and some industrial engines through about '72), so many mechanical parts are easy to get.

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It is really hard to find a good one due to shoddy repairs and deferred maintenance. That includes restorations. When you do get behind the wheel of a good one it stands out as a lifelong memory. But you have to drive about a hundred to find that one good one.

Bernie

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Bernie has a point. Many people who own cars do really not know what the car is supposed to really drive like. If you bought one that was restored and not exactly tuned or steering or brakes adjusted to period specs you will not know what the car is like to drive and will get a wrong impression. People/owners get used to "as is" and then come to believe that , that indeed is the way the car is supposed to be because the one they use is that way - NO wrong impression.

I still think it will be a very slim chance that you may get someone who really hasn't known you for any length of time to let you behind the wheel of their early 1930s and earlier car with straight cut gears and say ok drive it for an hour or two. I have known people for decades who are in the same club etc that have never asked to drive my cars just to see what it is like. I am usually the one to offer even to go for a ride. It is a matter of respect for the car and the owner. Again, not a put down, just trying to be realistic, don't get your hopes up and then be disappointed and feel someone who owns the car of the era you want to drive won't let you so they are snobs.

Edited by Walt G (see edit history)
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Ron,

 

I know this will not help in your quest, but I own both pre-war and post-war Studebakers. What you are going to find is, with very few exceptions, cars of a particular era, regardless of marque, the handling and drive-ability  is very similar. Others here know more about pr-1930's car then I do but I do have some experience with Studebaker. Square cut gears pre 1929 are different then what you are used to, and the ride characteristics I think you would discover to be comparatively harsh. Things began to change in the early 30's with beveled gears and free wheeling, both of which made shifting less of a choir (you would have no trouble driving these). By 1932 about all cars had incorporated synchromesh transmissions for 2nd and 3rd gear. Studebaker used Ross steering on most of it offerings during the early 30's. IMHO as good as there was during the period-both light and agile. Mechanical brakes through 1934 gave way to hydraulic for 1935, also overdrive transmissions became common.

 

From 1936 on, IMO well sorted out Studebakers had comfortable ride and good handling. The same characteristics that you would discover on most all studebakers through 1950, and even though the unique front suspension was changed in 1951, I really doubt that you could discern much difference between a 1950 and a 51. I know this doesn't get you a ride in one but...

Bill

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At the top of the list of best old car advice is what Doug Seibert, the Rolls-Royce mechanic, told me in 1994: "Join the club for the car you want and use all the expertise of the club to buy the best car you can get." He followed that up by pointing at his 100 point Silver Cloud and saying "If I had done that I would have bought a better car to start with". Twenty years later we pulled out of my driveway in my very clean, unmolested 1994 Impala SS and I told him "I looked a a lot of equally priced Silver Spur's, but chose this". "You are a smart man"  he replied. Good advice made me that way.

 

Without the support of the club, whichever you decide, you may arrive at your first show to hear "Oh, you bought that car."

 

I have driven a wide range of vehicles, quite a few recommissioned from long term storage and some quite old. There have been a few times when I thought "Imagine some guy pulling this out of a hedgerow and pouring himself into it only to find that "this" is all he got for his effort". It can put a lump in your throat.

 

As a fellow member your chance of a drive would be better. If you do buy a car and it doesn't meet your expectations remember, it's not like you married it. Sell it and try another. I have done that most of my life, sold a lot of them, kept a couple.

Bernie

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2 hours ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

And this is what I want to experience. How they drove. No I don't expect someone who does not know me ( or even who does know me)  to toss me the keys and say have fun, but I'd like to ride and have a short turn. Somehow I've missed finding the Smokey Mtn AACA. I can't imagine how. So I'm going to get involved and meet some folks. Who knows what will happen

 

Ron,

 

I know this will not help in your quest, but I own both pre-war and post-war Studebakers. What you are going to find is, with very few exceptions, cars of a particular era, regardless of marque, the handling and drive-ability  is very similar. Others here know more about pr-1930's car then I do but I do have some experience with Studebaker. Square cut gears pre 1929 are different then what you are used to, and the ride characteristics I think you would discover to be comparatively harsh. Things began to change in the early 30's with beveled gears and free wheeling, both of which made shifting less of a choir (you would have no trouble driving these). By 1932 about all cars had incorporated synchromesh transmissions for 2nd and 3rd gear. Studebaker used Ross steering on most of it offerings during the early 30's. IMHO as good as there was during the period-both light and agile. Mechanical brakes through 1934 gave way to hydraulic for 1935, also overdrive transmissions became common.

 

From 1936 on, IMO well sorted out Studebakers had comfortable ride and good handling. The same characteristics that you would discover on most all studebakers through 1950, and even though the unique front suspension was changed in 1951, I really doubt that you could discern much difference between a 1950 and a 51. I know this doesn't get you a ride in one but...

Bill

 

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20 hours ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

Ron,

 

I know this will not help in your quest, but I own both pre-war and post-war Studebakers. What you are going to find is, with very few exceptions, cars of a particular era, regardless of marque, the handling and drive-ability  is very similar. Others here know more about pr-1930's car then I do but I do have some experience with Studebaker. Square cut gears pre 1929 are different then what you are used to, and the ride characteristics I think you would discover to be comparatively harsh. Things began to change in the early 30's with beveled gears and free wheeling, both of which made shifting less of a choir (you would have no trouble driving these). By 1932 about all cars had incorporated synchromesh transmissions for 2nd and 3rd gear. Studebaker used Ross steering on most of it offerings during the early 30's. IMHO as good as there was during the period-both light and agile. Mechanical brakes through 1934 gave way to hydraulic for 1935, also overdrive transmissions became common.

 

Bill

I agree with this. The 1924 Cadillac I drove and the 1928 Pierce Arrow I owned were both much more archaic in suspension, transmission, and general construction.  The Pierce brakes were much superior to the Cadillac though. My 32 Cadillac and 34 Packard showed amazing industry strides in ride comfort, synchronized shifting and vacuum assisted mechanical brakes but the Cadillac still steered like a truck. My 34 Chevy leans back toward the archaic but is a low price leader car. 

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Please don't make this more complicated than it has to be. Start with a Model A if you want to in order to learn shifting. When you are driving a heavy Classic or similar car just remember to turn the steering only when the car is moving. Too many people try to turn the wheel when the car is stopped and realize it is next to impossible. Simply rolling very slowly is the preferred way. Also, if it is an earlier car with just two wheel brakes leave plenty of room to stop. Above all else - have fun and enjoy the experience !!

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There is a person who's been restoring a 1929 Pierce, his mechanic got it running and took it out for a drive.  The mechanic came back and told the owner that the car ran fine, but the transmission gears made a lot of noise.

 

I asked the owner if the mechanic knew how to drive an early car, sounded like he was trying to wind out the engine to high rpm before shifting, a thing you don't have to do on most old cars, much less a big straight eight.

 

Turns out that was the problem, the mechanic thought you wound it up like a muscle car.  When they backed off and drove it quickly through low gears and into high, it was fine.

 

Old cars don't drive like new ones, but that's part of the fun too!

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