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Black wall or White wall in 1931


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I'm in the early stages of a '31 Oldsmobile F31 Patrician restoration.  So far, I'm spending lots of time doing research and learning.  I've found some info on paint colors. 

 

The two paint color items that seem to be unanswered are;

1. Would the standard car have had black wall or white wall tires?  I have found some photos of restorations and advertisements.  All seem inconclusive and show a variety of both.

2.  The model I have includes 6 wire wheels.  What color would the wire/rim have been?  I'm thinking it is black, based on the color of the car.  Car is a black/green combo.

 

Any advice or information would be helpful. I've combed through general and technical forum discussions but haven't found this exact topic.

 

thanks

George

Edited by GeorgeF31 (see edit history)
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Not sure you can go wrong with black spokes.

 

You will find lots of threads on the tires.   Blackwall vs Whitewall is a holy war.    In period 99% of all cars were delivered with blackwalls.  In restoration - specifically 1960-2000 90% of all American cars got whitewalls.

 

To me they almost always look bad.   But to someone like dad,  he loves them.   To each his own.

 

 

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IMO, WW tires are a pain in the a** to keep clean, cost more, and therefore should only be installed on the top-of-the-line cars.  


The lower end of the model year cars would typically have BW tires since the original owners probably couldn't afford the high end cars.

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Mark - are you suggesting that both options were available in '31?  WW vs. BW was just one of the many upgrades, like 5 or 6 wheels?

 

I'm looking to have a really nice DD that is mechanically solid.  Sounds like a BW is better choice for me.

 

Any thoughts on wire spoke color?

 

thanks

George

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I love whitewalls, but agree that they look better on larger cars and in that era when new most owners would not have had the luxury of the availability of $ to pay for white wall tires. As to wheel color black, or a green possibly if darker then the body color.

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I can not speak specifically to Buick, but I have done a lot of research on Graham for 1931.  It was interesting to find out the only wheel color available on every Graham model is black (wood, wire, and disk).  If black was not requested then the wheel color would match the body color.  The open cars broke some of the rules, but not often.  I have to agree only the big and open cars got white walls, but that was more likely a humble deal.  If you are driving around in your new car, while most of the "working population" is standing in a soup line, black walls seem much more appropriate.

 

I love historical accuracy, but the bright colors and the white walls get attention, it is your car, enjoy it.

 

oldsmobile%201931%20ad2.jpg  

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In those days the cheap cars like Ford and Chevrolet almost always had black wall tires, same for the most expensive formal cars like Packard or Cadillac sedans. White walls were seldom seen but when they were, it was usually on a fancy medium priced car like Auburn or possibly your Oldsmobile. It sounds like it was an expensive model with twin side mounts. It would have come with blackwall tires as standard equipment but whitewalls were an option. They were not very common in that depression year but a car like yours would be one of the cars that might have had them.

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Photoshop a picture in colors and with and without white walls. Great way to make decisions without spending money to figure it out. I tend to agree that black walls look better 80 percent of the time. And they are a pain in the ass to clean.........trust me.........

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13 minutes ago, edinmass said:

Photoshop a picture in colors and with and without white walls. Great way to make decisions without spending money to figure it out. I tend to agree that black walls look better 80 percent of the time. And they are a pain in the ass to clean.........trust me.........

 

When you photoshop the whitewalls on,  be sure to also photo shop in trippe lights, curb feelers,  spot lights, leather tire cover,  oversized aftermarket hood ornament, etc, to get the right look.

 

On a serious note,  Ed is correct about the whitewalls being a pain in the rear to keep clean.   Depending on manufacturer,  there is a nasty yellowing issue.

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I blame the art of adding accessories to our cars from owning them too long.  Every spring I look at my cars and say what should I do to it this year?  Normally it is brakes, maybe detail the engine, eventually it need nothing and your mind wanders to accessories.... you just have to push the thoughts from your mind, or someday...

 

 

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Prior to 1938, whitewalls on both sides of the tire. Single sided white walls 38 and later.  I side with AJ, in a comment he once made, 'I hate whitewalls'.

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2 hours ago, Curti said:

Prior to 1938, whitewalls on both sides of the tire. Single sided white walls 38 and later.  I side with AJ, in a comment he once made, 'I hate whitewalls'.

 

Curt,  I was trying to be diplomatic!

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OK white walls are a pain to keep clean, I use Westley's Bleach White, but I am almost out and apparently it is not available?  The old stand by is SOS pads work great but a lot more elbow grease.  Anyway if we are going to complain about cleaning what about 6 wire wheels.... you almost have to take them off the car to do a good job.

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What you have is a different animal. Oldsmobile in the thirties did things differently from most other makers including other GM brands. Olds actually stamped matching serial numbers on the engine, frame, and sill plate long before others did. Oldsmobile kept more specific production records than other manufacturers and offered more factory installed options than dealer installed options in the thirties. You will find numbers on wood spoke wheeled cars, wire spokes, standard 5 wheeled and deluxe 6 wheeled on every model. Other marques just didn’t bother to be that precise. When  I questioned WW,s on my car, many said the same thing as what’s been said here, that most cars didn’t have them or they don’t look right on a car without big car stature. I did a ton of in depth research on my 32’ Olds and found most people knowledgeable in antique cars have very little knowledge of Oldsmobile. What they believe they know is often incorrect. The best way of knowing about your car is factory literature including factory bulletins and sales brochures. Almost every single factory promotional photo of a 32’ Olds shows them with WWs, not black walls. There are some of course but few with the majority of those pictures showing a bunch of cars sold to the phone company. The patrician model was Olds fanciest model. It had special interior lighting and nicer interior materials/features. In 32’ for example, because of the first year straight 8 being available, the chassis was stretched about 7 inches more than comparable cars from chevy and pontiac. They were also sprung higher off the ground giving them a taller roof line. So a 32’ Olds was a longer, taller, and grander car than lesser brands. Olds put WW,s on these cars, especially those in their brochures and dealer showrooms to push the prestige of the car. Olds did things differently and had many firsts like the assembly line, always credited to Ford but actually done first by Olds. They were the first to offer chrome, first with a fully automatic choke which was two years later bragged about by the likes of Packard, Cadillac, and others. The first with a fully automatic transmission, first production turbocharged car, preceding the Corvair Monza by 1 month. The list goes on. By the way, my car is a black convertible roadster and I opted for the WW,s. To me my car looks right with them and much better than it would look with BW,s.
      The 31’ Olds had either wood or wire wheels so you can find production numbers for your car as it sits. You need to make sure the cowl tag number shows the correct body number for a patrician as many are told their car is one but it’s not, having been modified through the years to incorporate the patrician parts much like clone cars today. There are just a couple 31’ Olds Gurus who really know their stuff and if you’re looking for correct information, I can PM you their contact info.

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While this is a 31’ brochure, it’s all artists renderings and you do need to be careful of that as many times the actual production cars were different. Many artist painted cars aren’t even in colors actually offered for that year. There is only one deluxe car shown in all those drawings (bottom right) and it is definitely black walls but all cars pictured are black fendered also. As I said. Continue to do research on the 31’ as I’m familiar with 32’s and what I found was totally different from what many said. My photos are not working properly or I would post a ton of 32’ factory photos I have that show almost all with WWs. Again, that doesn’t mean the 31’ was the same but I know for sure Oldsmobile did not follow the trends of the times as much as other makes. If your car was black fendered with green body and wire wheels, there’s a very good chance it had BW’s but the color combinations for your car are available and should list wheel color along with body, fender, and pinstripe color. Some wire wheels were body colored depending on the paint code combination. If it was wood wheeled it would open up a whole bunch of more options.

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  • 2 weeks later...

While your car may not have been the Top-of-the-Line model, the owner seems to have splurged a bit by optioning the wire spoke wheel, and therefore "may" have also shelled out the very few extra bucks for white wall tires -

just an opinion,

but some folks with less expensive cars did dress them up a bit.

Remember though, that in 1931 the Great Depression was going strong, and while many struggled, someone with the wherewithall to buy a new Oldsmobile, might also have had the affordability to option it somewhat.

Also, many with superior affordability, who otherwise might have purchased a more elegant car (Buick, Cadillac, etc) were very aware of public perception and chose not to be seen in the "Lap of Luxury", and therefore intentionally buying "downscale".

In any event, the choice is yours, and a car with dual sidemount spares could very well have had the optional whites, at least in my opinion.

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9 minutes ago, edinmass said:

That’s NOT a car.....it’s a movie prop. Gag me with a spoon!

Bohman and Schwartz who built the car might be surprised to hear it wasn't a car. It was used extensively on the road until the mid fifties and is still around.

What about the custom made delivery truck, and the dude checking his oil? Are they movie props? There definitely were cars in the thirties that used whitewalls. Not a large percentage of the cars on the road had them, but they did exist and were usually seen on fancy medium priced cars, not the cheapest cars and not the most expensive limousine type models.

It's easy to find pics of thirties cars with whitewalls, not so easy to find ones taken in the thirties.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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Yes.....car is still around. Wasn’t it used as a sign for a restaurant for years?  Notice how it’s not in any important collection? I can’t recall the movie it was in.........but the design is poor at best and terrible is the most accurate description. B&S did more damage across the board than they did improvements. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

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The Topper car was sold by the studio to the Mobil oil company who used it as an attention getter and in  sales promotions, parades etc for many years. They put so many miles on it in 1954 they had the body renovated,  put onto a new Chrysler chassis and used it for many more years. I don't know how many road miles they put on it, how long would it take to wear out a 1936 Buick engine and chassis? It is now in the Peterson museum in Los Angeles.

I dare say it saw more use in its day than most surviving classics.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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10 hours ago, edinmass said:

It’s amazing what was passed off as a “special”. Someone paid money for this one also.

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Funny you should bring that one up.   I was talking to one of its past long time owners and he was joking about how it was attributed to Tom Mix even though it was built 10 years after he died.

 

Underneath that ugly skin is J462 which is a matching engine/transmission combo.

 

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I would love to have the Topper car in its original incarnation. I know it is a bit Hollywood and over the top but I like it. I believe Bohmann and Schwartz were an old line custom body builder and did quality work it was not thrown together out of cardboard and plaster like a typical movie prop.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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I have never seen the Topper car in person. Since it was built on an Olds chassis......my guess is the workmanship was "ok" but probably not done to Model J standards. If you think about it, it makes sense to build the car only so it looks good in the movie.......nothing more. It would certainly be an attention getter back in the day....or even today. But I rather have a production 34 Packard 12 than the "movie prop"..........sorry, I can't help myself!

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Topper car built on a 1936 Buick chassis but I take your point. I would sooner have the Buick chassis as I could not afford to do a Packard 12 justice but I could afford to take care of a Buick. As to the build quality B and S were capable of fine work, they were the successor to the Walter M Murphy company founded by ex Murphy employees. whether they did their best work on that car I don't know. It's all fantasy anyway and in my fantasy it was built to the same standards as the bodies they put on Duesenberg chassis and the Rust Heinz Phantom Corsair - which was also a movie car, appearing in  Young In Heart as the Flying Wombat. I know the Topper car no longer exists in its original form and I don't like the later version except as a historical artifact but I still like the one in the movie. If it's good enough for Cary Grant it's good enough for me.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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The Phantom Corsair is nothing to be proud of either. Coopers J Tourister is a fine automobile, as was his SSJ. He had a bunch of great wheels back in the day.

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1 hour ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Never seen the Corsair except in pictures, what's the matter with it?


Lines are odd, and it’s out of proportion. The Flying Wombat has a funky front seat that sits four people. The wheel is not in the regular position, so you have a passenger, then driver, then two more passengers. Currently it smokes so bad that you think they are trying to kill mosquitoes in an industrial scale. Look for photos on google images.......especially inside. You will understand. 

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Here are the 32’ factory photos and brochure drawings I was talking about. There are both deluxe, 6 wheel cars and standard, 5 wheel cars. All models are shown from the two door coach, 4 dr sedan, patrician, coupe, and convertible roadster. My own car very closely resembles the black roadster parked outside the brick Tudor house. I painted it and trimmed it as it was originally done color and fabric wise. I don’t know if it had WW tires or not. The picture is in my moms yard and taken with my wife and I wearing the attire we had on when I accepted the Ransom E Olds award in Philadelphia.

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