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1936 Chrysler Airstream C-8 convertible In downtown building


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Hi All,

 

A few days ago, I became the owner of a 1936 Chrysler Airstream convertible that was being stored since 1971 in an old downtown building near where I live.  The gentlemen storing it has approximately 90 vehicles stored in various downtown buildings he owns.  Walking through these old buildings and seeing all of these cars that have been stored (some since 1950) is amazing.  

 

I have known the 92 year old gentlemen who owns the buildings for about six years, and he is a close friend.  I have told him that if he ever wanted to sell the Chrysler, I wanted to purchase it for whatever price he wants, no negotiation..  Two weeks ago he had a health scare that landed him in the hospital for a few days.  When he got out of the hospital, he called me and asked me to to meet him at his office (he still works every day).  I thought it was odd when he asked me to tell him when I was 30 minutes away so his wife could meet us there.

 

I get to his office and sit down.  His two secretaries and his wife gather around and he picks up this large envelope and hands it to me.  Choking up a bit, he says here... you are the only person in the world I want to have this car.  He told me I could pay whatever I thought it was worth.  The car is unrestored except for having been painted once over 50 years ago.  The upholstery was done at the same time.  There is no rust, and I have all the ownership documents since it was first purchased.  The only thing I can find missing thus far is one hubcap, the sun visors, and the ash tray cover and knob.

 

I am attaching some images.

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After getting the Chrysler home, I began the process of getting it ready to run.  Three of the four wheel cylinders leaked so I will rebuild them and the master cylinder, replace the brakes and all brake hoses.  I need to drain the oil and replace the filter, drain all the fuel and flush the lines, and possibly rebuild the carburetor.  The owner lost the key, so I need to figure out to get the ignition switch out and take it to a locksmith to have new keys cut.

 

Thus far I have power sprayed the undercarriage to remove about five pounds of grease dirt and oil (now I know why it has no rust on it... lol), cleaned the exterior, top, and interior, and I have removed the wheels and brake shoes, and wheel cylinders.  Now I am just waiting on the new parts to arrive so I can put the brake system back together.

 

One relatively perplexing problem is for me to determine the value of this car so I can make my friend a fair offer.  I would place the car in number 3 condition, but I am a novice at this so who knows.  I think the book value in number 3 condition is $18,000, but I will do more research before I pay for the car.  I have receipts showing that he paid $25,000 for the car so I perhaps I will offer him what he paid.  The problem is, he bought the car and let it sit and everything deteriorated.  Ugh.

 

There is one other issue... when I tried to discuss payment with him, he said he didn’t want to talk about it.  When I asked his wife (who is 30 years younger than he is) about this, she said that he may be giving me the car and that I should not discuss payment.  

 

Later today it is off to the DMV to get the title transferred.

 

I feel like a kid in a candy store right now. It has been almost 20 years since I restored my 1964 Corvair Spyder convertible, and I really miss bringing cars back to life.  With respect to this Chrysler, I look at it in my garage, I cannot believe that I own this car.  It is a work of art to me.

 

A few more pictures....

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I believe if I was your elderly friend, seeing pictures recording the process of bringing the car to life would be a tremendous source of pleasure. 

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Posted (edited)

I agree with Doozer. Get the car sorted out well mechanically ( perhaps some rewiring too?) and once in your name legally if it seems good to the guys wife perhaps make a donation to AACA or the local Historical Society or?? in his name. MAYBE ask his wife also if he would want to go for a ride or would it upset him to much etc etc. Get the opinions here as to what would be the best way to honor the man and the car. GREAT CAR

Edited by Walt G
typo (see edit history)
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Congrats! That’s in very nice shape, perfect size project to enjoy and improve the mechanicals as you go.  Nice to see it’s getting a new lease on life so others can see it being enjoyed.

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Posted (edited)

I would not assume that he is giving you the car; if you are wrong, you will ruin a great friendship. I suggest that you decide what it's worth, given the needed repairs from sitting so long, then hand him a check for that amount. If he wants to give you the car, he will refuse to take the check.

 

Absolutely beautiful car.

Edited by 64avanti (see edit history)
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17 minutes ago, Doozer said:

I believe if I was your elderly friend, seeing pictures recording the process of bringing the car to life would be a tremendous source of pleasure. 


Great advice. I will send him pictures every couple oof days. My friend loves seeing the progress; I brought him to my house yesterday so he could see it.  My goal is to get it running and take him for a ride. I need to be quick; my friend is showing signs that his body is simply wearing out. His mind is incredibly sharp though. 

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Posted (edited)

If it has not been done you may want to drop the oil pan and clean it out and give everything a look , clean the oil pump screen if they have one.

 

Dave

Edited by Dave39MD (see edit history)
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3 minutes ago, 64avanti said:

I would not assume that he is giving you the car; if you are wrong, you will ruin a great friendship. I suggest that you decide what it's worth, given the needed repairs from sitting so long, then hand him a check for that amount. If he wants to give you the car, he will refuse to take the check.

 

Absolutely beautiful car.


I definitely will not assume he is giving me the car. His wife told me to stop discussing payment and to not say or do anything with respect to paying. She said “He will let you know when it is time to discuss payment... in a year or two... or perhaps never”. 
 

Honestly, I would prefer to pay quickly, but both he and his wife indicated I should drop the discussion. I will sit tight and show him what I am doing to the car. 

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3 minutes ago, Joe West said:


Great advice. I will send him pictures every couple oof days. My friend loves seeing the progress; I brought him to my house yesterday so he could see it.  My goal is to get it running and take him for a ride. I need to be quick; my friend is showing signs that his body is simply wearing out. His mind is incredibly sharp though. 

While he is riding with you, LISTEN CAREFULLY TO EVERYTHING HE SAYS!

 

He just might state some of that car's history that is not in that envelope of documents he handed over with the car.  This may include being in parades as its a higher end convertible, transporting a dignitary at some point in its life, selling war bonds, and which vintage car shows it took part in during the 1960's etc.

 

Craig

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That's going to be a great road car.  I had a 36 6 cylinder convertible like yours and it did OK at 55.  You not only have the 8 but an OD.  It will cruise very nicely down the road.  Replacement wheel cylinders for the rear I believe did not fit my car, but I was fortunate enough to be able to rebuild the originals.  

As far as a value.  It's hard to say.  The market is changing alot lately.  I paid almost 20G for mine maybe 9 to 10 years ago and sold it about 5 years ago.  It ended up needing the engine rebuilt which I did as well as every mechanical thing on the car which all got done.

Cosmetic condition after much detailing was similar to yours. I sold it for 37,500 which was a good price to get for it.  I marketed it quite a bit and it finally sold when I stopped marketing it and a random buyer happened along that liked it.  

They are great looking cars with wonderful styling.  Yours has a longer hood because of the 8 and moire trim so it is even snazzier than mine was. 

Hubcaps pop up time to time.  Be patient.  A nice one will come along with some searching,  possibly even on ebay.  I bought one that way for a spare.  It's worth just doing a random Chrysler Hubcap search.  Mislisted stuff is the best buy.  Careful when looking though as I think there are a few that look almost identical but sizes vary. 

 

Great car that will be alot of fun to own. 

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Congratulations!  What a great Chrysler!  Whatever you can do to honor the gentleman who so magnanimously selected you as the next conservator would be the right thing to do, perhaps speak with his family to learn what he values most.

 

The Chrysler Airstreams were styled under the direction of Ray Dietrich who headed Chrysler Art & Color at the time.  The Deluxe Airstream C-8, 121 inch wheelbase, 273.8 cu. in. L-Head straight eight were the solid, middle-priced Chrysler line which also included a long wheelbase model line as well.  Of the body styles available, the factory-priced $1,075 two door convertible coupe is the rarest at 240 built.   

 

Glad you have this rare gem, take care of it well.

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My good friend, Russell Parker owned this 1936 Airstream 8. Excellent road car. He also had a 1936 8 convertible sedan.

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Posted (edited)

 

I believe if I was your elderly friend, seeing pictures recording the process of bringing the car to life would be a tremendous source of pleasure. 

By all means this would be a wonderful gesture on your part and might be greatly appreciated. Enjoy your new treasure. 

Edited by Fossil (see edit history)
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Joe,  IF those are Harbor Freight jackstands in your chassis pics,  and I'm almost certain they are,  there is a national recall for them because they will COLLAPSE.   I took back eight of them yesterday for credit.  

 

https://www.autoweek.com/car-life/diy/a32612380/harbor-freight-jack-stands-recalled-failure-risk-see-models-affected/ 

 

Would really hate to have that happen while you are under the car.   Blew me away that I've been working with them.

 

HFJackStands.jpg

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10 hours ago, StillOutThere said:


They  are indeed harbor freight six ton jackstands. I checked the recall serial numbers, and mine do not match the recall. This said, I will follow your link to be certain I was not looking at the wrong recall. Thanks so much!  I will report back. 

 

 

 

Joe,  IF those are Harbor Freight jackstands in your chassis pics,  and I'm almost certain they are,  there is a national recall for them because they will COLLAPSE.   I took back eight of them yesterday for credit.  

 

https://www.autoweek.com/car-life/diy/a32612380/harbor-freight-jack-stands-recalled-failure-risk-see-models-affected/ 

 

Would really hate to have that happen while you are under the car.   Blew me away that I've been working with them.

 

HFJackStands.jpg

 

 

 

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Hey Joe,

Congratulations on a sweet find. If the amount of work ahead of you is too stressful, let me offer to you a straight swap of my ‘36 Dodge sedan! The car is all rebuilt and 100% roadworthy. It’s even green too with dual side mounts. Ready to enjoy immediately! Anything to help an old car brother.

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Congratulations on being honored to be the next caretaker of this beautiful car.  I've never seen an Airstream convertible before.

 

You've obviously been a good friend of the gentleman who owned the car.  I agree with you and the others who commented that I think he will enjoy and appreciate seeing the car brought back to life and that he'll get great pleasure in riding in it again.  I hope you get the car roadworthy in time to share the experience with him.

 

I have a friend who's been the owner of several award-winning Airflows.  I'll direct him to your post--I'm sure he'll enjoy it and, although you probably don't need any assistance, if you have any questions he would be a good resource and happy to help a fellow Airflow owner.

 

Congrats again!

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Congrats on such a wonderful piece of history!

You have a beautiful car on your hands.

Do your old friend right by taking him for a ride or two once you get the car roadworthy.

I would listen very carefully on those rides as to what he wants to let it go for as well as the history of the car.

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Might be a test, if you offer market he might give it to you, if you nickel and dime him you might end up paying market anyway. 

 

I know what I would do.

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I had a friend receive a car free from someone he had met 10 years earlier. It was a somewhat unique make, and my friend had a couple of them and had spent years discussing the merits of those cars with the older gent. One day the owner just said I want you to have the car and handed him the documents. He was more interested in having someone take care of it than fretting about what it might be worth. Same may be the case here. The old gent just wants to see the car owned and looked after by someone he knows. I would listen to his wife, she is probably a better read on what's up than anyone on this site. And you did say he has many stored elsewhere, so getting this one a new home with a good friend may be all the pleasure he is looking for. 

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15 hours ago, Mark McAlpine said:

Congratulations on being honored to be the next caretaker of this beautiful car.  I've never seen an Airstream convertible before.

 

You've obviously been a good friend of the gentleman who owned the car.  I agree with you and the others who commented that I think he will enjoy and appreciate seeing the car brought back to life and that he'll get great pleasure in riding in it again.  I hope you get the car roadworthy in time to share the experience with him.

 

I have a friend who's been the owner of several award-winning Airflows.  I'll direct him to your post--I'm sure he'll enjoy it and, although you probably don't need any assistance, if you have any questions he would be a good resource and happy to help a fellow Airflow owner.

 

Congrats again!

 

Thanks so much!  I would appreciate any leads.... although I can do all of my mechanical work, I am finding that there are some parts I cannot even find... such as the factory 11” brake shoes.  I am so out of network with this car, any and all leads are very much appreciated.

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9 hours ago, Yellowriv said:

Might be a test, if you offer market he might give it to you, if you nickel and dime him you might end up paying market anyway. 

 

I know what I would do.

 

I will offer him full market value plus some... the problem is, he will not even let me talk money now.  He told me he didn’t want to talk about money when I brought it up, and when I spoke to his wife when he was not around, she said just leave money alone until he brings it up.  For now, I will continue restoring it and wait for him to raise the issue.  I will however, check with his wife periodically when he is not around just to see what I should do.

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51 minutes ago, Marty Roth said:

I would offer MARKET VALUE and/or to the CHARITY OF HIS CHOICE-

It seems the "right" thing to do

 

Actually, I will offer more than market value.

 

Of course, the big problem I am running into is exactly what market value is.  The first step is to determine the condition of the car (1-6).  Based on the text describing the different conditions, I would place this car at a 3-4, but I have NEVER tried to determine the value of such a car before.  This one is rare enough that I must wonder if the standard definitions of condition do not apply.

 

I could really use some help in this area.

 

Here is what I know so far:

 

Paint is falling off in chunks.

Tires are bad.

The entire brake system needs to be rebuilt.

The interior is nice.

Almost all of the parts are present.

There is no rust (other than surface rust) anywhere but the bottom of the battery box.

I don’t have any keys so I have no idea if the engine runs.  I suspect at a minimum, it will leak from every point possible due to the age of the seals and the lack of routine maintenance.

 

I will continue to upload pictures so that anyone here can offer guidance on the condition of this car.

 

Joe

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Posted (edited)

Looks like a very nice car that can be made into a good driver. Send it to a major shop to clean up, sort out, and install tires.......you will spend 30k fast. That said, I know what I would pay in that condition. I recommend you have a custom license plate made with his initials on it from your state in a year of manufacture style.......a nice tribute to a generous man. We acutally name out cars.......and sometimes it's the name of the seller.............my 1932 Pierce Coupe was called "Big Al" after the man who owned to for 60 years, and passed away. I bought it from his widow.......the family wanted me to have the car because they knew I would drive it. I was sending photos of it in every state I took it to;  to her and the children. In ten yers it made it to 14 states. They still send me Christmas cards. Here is a photo of "Big Al" crossing the Mississippi River Bridge where Lewis & Clark started their journey.

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Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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As mentioned mine was the 6 in very similar condition.  Not running and needing everything mechanically.  I had to rebuild the engine as well as it was worn out when i got it and wouldn't run.  So pretty much everything you are doing.  Your top is better than mine was. interior similar, Mine was a 6 without OD.  I would think yours based on that would be 25-30G at that time.  Now with the market doing strange things and some older cars like this falling from grace a tad A solid 25G is probably realistic Though the paint is a big issue as there are no cheap paint jobs anymore.  Now if it can be got running and you don't need to rebuild the engine maybe a little more.  Fortunately it's the 8 and not the 6 as the bearings for the 6 are a 3 year affair and not available.  The 8 Though I think goes right up through 1948 With parts interchangability. 

For brakes.  I bought NOS Mopar linings and relined my original shoes myself. 

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What a wonderful story, to go with a great looking car. Not many cars go to chosen caretakers, that must be a great friendship to have all these years. Bob 

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You are going to have to reline the brake shoes you have on the car now, you will not find a rebuilt set ready to bolt on.

Do as Auburnseeker did and find some brake lining material or have a competent shop do the work for you.

You may also need to rebuilt the wheel cylinders and master cylinder you have.

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4 hours ago, Joe West said:

Thanks so much!  I would appreciate any leads.... although I can do all of my mechanical work, I am finding that there are some parts I cannot even find... such as the factory 11” brake shoes.  I am so out of network with this car, any and all leads are very much appreciated.

 

Hello Joe,

 

I sent you a PM. John's a fellow AACA member (and a member of the Airflow Club of America).  He's also very familiar with Airstreams like yours.

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1 hour ago, zepher said:

You are going to have to reline the brake shoes you have on the car now, you will not find a rebuilt set ready to bolt on.

Do as Auburnseeker did and find some brake lining material or have a competent shop do the work for you.

You may also need to rebuilt the wheel cylinders and master cylinder you have.

 

I will search for a place to recline the shoes.  I wonder why six cylinder shoes are plentiful but not eight cylinder.  I would have thought that there would be more eight cylinders on the road, but perhaps there was a large disparity in production numbers.  Ideally, I will try to find a used set and have them relined so that I can always have a spare set.  I am in the process of rebuilding all of the wheel cylinders and the master cylinder now... and replacing all of the non metal brake lines.  My very first step is to make the brake system perfect... then I will think about firing up the engine (as soon as I have a key made... lol).

 

Thanks so much for your recommendations!

 

Joe

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I’d like to thank everyone for their inputs.  I have been a member of many online forums, and this group has set the standard for interacting with a new member... I am so impressed that I joined the AACA today.  What an amazing group of people.  Thank you SO much.

 

Joe

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