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Are the '40s the new "lost decade?"


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I have heard that the 1940's "fat-fendered" cars

are not especially popular these days.  The collectors

who have loved them are getting up in years, and

newer collectors tend to gravitate to 1960's cars.

 

There are certainly some good-looking cars of

that decade, however, and cars such as 1949

Buick and Cadillac 2-door fastbacks, hardtops,

and convertibles are still desirable to many.

I wouldn't mind one of those 1949's.

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It's the same with everything.  The sporty stuff people will still want as it's appealing to the eye in general.  Think like a 47 Pontiac 2 door fastback,  or many of the 40's woodys.  The stodgy sedans will probably be the hardest to sell as has always been the case.  Other than the 3 window coupes and Convertibles, the Mopar cars from the 40's in general have always been a great buy and rarely command much money (read under 15,000. for a really really nice example).  Similar 4 doors rarely crest 10G in beautiful shape with a little looking. 

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The GM fastbacks from the 40's are cool.  I'm with 'JohnS' the 49's were a great year for these cars especially for the Buicks and Caddies!

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1 hour ago, auburnseeker said:

The sporty stuff people will still want as it's appealing to the eye in general.  Think like a 47 Pontiac 2 door fastback,  or many of the 40's woodys.  

 

A friend is in the National Woodie Club and has

a few.  He said the values have gone down.

Can anyone verify that statement?

 

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I like the 40s and early to mid 50s Packards and Lincolns.  Both seem to be under appreciated in the marketplace, probably for reasons I never deeply investigated but should someday.  I really like the early 50s Lincolns that were used in the Panamerica races in Mexico.

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34 minutes ago, TerryB said:

I like the 40s and early to mid 50s Packards and Lincolns.  Both seem to be under appreciated in the marketplace, probably for reasons I never deeply investigated but should someday.  I really like the early 50s Lincolns that were used in the Panamerica races in Mexico.

I think it's same thing that holds back alot of the mopars.  Mis step in styling.  They aren't bad, just not really good.   I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder,  but it seems more people think the styling of other cars of the era flow better or just hit the mark.  Lincolns have almost a bit of clumsiness to the front end in 49-51 when compared to the Merc which had a more conventional styling.  Packards tend to look a little pregnant or bloated compared to some of the other makes.  I can appreciate them all but can see what they mean if you really stand back and compare then side by side. Now in the 52-54's I like the Lincoln styling better than the Merc,  though they are much more similar than the 49-51. 

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My Dad had a '48 Streamliner sedan-coupe (2-door fastback) that he traded in a year before I was born.  He was frequently having to grind valves in it.  I'd sure like to get one!  A lot of forties cars met their fate in demolition derbies and to the usual culprits of rust and serious collisions.   

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Maybe it’s the “unique styling” of them that makes it a draw for me or the limited numbers that survive.  It seems for the purpose of driving pleasure the Packards would meet the task at a reasonable price point. That in-line eight should be smooth with all the Packard engineering behind it.  Lincoln gets the nostalgia nod for 49-51, my friend’s uncle had one and we thought we we royalty when we rode in it.  DeSoto is another overlooked car, more so than some of the other Chrysler offerings of the same timeframe.

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2 hours ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

 

A friend is in the National Woodie Club and has

a few.  He said the values have gone down.

Can anyone verify that statement?

 


Yes, I can........sold my 1948 Packard Station Sedan in 2019 for far less than I had into it. Took almost a year to sell.

Just in the last week or so a 1948 Chrysler T&C located here in Minnesota sold for much less than it would have brought 3-8 years ago. A bargain in my opinion.

CE721092-7638-41FE-8285-81E6EE04BD03.jpeg

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I've been watching woody prices drop.  When they get to the right point I'll try to pick up a 46-48 Pontiac Woody.  Some sellers are still looking in the 100G + range, but I think those days are gone for now atleast.  

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Woodies are over. Prices are down at least 40% and still dropping. Even good woodies are tough to sell and at least two of the large auction houses won't take on wood-bodied cars any more unless they are at no reserve.

 

I have three wonderful woodies that I can't sell and we've been steadily chopping down the prices. I get lowball offers that are still 50% of asking price, so it hasn't tanked quite that bad, but I can't think of many six figure wood-bodied cars beyond maybe a Ford Sportsman, and even those are WAY down.

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As these cars (and  their buyers) get older, there's less nostalgia involved, and buyers are looking for good design. There were some bulbous cars in the '40's, wildly extravagant cars in the 50's, the weird space-age designs of the early 60's, the 70's, etc.

Each era had great cars with good design, and buyers will always look for them.

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I believe that one factor that holds the price down on these cars, is that many of them do not have an automatic transmission, or power steering. They do take a little more effort to drive around town than a comparable model of the fifties, or sixties. I chose my car based on the styling. I believe the "B" pillar and the long trunk make it look like it it moving while standing still. I have no regrets choosing this car, but I do realize it is not everyone's cup of tea. 

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1 hour ago, kingrudy said:

I chose my car based on the styling. I believe the "B" pillar and the long trunk make it look like it it moving while standing still. I have no regrets choosing this car, but I do realize it is not everyone's cup of tea. 

Mike, how about posting a few pictures of your '40 Buick on the "Car Spotters 1940" thread on this forum?  It looks great.

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4 hours ago, kingrudy said:

I believe that one factor that holds the price down on these cars, is that many of them do not have an automatic transmission, or power steering. They do take a little more effort to drive around town than a comparable model of the fifties, or sixties.

 

Bingo!  I think Mike is right on the money with this comment.  On those Motor Trend channel shows, the '40's cars are only considered suitable for full "restomod" treatment because who could drive a car with manual steering and a stick!

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9 minutes ago, neil morse said:

 

Bingo!  I think Mike is right on the money with this comment.  On those Motor Trend channel shows, the '40's cars are only considered suitable for full "restomod" treatment because who could drive a car with manual steering and a stick!

Gosh I hope the stick driving is not that much of a dinosaur element.  I would prefer the stick over an old time automatic as it’s much more straightforward to keep operational.

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3 hours ago, TerryB said:

Gosh I hope the stick driving is not that much of a dinosaur element.  I would prefer the stick over an old time automatic as it’s much more straightforward to keep operational.

 

You know, I hope you are right, Terry, but it just seems that the trend in the hobby is drifting very strongly toward modified cars of all types.  Like most of the participants on this forum (I assume), I enjoy driving my 1940's era car the way it was built because it gives me the experience of "going back in time."  I'm sure there is still enthusiasm for manual transmissions for performance and sports cars, but I suspect that there are not a lot of younger people who find it "fun" to drive a big old Buick with a three-speed.  I have attended several "Cars and Coffee" events here in San Francisco in the past few months and even though they were very well attended, I can count the number of unmodified cars I found there on the fingers of one hand (and they almost all had owners in my age group -- over 65 for sure).

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The last time I attended a Stillwater MN Wednesday night car show I drove my Miata there. Also there attending were FOUR other Miatas out of a total of maybe 125 or so cars. 5 Miatas is more that the total of stock pre-1948 cars present. There were THREE of those..........Neil is spot on about the trend today.

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Speaking as a '40s auto aficionado myself, there is a small contingent of younger '40s car enthusiasts that's sort of derived from the lowrider scene.  Bombs.  Mostly GM makes, they're largely kept original but many are highly accessorized with era-appropriate add-ons. 

But aside from that, I too have noticed a lot of what Neil pointed out at the local car shows. 

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Yes, I have seen the same thing.  I didn't want to make my previous post too complicated, but there is a very strong group of vintage lowriders here in SF.  So I didn't include these cars as "unmodified" because they aren't.  However, the modifications are the kind that were done by this particular community in the 40's and 50's, and these cars were among the most "unmolested" that I saw at these events.  The '37 LaSalle (shown below) for example had all its original running gear including the flathead V-8.

 

47_plymouth.thumb.jpg.2943838bf774cca5b1fb40ee7f5a450a.jpg

 

401060869_37_lasalle2.thumb.jpg.4982cddaa4a369eca245c33aadc07963.jpg

 

47_plymouth2.thumb.jpg.47b48cbfbf390b59157b520569e4cc4b.jpg

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Hey Neil, my son is over in the Mountain View area, I’ll have to get him to send me pics of more 1940s cars when he’s at C&C events. Maybe your car will be in the pics!

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11 hours ago, neil morse said:

Yes, I have seen the same thing.  I didn't want to make my previous post too complicated, but there is a very strong group of vintage lowriders here in SF.  So I didn't include these cars as "unmodified" because they aren't.  However, the modifications are the kind that were done by this particular community in the 40's and 50's, and these cars were among the most "unmolested" that I saw at these events.  The '37 LaSalle (shown below) for example had all its original running gear including the flathead V-8.

 

47_plymouth.thumb.jpg.2943838bf774cca5b1fb40ee7f5a450a.jpg

 

401060869_37_lasalle2.thumb.jpg.4982cddaa4a369eca245c33aadc07963.jpg

 

47_plymouth2.thumb.jpg.47b48cbfbf390b59157b520569e4cc4b.jpg

I also attended many car shows in the Los Angeles area where these type of "Low Riders" were prevalent. Some beautiful well restored cars of the '40s. Don't see much of that here in North Carolina. Best show I attended in March was the George Barris show in Culver City. Sorry off topic. 

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26 minutes ago, kingrudy said:

I also think that people are intimidated by the lack of power steering, but once the car is moving I hardly notice this. 

 

Yes, as long as you aren't trying to parallel park!  Then it gets noticeable very quickly.  I still remember my poor mother struggling to park our '50 Nash when I was a kid.  It not only lacked power steering, but with those skirted front fenders it had the turning radius of the Queen Mary! 😄

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My personal experience with power steering or lack thereof:

First and by far most important is having learned to drive by turning while moving, not standing still and cranking the  wheel.

1990 NA Miata - bought new as a daily driver, no power steering.  Superior road feel, turning, and lighter weight than those equipped with power steering.

1941 Packard - designed not to have power steering, so large steering wheel for leverage.  OK so long as you roll while turning.

1957 Olds without power steering vs 1956 DeSoto with power steering.  Olds definitely harder to park, but also better on the road.  Perhaps extreme example because DeSoto had zero road feel.  "Left rudder" steering.

 

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On 2/2/2021 at 8:24 PM, Jeff Perkins / Mn said:


Yes, I can........sold my 1948 Packard Station Sedan in 2019 for far less than I had into it. Took almost a year to sell.

Just in the last week or so a 1948 Chrysler T&C located here in Minnesota sold for much less than it would have brought 3-8 years ago. A bargain in my opinion.

 

 

Our state historical museum had a Town and Country on display for many years. I'm guessing it was donated way back when it wasn't worth that much: it was in fairly weathered but original-looking condition. According to an acquaintance of mine who volunteered there, they sold it about 10 years years ago because its value had risen so much. Museums like that are always looking for revenue sources for (what they consider) more historically pertinent displays. If a piece of jewelry or old car becomes too valuable, it's gone. They apparently sold it at the right time, in a financial sense.

 

Market volatility works both ways, I guess. Mopar and Chevy muscle cars from the right years are still way up there (though I see some surprisingly reasonably priced late 60's Corvettes.) I guess they'll eventually tumble, too. All of this has little impact on me, but I do worry that if old cars lose a significant amount of their value/premium as automotive artifacts, they'll start being seen as little more than material for customizers.

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6 minutes ago, plymouthcranbrook said:

I enjoy seeing period correct modifications on old cars.  Still a way to personalize your car without losing the whole idea of a classic.   

 

I agree with you. I'm talking about the stick on dark tinted windows, mural paint schemes and 22" wire wheels other incongruous mods. (Oh, and sbc's in Packards, Hudsons and Jaguars.)

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Perspective is part of the issue; remember that 1940 is now more than 80 years ago, and that layer of living memory is unfortunately thinning. It’s not just cars, either.
 

Everything from that time is subject to the same effect, like watching waves take away a bit more of the sandcastle with each sweep. When much of the first-hand experience is gone, then the object (car, telephone, tube radio, etc.) becomes more of a historical curiosity (“Look at that thing! Can you imagine using that every day?”) - it’s recognizable, but no longer really familiar. When the personal memory/nostalgia element is removed, that’s the equivalent of the cigarette being offered by the firing squad (note: never take a menthol).
 

One of my first brushes with this was 20 years ago when my local “oldies” station (which played mainly 50s/60s rock) switched formats to 60s to 90s, and I was DELIGHTED when I first listened - “Hey, I grew up with all these songs!” Then I had the cold chill of realization: I am a programmable demographic now, and the one before me has just been shown the side door. As soon as some craven marketing “pro” decides my generation’s money is no longer a significant force, on to the 90’s (and later) kids....

 

However, before the pandemic hit, I took a young co-worker (early 20’s) out in my ‘53 Buick Special, and gave her a quick lesson in how to drive it. Standard, and no power steering. She got behind the wheel, and loved it. Had no experience with a manual before, and caught on very quickly. It was a blast watching as the car turned from being a curiosity to something relatable and fun again. The interest is still there. 
 

(Sorry for the length of this post - just avoiding some Sunday chores) 

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I wish that this wasn't true, but I don't think that I can ever again buy a stick shift car because I know my wife won't even be able to move it around if I kick the bucket. I tried time and time again to teach her, but she would just get crabby because she said that she was just too uncoordinated. So if I have to own a car with power steering and an automatic transmission, I may just as well forget about all of the cars of the '30s that I love, or roll over buy/build something modified. I don't like either option.

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My thoughts concerning 1940's cars I do not find them comfortable to drive in traffic.  I bought a 1939 Buick Century sedan a few years ago to drive to long distance events but I feel as if I'm being tailgated and generally crowded.  I think the other drivers around me expect it to be modified, faster and it is not.  I drive the speed limited or a little above and my 320 cu In engine will keep up with traffic.  I feel I am not getting any respect for the cars limitations.

 

My other car, a 1913 Buick touring car, is wonderful to drive, everyone stays well clear.  It is obliviously stock and even at 35 MPH I am a contented motorist.

 

Stay safe, Gary 

DSC_2442.JPG

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On 2/7/2021 at 12:51 PM, JBP said:

Perspective is part of the issue; remember that 1940 is now more than 80 years ago, and that layer of living memory is unfortunately thinning. It’s not just cars, either.
 

Everything from that time is subject to the same effect, like watching waves take away a bit more of the sandcastle with each sweep. When much of the first-hand experience is gone, then the object (car, telephone, tube radio, etc.) becomes more of a historical curiosity (“Look at that thing! Can you imagine using that every day?”) - it’s recognizable, but no longer really familiar. When the personal memory/nostalgia element is removed, that’s the equivalent of the cigarette being offered by the firing squad (note: never take a menthol).
 

One of my first brushes with this was 20 years ago when my local “oldies” station (which played mainly 50s/60s rock) switched formats to 60s to 90s, and I was DELIGHTED when I first listened - “Hey, I grew up with all these songs!” Then I had the cold chill of realization: I am a programmable demographic now, and the one before me has just been shown the side door. As soon as some craven marketing “pro” decides my generation’s money is no longer a significant force, on to the 90’s (and later) kids....

 

However, before the pandemic hit, I took a young co-worker (early 20’s) out in my ‘53 Buick Special, and gave her a quick lesson in how to drive it. Standard, and no power steering. She got behind the wheel, and loved it. Had no experience with a manual before, and caught on very quickly. It was a blast watching as the car turned from being a curiosity to something relatable and fun again. The interest is still there. 
 

(Sorry for the length of this post - just avoiding some Sunday chores) 

I will have to disagree with you to some degree. I have no first hand experience with cars of the '40s. They were built before I was born. My first car was a 55 Olds, it was what I could afford ($50.00). Even in my youth, I admired the '40 Ford Coupe and this was my goal. When I finished raising kids and could afford to put money into a car, other than one that was purchased for it's utility, I came across this car. The sweep of the "B" pillar, the long trunk and the fact that it had only two doors and the similarity to the Ford is what attracted me to this car. I don't know if there are a great number guys like me, but I think there will be some that appreciate the gentle curves of thes cars enough to own and show them. 

 

I believe that I am a caretaker of this car, more than an owner. It was here before I was and I hope it will be here long after I am gone for someone to enjoy. 

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1 hour ago, kingrudy said:

I will have to disagree with you to some degree. I have no first hand experience with cars of the '40s. They were built before I was born. My first car was a 55 Olds, it was what I could afford ($50.00). Even in my youth, I admired the '40 Ford Coupe and this was my goal. When I finished raising kids and could afford to put money into a car, other than one that was purchased for it's utility, I came across this car. The sweep of the "B" pillar, the long trunk and the fact that it had only two doors and the similarity to the Ford is what attracted me to this car. I don't know if there are a great number guys like me, but I think there will be some that appreciate the gentle curves of thes cars enough to own and show them. 

 

I believe that I am a caretaker of this car, more than an owner. It was here before I was and I hope it will be here long after I am gone for someone to enjoy. 


Actually, we’re in alignment with our thinking. 
 

My point was that for the bulk of people, it’s up to screwballs like us to show them these machines are nothing to be “afraid” of. 
 

There are always people (like all of us on this forum) who lean to the past, but many people do not - or simply don’t have the opportunity to. My cars were already 20 years old when I was born, but like you, I was always drawn to past design. 

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