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Engineering vs Esthetics in a first purchase of a CCCA Classic


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On 9/8/2020 at 12:34 PM, Mark Wetherbee said:

Ignore the “Chicken Little’s” that keep saying the sky is falling!

Good advice - the sky is not falling, it just is going to impact all the non-convertibles more so than not and probably will impact the convertibles too, but for the most part the convertibles have always been coveted/expensive since day one and will always be expensive to buy too.  And, on the flip side of the coin some things CCCA are going up in value (and at surprisingly high increments) and there will be plenty of sale price records broken in the future. 

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54 minutes ago, FLYER15015 said:

Hey John,

I just got a PM from "31 Chryslers saying that this 1931 roadster is for sale.

I told him that you were looking.

 

Mike in Colorado

 

IMG_0809.JPG.97e3acaf221eec9bd431085d3c3b9497.jpg

I do not have a directory with CCCA list handy, but I believe this is CCCA era, but is NOT a CCCA recognized car (it probably should be though and that is a whole other discussion).

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I saw Ed recommended Cadillac Club (good to join) 

Sidenote:  I am not sure a 1928-1931 Cadillac is a good car for a first timer (perhaps if it is the "right" one someone has spent a long time working with and ...., but I have been there done that and ....

 

I also am not sure a Cord is a good choice for a first timer either.   If you have to have one we can all keep you from jumping off the ledge, but ....

 

I never had a Packard that stayed around too long, mainly as dad is not a Packard fan (Dad believes they engineered through bulk being their secret to durability).   Dad says (and I tend to agree) the true engineering is in the Brass Era Cars, 1st Generation Twin Six, Twin Six FWD Prototype, 2nd Generation Twin Six, Twelve, V-8, and Torsion Bar Suspension). 

 

Sidenote:  Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars may not be for first timers either - lots of help if you must have one, but again ....

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2 hours ago, John_Mereness said:

Actually a pretty exceptional car !!!  

...great car for the money. 

Seems to be a very low price for what it is, despite closed car status.  Not too long ago, the much smaller series Nash sedans were advertised online for mid 20s.

 

Going by this 33 big Series Nash price and how low the Walter Miller 32 Nash conv sedan auction brought:  Has anyone pondered on just how low these 32-33 era fancy-brand cars will drop to by late 2021 or 22? 

 

I'm sure that most people assume that the economic trauma of this year will likely snowball for a long time.  So, just how low can they go, if the buyer pool keeps shrinking as fast as this year?  Do you think a comparitive32-33 big series sedan like this one could possibly get down to 12-15k at some point?  (Some of you seem to be pretty good at crystal ball forecasting)  :)

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John....I wasn't recommending a Cadillac..........Just the club for a basis to start from...........a GOOD Cadillac is a great car............only one in ten thousand Cadillacs that are pre war are properly sorted and restored. They are a BIG challange for an experienced collector.....and definatly not a best first or seconed early 30's car.

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53 minutes ago, edinmass said:

John....I wasn't recommending a Cadillac..........Just the club for a basis to start from...........a GOOD Cadillac is a great car............only one in ten thousand Cadillacs that are pre war are properly sorted and restored. They are a BIG challange for an experienced collector.....and definatly not a best first or seconed early 30's car.

Ed, YES, you and I have had many discussion on the topic of 28's to 31's - I realize you were not recommending

(I just mentioned as 28's to 31's tend to have all that early 30's glitz that he probably likes and he may not know they are far from easy cars to sort mechanically, the problems dealing with all the die cast, most are missing parts or have some sort of authenticity issue(s), and ...).  

 

If he likes Cadillac's though I do think your advice to join the Club is great.  

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, F&J said:

Seems to be a very low price for what it is, despite closed car status.  Not too long ago, the much smaller series Nash sedans were advertised online for mid 20s.

 

Going by this 33 big Series Nash price and how low the Walter Miller 32 Nash conv sedan auction brought:  Has anyone pondered on just how low these 32-33 era fancy-brand cars will drop to by late 2021 or 22? 

 

I'm sure that most people assume that the economic trauma of this year will likely snowball for a long time.  So, just how low can they go, if the buyer pool keeps shrinking as fast as this year?  Do you think a comparitive32-33 big series sedan like this one could possibly get down to 12-15k at some point?  (Some of you seem to be pretty good at crystal ball forecasting)  :)

Open cars and the really rare stuff will not be dropping much - perhaps a little, but then on the flip side of the coin there have been a couple price records near matched and even broken since March. I was surprised to see an X that recently traded hands for 125K was sold for 300K (nice profit for 3 months of ownership - and yes it was Italian so just won of those odd market things).  I know a few people that are waiting for the bottom to fall out of the market - hope they are not holding their breath as wont happen (at least as far as the open stuff goes, rare, super well restored, tour-able, and .... stuff).  The open and really cool stuff was expensive new, expensive in the 1950's and still is expensive - it has never changed in the "time value of money" and ....

 

Walter's Nash Convertible Sedan went in range of expected price  (it stood a chance of going higher as the underlying product was nice, rarity, driveability when sorted, and ....) - but nothing on the car was particularly well done (even the recent work) and it needed boatloads of other work.  If you restore it for top dollar then you actually would lose money (even if you did a large portion yourself, worked on a shoestring, or even owned a restoration shop).  A lot of stuff is like that - it needs help to increase its value (and or just be usable/presentable), but if you do not do the work exceptionally then the value does not increase dollar for dollar to achieve "top dollar" (aka marginal becomes more of a bandaid that still hurts value) and if you do the work to the quality to get "top dollar" then you stand at risk for being in the hole.  

 

And, a lot of people will chime in that they do this for the love and ... Yes, but they rarely if ever go in with anticipation of loosing their shirt either.  

 

There are nice CCCA sedans in the 12k to 15K range (across a decent range of CCCA marques and years) - they are somewhat presentable and many can run down the drive and around the block.  And most are not convertibles.  Woodwork is an issue that most people cannot handle and ... (they are rarely a deal at any cost)   Also, some have various inherit mechanical problems with no cost effective solution (also not a deal either). The nice lower priced stuff  often do not change hands publically though - you have to go around asking for one and still needle in a haystack.  

 

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2 hours ago, F&J said:

 Not too long ago, the much smaller series Nash sedans were advertised online for mid 20s.

Not sure much if any of this was selling - advertised and sold are two separate things.  As market goes up on the rare and exceptional stuff within a marque one often thinks it will bring everything else up - well, often yes and just as often no as well (ie. it just depends).  

 

I spend a lot of my time on the phone discussing how to make a well thought through purchase that will survive time - very involved discussions and they seems to involve really high end stuff and lower end stuff that people may be stretching to buy (fun and interesting disussions no matter what anyone is looking for !!!).  And, for every hour I have in I bet Shawn has 10. 

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Right now, everyone seems to think the market is bad, and they seem to be holding on to their cars hoping it will be better after things "go back to normal." However, you will note that all dealers' inventories are low and even late-model used car dealers don't have many cars on the lot. People are BUYING right now--we sold NINE cars this week after a slightly slower than usual August (August is always the worst month of the year) and I'm getting far fewer lowball offers. I expect when things "go back to normal" a whole lot of people will decide to sell because they don't want to get stuck with them or don't want their families to be stuck or they need the money or they wrongly think that now things are back to normal it will be a great time to sell. Unfortunately, all the buyers will have purchased their cars already. There could very well be a big inversion where supply goes up and demand goes way down. But for the moment, "the market" is as strong as I've ever seen it.

 

As John points out, good stuff will still sell and still retain its value because those guys aren't really subject to the normal laws of life that the rest of us are. But everything else, particularly oddballs like that Nash, will probably struggle to find homes. And no, it won't "get better" in the future. That will be the new reality. There's a big hiccup coming and it's going to drive values down. How long will it take for prices to fall? Probably quite a while because everyone will remember only what their cars used to be worth or waiting for "the market to come back" or heirs will be relying on what dad told them.

 

None of this is news and I've said it all before, but right now we're in uncharted waters and I think the hobby will change significantly because of it. The number of buyers will shrink while the number of cars remains the same. Eventually, supply and demand will equalize and values will have no choice but to go down. No, you won't get a Duesenberg for $5000, but you might be able to get a nicely restored 1931 Oldsmobile or 1935 Pontiac or 1940 Hudson (or a Nash) for that much. 

 

Most old cars will never be more valuable than they are today. We've probably seen the top of the mountain.

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Guys, I'm very much enjoying the wisdom and thoughts on this topic that I spend way to much time thinking about.  I too wonder if the market is soft, or if that is an illusion.  I have bought and own several collectible cars, so my eyes are wide open with the fact that what people ask for their cars is often wildly optimistic and the sale price often isn't publicly known.  Is a mid/late 30's standard body Packard 8 sedan with driver quality paint, chrome, interior and been sitting for 10 years only accumulating 200 miles over that time (and none in the last 24 month) going to move at a 50K asking price?  I suspect not.  where is the market for that car?  My thread brings up my desire for for an earlier closed car.  Part of that search for a closed car is because they are less pricey and for a first experience in that era, I feel like if I make a small mistake, it won't be as significant.  I'd love a 32 Packard Dual Cowl Phaeton....or something with that presence... but I'd like to get to know the cars of that era a little better before pulling the trigger.  A closed car (club sedan, coupe, 7 pass sedan) has me excited.  I have two British roadsters and a mid fifties american convertible if I need a top down ride.  I am cautious by nature and plan on my first Classic to be educational on a smaller budget.  If my wife lets me know she's been hiding a trust fund all these 34 years, I'll get a Duesenberg for my second classic.  

 

What are some generalities when looking at 29-34 Packards, Pierces, Auburns, 90 series Buicks regarding gearing, rear ends and touring speeds?  In particular compared to those makes as you moved later into the 1930's?

 

John

 

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John,

I can't tell you about the rest, but my '40 buick LTD (series 90) has a 4:10 rear end, and it likes 45-50 on a tired old motor.

If I was going to tour it, I'd throw a '53 under it.

I'm betting the other makes are the same.

 

Mike in Colorado

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Pierce, Stude, Chrysler, and a few others offered factory over drive transmissions. Most any BIG car will pull modern speeds with a correct ring and pinion ratio......by big think 325cid or more. Auburns with a two speed rear did well with smaller displacement engines.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Anything before about 1935 is going to be happiest at about 50 MPH. Auburns benefit from two-speed rear ends, which is like an overdrive, and after 1935 or so, the engines and gearing allowed higher cruising speeds. Early '30s cars were geared for minimal shifting--just leave it in high and let the torque and gears pull it around. Highways didn't exist and making driving easier around town was the goal. Some Full Classics that have been restored may be carrying high-speed rear gears, which can be an improvement. Others offered factory overdrives but they weren't common until the second half of the '30s. Overdrives can be retrofitted to most cars, but it's a big job on cars with torque tubes and expensive no matter how you slice it. I am a fan of overdrives for touring, but on the other hand the car no longer is as it was when it was new so there's an experience difference in the driving. It depends on how you plan to use the car.

 

My '29 Cadillac is happy at about 48 MPH without the overdrive and will go 60 with it, although it's sublime at about 53. The '35 Lincoln K (the one time I drove it) didn't seem to mind 55-60. The '41 Buick runs at 60-65 MPH all day. I had a '32 Buick 90 Series sedan and a '31 Buick 80 Series both with high-speed gears, and they would go 60 MPH, which was offset by a need to keep it in 2nd a little longer each time through the gears and it didn't quite have the low-end pull in high gear but it was not a problem at all--still powerful and easy to drive. The '33 Pierce-Arrow 836 coupe would go about 60, but it sounded busy so it was a bit stressful. I had a '34 Packard 1101 (Standard Eight) that seemed OK at 55 or so and a '32 Auburn with a 2-speed rear end that would also settle in at about 55-60. I currently have a '31 Packard 833 in my showroom and it's a proven tour car that's happy at about 50:

 

Packard1.thumb.jpg.24f94114e1f9f5380d438053a1476366.jpg

 

So pre-1935, as a general guide, 50 MPH will be a comfortable cruising speed for most "mid-range" Classics. They will go considerably faster, but it'll be stressful and it won't be happy doing it for long periods of time. If you want more speed, go later, go with a car with an overdrive or high-speed gears already installed, or spend the $3500 on an overdrive installation.

 

Or, of course, you can just drive it in its comfort zone and let it be itself. That's the idea, right?

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I will add there are a few stock cars from 1929-1935 that run fast and keep up with modern traffic without any issues.........but they are few and far between, and sometimes are but not always expensive. Most anything over 350cid will run 60 comfortably.......get to 385 and up, it’s not a problem.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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4 hours ago, John Bloom said:

 Is a mid/late 30's standard body Packard 8 sedan with driver quality paint, chrome, interior and been sitting for 10 years only accumulating 200 miles over that time (and none in the last 24 month) going to move at a 50K asking price?  I suspect not.  where is the market for that car?  My thread brings up my desire for for an earlier closed car.  Part of that search for a closed car is because they are less pricey and for a first experience in that era, I feel like if I make a small mistake, it won't be as significant. 

 

I think it depends on the year, with '32-'34 driver closed cars finding buyers at higher price points than '35-to-later cars.  But my guess is that the $$ risk a potential buyer faces with the 30s-era Packard closed cars is much more in the cost of getting it running reliably than the risk that the market price will fall all that much.   Ed is the expert on this much more than I am, so listen to him more than me. But you might buy a decent car for $40K that hasn't been driven much, and then have to put in $15-20K to get it running well.  You would get some portion of this back if you sell it relatively soon after, in that savvy buyers will recognize that the car has had expensive work done that is critical to getting it run right.  But my guess is that the post-purchase investment to get it dialed in is probably a bigger cost than any future drop in market value of those cars.  Prices can drop, of course, but they're widely-admired cars and I don't think they'll drop super-quickly in value.

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10 hours ago, edinmass said:

Pierce, Stude, Chrysler, and a few others offered factory over drive transmissions. Most any BIG car will pull modern speeds with a correct ring and pinion ratio......by big think 325cid or more. Auburns with a two speed rear did well with smaller displacement engines.

 

An Auburn (at least 35/36) with the 2 speed set to high will cruise comfortably at 55 mph,  and the blown car will have plenty of get up and go.

 

 

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15 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

 

None of this is news and I've said it all before, but right now we're in uncharted waters and I think the hobby will change significantly because of it.

Dad made a rare off the cuff comment the other night that he believes there are more owners in their 80's of age of pre-WWII cars that he believes ever before in time - a whole discussion in itself. 

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3 hours ago, alsancle said:

 

An Auburn (at least 35/36) with the 2 speed set to high will cruise comfortably at 55 mph,  and the blown car will have plenty of get up and go.

 

 

Supercharged Auburn's are fine, but there is a like 20K in a whole bunch of extra stuff spinning around at pretty high RPM.  Keep in mind that each year there seems to be fewer and fewer people touring ACD cars as a whole, but there are a significant number of S/C survivors and you rarely find people successfully touring with them to begin with (the most successful being driven by a super sharp engineer by trade).    I have rebuilt an S/C unit and related parts - it was not too much a challenge given I already knew all the players regarding S/C's, but it still was like 7K in castings/parts plus machine work (on an already pretty decent restored car) to rebuild doing the bulk of the work myself. 

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10 hours ago, 1935Packard said:

  You would get some portion of this back if you sell it relatively soon after, in that savvy buyers will recognize that the car has had expensive work done that is critical to getting it run right.  

The savvy buyer should recognize this, but Matt and I had a discussion going someplace else about the number of buyers that focus on cosmetics and price over mechanics (I think the discussion involved a 1930 RR PI).  When I get buried in a car dealing with its mechanics, I tend to also find some time to pick and choose the cosmetic projects for this very reason.

 

Example: My 1941 Cadillac had 17K miles on it when I bought it in 1979 and when I sold it a couple of years ago it had 97,500 miles on it.  To keep the car driveable and tourable for AACA and ..., I was on the car near constantly and never really had time of money for the cosmetics (ie. money went into the mechanics).  Still the week before going out to sale it received a new set of whitewalls, 2 reproduction hubcaps (and the former reproduction hubcaps went under the skirts), a set of replated gold emblems, a few pieces of reproduction restored chrome, a few chips touched up, the fender wells cleaned, a good polishing, and ....  It found a buyer who was most happy with original HPOF cosmetics and driveability - but we were LUCKY to find that needle in a haystack buyer. 

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13 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

Anything before about 1935 is going to be happiest at about 50 MPH. Auburns benefit from two-speed rear ends, which is like an overdrive, and after 1935 or so, the engines and gearing allowed higher cruising speeds. Early '30s cars were geared for minimal shifting--just leave it in high and let the torque and gears pull it around. Highways didn't exist and making driving easier around town was the goal. Some Full Classics that have been restored may be carrying high-speed rear gears, which can be an improvement. Others offered factory overdrives but they weren't common until the second half of the '30s. Overdrives can be retrofitted to most cars, but it's a big job on cars with torque tubes and expensive no matter how you slice it. I am a fan of overdrives for touring, but on the other hand the car no longer is as it was when it was new so there's an experience difference in the driving. It depends on how you plan to use the car.

 

My '29 Cadillac is happy at about 48 MPH without the overdrive and will go 60 with it, although it's sublime at about 53. The '35 Lincoln K (the one time I drove it) didn't seem to mind 55-60. The '41 Buick runs at 60-65 MPH all day. I had a '32 Buick 90 Series sedan and a '31 Buick 80 Series both with high-speed gears, and they would go 60 MPH, which was offset by a need to keep it in 2nd a little longer each time through the gears and it didn't quite have the low-end pull in high gear but it was not a problem at all--still powerful and easy to drive. The '33 Pierce-Arrow 836 coupe would go about 60, but it sounded busy so it was a bit stressful. I had a '34 Packard 1101 (Standard Eight) that seemed OK at 55 or so and a '32 Auburn with a 2-speed rear end that would also settle in at about 55-60. I currently have a '31 Packard 833 in my showroom and it's a proven tour car that's happy at about 50:

 

Packard1.thumb.jpg.24f94114e1f9f5380d438053a1476366.jpg

 

So pre-1935, as a general guide, 50 MPH will be a comfortable cruising speed for most "mid-range" Classics. They will go considerably faster, but it'll be stressful and it won't be happy doing it for long periods of time. If you want more speed, go later, go with a car with an overdrive or high-speed gears already installed, or spend the $3500 on an overdrive installation.

 

Or, of course, you can just drive it in its comfort zone and let it be itself. That's the idea, right?

I often tell story of my friends in LA that say the ideal car for the city is a Model A Ford (every family member has one and ... - also they say they can valet often and the car gets left out front with no charge).  For trips they have a 1935 Phaeton.  If beastly hot they just go out really early or really late and can always uber or ....

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38 minutes ago, John_Mereness said:

Dad made a rare off the cuff comment the other night that he believes there are more owners in their 80's of age of pre-WWII cars that he believes ever before in time

 

I would be willing to bet the majority of those cars were inherited from the 80 year old's father.

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15 hours ago, John Bloom said:

Guys, I'm very much enjoying the wisdom and thoughts on this topic that I spend way to much time thinking about.  I too wonder if the market is soft, or if that is an illusion.  I have bought and own several collectible cars, so my eyes are wide open with the fact that what people ask for their cars is often wildly optimistic and the sale price often isn't publicly known.  Is a mid/late 30's standard body Packard 8 sedan with driver quality paint, chrome, interior and been sitting for 10 years only accumulating 200 miles over that time (and none in the last 24 month) going to move at a 50K asking price?  I suspect not.  where is the market for that car?  My thread brings up my desire for for an earlier closed car.  Part of that search for a closed car is because they are less pricey and for a first experience in that era, I feel like if I make a small mistake, it won't be as significant.  I'd love a 32 Packard Dual Cowl Phaeton....or something with that presence... but I'd like to get to know the cars of that era a little better before pulling the trigger.  A closed car (club sedan, coupe, 7 pass sedan) has me excited.  I have two British roadsters and a mid fifties american convertible if I need a top down ride.  I am cautious by nature and plan on my first Classic to be educational on a smaller budget.  If my wife lets me know she's been hiding a trust fund all these 34 years, I'll get a Duesenberg for my second classic.  

 

What are some generalities when looking at 29-34 Packards, Pierces, Auburns, 90 series Buicks regarding gearing, rear ends and touring speeds?  In particular compared to those makes as you moved later into the 1930's?

 

John

 

John, we never discussed your skill sets as to restoration ?

 

Have you thought about something like this:  https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/af20/auburn-fall/lots/r0367-1929-packard-standard-eight-touring/953471  .  The price is pretty good at 46,500 and they may budge a few thousand more.  It is probably fine for local casual driving.  And it strikes me as a very solid car, though it does need top saddles (they appear to be in a box though or what is in box could be adapted), Oakes tire locks, plenty of detailing, and ....  In the long run I would say an engine block rebuild would run 14K or so and not brushed up on my honneycomb radiator prices (lets say 3,500 to be safe), but you could get lucky and it work well for a couple thousand miles as is or with minimal work. 

 

 

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16 hours ago, John Bloom said:

 

What are some generalities when looking at 29-34 Packards, Pierces, Auburns, 90 series Buicks regarding gearing, rear ends and touring speeds?  In particular compared to those makes as you moved later into the 1930's?

 

John

 

This is an interesting car (Shawn and I have not discussed it as to anything (incl. price) as I have been frying other fish) - incredible condition though and could eventually be re-geared in axle as to ratio, the windshield glass is pretty yellowed and that may be an issue (you would have to live with the rest of the glass as it is pretty buried under a lot of fragile wool held in my hundreds and hundreds of little nails):  http://significantcars.com/cars/1932packard11/

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14 hours ago, edinmass said:

I will add there are a few stock cars from 1929-1935 that run fast and keep up with modern traffic without any issues.........but they are few and far between, and sometimes are but not always expensive. Most anything over 350cid will run 60 comfortably.......get to 385 and up, it’s not a problem.

 

Our '29 Pierce will do 70mph but I would not push it any further past that.

If you wanted to just go down the road at 60mph it would do it all day long and never miss a beat.

 

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15 hours ago, FLYER15015 said:

John,

I can't tell you about the rest, but my '40 buick LTD (series 90) has a 4:10 rear end, and it likes 45-50 on a tired old motor.

If I was going to tour it, I'd throw a '53 under it.

I'm betting the other makes are the same.

 

Mike in Colorado

I would think it would do 55 mph just fine and all day long, plus probably 60 mph too and 65 in spurts (given they tended to be faster cars than Cadillac's), though admire you for being conservative. 

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1 minute ago, zepher said:

 

Our '29 Pierce will do 70mph but I would not push it any further past that.

If you wanted to just go down the road at 60mph it would do it all day long and never miss a beat.

 


That’s why I drive Pierce Arrows..........

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15 minutes ago, 60FlatTop said:

 

I would be willing to bet the majority of those cars were inherited from the 80 year old's father.

Yes to some degree, but I am not seeing a lot of this, the kids tend to not have the same interests as their parents and do not seem to hold the cars as long.  What I do see is a lot of kids that are unrealistic to pricing and a lot of elderly that also have not been watching the market either (their 40 to 48 Lincoln Continental Convertible is worth 100K plus .. - NOT). 

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18 minutes ago, edinmass said:


That’s why I drive Pierce Arrows..........

This is a very nice locomotive !!!

1931 Pierce Arrow Model 41 Seven Passenger Sedan

Click photo to enlarge

This is a completely original example of a top of the line Pierce for 1931

It is finished in a dark blue over gray interior and features rare and beautiful stainless steel wheels

This a a great running and driving car. The side windows have de-laminated and should be replaced for touring

It was formerly owned by Jack Passey

The car is located in Indiana. The price is $67,500

   Houston, TX,

 

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14 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

I currently have a '31 Packard 833 in my showroom and it's a proven tour car that's happy at about 50:

 

Packard1.thumb.jpg.24f94114e1f9f5380d438053a1476366.jpg

 

 

Norm's Packard is wonderful.

I've talked back and forth with him about his car and I've seen video of the car running and going down the road.

If anyone is looking for an open Packard that is reasonably priced, they should take a look at Norm's car.

And Norm is a great guy that would be completely honest about his car and it's strengths and weaknesses.

 

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John, I don't have the expertise of many others on this forum but my prewar car experiences may relate to your situation. I have been a car nut all my life but had never owned any prewar car until 2009. I decide to jump in after riding and driving a 1924 Cadillac. I decided I wanted a Full Classic car not for any connection to CCCA but rather for their engineering and quality advantages over cheaper cars. My first purchase was a 1928 Pierce Arrow model 81 which had been given an amateur cosmetic restoration but which barely ran. I dived in with research and learned the considerable maintenance needs of an old car and I got it in slightly better running condition with home methods that would curdle the blood of all the purists here. I found that simple things like new tire tubes became very difficult to find and get installed and that the real key to learning about these cars is getting to know other owners. 

 

While owning the Pierce I had an opportunity to buy a 1932 Cadillac V-12. This was an amazing vehicle on so many levels to me that I jumped again. This car had been totally restored in the 1970s and was very nice cosmetically but also had a number of mechanical challenges. Owning both of these cars at the same time showed me that even a top line luxury car in 1928 was still quite archaic in comparison to one made just four years later.

 

Ed's comments about what is involved in "sorting" these cars are totally true, neither of my cars ever got correctly sorted and I sold them both in 2011, luckily breaking even. Then in 2012 I bought a totally original 1934 Packard 1100 sedan from Matt Harwood. It had lots of patina but it it ran and drove well from day one. There were some minor issues but they were mostly maintenance related. Even this entry level model had a smooth and powerful drivetrain, adjustable suspension, power assisted brakes and a top line detailed interior. Most of what I did to the car was cleaning and preservation. As mentioned above it had a top speed of 50 due to stiff gearing  but that could easily be fixed with an overdrive addition like Matt has done to his Cadillac. I recommend looking for a Packard and considering an original if you can find one for a reasonable price.

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By the way, we did not get into this topic either, but how tall are you ?  

 

The reason why "height" is important is if you plan to drive you need a car you will fit into and we could start a whole discussion about that.  Your best bet in a sedan is one with an adjustable front seat, albeit there are some cars with a fixed consul crossing between door pasts that have some adjustment to the front seat and some cars that the consul is not straight and extends into the passenger compartment.  If you are tall and there is no seat adjustment, then you often need to make a new more shallow backrest via new springs or "unstuffing". 

 

The next topic is the hierarchy of sedans.  

 

Club Sedans seem to demand more value, followed by 5 Passenger Sedans, somewhere in here is two door Broughams/Opera Coupes, then 7 Passenger Sedans, and finally Limousines.  The formula is based partially on "looks" and partially on the aforementioned front seat issues as to space for the driver. 

 

As to original or restored - just depends and also just depends on your handiness.

 

Sidenote:  I was speaking to one of the contributors and on the particular day they were wrapping up an extensive projects of reworking all the engine accessories on a Pebble Beach winning car - the drivetrain otherwise was up to snuff, but whoever restored all the stuff hanging on the engine fell short in their work (and this kind of thing is very much the norm).   

 

Addl' Sidenote:  then you have for example friends that drove their unrestored 1935 Buick for perhaps 8 years with a bad fuel pump diaphragm and it spitting fuel out of the vent on the fuel pump - first I would never do this and second with my luck the car would die in the first 5 minutes of this problem, but despite everyone offering to fix it for them and ... they ignored and car just ticked right along AACA tour after AACA tour - GO FIGURE (as a sidenote - they put a new water pump and fan on it when the bought it as that died coming home from the auction from purchasing, but did probably zippo otherwise in that 8 year period).  

 

My point:  It just depends on the car and how it was done or not done, cared for or ... - take nothing for granted. 

 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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John and Mark, 

I appreciate your advice to ignore the chicken littles.  There is a lot of grief to be avoided by staying away from the wrong car, but there are always some people who would talk you out of everything.  My regrets through the years with cars have not been things I bought, it has been things I talked myself out of.  Admittedly, this might change as you look at higher end stuff.  I have never spent more than 40K for any classic car I bought.  I have an older MG midget, Round wheel arch, wire wheels, chrome bumper, a blast to drive and I paid 2,500.  There is no downside to that, my sears riding lawn mower cost more than that.  

 

John, your comments about avoiding 28-31 Cadillacs, Cords, RR/Bentleys is something I kind of figured out on my own, but good to hear you confirm that.  There is a super charged Cord in Chicago that is a project on Craigslist for 40K.  I did spend a few minutes daydreaming about that, but resisted the voices telling me to "walk toward the light"....that isn't the right car for me at this time, but fun to think about.  seems like a car to break my heart.

 

John, you asked about my restoration skills and height.  I am 6'2.  My restoration skills are limited/unknown.  I am a dentist so technical things are attractive to me and I think I'm logical and think with an engineering perspective, but as for working on cars, my minor experiences have been more with MG's (water pumps, Master cylinder/slave Cylinder, clutch, carburetors, minor electrical).  I have never done body work, I have never rebuilt a car engine.  I have played around through the years with older vintage Honda's (Honda Dreams, Benley, Cubs), engine work.  I think I know myself well enough that until I retire, I don't have the time for a project with substantial systems needing work.  I am better off buying something that has reasonable mechanical systems, but addressing something that comes up, or cosmetic elective issues may be fine.  Of course once it is yours, lots of surprises can occur.  I'll take that risk.  On that note, I really want to avoid a sedan with wood subframing that has issues.  

I am ok with a car that has #3 or #4 level paint and chrome and interior.  I want a #2 car from a mechanical perspective.  

 

TexRiv_63 that original 34 Packard 8 sedan you bought from Matt really looks like something I have in my mind.  I don't want a 12 cylinder car for my first experience.  

 

This thread is very helpful to me to think through different makes and years to target.  I especially appreciate that no one has said "abandon your desire for the earlier thirties looks and go get a 38/39 Packard or Cadillac.  They are nice cars, but I want that earlier look.  

 

John

 

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At 6’2” A town coupe, club brougham, or similar five passenger coupe would make entry and exit much easier, and you can adjust the bucket seats to go back extra distance without modifying the car permanently. Notice how large the doors are......easy to get in and out of with long legs and big feet.

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Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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6 hours ago, John_Mereness said:

I would think it would do 55 mph just fine and all day long, plus probably 60 mph too and 65 in spurts (given they tended to be faster cars than Cadillac's), though admire you for being conservative. 

John,

It's not the car, it's the Martin Custom tires.

And they went out of business when ?

Ed in Mass, once wrote that he would not use them for anything other than static display in a museum, and that's if the car was up on jacks !

 

We won't discuss the "Denmans" on the Imperial, will we ?

 

Mike in Colorado

 

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Edited by FLYER15015 (see edit history)
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Good reason to have two sets of wheels and tires. I have the original 14x6 Rally-IIs (no trim rings) in baggies but "not even safe in the driveway". Same for the original 15x6 wheels for my Reatta. None of my cars are stock BUT would just take a few minutes to return to stock, I keep all of the parts.

 

Most of the changes are radial tires with suitable wheels (15x8 factory wheels for the Judge, 16x7 for the Reatta) Could take any on a transamerican trip with just a few hours prep. Also all of my cars have "hands-free" and Google Maps capability.

 

Great thing is that the "100 days of summer" seems over, is in the 70s now, and serious work can restart. Given a vaccine, shows can also.

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5 hours ago, edinmass said:

At 6’2” A town coupe, club brougham, or similar five passenger coupe would make entry and exit much easier, and you can adjust the bucket seats to go back extra distance without modifying the car permanently. Notice how large the doors are......easy to get in and out of with long legs and big feet.

1CD9FC27-240A-4DEA-B525-EAA1BB086B08.png

 

Ed, this car came up for sale in the early 2000's and seriously considered purchasing the car.

I know a lot of people would be turned off by the colors but I like the combination.

In the next few years I will be moving and I will end up somewhere with more space.

I hope to acquire another Pierce and it will be a smaller one than the beast I have now.

Craig C

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