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Pre war car service at modern dealership.


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Shortly after I bought my '40 Packard, we drove it to a car show about 20 miles away. We made it to the town, but before we got to the show, it quit. Just like turning off the key.It wouldn't restart. We had it towed to the local Ford dealer, where my wife had worked for 27 years prior to her retirement.This was a Saturday,so we left it there till Monday. Sunday was the local swap meet,where I bought some parts,including a NOS aftermarket coil. Monday morning a mechanic went out to the Packard and it fired right up. The coil turned out to be the issue,probably because the previous owner had installed the battery backward (negative ground).The mechanic retrofitted the aftermarket coil and it's been fine ever since. The mechanic said he enjoyed working on it.

About ten years ago,while I was still working at the GM dealership, I took the '78 GMC Caballero in for a tune-up. The young mechanic lifted the hood and exclaimed "a carburetor! I don't know anything about carburetors !". An older tech did the job.

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17 hours ago, edinmass said:


Today, if your smart enough to fix a car, your smart enough to do something else that pays better..........that’s why there are so few talented technicians. 

I dont know about that, seems like every time one of my dd's goes into the shop there is an $800 + bill that accompanies its departure!

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2 hours ago, Restorer32 said:

I understand that if you take your old car to a dealership they will trade you a new car for it.  Well at least that's what I have heard.

I’ve heard around here and that regardless of how odd a make, model or old it is, as long as you can drive it to their lot, they usually allow $5000 trade-in value for it.
So apparently, whether it’s a running/driving Audi, Chevy or Duesenberg, they’re all worth about same, at least $5K. 

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If you think there is good fiction on the New York Times best seller list, just read an ad or ask someone selling an old car what the story is. You always get the movie star or wealthy industrialist story, and some high profile collector or Leno is after it. Last time I checked, no collector no matter their means and reputation has a hard time finding cars. There are very few collector’s who toss money around indiscriminately...........weather they are Jeff Bezos or a working man. Most of the A list celebrities use buyers agents and sometimes even the agents don’t know who they are working for. I have inspected several specialty cars for people, who have go on to purchase them, and a year or two later I see the car on tv or in a movie. The best part is I made my quick pay and don’t have to write a report............just a ten minute phone call on condition and perceived appropriate price to pay. Fun times doing jobs like this when I am at an auction or show.........you get to play with something and not have to write the check.......best of both worlds.

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6 hours ago, Restorer32 said:

I understand that if you take your old car to a dealership they will trade you a new car for it.  Well at least that's what I have heard.

Well I don’t know about that but I can affirm that a sales manager did offer to trade my 1980 Plymouth Volare even up for a 2003 Saturn Vue my daughter was looking at. That was in 2009.  I laughed.

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Modern cars are designed to make it difficult for the shade tree mechanic to work on them.

You need to invest in a really good scan tool and have lots of other specialty tools on hand.

Want to bleed or flush your ABS system?  Need a scan tool that will run the ABS pump.

Want to change brake pads on calipers that have the automatic parking brake system?  Need a scan tool to release the parking brake mechanism.

And on and on.

 

Yesterday, I changed the spark plugs on my 2002 Nissan Altima SE.

Because it has a sideways V6 the front plugs took me about 15 minutes while the rear three took me 2.5 hours.

The upper intake manifold has to come off to even see, let alone access, the rear coil packs and plugs.

There is plenty of room to use a straight upper intake like Nissan used in the 350Z (same exact engine) but instead they chose to use one that wrapped back over the rear plugs.

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When I originally bought my 32 Cadillac V12 I registered it with regular plates which in Texas meant I had to get it inspected every year. When I took it into my local Kwik-Kar lube shop for the inspection it was always a lot of fun. Everyone in the place had to check it out and they had obviously never seen anything like it - especially when I opened the hood. I made sure all the lights and wipers worked and they always asked where the master cylinder was...(mechanical brakes.) I would not let them touch it so I did the brake test with them watching. It passed every time it went in!

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32 minutes ago, Buick35 said:

I'm glad they did away with the vehicle inspections in Florida.Texas still requires them?

Yes they do, but not on antique or collector cars.

Antique cars are not supposed to be on the road except for "educational purposes" as car shows.

Collector plates will let you use the vehicle as daily driver. The only difference is the amount the state charges for registration. 

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Prewar? A few years ago I couldn't get my '79 Chevy inspected. As soon as they saw me pull up, they started to wave me off. Apparently, inspecting a car that old in NY required the use of some rare and/or expensive apparatus that they had no wish to risk using for a measly inspection fee. There were plenty of modern cars that did not require anything extra for the same price, so they preferred to lose an oddball customer like me. I remember hitting three or four shops until one agreed to take me on. Thankfully, no such issues in MA. But this year I needed to replace a broken fan belt, and the local shop had to special order it. A simple fan belt. For a small-block Chevy. I remember stuff like that hanging on the wall at every gas station. Made me feel really old, and the extra cost they charged me almost made me want to do the work myself again next time - like I used to do 30 years ago. 

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  I think Model A Ford brakes have suffered over the years from the assumption that 'them brakes never were any good'.  Also from the idea that 'alls you need to work on a Model A is a big hammer'.

  If ALL the lost motion from the pedal to the actuating levers is removed, including the brake equalizer , the  stamped steel drums replaced with cast iron drums properly trued up, all the wheel bearings properly adjusted and all the adjustments made with the proper gauges, all four wheels can be locked up with only moderate foot pressure.

  The adjustments also have to be re-done as a maintenance item, probably more so than the hydraulic Bendix or Lockheed brakes we find in the later cars.

  Of course with stock wheels and tires at 32 psi the contact area on the pavement isn't very much.

  It can be a major project but they can be made to stop.

Edited by JimKB1MCV
'removed' added for clarity (see edit history)
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13 hours ago, Fossil said:

How are the mechanical brakes on those?  On the Model A I had they weren't real good. 


model A brakes are wonderful once correct. There are a few wear parts that don’t get addressed on a lot of them. As Ed and a few others have pointed out many times, people don’t realize how good many cars were when new... so something shy of correct gets written off as being “how an old car is.”

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17 hours ago, Buick35 said:

I'm glad they did away with the vehicle inspections in Florida.Texas still requires them?

I wish they would require annual safety inspection on ALL vehicles, including antique/classic/vintage/etc., using public roads here in California, just like they should require a person to learn & know how to drive and generally operate a motor vehicle before issuing him/her a drivers license (Seems as 8 or 9 out of 10 shouldn't be allowed).

 

Just the other day, a friends wife (or more specifically her car, while she was driving it) got hit with a wheel-tire combo that came off a some rickety car driven in opposite direction by a 17 y.o. who had just done “some brake work on it”(?). The kid had no DL, car allegedly belonged to his girlfriend and while it had current tags, no insurance ...

 

 

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3 hours ago, TTR said:

I wish they would require annual safety inspection on ALL vehicles, including antique/classic/vintage/etc., using public roads here in California, just like they should require a person to learn & know how to drive and generally operate a motor vehicle before issuing him/her a drivers license (Seems as 8 or 9 out of 10 shouldn't be allowed).

 

Just the other day, a friends wife (or more specifically her car, while she was driving it) got hit with a wheel-tire combo that came off a some rickety car driven in opposite direction by a 17 y.o. who had just done “some brake work on it”(?). The kid had no DL, car allegedly belonged to his girlfriend and while it had current tags, no insurance ...

 

 

Ok so the kid was driving illegally for two reasons, no license and no insurance. What makes you think mandatory inspections would have changed that situation?  It would have just been one more illegal act most likely. We don’t need more regulation we need proper enforcement of current laws. 
dave s 

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21 minutes ago, SC38DLS said:

Ok so the kid was driving illegally for two reasons, no license and no insurance. What makes you think mandatory inspections would have changed that situation?  It would have just been one more illegal act most likely. We don’t need more regulation we need proper enforcement of current laws. 
dave s 

I agree on enforcement, but unfortunately at least around here it doesn't seem effective.

I also agree on less regulation, but given we both live in the society with more laws, regulations and rules than any other in the world (perhaps in the history of the world) with more being created daily by probably largest population of lawyers & politicians (= often same) per capita anywhere, chances of improved enforcement efforts do seem rather diminishing/hopeless.

I personally would feel much better and safer on the roads and in traffic, if I knew all others I encounter had adequate/proper training (equivalent to mine or better ?) to drive and their vehicles were maintained to some semblance of safety standards, but that's just me.

 

 

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TTR I agree it would be nice to have some control on only having safe vehicles on the road but it’s still not going to stop people from avoiding the law. Those that do follow it properly will just have more hassle and cost. If the courts would come down harder on violators maybe that would help. Maybe fines along with mandatory community service would help. But letting them off with barley any fine is a joke. Just my old man two cents, probably not worth a penny

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7 hours ago, TTR said:

Just the other day, a friends wife (or more specifically her car, while she was driving it) got hit with a wheel-tire combo that came off a some rickety car driven in opposite direction by a 17 y.o. who had just done “some brake work on it”(?). The kid had no DL, car allegedly belonged to his girlfriend and while it had current tags, no insurance ...

 

Sounds like the kid who was suspended from school for skipping classes. He and his friends had their first deep philosophical discussion on that one.

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30 minutes ago, 60FlatTop said:

 

Sounds like the kid who was suspended from school for skipping classes.

Actually, that reference ^^ sounds a bit like me. Throughout the 9 years of society "mandated" education period/program, I was probably ordered to stay in after-school detention more often than rest of the students in the school combined and if for nothing else than skipping the detention day before. 🙄

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I farm out very little of the work on any of my cars. It is a teaching and trust thing with me. Experts have taught me not to trust, done a really good job.

 

There is one mechanic at a Monroe Muffler shop that I will trust to do a job as I want. Here is his daily driver from a few years ago.

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He has three Studebakers now.

 

He knows I only want four post lifts used and makes sure one is open.

Mostly I just have the state inspection done. I don't want my wipers dragged across my dry windshield. If the wipers really have to be operated I will make arrangements for our priest to gently sprinkle holy water on the surface. We haven't had to do that....yet.

 

Taking your collector car to a modern production shop today is like taking an XKE or M-B to a local garage in the 1960's. Pretty much no difference. Your car is just so.....foreign to them.

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Back a number of years ago Illinois Required all trucks, buses, etc to undergo a by-annual inspection.   Not just commercial vehicles but privately owned ones as well. I knew a lot of folks who would "fix" the truck up enough to pass the inspection and that was it till the next inspection. Kind of like pollution tests for some today.

Edited by plymouthcranbrook (see edit history)
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I feel that somebody could do the hobby a great favor and make a decent amount of money if they started a chain of specialty shops that catered to keeping older cars on the road. Doing the inspections, minor fixes as described by several in this thread, greasing what needs it, etc. 

 

And of course an education program to keep the knowledge alive that would be required as well. 

 

Not talking full on restorations but just the stuff that needs to be done. Seeing it as keeping as many cars on the road as possible...nothing new enough to still be under the factory warranty. 


Alas I have neither the knowledge, the physical ability, nor the financial resources to do it. 

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I was the General Manager of a Volvo dealership in Florida for 20+ years. We had a program in our service department called the Vintage Club. Once a car hit 10 years of age, we offered a discount of 1 percent for each year, once it hit the 10 year mark. For example, a 15 year old car would receive a 15 percent discount. We serviced a fair amount of 1980s vintage 240s, as well as several P1800s dating to the 60s. 
 

We had several techs that loved working on these older cars, it provided interesting conversation in the service department, and it gave the owners an option on maintaining / repairing their cars.

 

I realize these aren’t “real old” cars, but you normally don’t see cars of these vintages in a dealership service department.

 

Kevin

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4 minutes ago, kevin1221 said:

We had several techs that loved working on these older cars, it provided interesting conversation in the service department, and it gave the owners an option on maintaining / repairing their cars.

I don't know who came up with that idea but I think it is a good one. Being a person who liked carburetor work your facility would have been a nice option for employment. Youngsters today think a carburetor is something that mounts the air filter to the engine. 

I'll bet your customers with older cars appreciated your services. 

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1 hour ago, kevin1221 said:

I was the General Manager of a Volvo dealership in Florida for 20+ years. We had a program in our service department called the Vintage Club. Once a car hit 10 years of age, we offered a discount of 1 percent for each year, once it hit the 10 year mark. For example, a 15 year old car would receive a 15 percent discount. We serviced a fair amount of 1980s vintage 240s, as well as several P1800s dating to the 60s. 
 

We had several techs that loved working on these older cars, it provided interesting conversation in the service department, and it gave the owners an option on maintaining / repairing their cars.

 

I realize these aren’t “real old” cars, but you normally don’t see cars of these vintages in a dealership service department.

 

Kevin

Good idea but probably made the Salespersons grit their teeth.

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One time I was tooling around in my prewar Plymouth and stopped at the dealership to make a service appointment for my modern ride.  Totally deadpan, the service writer greeted me with "I'm sorry, sir, but your car is out of warranty."  🤣

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1 hour ago, kevin1221 said:

We had a program in our service department called the Vintage Club....

For example, a 15 year old car would receive a 15 percent discount.

 

That's an excellent idea, and very helpful to

the old car hobby.  My 1916 car isn't a Volvo,

but if someone else would use that formula,

my car would get a 104% discount!  I could

actually MAKE money every time I had it serviced. 😄

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On 11/12/2020 at 3:57 AM, bdc said:

Reminds me like this one:

 

 

 

'and my starter sticks sometimes.' So they just sell him a new starter. That says it all, to me.

 

Ok,Ok, they were demonstrating the depth of their parts inventory. But some of us still live with the concept of repairing what is there, if possible.

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On 11/11/2020 at 11:15 AM, Terry Harper said:

Ha, ha! back in the 90's I took my 1968 MGB in to get an inspection. After a bit of waiting the mechanic came in and told me it didn't pass inspection because the ball joints were bad. So... I asked him to show them too me. Once up on the lift he was a pretty much confounded since the MG used king pins..... I got the sticker.

 My brother brought my 55 Chrysler in for the state inspection and was told the same thing.

 When I told him to go back, he found out that the state took away their permit to inspect cars.

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14 hours ago, TexRiv_63 said:

My 32 V12 had vacuum power assist on the brakes and I thought they were excellent for the age of the car.

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Bendix power brake booster that pulled a jackshaft on the brake cables for a hefty Pierce-Arrow .

 

The owner rode with me an observed my ability to drive a large car with no brakes before I took it to my place for repairs.

 

Grimy, it's a maroon convertible.

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2 hours ago, 60FlatTop said:

Bendix power brake booster that pulled a jackshaft on the brake cables for a hefty Pierce-Arrow .

 

The owner rode with me an observed my ability to drive a large car with no brakes before I took it to my place for repairs.

 

Grimy, it's a maroon convertible.

You were soooo successful that the owner still has the car, and still loves it!  Hefty is right--even the short (139" wb) sedans break 6,000 lbs.  But those Pierces have 342 sq in of swept area and those brakes, when working properly, will stop the car quickly.  As you undoubtedly know, Bernie, one of causes of poor power brake performance in 1936-38 Pierces is that some tractor mechanic used heater hose rather than pricey air hose for the soft-plumbed portions of the tubing back to the vacuum cylinder located under the left rear seat.

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Tractor mechanics have way different priorities.That lever by my left knee is the left brake. There's another on the right. Going down a hill you can steer or stop. No foot pedal on that one.

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I will never forget that Pierce. The booster rod boot had torn and pulled in a lot of moisture, causing it to stick. It is dark up between the frame rails. The morning I removed it was a cool day. I reached up and touched the old boot without looking. The old rubber felt like cool (less than body temperature) human flesh. A chilling moment.

 

Tractor mechanic, huh.

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3 hours ago, 60FlatTop said:

I will never forget that Pierce. The booster rod boot had torn and pulled in a lot of moisture, causing it to stick. It is dark up between the frame rails. The morning I removed it was a cool day. I reached up and touched the old boot without looking. The old rubber felt like cool (less than body temperature) human flesh. A chilling moment.

 

Tractor mechanic, huh.

Good story!  The underside of that Pierce is big enough and dark enough so that body parts could be lodged there.  And you're much too clean, in the photo at least, to be a tractor mechanic--a tractor rider, perhaps, or is that a photography studio prop?  🙂

 

A Pierce owner found a can of the official Bendix lubricant for the vacuum cylinder and had it analyzed and recently reproduced.  I've always used castor oil for leather seals....

Edited by Grimy
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