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Engineering vs Esthetics in a first purchase of a CCCA Classic


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Note.  Moderators feel free to move this to the CCCA forum if that is more appropriate.

 

I'm 55 and have been a classic car lover since about age 12.  First car was a 66 Riviera I bought for 400 dollars with my lawn mowing funds.  I have had several Foreign Examples (Multiple MG's, Multiple Alfas, Porsche) as well as lots of Domestic stuff.  In the last 5 years, my interests have been gravitating to the bigger iron of the American Classic Era.  Lots of looking at Packards, Pierce Arrows, Cadillacs, Lincoln, Franklin, Stutz, Marmon, etc...  For the purposes of touring, I am gravitating towards a 36-41 Packard (8, super 8, 160,180) or a series 62, 60S, 75 Cadillac.  Here is my issue.  I love the look of the earlier cars more than the late thirties.  So much stuff from 28-34 that just knocks my socks off based purely on looks.  I know a lot of engineering happened in all these Makes from 1928 to 1938 and I can appreciate what that will do from the standpoint of a touring experience.  I don't dislike the late thirties looks, but I just prefer the cars that are a little earlier.  Soooooo, with that issue of "engineering vs esthetics", what are the thoughts from some of you regarding a suggestion for a closed car, in that earlier era I prefer, to do touring (occasionally sustained speeds of 55 MPH), reasonable braking, mechanical stability) for under 50K?

 

Again, move this to the CCCA forum if that is more appropriate.

 

John

 

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Hi John. I’m going to send you a PM so you can call me.Way too much to cover here typing. Your question of balance and engineering is spot on.........you can find a great car in your price range that is closed. Take your time. Join the CCCA, Packard Club, Pierce Club, and Cadillac Club. Also the AACA and HCCA.  

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29 minutes ago, edinmass said:

I’m going to send you a PM so you can call me.  Way too much to cover here typing.

 

Ed will be a very good person to talk to.

John, a good compromise might be a Packard

from the mid- to late 1930's, because they kept

their graceful classic styling longer:  the sweeping

fender line instead of the fat fenders, the upright

grille, etc.

 

Ed, for the sake of fellow forum members hoping

to learn from this topic, feel free to summarize

your thoughts in writing here!

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Ed is the right person to talk with on the subject, he has played with the best and has knowledge of the downfalls of certain parts in those cars that can and will cause heartache (as well as wallet drain). Hopefully he will be able to steer you to something you might love...

 

You and I have a few commons in there, I’m of a similar age and have toyed with several different cars from the teens to the 60’s but had always thought of purchasing a large late 20’s early 30’s classic. I looked at pretty much everything for a few years, then decided I was interested in a Pierce Arrow and after a couple fits and offers wound up taking a chance by buying a solid looking car from eBay. When I got it I was already happy as it truly drove great. I’ve been working on straightening it out for long distance touring since a couple weeks after that time but I will know what’s what in the engine when it is done and will be well below the budget you mentioned. There’s been several others for sale lately that might have been a better investment, so once you figure out what you like go for it!

 

Good luck hunting!

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John and Mark, I just got off the phone with Ed.  He was VERY gracious with his time and gave me some great perspective to help me focus on what might be the best direction/choice for me.  I am grateful for his advice, in part because he didn't try to talk me out of my preferred look of the earlier cars.   He gave me some input on how to consider some of the early thirties cars and also how just one extra year can make a significant difference in reliability in certain models, while still having that "look" that I prefer.  I may focus a little more closely on that 32-34 era of Closed Packards and see what is out there.  I appreciate any additional thoughts from others.  

 

John

 

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By 1932 or so, everyone had figured out how to make cars work well. After that, it was just improving how everything worked (brakes, steering, smoothness, speed, etc.), so cars got exponentially better each year. The 1930s were probably the time of most rapid development of the automobile outside of the very early years when it went from 0 cars to some cars. I have my own personal favorites, and it's always my recommendation that you try a variety of different cars so you can see which one you like best. Going in with pre-conceived notions of what you should like or what you think you want can potentially eliminate some cars that would make you happy. I have the benefit of a job that allows me to try a great many different vehicles and I have learned over the years that it's a mistake to narrow the field too early. There are some cars that I have always wanted and when I finally got one, it was a turkey, and other cars that I never would have chosen in a million years that turn out to be awesome.

 

I would advise you to set your budget (be prepared to exceed it when the right car shows up) and then set out to find cars that meet your other criteria--shape, size, performance. Any big car from 1930-35 will be a good runner, but later cars will obviously do everything better. For me, the '32-35 time frame is ideal because the cars still feel like old cars with old car systems like mechanical brakes and rigid axles, but they're very competent and easy to drive. 

 

I will say that while the Packards are absolutely wonderful cars, you'll pay extra just because it's a Packard. For value, I would aim you at a Buick or even a well-sorted Lincoln, which offer comparable performance to the straight-8 and Twelve Packards, respectively, for A LOT less cash. Orphan brands like Studebaker, Pierce-Arrow, and Auburn/Cord can also get you a lot of car for the same or less money. Obviously I'm a little biased, but I've owned the '34 Packard I dreamed of owning since I was 8 years old and I sold it without regrets. 

 

And most of all, enjoy the hunt. That's often the most fun part of the whole process!

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You are going to be looking at the car 99% of the time so get one you find attractive. Personally the good looking cars were made up to 1932 with a few 1933-34 exceptions. I'd look at Lincolns, for some reason they seam to be underpriced compared to other Classics. Bob 

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John indicated to me he likes earlier stuff.....and some were encouraging him to look at the late 30’s stuff. I recommend that the right car from 1932 is fine......and he said had an interest in a particular marque. He has post war stuff.......so he’s off on a good start. He also has a close friend who has been in the hobby for fifty years........and who I happen to know for about 25 or 30. I’m sure he will make his way fine..........he has a plan.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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For outright value and overall technology and looks, I would look at a '32 or '33 Pierce Arrow.

You can't get a better bang for your buck than a Pierce from those years.

You'll get a world class full Classic at a reasonable price.

And on top of that, the Pierce Arrow Society is one of the best organizations anywhere.

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Sounds like you already talked to Ed, which is the right call. Ed knows this stuff backwards and forwards and in and out, so you can bank on his advice.  (I did, as my bank account will attest!)

 

And having recently bought a '34 Packard, I can say without hesitation, YES to the '32-34 Packard range.  I think they're just absolutely magnificent cars. In my view, every aspect of their styling is just absolutely perfect.  I've only had it for a few months, but I absolutely love driving mine -- and did so just about 8 hours ago.  :)  So solid and stately, just the best.  Such things are a matter of taste, of course, and different cars will push different peoples' buttons.  But it really gets no better, in my view.   

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1 hour ago, 1935Packard said:

Sounds like you already talked to Ed, which is the right call. Ed knows this stuff backwards and forwards and in and out, so you can bank on his advice.  (I did, as my bank account will attest!)

 

And having recently bought a '34 Packard, I can say without hesitation, YES to the '32-34 Packard range.  I think they're just absolutely magnificent cars. In my view, every aspect of their styling is just absolutely perfect.  I've only had it for a few months, but I absolutely love driving mine -- and did so just about 8 hours ago.  :)  So solid and stately, just the best.  Such things are a matter of taste, of course, and different cars will push different peoples' buttons.  But it really gets no better, in my view.   


John, the lesson above is.........he bought what he liked and intrested him. He also has had nice newer and non CCCA cars............a “Packard Guy” through and through...........we chased what he wanted, not something I tried to talk him into. Another important lesson..........we found the right car.........be prepared to look at twenty cars or more.........taking you time will improve you old car experience three hundred percent.......

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10 minutes ago, edinmass said:

he bought what he liked and interested him

This gets to the point I was trying to make.  I want an earlier car.  I just want to find the right one so that I would feel comfortable doing some touring with it.  I've spent some time last night and this morning doing more focused reading and research.  Which I just love doing.......  I am patient.  

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I'm just going to repeat what Ed is going to tell you over the phone.   I'll just emphasis  TAKE YOUR TIME and be in LOVE cause marriage is hard.

 

Also,  Matt is correct that Packard seems to carry a premium "apples to apples" but they also have the easiest resale market.

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Key is to select something with a local and active support group and then find any available documentation and manuals. Having a well documented and supported car will make life a lot easier in the long run.

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The very best advice is to fall in love with what you buy and enjoy the hunt for it. My adventures in finding my car took a few years and was without the outside advantage of advice... I still would have bought it even now I wouldn’t hesitate even after all the repairs I have been doing.
 

And don’t think about the resale market too much, every friend I know has a hobby that can get expensive without any chance of recouped monies but it’s what they enjoy... compared to boating or golfing, these cars are no where near as good at losing money... Ignore the “Chicken Little’s” that keep saying the sky is falling!

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Taking your time is very important.

When you've settled down on one or two marques you want, join their respective clubs, attend some gatherings and get the chance to drive a well sorted car from the years you are contemplating.

Every time I drive my Pierce I am amazed at how nice it drives for being an unrestored survivor that is 91 years old, so driving a properly restored car has got to be unbelievably nice.

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By the time you buy a car you should know more about it than the guy selling it.   Typically my curve is about 5 years from the time something interests me to when I finally find my wallet or the right car breaks loose.

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34 minutes ago, zepher said:

Taking your time is very important.

When you've settled down on one or two marques you want, join their respective clubs, attend some gatherings and get the chance to drive a well sorted car from the years you are contemplating.

Every time I drive my Pierce I am amazed at how nice it drives for being an unrestored survivor that is 91 years old, so driving a properly restored car has got to be unbelievably nice.


Joining a specific club is fantastic advice, I bought my car first then joined only to see how many vehicles are sold exclusively through the club. I am sure I missed out on several great opportunities because of this.

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5 hours ago, alsancle said:

I'm just going to repeat what Ed is going to tell you over the phone.   I'll just emphasis  TAKE YOUR TIME and be in LOVE cause marriage is hard.

 

Also,  Matt is correct that Packard seems to carry a premium "apples to apples" but they also have the easiest resale market.

 

 

 

YOU GOT A 30 HP STANLEY??????????????????????? Put that promised Stutz ride aside. Bob 

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1 hour ago, Mark Wetherbee said:


Joining a specific club is fantastic advice, I bought my car first then joined only to see how many vehicles are sold exclusively through the club. I am sure I missed out on several great opportunities because of this.

 

Very true.  There are plenty of cars that are sold within the club and are never advertised outside the club.

That happens with any marque.

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I get excited when I think about the independent companies that had survived during the period in which you are interested. I like the independents because they are both as beautiful as those from the Big Three and rare enough to seem really special in any group. They were also inovatite in both styling and engineering, because they had to be to compete. Ultimately they could't compete, but that leaves a great story to be told. 

 

I could recommend a Studebaker President, REO Royal, Nash, Graham-Blue Streak, Hudson and of course Pierce, but honestly some of these are so rare that it might make little sense to focus on one of them. By the way, you know that you have focused in on the era most of us think are the most beautiful, but also having the lowest production numbers of the decade.

 

I would keep an open mind and not discount any Classic. The right car should speak to you. Once it does it comes down to condition, condition. Just playing around and I found this car that got my juices flowing. I don't know the owner or anything other then what's here, but I like it.

Edited by Buffalowed Bill (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, alsancle said:

By the time you buy a car you should know more about it than the guy selling it.   Typically my curve is about 5 years from the time something interests me to when I finally find my wallet or the right car breaks loose.

 

 

I agree ........except for the time frame. I did research on the White in two hours, and became somewhat of an expert in 14 days.......just because there was so little to find on them...........but from 1914 to 1918 I think I have them totally figured out. 

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1 hour ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

Can someone tell me how to edit that stuff that's riding along on my last post?

Bill

 

The "..." in the upper right corner will take you to the edit button.

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Agree on that really knowing an example. It is best to buy a project car and learn everything you can about it and the buy what you really want. For my last two  did it backwards, nice one first and the "project" car second". Never claimed to be driven by logic.

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Those late 1930's Cadillacs you mentioned are great performers, fairly easy to work on, and come in a wide range of body styles. They are good to focus on.

 

Always join the marque club for the brand you chose. You will be able to used the resources of the club to buy the best car you choose. Instead of showing up at your first meet and hearing someone say "Oh, you bought that car."

 

Any car you buy on a collector basis should have these questions asked and fully digested before purchase:

 

1. Do you own the car and have legal proof?

2 Is the paperwork clear and free of liens, unbranded?

3. How long have you owned the car?

4. Is the car currently licensed and insured?

5. Can it be driven on the road, legally, today?

6 Is the car in storage? If so, how long has it been stored?

7. How many miles did you drive it during the last 12 months?

8. Have you done any major work on the car since you have owned it?

9. What and when was the most recent service or repair?

10. If you decided to keep the car what improvement would you consider important?

 

Above all, take advice sparingly, even mine. If you see a car that really rings the bell for you buy it. There are a lot more mavins out there to give negative comments than positive. Especially in the age group you will be seeking advice from. If you buy a car that really excites you although the purchase is warned of poor judgement and, in the end, doesn't meet your expectations you can always unload it. 42 years ago two close friends said I was paying too much for my '64 Riviera.

This ia not a pragmatic hobby. The very serious people have deep grainy frown lines in their face. And there talk about the ones that got away.

Don't forget, the Buick Model 90's are classics now. Thanks Ed Franko.

 

Bernie

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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Lots of good input......

"you need to love it".  getting rid of these cars isn't like calling your broker and dumping a stock you fell out of love with.

 

"join the make's club".  lots of cars trade within the club and never hit the open market. 

 

"Join CCCA, AACA, HCCA, PACKARD CLUB, PIERCE, ETC"......  I will do more of that.  I joined the CCCA and Indiana region a year ago.

 

I am not that concerned about "resale" or the Investment grade of the car I buy.  I hope that is my wife's problem when I'm gone.

 

I am not in any hurry and do want to start going to check out individual cars.  I mentioned 32-34 Packards, but I am open to multiple makes.  

 

I had to laugh at this.....

54 minutes ago, 1937hd45 said:

If I could do things over I'd buy better cars, RUNNING cars, projects rarely get finished. Bob 

I am super susceptible to this Bob.  Cars I would tell my buddies to "run away from", I can somehow start the conversation with myself how it "kind of makes sense in this one instance"......I will police myself and not fall prey to this.  I have many weaknesses and this is a known one.

 

Thanks for your checklist 60FlatTop, I am not new to buying old cars, but this checklist is a good reminder.  Every item you mention can help you avoid a big problem you'd rather not have become your nightmare.

 

I keep telling myself, "buy a good car".  I think you all know what I mean.  This will be my first experience with a Classic from that era.  I want minimal surprises. and hope to weed out and not buy those "sexy girls that you know are nothing but trouble".........but I'd be happy to drive yours if you don't mind.

 

John

 

 

 

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If you become interested in Peerless, I keep the worldwide registry, KPAIE, and I could help you with locations(4 in Australia, 3 in Idaho, tons in Missouri,  etc.). They stopped selling cars and switched to a profitable manufacture in 1932, so no need to sort through late Thirties cars with them!Image result for carling red cap ale bottle"

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)
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John,

Don't discount Chryslers / Imperials.

A bit ahead of their time in the 20's-30's, engineering wise.

And really good lookers............

 

Oh, and with regard to '30's Packards, as stated in another thread, they are cute little things...........

1931_chrysler_imperial_4_door_sedan_limousine_5eb80cf29b.jpg

Edited by FLYER15015
humor ? (see edit history)
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On 9/8/2020 at 3:41 PM, Buffalowed Bill said:

I get excited when I think about the independent companies that had survived during the period in which you are interested. I like the independents because they are both as beautiful as those from the Big Three and rare enough to seem really special in any group. They were also inovatite in both styling and engineering, because they had to be to compete. Ultimately they could't compete, but that leaves a great story to be told. 

 

I could recommend a Studebaker President, REO Royal, Nash, Graham-Blue Streak, Hudson and of course Pierce, but honestly some of these are so rare that it might make little sense to focus on one of them. By the way, you know that you have focused in on the era most of us think are the most beautiful, but also having the lowest production numbers of the decade.

 

I would keep an open mind and not discount any Classic. The right car should speak to you. Once it does it comes down to condition, condition. Just playing around and I found this car that got my juices flowing. I don't know the owner or anything other then what's here, but I like it.

I like that except for the wooden wheels.  Nice lines and should have plenty of power for touring, AND you won't ever be parked next to another one like it.

 

 

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Seems like a lot of car for the money (admittedly I have at least that much in my model A, still wants cosmetics somedat... try to buy a finished car!!). 

 

Attractive color, nice lines.  Wood wheels are not my first choice either but not a show stopper.  You could make a nice project out of finding wires wheels for it..

 

 

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21 minutes ago, padgett said:

I wanna see the "Straight V8" but do not seem to be any engine pictures.

 

If you want to see a "straight V8", I guess we're down to a Caddy.

Open the hood on one side and you have a straight 8.

Walk around and open the other side and WAA-LAA, another straight 8.

 

Wonder how they do that ???????????????

 

Mike in Colorado

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2 hours ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

I just looked again and those aren't wood wheels but chromed artillery wheels. The closeup picture of the wheel shows some verry worn chrome. Wheels are going to be a tough call-re-chrome, paint, search for wires or live with them as is. 

 

Chrome artillery wheels are pretty cool and super rare.  That Ambassador is a really neat car.

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Here in my 2 cents (and at 55 years old too).  

 

First, everyone has an opinion and the ocean is a mighty big place - so do take your time (I saw that several people have said such aleady).

 

Second, I will tell you a Club is a great thing.  All fine and dandy to have the rare and elusive, but I would leave that to the second purchase and not the first purchase - nice to have some friends and some support. 

 

Third, I would say about 34ish you get a really the separation in driveability (and 36 even more so).

 

I will tell you a story:  Of all the hundreds of cars that have passed through via friends, family, our stuff, and client stuff via Shawn and I with www.significantcars.com - there were a couple that stayed around for a really long time:

 

The 1930 Franklin 147 Speedster Convertible Sedan - it was exceedingly interesting, but far from the best seating position (sold it after 26 years - put it up for sale the day after it won its CCCA primary at 99.5 points)

The 1941 Cadillac 60 Special Fleetwood - I successfully drove it also 26 years from 17,000 miles to 97,500 miles - great car, but was needing a pick-me-up and I prefer working on something a little earlier (replaced it with an Auburn). 

The 1935 Auburn 851 Phaeton (14 years now) - which is a really stunning car to drive, nice storage, comfortable, great Club, and ... (My parent's latched onto it quick as a great tour car and I have two more now - I prefer it over over anything pre WWII era).  I won longest distance driven in ACD Product to ACD Festival last year. 

 

But, I too lean toward the "looks" a little earlier CCCA car (there will be one very shortly - but it is a 2nd car to the 1936 Auburn 852 Phaeton) - I just know via all the ones that have passed through my hand that they have their faults in driveability, some parts availability, some engineering, some Clubs, and ....

 

Feel free to PM me at any point and we can exchange contact information thereafter.  

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