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Tonight I feel compelled to tell any new person, thinking about getting into old cars is...The hobby can be so unbelievably satisfying. If you are lucky, you might find an old clunker that is in need of care and attention. If you want a great hobby, if you can do all the work yourself, it can be so incredibly rewarding. It does not have to be expensive. You don't have to know how to do all the work yourself. You might just have the desire to want to do all the work yourself. Where there is a will, there is a way.

 

I did this very thing. I picked up an old 4-door sedan with great curves. It ran, but barely. Drivable? Not more than 25 feet. I brought it home and nursed it back to life. I read, and read some more. I researched for countless hours. The new knowledge stimulated me. I joined forums like this one. I got grease well past my elbows all winter long.  I pushed myself to do things I had never attempted before.  Like rebuild a tranny. Pull out a diff. Rewire an old car. Rebuild the carb. And so much more. It was't hard to convince myself to try these new tasks, as every step along the way was so rewarding. Addicting.

 

Tonight, a summer evening cruise had me grinning from ear to ear in the old Plymouth. People were going out of their way to wave at me. Kids and adults on 4th floor apartment balconies gesturing at me to honk my horn. They jumped up and down with glee as I gave them a good couple of aah-ooh-gaahs. It's just so very rewarding. There is no car like my '38 on the roads around here. I built a driver. And drive it I do. At any chance I get.  To quote someone on this forum who said, It's a little, old, "cartoonish, mutt-of-a-car" that has become endeared to me.  If you are as fortunate as I am, you too will feel giddy, as  when you were a kid while out cruising in a car that you saved. A car you gave a renewed life to. The joy that it brings to other people is a real bonus. 

 

My brain must be foggy from all the fun I've had, for I have little desire for a newer car. I'm far from done with my '38,  it just keeps getting better and better after every little job I complete. I will continue improving my car. This car went from down-right scary, to a very satisfying summer cruiser.  She's no prize winner, but she sure won me over. 

 

If you can...Do it!  Dive in.

 

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Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)
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I always suggest two cars when someone expresses interest in a prewar car.  For an earlier preference, with an understanding of driving limitations associated, Model A Ford.  For a little more driveability, yet still fairly well supported price wise with simple but sound engineering, a later 30s Mopar.  Great cars for the money!!  

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Been following your progress and it brings back all of the memories of when I first started my 1st 1931 Dodge Brothers coupe. Fun stuff.

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As another owner of a Plymouth 4-dr sedan from the 30s, I have an instant bias, but, bottom line THIS is what the old car hobby is all about.  Not to detract from those with the skill and/or $$ to take a Pierce Arrow back to Pebble Beach standards--those folks are also enjoying the hobby and standing in for those of us without the skill and/or $$ to do so.  But the description by Keith really sums it up for many of us.  Thanks!

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Well done! You've got the spirit and the rest falls into place nicely.  When you've done it yourself there is a certain confidence when you hit the road for a ride.  I still sometimes feel that inner sense of pride when we're straightening out curves in out MGB that we put together ourselves. 

Terry

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Thanks for the write up. There is no putting a value on the satisfaction of getting an old automobile back on the road and then seeing others enjoying it right along with you. Good times. 

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I am so happy to read these comments, it is giving everyone a chance to recall and reflect upon why we love these old cars, going down the road in an older car you instantly share what you feel when people see you and you give a wave of your hand. In 55 years of having and collecting an old car I have always see a smile come back to me from the spectator on the sidewalk looking at the car or someone driving along the road next to me . It is history in motion , eye candy that will be in ones memory as something to think about to make you happy. We can share our joy and these period photographs are doing the same.

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I couldn’t agree more. Well done. The only ones who really care about the value are ex wives and people waiting for an inheritance.

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1 hour ago, Modeleh said:

The only ones who really care about the value are ex wives and people waiting for an inheritance, ...

... along with all those numerous posers/wannabes who obviously have chosen a wrong HOBBY by expecting it to make some financial sense.
This (and probably any other) hobby would be so much better and more enjoyable without those kinds of characters being mistaken for real enthusiasts.

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Nice P6 Deluxe!  Looks like it's early 38 with the 37 style pinched end bumpers.  Never seen a "necking knob" like that with two clamps.

 

We've ground-up-restored cars, even showed them and won some trophies - but I got burned out on that.  I agree it's more fun just working on them and driving them.  One thing I might disagree with is recommending a newbie start out with a project.  Granted, nursing an old car back to life can be a great source of learning, satisfaction and pride if one can, or at least has the desire to, do the work.  OTOH, what may be years of work before that first drive can cause one to lose interest.  They might be better off with a running, driving car that needs some TLC.  My advice is to first determine what one wants from the hobby, then find a car that meets their want(s).

 

And you're right, old cars are never "good enough" because they're never quite finished - there's always something you want to improve.  😉

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, CHuDWah said:

Nice P6 Deluxe!  Looks like it's early 38 with the 37 style pinched end bumpers.  Never seen a "necking knob" like that with two clamps.

 

We've ground-up-restored cars, even showed them and won some trophies - but I got burned out on that.  I agree it's more fun just working on them and driving them.  One thing I might disagree with is recommending a newbie start out with a project.  Granted, nursing an old car back to life can be a great source of learning, satisfaction and pride if one can, or at least has the desire to, do the work.  OTOH, what may be years of work before that first drive can cause one to lose interest.  They might be better off with a running, driving car that needs some TLC.  My advice is to first determine what one wants from the hobby, then find a car that meets their want(s).

 

And you're right, old cars are never "good enough" because they're never quite finished - there's always something you want to improve.  😉

 

You raise a good point. During all my work, the car was generally down for 1 month or so max time. Then I'd flash it up and drive around the block. Keeping the car mostly intact so you can drive it, really keeps you motivated. I had read the warnings of failed projects before me. People who tore down their car to 1 million pieces, then lost interest and gave up. I heeded those calls and made a conscious effort to tackle one or two controlled projects at a time. My car was down for a month here in May/June waiting on a transmission synchromesh. I resisted the temptation to tear into another major undertaking. I always have more work to do however I restrained. Finally the part showed up. A few days later I was back on the road cruising. I will schedule the next work and will have parts pre-ordered. Driving these cars is huge part of the reward that keeps me motivated. I likely too would have lost interest had I tore it right down to the guts a year ago, when I purchased it.

 

 

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

I always suggest two cars when someone expresses interest in a prewar car.  For an earlier preference, with an understanding of driving limitations associated, Model A Ford.  For a little more driveability, yet still fairly well supported price wise with simple but sound engineering, a later 30s Mopar.  Great cars for the money!!  

 

 

I've had both and I agree with your assessment.  One caution for the newbie is availability of parts and knowledge.  The Model A is arguably the most documented old car.  One can get on the phone or computer and order just about any part for it.  Quality and/or authenticity may be hit-or-miss but at least they're readily available.  Parts and information for early-MoPars sometimes are harder to come by.

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16 minutes ago, keithb7 said:

 

You raise a good point. During all my work, the car was generally down for 1 month or so max time. Then I'd flash it up and drive around the block. Keeping the car mostly intact so you can drive it, really keeps you motivated. I had read the warnings of failed projects before me. People who tore down their car to 1 million pieces, then lost interest and gave up. I heeded those calls and made a conscious effort to tackle one or two controlled projects at a time. My car was down for a month here in May/June waiting on a transmission synchromesh. I resisted the temptation to tear into another major undertaking. I always have more work to do however I restrained .Finally the part showed up. A few days later I was back on the road cruising. I will schedule the next work and will have parts pre-ordered. Driving these cars is huge part of the reward that keeps me motivated. I likely too would have lots interest had I tore it right down to the guts a year ago, when I purchased it.

 

 

 

 

That's the right way to do it but as you say, it takes willpower.  Our first car was so bad there was no way to get it back on the road short of a ground-up restoration - big mistake for a newbie.  We finally got it "finished" and it turned out pretty nice.  But it took twenty years off-and-on.  Much of that time it just sat.  We did acquire drivable cars in the interim and that helped keep the interest alive.

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Absolutely!  Expensive, better-than-factory restorations of rare cars have a niche, but for ordinary mortals, an affordable old car that can be made dependable and presentable will return far more enjoyable experiences and enduring friendships, the real benefit.  There is a pantheon of automotive history to select from, choose what appeals to you and can afford, don't worry if anyone else likes or think its a smart choice, its about pleasing yourself.  Then, drive the car, include those who show interest even casual.  Introduce younger people so cars of whatever your period won't seem so abstract or scary, you might create another old car enthusiast in the process.  But, yes, dive in, there is plenty of support here.   

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Loving this thread.  The discussion around just how much of a project first time out made me reflect on various projects, joy vs frustration, etc. Over the years.  Of course being my first antique and first car ever remains a favorite (41 Plymouth 2 door sedan) but I think another factor comes into play. While it needed a ton of work, we attacked it system by system, and generally the car was up and running, which does help keep interest up.  If a 14 year old can figure out brakes, electrical, etc. On an old Mopar, a lot of adults shpuld be able to as well! 🙂

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7 hours ago, CHuDWah said:

Nice P6 Deluxe!  Looks like it's early 38 with the 37 style pinched end bumpers.  Never seen a "necking knob" like that with two clamps.

 

We've ground-up-restored cars, even showed them and won some trophies - but I got burned out on that.  I agree it's more fun just working on them and driving them.  One thing I might disagree with is recommending a newbie start out with a project.  Granted, nursing an old car back to life can be a great source of learning, satisfaction and pride if one can, or at least has the desire to, do the work.  OTOH, what may be years of work before that first drive can cause one to lose interest.  They might be better off with a running, driving car that needs some TLC.  My advice is to first determine what one wants from the hobby, then find a car that meets their want(s).

 

And you're right, old cars are never "good enough" because they're never quite finished - there's always something you want to improve.  😉

I'm smiling to myself because I've owned three of these over the years and never knew or noticed that about the pinched bumper end. I recognized the fact that it was an early '38 by the "bug-eyed" headlight placement. After having been on the market for a while, the factory responded to complaints about the new Plymouths looking "bug-eyed" and moved the headlights back four inches, and down two.

Edited by Hudsy Wudsy (see edit history)
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Something that hasn't been mentioned yet. To me meeting a nice old car going down the highway is worth more than seeing 20 at a car show. It's been that way since I was a kid. These old cars are in their element when they are on the road and seeing them do what they were made to do is wonderful. I'm not belittling the museums or car shows. They are a necessary part of this hobby and have introduce thousands of people to antique automobiles. But seeing farm machinery, airplanes, or old cars and trucks in action with the sounds and smells is so much more interesting. When stopping at a drive inn or a park kids love to run up to the car and ask questions. I don't care if they jump on the running boards, hang in the windows or set in the seats. The same goes for older people. Their enthusiasm is contagious and I love it. Who knows when the next time will come along that they can experience the wonder of a 90 year old automobile.  

  Pristine cars are truly a thing of beauty and yes I've drooled over them. On the other hand should my car ever get so nice that I'm uncomfortable sharing it then I'll get rid of it and find another nice driver. Or maybe have one of each, who knows :thumbs:

Edited by Fossil (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

The responses and enthusiasm to my original post have been fantastic. Very supportive too. Thank you everyone. Folks captured and posted a few more great points about the old car hobby. 
 

@Fossil you are right about the oldies cruising down the road. Passers-by go out of their way to get my attention and show their appreciation. Yips, whistles, yells, arms waving, and more, are often seen or heard. I turn their direction and get a huge smile along with a thumbs-up or a wave. 
 

Somewhat surprising to me is the younger generation. From 3 to 25 is seems. They are very much interested in my ‘38. Many times a car load of 20-somethings really show their pleasure for the car when they pull along side me.  Kids on bikes stop and wave. Its such a fun event almost every time I take  the car out. 
 

The car’s body work has not been redone. The appears original (it mostly is). Warts and all. Unpretentious. Plain-Jane.  Just fun.  Initially I had dreams about a great new shiny paint job. I’m not so sure any more. It does what it does and I like it. Strangers love it.

 

Keith

 

PS. The car has no turn signals. I use arm signals. This week I was making a left. A Mountie in his cruiser was headed towards me, opposing lane. I was stopped waiting for him to pass with my left arm pointing out.  He thought I was waving him down to stop.  He pulled up, slowed beside and nodded at me. I laughed and made my left behind him.  Young cop. Probably never seen arm signals before. Lol. 

Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)
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27 minutes ago, Fossil said:

...meeting a nice old car going down the highway is worth more than seeing 20 at a car show...

.... seeing farm machinery, airplanes, or old cars and trucks in action with the sounds and smells is so much more interesting. 

+ 1M

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My 38 was in a barn for 42 years up on blocks and stored very well. Thousands of moth balls were spread around it and on the floors over the years. It took a week of an ozone machine to get it so you could breathe in it. Rebuilt the engine, trans, brakes, front suspension, rear end, electrical and put new material on seats. Had radio and speedo rebuilt. The seats would leave more on your back side than would stay on the seats. Pros wanted $7000 to redo so I bought a $25 sewing machine and did it myself.  Thank goodness the headliner was in great shape.  We buffed out the paint, had the bumpers re-chromed and it’s my daily driver.  I’ve put over 8500 miles on it in two years with four or five Trips being about 400 or more miles round trip. 
I’ve had a couple of wives come up to me in a gas station and ask me to please leave so their husband can stop asking questions and finish filling their gas tank. It is very unusual to take it out and not get waves, thumbs ups, smiles and horn honks. It’s not a show car it’s a driver. I usually have two blondes in the back seat and my wife doesn’t mind a bit!  
Have fun

dave s 

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1 hour ago, Paul Dobbin said:

Dave,

Two blondes is always an attraction.  Golden Doodles are the easiest blonds to train too.

They don’t give me Honey Do’s either and are more than happy to go for a ride 

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5 hours ago, SC38DLS said:

and are more than happy to go for a ride 

 Do you end up with a lot of nose prints on the insides of the window like I do? 

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I’m in SC so the windows are down 95% of the time. Now if you want to talk about doodle dust, that’s a different story. 

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