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Old AACA winners; what happens to them?


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Many of you know that I bought a '37 Cadillac this year. The car was an AACA Senior winner in about '63-64. I also owned a '26 Ford Touring that was an AACA Senior Grand National winner in 2007. While out walking my dog I started thinking "a car wins a bunch of awards,  maybe even all the awards (in the case of my T). Then what?"

In the case of my Model T,  I  maintained the car but drove the snot out of it too. In the case of my Cadillac,  apparently they drove it into the garage and left it there. 

This is an old club. It predates the manufacture of my newest car. Any speculation about what happens to these cars as time goes on? Maybe some of you know?

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My guess is that your experience is typical. They get babied for a year or two, and when the 99 point car slips down to a 90 point and no longer wins trophies, they start driving it more, or sell it to someone who does. Or, in a few cases, it sits in the garage. There are a lot of cosmetic restorations that look gorgeous but barely run, those end up sitting unless someone spends the money and time to get them running right, which in some cases costs as much as it cost to make them look good.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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I think that we will contonue to see these resurface as long time owners age out, or even second generation owners age out.  A lot of cars it seems stay with an owner or in an owner's family for decades.  I also wonder how many of these are out there.

 

We know someone, decades ago took the time to remove the body and paint our 30 A roadster.  It looks to have been a thorough job at one time.   We also know it deteriorated in a barn for decades as well.  Storage conditions make a big difference.

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2 hours ago, John_Mereness said:

Some AACA winners are lovingly cared for and some not so much - I have seen AACA Senior and even Grand National cars stored out in driveways under cover and a few stored even worse. 

Late model stuff I assume, that is the easy stuff to restore in the first place. 

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I've seen several previous winners sold and resurface as Resto-Rods and are being driven reguarly.  I remember seeing a 1929 (I think) NASH Roadster at the Daytona Turkey Run several years.  The power plant had been replaced with a later model 6 cylinder overhead valve GMC engine.  Still looked correct and antique but was a reliable driver still being enjoyed with parts store available parts.   With the hood closed, nobody would know.

I've even seen a few like that on Glidden Tours, but not as often now.

Edited by Paul Dobbin
NASH (see edit history)
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Everything we have has gone through the ranks, some only after making the series of award recognition, and others prior to being shown -

but ALL ARE DRIVERS, NOW AND IN THE FUTURE !!

 

1915 Hudson earned her First Junior, Senior, First and Repeat Preservations under prior care of Fred Long in the 1950s thru 1980s, and now tours

1930 Packard - we took her through the show sequence from First Junior to Preservation, but toured the whole time, and we still do

1937 Buick - earned HPOF, as well as Original while continuing to tour - Bought in 2009 with 7,xxx miles and now with 13,5xx miles - still touring regularly

1941 Cadillac - unrestored, but has been recognized multiple times as Second Junior, and has toured better than 20,000 miles and will continue

1954 Cadillac - DPC - awarded/shown during a 10K mile, 3-month long driving loop New Orleans - Los Angeles - Vancouver - Gettysburg - Minneapolis - Independence - home

1965 Corvair - DPC - driven New Orleans to South Florida to be shown - several cross-country trips- bought with 17K miles, now showing 23K miles and a serious tour/driver

1988 Corvette - Unrestored with 140K miles - Still in original family - First Junior through Repeat Preservation, while driven coast to coast, border to border, and across Canada

1995 Mercury Grand Marquis - my parents bought it new - we plan to show and tour in this one now that it is eligible

1995 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham - Neighbor bought it new - we have had it for years and will show and tour now that it is eligible

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Hey- I'm an old AACA "winner" - actually, my 1912 Triumph got its 1st jr in 1984.  I've got a 1914 T that has a AACA First tag on it fro 1965.  Me and the machinery are still going just fine.  Our MGB has at least 30K on it since it got a 1st Jr. 

I think Marty wins the tour prize though. 

Terry

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21 hours ago, John_Mereness said:

Some AACA winners are lovingly cared for and some not so much - I have seen AACA Senior and even Grand National cars stored out in driveways under cover and a few stored even worse. 

 

18 hours ago, 1937hd45 said:

Late model stuff I assume, that is the easy stuff to restore in the first place. 

Nope, seen brass cars out in driveways under tarps and in horrid sheds, though 30's cars seem to take the brunt of abuse via size (and rarely see a 50's or 60's car abused post restoration other than all the signs of being routinely driven).  And, plenty of mice and moths too. 

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When I bought my 1930 Packard ( twin body style to Martys) it had a AACA tag on the stone guard that I have in front of me that says National first prize 1982. It had been a trailer queen since it was restored , had a story on it in Cars & Parts magazine at the time and was in two collections in heated storage next to other restored cars that also never got driven. After I bought the car at auction I had it looked at to make sure all was in good reliable mechanical order ( thank you to Byron York) and now drive it. The award tag came off when I replaced the excellent repro stone guard with a more pleasing ( to me) grille guard that was of the era of the car and made out of cast bronze and brass tubes ( I had on display in my study that I bought years before because it was pretty) . I never had any of my cars judged, can appreciate those that do and like that sort of award thing but it just doesn't do anything for me.  We all enjoy the cars at our own level.

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The acceptance of original and touring class cars, etc. has evolved so much that it's possible to display, and drive a car that decades ago might have been rejected at a certain venue. A special car is now considered, in spite of it's condition, if the car is right for the audience. All cars have a history. Being able to share that story is a fundamental part of today's car culture.

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It should be no surprise to anyone that there's a significant piece of the hobby that just doesn't use their cars. When they bankroll an expensive restoration that wins prizes, they are even less likely to be driven. Many people are under the mistaken impression that not driving a car is the best way to keep it in perfect condition, so they sit. 


And sit.

 

And sit.

 

And a few years later when the owner goes to look at his perfectly preserved car (which, of course he has never driven) he's shocked to see that it has deteriorated. Time waits for no man or car. Chrome starts to oxidize as soon as it's exposed to air. Upholstery, leather or fabric, starts to dry out and become stiff and set in place. Engine parts, which are usually cast iron or steel, start to rust when the last of the oil finally drips off that part. And suddenly that perfect car that cost so much to restore and won all those awards is a little tired-looking. It's disappointing and the work to get it back into shape is significant. Those are often barriers to using the car. One, they spent the money on the restoration and they don't feel like spending more and two, it's not as nice as they remember so they just leave it alone and forget about it.

 

I myself am guilty of this--my 1929 Cadillac has been sitting because it left me stranded three or four years ago and I don't trust it anymore. The overdrive is fincky and now it needs new fuel lines. So the level of work just to get back to where it was when I was using it is considerable. I have other things going on and, well, it can wait. And if I do this for, say, the remainder of my life, well, my kids will have a tired old car that's the victim of stasis, nothing more and nothing less.

 

And that's how it happens. Time passes relentlessly. If you don't get to it, you won't get to it.

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Well stated Matt. Use your cars the way they make you the happiest. Some get this by receiving awards to recognize the level of restoration or in the case of an original car the preservation of unrestored materials and features. Some like to drive the cars for that experience they feel is the best. It is a shared hobby - either as a strictly show piece in a static display or showing it to people while cruising down the road. Do what you like best and share the joy with others when and while  you can.

There is no guarantee for tomorrow , life is very short , the end of the road comes up sooner then one can expect - I say that from experience . Enjoy life to the fullest that you can and let others share in the experience. Old cars just make it that much better.

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