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Don't let anyone drive your early cars, especial brass cars. BIG NO NO


CatBird
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Don't let anyone drive your early cars, especial brass cars. BIG NO NO

I often asked by people to drive one of our early cars. A guy, who is quite knowledgeable on 1940s-1950s cars. He fell in love with our 1913 Marmon Speedster 48B. I took it out and pointed it out down a straight stretch of road. 

Showed him the foot feed and leave the throttle control on the steering wheel alone.

He got in the car, I started it and told him to go very slow. As he settled in and caught his sleeve on the throttle control, and went wide open! My heart about stopped! 9.5 liter engine is very powerful and on a lightweight speedster chassis.

Took off like a bolt of lightning! About a block away he got it stopped by brakes and disengaging the clutch with the throttle still wide open. I heard the engine screaming as it overrevved.  Fortunately this Marmon has a pressurized oil system. The engine was ok.

He didn't apologized and just made a few remarks, and asked if he could drive another car of ours. Actually wanted to take one home and give his mother for a ride. He is about 50.

I told him that an engine like this would cost about $150,000 to $250,00 or more to restore if a major catastrophe AND could take perhaps two years to put it back together. He said he would be more careful with another of our cars. HAH!

Some of this is that he was not knowledgeable with brass cars. I could understand. But his nonchalant attitude (he thought I must be joking about costs of a brass car. restoration cost of the Marmon was over $400,000), but could not forgive that he then wanted to take this car or one like it home to give his mother a "joy-ride."

There were two morons in this equation. Me and him. I sure learned a very good lesson! The woman in the picture was a model at a Concourse.

Marmon Amzon Drive.jpg

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75406511_3851665238192195_5120326144750518272_o.jpg

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Back in the 1960s antique car club members used to routinely loan out/borrow each others cars for events and even driving tours half-way across Texas. Of course most of the cars involved were far more pedestrian than your magnificent Marmon -- what a great car. My son refuses to drive my Duesenberg -- said he doesn't want the responsibility.

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A fellow forum member here let me drive his 1911 Russell CCM . It was fantastic. I had a ton of fun and immediately became very enthused about the brass era cars. I respect them very much. I was careful and tried delicately to shift it. Almost too delicate probably. The external shifter needs firm assurance to be guided into place.  Not all of us newbies are morons. I totally respect the brass era cars, the work that goes into them, the rarity, and most of all the owners.  Careful coaching and slow guidance thru the controls are a must. Informing any future drivers what your expectations are, and the responsibilities when behind the wheel should be stated. Perhaps telling him in advance that a $250,000 engine rebuild is at stake, and if he had the means to be accountable for his driving, would have quelled his desire to drive it. 

 

A poor experience for you, I understand. Not all experiences end this way.

 

Here we are going over the very strange controls together...

 

IMG_6720.jpg

Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)
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I think the key is that it's OK to let someone drive one of your cars, IF they know what they're doing and have a track record.  I have some good friends quite versed in the old car hobby, they could drive.  Otherwise, just tell them "my insurance won't allow it" and move on.  

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Agree with David--it depends on the person. I've let other old car people drive my cars, no problem. Some schmuck off the street? No way. Too many little things that we instinctively pay attention to that a guy getting out of a Toyota would never even imagine. I don't think he believed you when you told him how much repairs would cost. He has no frame of reference and it probably sounded ludicrous. A new engine should be $2000, not $100,000, right?

 

Civilians just aren't geared to deal with old cars at any level. That's why the learning curve upon joining the hobby is so steep and you kind of have to study before you just jump in. I think a lot of it has to do with how much modern cars have changed. In the 1960s, cars weren't all that different from the "antiques" that people collected. Carburetors, points, clutches, drum brakes. Today's technical cars are completely different animals and do not give their drivers any tools to cope with a vintage machine. It's like taking them out of a car and putting them in a helicopter and assuming that they will know how to make it work. It's just not the same kind of machine.

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I've let a number of people drive my brass cars (haven't found any takers for a motorcycle ride yet) and the experience has always been good.  I recommend it as the best way to get new interest in the hobby, but you have to be prepared for a little gear grinding and engine lugging along the way.  What I'm looking for is some understanding and respect (for the car), rather than a guy who thinks he can make it work "his way" with brute force.

 

Your Marmon is beautiful and you should treat it as you see fit.  I probably wouldn't let anyone else near it either.    Respectfully, I'd suggest a better title for this thread might be "Be Careful Who You Let Drive Your Early Cars."  The fellow who drove your car was pretty presumptuous to even ask if he could drive it.  Maybe that's the first warning flag right there.  The guys who understand the car probably wouldn't ask.  

 

I only ask people I trust if they want to try it out.  And I ride with them until I'm convinced they'll manage things the way I want.

 

Peter

 

 

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6 minutes ago, 95Cardinal said:

Keith,

I absolutely LOVE that there is a hockey stick at the bottom of this photo!

Joe

 

IMG_6720.thumb.jpg.99280406579932d3e9344

 

The hockey stick is my hand signal.  CCM factory equipment, too.  Being a right hand drive, it's a little hard to signal when I'm by myself.

 

I forgot to mention that it's essential to pray before letting the newbie take the wheel ;)

 

 

Edited by PFindlay (see edit history)
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1 minute ago, PFindlay said:

 

The hockey stick is my hand signal.  CCM factory equipment, too.  Being a right hand drive, it's a little hard to signal when I'm by myself.

That's awesome!

Bet you get lots of "thumbs-up" responses with that turn signal indicator.

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I'll never understand the fascination in driving someone elses car, back in the 1970's I could have driven some of the finest and most expensive Pre War cars in the hobby and walked just about every time. Roll them around with a floor jack sure, winch them on a trailer, sure. Road Test, don't want to be the guy behind the wheel when it brakes or has an electrical failure. Bob

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I’ve been a car guy for over 60 years. I’ve done amateur rebuilds on old Austin Healy’s, MG’s, Ford’s, Chevy’’s and a Studebaker. Some prewar some newer. I would love to drive a brass type or true classic. Ed being Ed has offered many of us a chance to drive his Great White. I would love the opportunity he has so graciously offered but have declined. I don’t know the car, the controls temperament and have such respect for the work that has gone into any restoration I wouldn’t take the risk. Ed says it’s a car, meant to be driven, enjoy it. He is a kind hearted crazy car guy. I will be very happy to get a ride in his car or any brass car someone offers me the chance. But to borrow it or drive it without spending a lot of passenger seat time watching and learning the idiosyncrasies of a beautiful restored machine would be criminal. 
If someone like Jackie Stewart wanted to drive it ok. But not someone who only thought they had his skills! Let common sense prevail. 
dave s 

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My oldest car is a 1928, I taught my kids to drive it when they were all about 12, if they were interested.  My friend insisted I drive his 1926 Model T, I consider myself a good driver, but that has little to do with becoming accustomed to a vehicle that has entirely new location for every control.  If it were my Model T I would need hundreds of hours driving it to become retrained how to control the car, long before I would consider a passenger or god forbid some kid jumping out from behind a parked car.  What I am getting at is I would not expect a new motorcycle driver not to crash, there is just too much to learn too fast, it takes time and dedication to learn how to drive cars without standard control locations. 

 

Don't get me wrong I would love to drive your Marmon, slowly on a deserted stretch of road what a wonderful automobile!  My goal is own an American Underslung someday...

 

image.thumb.png.a5910902e1049272f3f66a9df65eb055.png

 

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Our shop motto is.....”drive it like you stole it!” So I guess  Bill isn’t going to let me behind the wheel......🤔

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Some day, ask me about the truck driver trying to jump start a 20 million dollar plus car.........and asking me where the battery is? The sxxt I have seen go down would boggle the mind. Like the guy crashing the 15 million dollar car loading it in a truck..........he was just then learning to drive a stick......TRUE STORY. Anytime you give your car over to a hauler , you have exposure that you can never even imagine. 99% of the truck drivers out there have no clue on how to start a pre war car. And trust me they ruin a lot of them.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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When I was a kid,  say 17 or 18,  my dad would let me take any of his cars out.   Cord 812,  Packard Darrin, etc.   Not chopped liver.    I've never been shy of letting a friend or family member drive one of my cars.     I know there is always a chance of it blowing up or an accident,  but really no greater than if I'm driving.   

 

So I guess,  if I let someone take my car (like for Ed for example) and he blows it up then I'm going to figure it would have blown up on me too.

 

Sounds like the guy you let drive your car was a dink which is the crux of the issue.

 

 

IMG_4881.JPG

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In the last few years, someone tossed me the keys to a 8 figure car and said, “can you deliver it five miles down the road for us?” The truck driver was afraid to drive it, so he elected me......a stranger he only knows from the parking lot at Pebble to drive the car. I did drive it........and it was a well sorted car that actually could pull the RPM’s that the tachometer showed......I was impressed! 😎

 

Another over priced car that doesn’t live up to its reputation.......I will still take a J.

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I let *trusted* friends drive mine but first they must watch me drive while I explain (including "sleeve control" near the throttle and spark levers), and second they drive while I'm sitting next to them for a few blocks before allowing them to go solo.  The 1918 Pierce, like many RHD cars, has the accelerator pedal placed between the clutch and brake pedals, which seems the most difficult aspect for newbies to adopt.  Oh, and don't forget to explain the operation of 2-wheel brakes as needing both foot and hand brake controls--and their somewhat limited capabilities.  Some friends with 1930s synchro cars pick it up quickly but others not so much.  My GF Annie drives them well, after a lot of practice, and also drives my dually diesel tow rig and its tall and heavy trailer, but she had experience driving her parents' motorhome and its dinghy.

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There are a lot of complicated cars to drive,  the brass ones with reverse pedals come to mind, but it depends on who the driver is.    One of my best car experiences ever was a friend letting me drive his Model J during the dawn patrol at Pebble.   I didn't want to do it for all the reasons mentioned previously (i.e. something going wrong)  but he forced me and it was AWESOME.  Will never forget it.

 

 

IMG_2148.JPG

DuesenbergAtPebble.jpg

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I've asked several family members if they want to drive the DeSoto but so far only one taker. After trying to shift the non syncro transmission they stopped. Double clutching gives them problems. Can't imagine trying to drive a model T. 

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Catbird, you've been on our forum for quite some time.

I remember you building up your collection of interesting

and historic cars.  You've clearly learned a lot, yourself.

 

This incident must be very fresh in your mind.  But I'll

have to say that neither you, nor the interested onlooker

with the loose sleeve and a lack of knowledge of value,

are morons!  I agree with you that we shouldn't let the

inexperienced learn on valuable old cars.  But keep this man

around--as a passenger.  If he has children, let them ride

in the back seat too.  

 

I didn't drive an early car until I bought my own.

Develop his interest.  Then when he's ready for an early car,

you can teach him to drive one--in his own early car!

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1 hour ago, PFindlay said:

The hockey stick is my hand signal....  Being a right hand drive, it's a little hard to signal when I'm by myself.

 

In 1913, left-hand-drive Packard explained the disadvantages

of right-hand-drive.  You're exactly right, that hand signals from

the right-hand-drive position were a problem.  "When turning

off to the left in traffic, your protection is assured by a position

convenient for signaling with the left arm" in left-drive cars.  The ad below

brings the driving experience of 1913 directly to our understanding today:

 

Ad-1913 Packard.jpg

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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On the other side of the coin, I never ask an old car owner if I can drive his car.  If he offers, however, I probably will.  No one's ever been upset with how I handled an old car, but then again, I’ve owned over 200 so pretty much know that old cars are to be babied, not manhandled.

 

I’ve only driven one Duesenberg, again, the chance was offered to me by a dear, close, friend.

 

Oh wait, I did ask to drive Monaghan’s Bugatti Royale, it was being moved about 100 feet on a show field at White Post Restorations.  Fellow said sure, for 14 million dollars you can drive it anywhere....  Well, I did get to ride the hundred feet!
 

There’s a car being restored now, a 29 Pierce.  Owner said mechanic got it running, mechanic had never driven such a car, said the gears were really noisy going through them.   Mechanic was trying to wind it out like a GTO....high revs in each gear, when in reality you should be in high gear at 15 miles per hour with a Pierce eight...

Edited by trimacar (see edit history)
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Now that I think of it,  the most car fun I've had this year was a buddy letting me drive his Brass era steam car.   I've had more fun driving my friends cars than my own.   I hate to see you sour on the best part of the hobby - sharing the passion with other people just as stupid as we are.

 

 

Edited by alsancle (see edit history)
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Steamers are about the easiest cars to drive and a lot of fun. People are amazed at the simplicity of driving them. Only have to learn that you open the throttle in spurts and never leave it open very long. Other than that learn to watch the water gauge, especially on a non condensing steamer. Just several weeks ago a local well known Stanley collector had a fairly new boiler scorched by a seemingly knowledgeable steam person. 

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2 hours ago, CatBird said:

He didn't apologized and just made a few remarks, and asked if he could drive another car of ours. Actually wanted to take one home and give his mother for a ride. He is about 50.

 

Okay, when you say, "He is about 50," you're talking about IQ, right?

Edited by JamesR (see edit history)
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There are at least 20 guys on this forum,  maybe more, some of which I have never met in person that I would let drive any of my cars.    I guess the key thing for me is a known quantity,  somebody I have some kind of relationship with even if it is only from the forums.   You can tell who the idiots are... usually.. even over the internet.

 

Also,  to echo what Dave said.   I would never ask to drive someone else's car - I would wait for the offer.    And I'm thinking that all the guys on here I like would probably act accordingly.

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17 minutes ago, A. Ballard 35R said:

Steamers are about the easiest cars to drive and a lot of fun. People are amazed at the simplicity of driving them. Only have to learn that you open the throttle in spurts and never leave it open very long. Other than that learn to watch the water gauge, especially on a non condensing steamer. Just several weeks ago a local well known Stanley collector had a fairly new boiler scorched by a seemingly knowledgeable steam person. 

 

That would explain Natalie Wood in "The Great Race" driving a Stanley.   Ed is int he back of the line driving with Professor Fate.

 

Natalie Wood Great Race 1965 High Resolution Stock Photography and Images -  Alamy

Edited by alsancle (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, edinmass said:

Some day, ask me about the truck driver trying to jump start a 20 million dollar plus car.........and asking me where the battery is? The sxxt I have seen go down would boggle the mind. Like the guy crashing the 15 million dollar car loading it in a truck..........he was just then learning to drive a stick......TRUE STORY. Anytime you give your car over to a hauler , you have exposure that you can never even imagine. 99% of the truck drivers out there have no clue on how to start a pre war car. And trust me they ruin a lot of them.

 

We should make a "holy crap, you wouldn't believe what I just saw a truck driver try to do," thread. I've got pictures that'll make grown men cry.

 

IMG_20150612_084007585_HDR.thumb.jpg.873d75cf21cf175a1bad105237fc8087.jpg

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25 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

 

We should make a "holy crap, you wouldn't believe what I just saw a truck driver try to do," thread. I've got pictures that'll make grown men cry.

 

IMG_20150612_084007585_HDR.thumb.jpg.873d75cf21cf175a1bad105237fc8087.jpg


didn’t you already have a thread like that?  I have a few stories too.

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1 hour ago, alsancle said:

Now that I think of it,  the most car fun I've had this year was a buddy letting me drive his Brass era steam car.   I've had more fun driving my friends cars than my own.   I hate to see you sour on the best part of the hobby - sharing the passion with other people just as stupid as we are.

 

 

 

 

Two old guys with big smiles.........👍

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Obviously Bill is a very trusting and outgoing person who wanted to share the Marmon with another presumed old car guy. His effort is extremely commendable with a car of that caliber. I have my doubts about the guy he trusted with the Marmon. Any car guy would know letting the engine over rev like that would be a major mistake and would apologize profusely, let alone ask to drive one of the cars home. This behavior is so bizarre to me, I can't understand it; it doesn't compute. I think the sentiment is well stated, BE CAREFUL WHO YOU LET DRIVE YOUR BRASS CAR!!

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I have a friend that not only lets friends drive his cars onto the show field in Hershey but also loans them a car to take on a Tour. He has done this many times with pleasure. His answer is always, I restored it once, I can do it again. Now these aren't 6 figure cars but still cars that anybody would be proud to own

D24E263E-CA41-4A8F-AF7A-F6926657874B_1_100_o.jpeg

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I have had the opportunity to drive some very nice and expensive cars and turned them all down. Due to the fact I've had an accident many years ago test driving a 66 Corvette convertible when a drunk guy trying to find a wedding reception turned left , no signal, no warning directly into me. It was my friend's car and his insurance did cover it, and sued the the other driver's insurance company.

I very rarely even drive a car to deliver it once it's sold. That's what Tilt n' Load trucks are for. So I don't have to watch for left turners!

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