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1909 Buick at auction...well, sort of


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2 hours ago, edinmass said:

Just another thought............the people who pull started a car that probably hasn’t run in 25 years......bunch of hacks. That car should have had the pan dropped, and the engine and chassis properly lubricated befor attempting a start. Hopefully they didn’t do any damage........the valves sure looked dry.....

I agree with you Ed. It sounded like they were pulling it behind a Dodge hemi pickup, inside a building full of people, for this pre-sale stunt. What could have gone wrong with that? I've never seen an engine grenade. Is there any shrapnel, or is it just smoke and flames like a backyard barbeque?

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A good friend of mine about forty some years ago was working on his model T speedster, cleaning it up and adjusting things after a weekend at the races (literally!). This was a car that was well built, driven often and toured heavily. Mechanically, it was well lubricated, nothing too tight, or too loose. It was all running so nicely and sounded so good. Then it went to pieces! He was finishing up and gunned the engine one more time just to hear it. Something inside broke, more things got entangled and broke, and pieces went flying!

One whole side of the cast iron crankcase was blown out. The pressed steel lower crankcase was flattened out to the side. A flywheel weight got broken off and flew a good fifty feet hitting a chain link fence leaving a sizeable dent in the fence (not an easy thing to dent). Numerous other pieces of cast iron also flew considerable distances. Yes, they can and do "grenade". 

A dried out partially seized motor forced to turn more than about 50 rpm could easily blow apart even worse, even if it had been carefully turned over a few times to be sure something (like a valve?) wasn't completely stuck. Without turning several full turns slowly first, forcing even a quarter turn of a nearly seized motor could result in thousands of dollars damage.

 

I know of (I won't say who) a big dollar horseless carriage (I won't say what) that one of the cylinder pairs blew while on tour. Rods pistons and cylinder block pieces all over the place. The car was rare and desirable enough that twenty-nine pieces of broken cylinder pair were welded back together after a couple years of searching found nothing in the way of replacement parts. Not an inexpensive repair to say the least. (It is a beautiful car! And sounds great also.)

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Whoever decided to try to start that Buick, after it sat, inactive, for years, is an idiot.  Did they even check the oil or gas, or if valves were stuck?

 

There was probably more damage done to the engine in that two minutes than the entire rest of its life,  congealed oil, oil passages clogged, old gas with varnish...not to mention the fact that anyone familiar with the drivetrain on that car knows the strain pull starting would cause...

 

That’s a real shame....

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Here are 3 pictures of my Grandfather's 1910 Buick Mod. 16:

 

1. The first one taken sometime between 1925 and 1950. Hard to date, but basing it on the other photos in the album and my Grandfather's early involvement in the antique car hobby, I would say the 1930s. My collection of Glenn D. Brown images has things like the family's pre-1910 Maxwell being photographed in 1933 and the 3 Stutzes he owned. Notation: "1909 Buick before rebuilding". No windshield, tonneau or sidelights present.

2. The second one is at a town celebration in Russell, Kansas held every 10 years since 1941, called Prairiesta. I'm certain this was the 1941 holding. Brass sidelights present. Looks like they squeezed 4 people in the car. Banner: "RUSSEL PRAIRIESTA MAY 12-13-14". Notice the stone fenceposts - typical of the Hays-Russell area where only short-timers would use wooden fenceposts in the old days. Senator Bob Dole and Senator Arlen Specter are both from Russell.

3. The third photo is my Dad(r.s.) and someone named Forrest(l.s.) seated in the Buick at my Great-Grandfather's farm implement store in Hutchinson. My father, Bernard W. Brown, had a career in electronics in the Army and at RCA and Northrop-Page, but in the late 40s he worked in the oilfields of Kansas. He had a penchant for driving some of my grandfathers antiques to the jobsite. For a short time, he rotated between 3 of his dad's Stutzes for the commute. Brass lights seem about right for a 1910 Buick, but don't know if they're spot on. Notation: "FORREST _____, BWB, 09 Buick  819 S. Main  1970". Image is reversed; the Buick is RHD.

Screenshot 2020-12-07 at 8.51.20 PM.png     

Screenshot 2020-12-07 at 9.18.21 PM.png

 

Screenshot 2020-12-07 at 9.24.04 PM.png

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)
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Jeff- Those are great photos. It must be nice to have photo album with cars owned by your relatives. All of my photo albums have nothing but the relatives pictured in them. Then again, none of my relatives ever owned good cars.

 

 Looks like the 1910 Buick was a very complete and solid car when your grandfather found it in the 1930s/40s. Doesn't look like "floor sweepings" to me at all! Those photos and your story certainly add a lot of credibility to the car and its past. I am sure a lot of the Model 16 Buicks that exist today started out as lesser cars than your grandfather's.

 

Back in the early days of the old car hobby it was very typical to date things with an earlier date. I guess in the 1930s or 1940s or even in the 1950s and 1960s, having a car with a "1909" date made it seem like it was a whole lot older than a "1910" date. I guess back then, being older meant it was worth more? It was  typical back then to see 1910'ish  high wheeler cars, like Sears or Holsman, dated as 1901s etc.  If you read old, "old car" periodicals, books and magazines, you see a lot of cars that are pre-dated earlier than their actual date. 

 

 

 

Edited by rusty12 (see edit history)
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Jeff-I just noticed the third picture you posted. It looks like the negative got reversed when it was printed. According to the radiator script, the car is a rare left hand drive "kciuB" and not a Buick!!! Looks like your family really enjoyed this car.

Edited by rusty12 (see edit history)
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On 12/6/2020 at 4:16 PM, edinmass said:

Unfortunately, too often lawyers are involved in selling cars in estates........and MOST have no clue as to how to handle cars that are pre war. That car would have done better on eBay than a half assed auction where it doesn’t belong. We see it all the time on CCCA cars........like Walter Miller’s cars that got sent to Auburn in the middle of the pandemic......Auburn in a non pandemic setting was probably just “ok” at best.....add in the pandemic .............most of the cars ate up the money in shipping..........they should have sat for a year and went to Hershey, but sometimes tax, storage and family issues prevents the vehicles getting to the right venue.

I think the difference is that I worked for a law firm that was all about maximization of value for estates and most of my colleagues work/worked for firms that just move toward auction as it is a clean way to document results.   One of the earlier estates I handled was a large car collection out of Chicago (a combination estate tied into a bankruptcy) - we did the needed repairs on the cars, showed them over two years, chose the auction and/or chose if they would be sold privately, and .... - if you were a claimant in the bankruptcy you were happy that I took the higher road and helped minimize your losses verses taking an easy path.  

 

Not to be critical given pandemic issues, but some of the auction companies are "high overhead" and seem to have taken whatever standard they had and shot them to the wind - the words "Wholesale House" come to mind.  The flip side of the coin is some auction companies viewed pandemic as an opportunity to be an even more valuable asset - ie took a high road.

 

 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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Well........with the photos of the Buick from the old days.......I agree I would NOT call it a "floor sweepings" car...............Just goes to prove provenance and research make or brake a car. If all the information gathered here was properly placed in text form, and added to the auction description, and the car properly advertised or in a better choice of venue auction, I think the price would be close to double what it brought. I never stop researching my cars history.......and over time, its amazing what you can come up with. If the engine wasn't damaged by the hack masters, someone got a very good purchase. 

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7 hours ago, edinmass said:

Well........with the photos of the Buick from the old days.......I agree I would NOT call it a "floor sweepings" car...............Just goes to prove provenance and research make or brake a car. If all the information gathered here was properly placed in text form, and added to the auction description, and the car properly advertised or in a better choice of venue auction, I think the price would be close to double what it brought. I never stop researching my cars history.......and over time, its amazing what you can come up with. If the engine wasn't damaged by the hack masters, someone got a very good purchase. 

Ed, I hundred percent agree.  Great foundation for an early, desirable car (fewer than 60 1909/10 Model 16/17 cars known)....the big Buicks and not just good, but GREAT early cars...(how do I know?  I own one and  I’m the keeper of the roster)....documented back story....this auction company did a great disservice to owner....

Edited by trimacar (see edit history)
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Ed -- thanks for the nice things you said about the '10 Buick. And how if someone had presented it w/ what we now know, a few more people would have sat up and taken notice. I looked at all the cars on the docket and many were just dealer-back-lot cars like 5-year-old Jeeps and 10-year-old Mercedes. I even watched the Mecum on the block footage; started at 5K and went to 15K + commission, plus they allowed how "it started and ran rat there in the building" (paraphrased). Looking back, I could have handled it differently. I should have contacted 1912Staver and David Coco & told them what was up for sale. My sister could have easily afforded it if I had called her about it. My Lexus Pickup is worth a lot more than the sale price.........but what would I have trailered it back with? Unfortunately, I didn't find out about the sale until 12 days before it happened.

I thought I had sent Mecum some data about the Buick being in my family. Here it is:
 

"Jefferson Brown <peer4less@yahoo.com>
To:Mecum@Mecum.com
 
Wed, Dec 2 at 12:22 PM
I see there is not much copy about the 1909 Buick Raceabout at the auction. I am familiar with it, as it belonged to my Grandfather Glenn D. Brown from about the Thirties to 1990. It kind of disappeared for thirty years when some guy named Cole bought it and loaded it on a trailer for Texas.
Jefferson M. Brown
Salmon, Idaho"
 
Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)
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Jeff......just call them as I see them. Interesting that the guys who are in the know didn’t all start on the same page as to what it was...........the most important thing is with a bit of help from others, the car is now established as a intact and a touring modified in the old days to a speedster. Modified brass cars are the norm......there are very few that survive exactly as built.

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I have seen no evidence of the car ever being a Touring Car(I think that was another guy on this thread). It may have looked like the color photo of the Roadster -- in my first post on December 6th -- when it was new. My Grandfather does seem to have put lights back on it, replaced the carbide generator with an acetylene tank, and added a windshield. I suppose if you added a windshield to a stripped-down car like one of these two from the period, you could call it a resto-mod because it's not a stock windshield, I guess.

       Driver posing in a 1909 Buick Model 16 racecar | DPL DAMS                                                           1910buick.jpg?w=400&h=242 

If it was raced when new, all that stuff would have been removed. I don't know. I don't go back that far. I do remember my Grandfather saying that those fairground races(1960s) he was in involved racing against, and defeating, cars much newer(1910s, 20s, 30s).

 

The Illustration From December 6th. Maybe David  is familiar with this Buick. 

1910 Buick Model 16 — Veloce Picture Cars

Source: velocepicturecars.com

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)
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Yes...if it is preserving a piece of period automotive history. When that Buick was built no one was trying to create a pseudo-antique. It's A LOT different from dropping in a SBC engine to create an "old school" (a term I hate) fake antique car.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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8 hours ago, 1937hd45 said:

I think this is a Model 16 or 17. Bob 

132014434_10208629091120753_6432002730531188111_o.jpg

Model 16, great photo.  The seats appear to be smooth and not button tufted, and the carbide generator on the outside by driver seat is missing.  A toy tonneau like mine, the door on driver side rear and fake door on passenger side.

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10 hours ago, 1937hd45 said:

Just noticed the top irons, so much for the only in black Henry Ford thinking. Bob 

 

You know, I missed that.  I don't think this car is factory stock, with the smooth seats and the white irons, but one never knows.  It could have been that day in the factory the manager said "gee, let's do one differently today!"

 

Standard colors for a Model 16 were blue body with ivory running gear, or two tone red.  White seems to show up every now and then, although I don't think it's true white, I think its a light gray as was used on the Model 10 "White Streak".

 

I'd actually love to do just smooth seats in my Model 16, instead of the tufted, for a couple of reasons and not the least of which button tufting is a pain in the ask me why.

 

Yes, I believe the red roadster is on my roster of Model 16' and 17's, and I'm fairly sure which one it is.

 

I've compiled a roster of these models, 1909 and 1910, and currently accounted for are about 55 examples surviving.  If you own one, or know of one, that you think might not be on my list, please contact me at david.coco@comcast.net.

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Could they be seat covers? I saw a car once that had been fitted with covers made of, what I assumed was top material with neat leather reinforcements stitched along the front edges of each cushion. The would have been very effective to protect the leather seats in wet weather.

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I posted these photos in the Period Race Car Images thread, but they might as well be included here as well. Both are from the Detroit Public Library website.

In my opinion, the proportions of a Model 16 Buick are amongst the best of any brass cars. They are great looking cars. 

 

 

1909 Buick 16 Detroit Library.jpg

Buick 16 Detroit Public Library.jpg

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I liked the original seat covers so much that when I had a car (1911 REO) with original, but shabby leather I thought of having a set made - to be usable but to preserve the original upholstery. I will probably recommend the same to my friend with the 1920 Cadillac which clearly has the original leather with some sort of cheap vinyl stretched over it...

 

jp

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45 minutes ago, dibarlaw said:

This 1910-10 I went to bid on at auction had original all smooth leather and the edging was formed around the pivot mounts for the top irons.DSCF6657.thumb.JPG.e5bcd42161409973bf57febe0636af0b.JPG

Nice car, that’s a Model 10, a direct competitor against Model T’s.  I actually like the look of smooth versus the button tufted....

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