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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Al Capone? Bonnie and Clyde?


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I am amused that people look at our brass cars say, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".

Later cars anything from Model T to anything in the early forties must be "Bonnie and Clyde" or "Al Capone"!

Also, did you buy it new? I playfully suggest that I bought THAT car off the showroom floor! 

Or I respond that this car was bought new by my parents for their honeymoon. I was conceived in the back seat. Finally they gave it to me when I reached my 16th birthday. 

Sometimes when they ask about price. (usually one of the brass cars) I respond that car is worth more than the rest of my collection, the building, our home, the land and everything else, combined. Mostly true! 

We are ambassadors of the Hobby. Answer their questions respectfully. Leave them a good impression about our Hobby, and maybe a few answers that resonate with them.

Edited by CatBird (see edit history)
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I used to get asked those questions - but it has been about 15-20 years ago now that they were really being asked almost every time I took the cars out. Especially the question "did you buy it new?" , if I got really sarcastic I would say " yes I was minus 23 when I bought it". that took a few heartbeats to sink in for some but usually went right over their head. Most people now really are interested in the year it was made and with the allowing of use of period license plates they can figure that out fairly well. 

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To a lot of people, all really old cars are Model T's.  No matter what it is, their grandfather has one just like it, that he bought new.

Sometimes I ask how old their grandfather is and they say, about 65 or 70.   They don't mean to lie, they just want to be part of

the fun of ancient cars.  Humor them, even of the grandfather has a Model T Roadster just like my 34 Ford Fordor.

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In all my years in the hobby the only car that amazed some young kids was a 20 year old daily driver I had at the time. A nothing car I don't remember, scrapped when it wouldn't run any more. Bob 

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For years I would always get...."how much is it worth?".............now I get do you know Wayne Carini............and sometimes Jay Leno.

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I too get once and a while "how much is it worth?" questions.  

 

My standard stock answers are first, It is not for sale so what it is worth is not a relevant question.

 

The other way I answer the question is "what a willing buyer will pay a willing seller, and this vehicle is not currently for sale"

 

Both answers are true.

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7 minutes ago, edinmass said:

For years I would always get...."how much is it worth?".............now I get do you know Wayne Carini............and sometimes Jay Leno.

 

Anybody that utters "You should call Jay Leno to buy that" instantly becomes a non-person to me,  and not because I don't appreciate Jay.

 

Also, the answer to the question "What is it worth?" is "Not as much as I have in it.".

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1 hour ago, alsancle said:

Every Cadillac must have been a gangster's,  every Mercedes was Hitler's, etc.    Sometimes it is better if people don't talk.

 

....and every root cellar or long forgotten sub-basement passage is categorical proof that "Al Capone slept here".

 

Every one of the lower 48 claims this falsehood in one form or another.  Southern California is the guiltiest for harboring false celebrity stories of car ownership, tryst related homes, etc. (Gable and Lombard honeymooned in at least 400 different houses here in California alone).

If one were to believe all the stories connected to tunnels and Mr. Capone you'd have to believe that he spent most of his life as a mole, just digging, digging, digging.....  when would he ever have found time to be a gangster?

 

There is a local charlatan that has a beat up old motel here in the desert with a grubby root cellar and his endless advertising campaign is that Big Al stayed there back in the day, living like a rat in a dirt hole in 110 degree heat.  It doesn't take much probing to discover that he was already a guest of the federal government when this motel was built.  The poor guy doesn't even have a vintage car as a prop to back up his story.  :lol:

 

And don't even get me started on Marilyn Monroe!

If anyone cared to believe how many houses she has supposedly stayed in here in SoCal, you'd have to believe she spent her whole life just sleeping around, from one place to another.....

....ummm, OK, that one's probably not the best illustration of my point.

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My brother-in-law called my late-30s coupe a Model T - worse, my nephew called it a Volkswagen!

 

Most people aren't old car folks so I don't get upset when they ask naive questions.  I just try to answer honestly and correct their misapprehensions.  My truthful answer to what it's worth is, "Whatever you'll pay and I'll accept - make me an offer."  Usually they don't.

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8 minutes ago, GregLaR said:

 

....and every root cellar or long forgotten sub-basement passage is categorical proof that "Al Capone slept here"...

Hey, now - Geraldo found his secret vault!  🤣

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Heck when I was growing up George Washington had slept everywhere.

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2 hours ago, padgett said:

Heck when I was growing up George Washington had slept everywhere.

    Growing up around Princeton NJ,  There were "Washington Slept

    Here" houses all over the place.

    On my barn, I have a brass plaque that says:

     On this site in 1897, Nothing Happened

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5 hours ago, Paul Dobbin said:

To a lot of people, all really old cars are Model T's.  

Agree with that.  Here is an actual conversation with a 70-ish year old “car guy” from when I took my ‘14 Maxwell to a local cruise-in:

 

CG:  Is that a Model T?

me:  It is a 1914 Maxwell.

CG:  Maxwell?  What’s that?

me:  It was made by Maxwell Motors 1904 to 1924.

CG:  I never heard of that kind of Model T.

 

Of course, when I visit my father-in-law (97 yrs old), the term is “T-Model”; not “Model T.”

 

 

 

 

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I think that most people are just trying to connect about us and our old cars. Sometimes I get playful, like my in my original post, then I laugh and so do they.

My grandfather (father, uncle, aunt,...) had one like this. Respond in kind. Could they imagine the value of a brass car? 

Squint a little bit and don't think, in some way, that our cars do look like giant Model Ts to the uninitiated?

If they mention that it looks like "Chitty....." I just agree. Could be! I liked the movie and wouldn't it to be fun to have a car like that? Then I offer them to sit in my "Chitty.. " and take a picture of them with their camera. Let them know that we are just people. No need to shut down a person who seems to be enjoying our cars.

I want to spread the Hobby and the best way I know is to join in the fun.

Another thing, I ask them to respectfully TOUCH the car. Fingerprints can be cleaned off and the memories for them and us will remain forever.

I have a 1923 Model T Depot Hack (AACA, original oak body) at a car show. A respectful father asked if he could have his son stand in front of it for a picture. I suggested that he and his multiple friends should get in it with his son holding the steering wheel. The father and several other fathers were worried since the kids were holding ice cream. I told them that was fine with me. My 1923 Ford has been hosed out over it's 98 years. The kids liked it, fathers liked it, I liked it and I felt a silent shiver that the Model T liked it, also!

Come on "TOUCH THE CAR." (respectfully) while I stand by.

 

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25 minutes ago, CatBird said:

My grandfather (father, uncle, aunt,...) had one like this.

I accounted for all 787 1936 Pierces built during one round trip to San Diego in 1995, from bystanders who swore that their relative/neighbor/boss had one "just like this."  If I do any correcting at all, it's very gentle in how it's phrased. 

 

Almost three years ago, we were displaying the 1918 at a car show in Danville, CA, when a man born in 1918, accompanied by his adult grandchildren, came up.  We asked him if he'd like to sit in the car and be photographed.  The look on his face absolutely made my entire month!

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22 minutes ago, CatBird said:

I think that most people are just trying to connect about us and our old cars. 

 

I agree CB. 

I've attended and entered many car shows and find that many people who come to browse are not really "car people".  Old and young alike, they are just the curious public and usually pretty friendly.   I've never been offended by any question that the uninitiated may ask, including "How much is it worth?"  I think it's a commonly asked question because people are truly interested and/or curious if their future could include one of these cars.  I will always tell people who ask the approximate value of whichever car I'm displaying.  I enjoy this interaction, even if I have to answer the same questions 50 times, because for each one of them, it may be the first time they've asked it.  I wouldn't dream of snubbing them or copping an attitude and quipping something like "If you have to ask, you can't afford it."  I couldn't think of a quicker way to turn an interested neophyte off or a surer way to leave them with the impression that I was a real a**hole.

Greg

1543708717_oldandyoung.jpg.e61fb4c5ae2cc56176080d4ecf83ae2d.jpg

 

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The one I sorta find funny is “What’s the fuel economy?”  
 

I really don’t know. I really don’t care. How can you put a price on what fuel costs are per mile, to drive the car you put all your blood sweat and tears into? Totally irrelevant.
 

A better question might be “How much does shipping cost every time you need a replacement part?”...Sigh. Way too much. 

Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)
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I try to let someone sit behind the wheel if they show any interest in the car at all. I did have to dissuade one particularly enthusiastic kid after he tried to grab the gearshift! To be fair, a lot of my own enthusiasm for old cars came from sitting and playing behind the wheel of a Model A sedan when I was 4-5.

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When asked the how much question, I just answer, I really don't have any idea. And  I really don't, I don't think about what it's worth. I just try to enjoy it. To me, it's a bit of a rude question. I don't walk in someone's house and ''hey, whats a house like this worth?''. I had a guy that got visibly irritated because I wouldn't put a number on it and finally I just rattled off some ridiculous price and he nodded and walked off. To me it's a show, not a sale, and money shouldn't be a part of it. I'm always polite and just casually change the subject. Generally at big shows I'll have three or four asking questions at the same. The little steamer is just so unusual, I understand their curiosity. Luckily I have a buddy that knows all about it and we take turns. At Concours we have placards they make up for us so that answers a lot of questions people have.

 

I'm going to make up one for other shows too.

 

I enjoy talking with people and explaining the car, giving rides and letting people sit on it and get their picture taken. I've given a few old guys rides, it's a good feeling when they say that was an experience they'll never forget. It's a lot of fun. Although one time I let some people put their son on it for a picture, they took his picture, his dad helped him down, I was talking to the dad with the car behind me, looked around and there were about three kids to climb on at the same time. I stopped them. The parents were like oblivious.

 

Looking forward to doing shows again

 

-Ron

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The general public has no idea - which is why WE are supposed to inform THEM. If your attitude is to deride them or make fun of them when they make a wrong assertion or ask a dumb question - you are no ambassador for the hobby. Take your car home so you don't cause more problems for the rest of us. Only by being polite and respectful to the public will we have a chance to grow this hobby.

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I get the "gangster car" thing all the time. It baffles me. A 1936 Pontiac has to be near the bottom of the list of things a 30s gangster might ever be caught in, just edged out by the American Bantam and the Schacht High Wheeler. I just smile and nod. I don't figure it's my job to correct them, and the last thing I want to do is spoil the fun. The gangster car:

 

zk0Neal.jpeg

 

.

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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A few years ago I put my '27 Auburn on display at the annual Heritage homes tour, in front of a beautiful 1920s mansion just a few blocks from the home the car's original owner lived in.  Thus, the people who stopped by to look at the car were actually there to tour the home.  I couldn't help but notice the difference in questions and comments I got.  No one wanted to know if it's hard to get tires, how fast it will go, or how much it's worth.

 

Instead, they wanted to talk about the original mohair upholstery, the 1920s styling of the car, and the craftsmanship, especially the wood.  Several people stuck their head inside the door and commented on the smell of original upholstery - they loved it!

 

It was different than any day I've spent interacting with people who come to a car show, and very refreshing. 

 

511676791_1927Auburn.thumb.jpg.9ee5df0c233853070d7061be92120953.jpg

Edited by PFindlay (see edit history)
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I hadn't really thought about it the way this thread started. Sometimes when I drive my Model A, I will hear someone say (look it's the Waltons' car). I just think it's kinda funny.

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My 27 model T roadster pickup is pretty ratty.  I usually get Beverly Hillbillies,   Then I usually point to my wife and say, she is Granny.

good she has a sense of humor 

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Catbird, I like that you let people sit in your cars. I was at a show with my 7yo grandson, and there was a model T speedster. The owner insisted that he sit in it, as he was a bit shy at first. He loved it and I got a few good pics of him in it. May or may not have left an impression, I would ere on the side of not, but it was a fun day. I was at a show and struck up a conversation with an older gentlemen that had one of a handful of factory lightweight F100's. I knew of someone whom owned an identical truck in the 70's and was sure it had to be the same. Anyway, I was probably the only person out of a thousand that even knew what it was and I suppose I impressed him a bit. He gladly told me to sit in the truck. I had one similar (my brother was building a copy of his buddies that was this one I surmised back in the day) and it brought back some good memories.

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I used to show antique motorcycles, one in particular a 1913 model. Same question all day long 'how fast will it go?'.  We should have recorded the answer, not how fast it will go but how well will it stop!

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We were on a car tour many years ago and pulled into the first stop.  The local newspaper reporter was there and started asking questions and taking pictures.   She asked what kind a of car it was and I told her it was a 1916 Chalmers and she asked "what kind of a Ford is that"    I just told here to look at the front of the radiator where there was the Chalmers script and walked away.   Too man people have Ford on the brain.   A friend of mine has a really nice 1929 Graham sedan that is a show stopper.   He was asked what kind of a car it was he told the people to read the information sheet in the window.   When they left, one of the guys said "he calls it a Graham, but I think it is some kind of Packard"   

 

When we get questions like how fast will it go, I usually answer that we've had it up to 70 mph.   When the surprised looks settle down, I mention that going down the road I had to go 70 to keep up with traffic with the pickup and trailer.    Or sometimes,  I will say that we are a butterflys' best friend.  If we hit a butterfly with a brass car it usually bounces off and keeps flying.

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I usually tell them the approximate top speed "if I hang on tight and nothing falls off", and then what I think is a comfortable cruising speed, and then I show them the lack of front brakes.  And why I never tailgate, even if I can go fast enough, because "he has stop-o-matic power discs, and I don't, and I'd rather not go in his back window."  Then I say our motto is never to drive faster than our guardian angel can fly.  Most people seem to get it.

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I was leaving a car show one afternoon in my 1946 Ford Station Wagon. My car is wired for 12 volts and I had a Benny Goodman C.D. playing. A lady stopped me, stuck her head in the window and told me that she loved my car. When she heard the 1940's, big band sound, she asked me if the car only picked up music from the '40s on the radio. Also, since some people have never seen a "Woodie", they ask me, "did it start out as a passenger car and if I added the wood myself"?

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I asked a guy with a early 20s Stanly Steamer "how fast have you driven it?" He rambled on for a 1/4 hour about the steam pressure and the old speed records.

Then I mentioned my question was ---  he quietly said "40, once"

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23 hours ago, GregLaR said:

 

And don't even get me started on Marilyn Monroe!

If anyone cared to believe how many houses she has supposedly stayed in here in SoCal, you'd have to believe she spent her whole life just sleeping around, from one place to another.....

....ummm, OK, that one's probably not the best illustration of my point.

The seller sold me our 1958 Cadillac Limousine with a Derham top (blanked out rear quarter windows) he absoultely true that "here, right there in the back seat JFK and MM did the horizontal tango" For $100 he would sell me the CSI report! 

Sure, I pass the story on, wel, who knows? it was 1958!

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My response to someone who asks if I bought my '58 Speedster new is often, "I really liked them when I was 11, but didn't have the money."  As for the "What's it worth." question I'll sometimes say, "The current market is silly, but since it's not for sale I really have no idea." or I tell them "It is more than what we paid for our first two houses, combined."  I never mention that those two houses were bought over 40 years ago.

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Makes sense, I remember when $5k would buy a tract house in Palm Beach County.

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You never know when you're making an indelible impression on someone. There are cars I saw, briefly, when I was 7 or 8 years old and they're stuck in my brain like it was yesterday. Personally, I like questions and the conversations it can lead to. I'm an introvert myself, but get me on a topic and I can talk quite a bit (perhaps too much.) 

 

I almost never participate in shows; I just find them rather joyless (once I've walked around and seen everything else that doesn't have a 350/350.) One of my most rewarding was a "touch-a-truck" event where kids come and get to climb all over big-rigs, tractors, etc. All I had was an old IH pickup from the 70s but the kids still liked it and much to my wife's chagrin I let a few get behind the wheel. It made me feel good.

 

A not so good feeling, repeated too often? I go to a show and fall in love with a car. I really want to know more, and have some intelligent questions lined up, but it would take a firecracker through the window to get the owner to amble over here and give me 2 words. He's too busy sitting there in a lawn chair with several other guys he sees ever weekend. They're probably chatting about how the hobby is dying, younger guys aren't interested in their kind of cars...and I walk on.

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On 1/24/2021 at 10:01 PM, keithb7 said:

The one I sorta find funny is “What’s the fuel economy?”  
 

I really don’t know. I really don’t care. How can you put a price on what fuel costs are per mile, to drive the car you put all your blood sweat and tears into? Totally irrelevant.

That's my standard answer pretty much.

With a smile on my face tell them "I don't know and I don't care"....... :)

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