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Pierce-Arrow today, parts tomorrow.


edinmass
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Thought I would do a more detailed post about cars going from junk yard to project car, and then they sit for decades. Now they are no longer viable as projects.......and in this case it isn't even a parts car as too much is just rust and scrap. This is probably the 25th Pierce we have done this to..........and we save everything possible. Things like seat springs will be kept for patterns. Nuts, bolts, hardware........it's all saved. Take a good look, and you will see how bad the car actually is. I restored a similar condition car back in 1990-1991. Same body style, except mine was a 12. It's now 100 points. Cost for a Pebble restoration back in 1990? I have over 300 in it.......in 1990 dollars...........enjoy the photos........

 

1936 Pierce-Arrow 1601 Club Sedan

 

 

IMG_6344.jpg

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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But yet there are still a lot of non car collecting people ( mostly distant relatives  ???) who will look at you if you owned and restored this  and never see the time, effort and knowledge required plus most of all the dedication to preservation. They just view you , as does a lot of the general public as "some rich guy with an old car , since he owns it he has to be rich"  This was more the theme idea of people back in the 1970s but now the cars are viewed as "investments" by those who couldn't know how to drive one if they tried .....................   How do I view myself? ( and always have) - just an old car guy who is a story teller. That's all.

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Those photos prove that it just isn't feasible to restore many pre-war cars.  It's too bad, but you can't save them all since the economics aren't there in most cases.  Cars such as this will be used to keep convertibles, roadsters and coupes running for years to come.  

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I know Ed disagrees, and his reasons do hold water in a strictly logical way of looking at things. But I still maintain that a number of people not on the Eastern Seaboard would consider cars in this condition very restorable. It's a big world. When you see what people in England, Europe, Down Under and even way out here in Western Canada take on , cars like this almost fall into the  " easy restoration " category. It's intact. all there , or at least very close, it's a well respected and reasonably well supported maker and therefore has a lot more going for it than what many non East Coast restorers are starting with.

  

 As fewer and fewer of these cars exist , the further and further the hobby moves from the reach of middle income and lower people. 

Sure it would be cheaper in the long run to just go out and buy a better one. 

But for a good number of people, spreading the overall cost over a 20 or 25 year restoration is the only way it can be done. Even if at the end it costs more in total. 

Not everyone is in a position to go out and spend $25 - 40 K all at once , but $3000.00 - $5,000.00 / year over 20 years opens up the hobby to a much larger group of people. 

 Maintaining the attitude that you MUST go out and buy a good condition car right off the bat or you will loose your shirt, be underwater etc. means that in the near future almost no one but the very well off will even think about owning a stock condition , Pre War car.  Even more so if it is a CCCA car.

 Finally, as many have pointed out in the past. They don't all have to restored to Pebble Beach quality. Sure, you can spend $200,000.00 on a restoration, but many do it on a much lower budget.

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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1912Staver..........we offered it as a project to several people looking for one.........they all passed. We ALWAYS try and save the car if we can............especially the rare models.......like this one. There were no takers at any price........

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For those of you who would take on such an ambitious project I am all for it, but I think in order to do so many (most?) would need a boost of enthusiasm fairly frequently - like going for a ride in a car of the same era. Just to keep your spirit up . By doing so you can justify all the hours, time and $ needed and not loose interest thinking "it will never be done". For decades I have seen ambitious projects get off to great starts but then dwindle because of the lack of a dose of "good medicine" to keep you going  and not give up. In order to restore a basket case sometimes ( often times?) you need to ride in a moving basket that is working to keep your hope up . I did this in the mid to late 1960s when I was in my teens and fortunately had friends who were a bit older that had cars on the road and would take me along for a ride to keep my spirits in tact.  That was an era when a down in the dumps near " parts level car " was just that - now the same car is one that has "patina".

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Walt, I agree with you.  When I have had a project car, I always have one of similar age or style so I know what the end goal is.

The 2nd on is the running, driving car that keeps my interest up.

Working on a 1960 car at the moment and I didnt quite follow, but I did get a 1980 car to drive while restoring it.

Close enough I guess.  If I want something closer my friend has my old 64 Riviera that I can drive.

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When I bought the 38 Studebaker it wasn’t the car I was looking for by any means. I had taken trips to Vancouver and NJ from Ky ( not an easy place to travel from) looking at Jaguar Mark IX’s, a car I always wanted. They were both in good shape per the pictures I received but worse than Ed’s car when I actually saw them. They could be restored but I wanted something with in my capabilities. An ad in Hemmings with one blurry picture for three months in a row and the fact it was within an 8 hour drive made me go check out the 38. It was a rust free car ( meaning I didn’t have to do body work) but wasn’t running. The price was right leaving me enough in the budget for the machine work need for the engine and all the parts I would need to get it back on the road. This budget did not allocate a single dollar for my time. It was still all I could afford with out disrupting our non car life style requirements. Six months later the engine, radiator, brakes, electrical, transmission, front suspension and differential were done. This took a lot of hours of weekends and nights after work to accomplish. I had the machine work, radiator record and drums turned by a local shop and had that in the budget. I did spend about $500 more on parts than expected but it fell within my 10% contingency number so I felt I was ok. This did not include my time or any time friends helped ( the beer & pizza was not part  of the car budget and I did not include that when I told Bobbi what I spent on the project! So please don’t tell her). My point is yes most cars can be restored but it has to be within the capabilities and budget a person can realistically afford. I could have taken on one of those Jaguars but it probably would have ended badly. I’m sure any budget I set would have been wrong due to unknown, unseen problems. If I would have done a Jaguar in that condition I’m sure it would have stressed home life because of expense and lack of visible progress. It may have ended as a pile of parts for someone else’s failed project. I found a car I could get back on the road and I could afford to get it that way. Ed parting out a car that no one wanted especially people he knew were looking for a project is the best way to keep the hobby going and help a number of other projects find the parts they need. The show guys may call that type car a recreated floor scrapings car. I call it a great looking driver from original parts!  
dave s 

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Walt , I whole heartedly agree. A occasional drive in someone else's car can work wonders when things bog down.   Unfortunately, some of live in the relative back waters of the old car world.

 Look at P. Findlay's thread of the old cars of British Columbia. A good number of the cars he and others featured in that thread are now either not in this area or in a museum / black hole collection sort of situation. Only a relatively small number in general regular use. And I only know a small handful of the owners personally.

 Like I have said before , there is a lot of interest in old cars in this area, but relatively few cars. And due to the crap Canadian $ and very high cost of living around here things are getting worse not better over time.

 Peter did very generously give my wife and I a back seat ride in his Cadillac a few years ago . As did Bill Trant in his Buick model 17 around the same time. Peter even let me drive the Cadillac for several miles. A treat beyond words !

Some day I sure hope I have a running , driving vintage car of my own. But it has been a very up hill struggle so far. 

And in some ways I have been my own worst enemy as I also have been involved with old British sports cars and small bore British racing cars in parallel competition for my ever fewer disposable $ over the decades. 

 Realistically I need to get the Vintage racing bug out of my system before a running vintage car is a possibility. But vintage racing has also been a bucket list  item since I was in my 20's. So one thing at a time to maintain my sanity and my wife's support.

 My interest in vintage cars remains as strong as ever . And this forum is great in keeping vintage car prominently in my mind. It's about the only vintage car outlet I have had during the covid shut down.

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I'm looking at that Pierce and wondering how the parts AND labor to get them can be equal to whatever was paid for the doner car in the first place. We all have different opinions on what is an attractive car, I like cars that I find attractive to look at, if it is going to consume years of my lifetime it better look good. Salvaged parts, do they take up more or less space than the rolling doner? Will the roof and trunk lid be saved? That is all I can see as something with future value, patch panels for a chopped 1934 - 1936 Ford Coupe.

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I would suspect project car may have been offered to a limited group. I didn't know about it. I would be curious about how much a project Pierce-Arrow like that would go for.

 

It looks a lot like many project cars I have purchased and made a pretty good buck on over the years. And sold to very excited new owners, so excited their rose colored glasses almost fell off. The net profit has never exceeded the low five figures but it's not bad for a little cleaning, reassembly, and a wipe down with kerosene to make them shine. When I do part one out the parts are up for sale once they are clean and shiny. I know first hand how many pieces of the hoarded parts get used.

 

A Buick Club member walked into my garage a few years ago, looked a a ;53 Jaguar project I had sitting there and asked "When are you ever going to get THAT done?". "Probably never" I replied. Sold it a short time later, decent profit. But I have to be careful I don't get too tall to see the customers.

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60- You could have purchased it and had it delivered for 9500, cost of restoration in a professional shop.........450-700k depending on your expectations. Do it yourself at home, assuming you're talented 175K out of pocket plus time. Buy a good running similar car..........65-85k. Buy my 100 point V-12 with the identical body that I have well over 300K in..................200K turn key. 

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I've publicly thanked Ed, and all the folks doing the same thing for other marque owners, for making the hard choices and doing the backbreaking work required to salvage parts from these cars. Frankly speaking on no level could I do what he and John are doing. Speaking as an old school sentimentalist checking any of the boxes required to do the deed, would leave my hand shacking like a leaf. I agree with Staver that there is a disconnect between the East and West Coasts when it come to restoration feasibility, but the car is not out here. Thankfully it isn't out here or someone, like me, would probably undertake a project that would never be finished. Times have changed, we need to concentrate on saving cars more worthy of saving.  

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Bill , I agree completely. Certainly there are cars more worth saving on the market. However my point about paying over a decade or two as opposed to paying most of the total cost up front still stands. 

Probably anyone who has to worry about the cost should look for a different pastime.

 Even Ed states that a decent condition, running example of one of these cars is a 65 - 85 K, $ U.S.D. proposition. How many of us are really in a position to spend that much all at once ? 

 There used to be room for relatively average means people to participate in the hobby. In most cases not with a Pierce, but Ed says this car could have been bought for under $10,000.00, not a rich man only need apply price. Obviously Pebble and similar, has always been for the very well healed only since the beginning. But not every PA needs to be a PB quality car.

 Perhaps it's clocks and post war MG's till the end for me after all. And possibly a few laps in my Lola if I get lucky on the pools.

 

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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Ed, thank you for providing actual numbers. 

I am curious, what percentage of the restoration costs would you say goes to making a car structurally/mechanically reliable vs making it look good (paint, chrome, interior)?

 

What experience I have is with '60s cars & the pre war numbers look similar, just with an extra zero added. 🙂

 

 

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Forty years ago after restoring our 30 chev ,it was time for a brass car. As Staver said we did not have the dollars to buy a complete car, but could spend a few hobby dollars over the course of a year.Which took 13 years. During that time of our life holidays were centred around flea markets ,weekends with the kids hunting down people with rare abilities to bend wood, pour pistons from melted down JD tracker pistons, learn how to rebuild mags etc.I do however take exception to Canadians moaning about our low dollar— get over it—if I need/want it and can afford it I buy it

 

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I wasn't moaning about the Canadian $ in regards to what I can personally buy in the U.S. marketplace. I recognized and accepted my reduced buying power decades ago and have  accepted it.

 But it is a significant factor in the gradual movement of Canadian vintage car to U.S. owners. Apples to apples , the $ puts Canadian buyers at a notable disadvantage when attempting to buy Canadian vintage cars.

Fewer local hobby cars, smaller overall car hobby.  It hurts us from aspects as varied as Club survival to relations of the hobby with Government to local businesses either working on hobby cars or supplying  parts. 

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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I think that most of us agree that we can't save all cars. The choice of which ones can be saved is rather muddled when the value of the cars that we consider saving continues to go down in value. The devaluation can, and has, continued to include some very rare cars, some of which have heretofore survived for nine or more decades. What is troubling to me is that as more and more cars are parted out the supply of useable parts go up, but the number of restorable cars goes down, so now parts languish in most of our stashes. People like Ed and John have built a network of customers who continue to return, but for the rest of us it is eBay or the scrapper. Our aging and cumulative effect of lessening number of perspective owners leaves an uncertain future for the cars we love and the parts to service them. What we increasing end up with are cars being parted for the few valuable parts, and scrapping the rest.

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You started too soon on the dismantling process, Ed. 
 

Did you give these guys a call? I'm sure they'd be delighted to pitch in the couple of bucks required for this dream car! 
 

 

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1 hour ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

I think that most of us agree that we can't save all cars. The choice of which ones can be saved is rather muddled when the value of the cars that we consider saving continues to go down in value. The devaluation can, and has, continued to include some very rare cars, some of which have heretofore survived for nine or more decades. What is troubling to me is that as more and more cars are parted out the supply of useable parts go up, but the number of restorable cars goes down, so now parts languish in most of our stashes. People like Ed and John have built a network of customers who continue to return, but for the rest of us it is eBay or the scrapper. Our aging and cumulative effect of lessening number of perspective owners leaves an uncertain future for the cars we love and the parts to service them. What we increasing end up with are cars being parted for the few valuable parts, and scrapping the rest.

It's a funny quirk of the car hobby. Cars that were for many decades treasured , like Pierce Arrows seem in many cases to not be holding their value against inflation. So despite surviving as potential restoration cars for several decades are like you are suggesting, ending up as salvage.

 The opposite end are cars like my  Lola.  If I had a major incident at the track with it and turned it into a ball of aluminum with fiberglass shards as a topping someone would rebuild it around the chassis tag. They are , short of an atomic explosion , proof against not being rebuilt from even the scantest remains.  My Lola most certainly is not a F5000, just a Sports 2000, but the same general principal holds true.

 See the story that is attached to this link. It is remarkable how little of this car survived the fire , never mind how little was re - usablhttps://primotipo.com/2014/06/24/lellas-lola-restoration-of-the-ex-lella-lombardi-lola-t330-chev-hu18-episode-1/e.

 Someone really , really wanted a F5000 Lola.

Lots of people want Sports 2000's.  In England the Vintage Sports 2000 series grows in popularity with each passing year. And a Sports 2000 is a much simpler car than a F5000. People are fitting new tub's and bodywork to them regularly.

 

 

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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29 minutes ago, JBP said:

You started too soon on the dismantling process, Ed. 
 

Did you give these guys a call? I'm sure they'd be delighted to pitch in the couple of bucks required for this dream car! 
 

 

 

 

Yes, have been in contact......

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8 hours ago, Restorer32 said:

Just another perspective.  We have had cars in worse shape come in to our shop for full restoration.  Figure $250-$350 for a full show restoration on the Pierce.

 

Lot's of thing come into play with numbers...........restoration, show restoration, showy driver restoration, or........in my case.....we only talk Pebble Beach level. Add in that we do a car......that is a BIG car in 9-12 months........and chrome for a Pebble Duesenberg or Packard 12 is 150K. Make a set of new chrome wheels......add another 40-60. It's very difficult to explain to someone that you buy a parts car........aka a nice original driving car to be used for parts......and pay 125-175 for that car. International Concours competition is insanely expensive. Ever restore a car done in the 60's or 70's. It's worse than fixing rust or crash damage.......wrong hardware.......missing parts. And if you want to win a trophy at Pebble? Research time for a good car is anther 25k. Money goes nowhere today. Restoring a post war car is twenty times easier in 98 percent of the cases. Have you ever made a carburetor, that's made it? Or cast new heads? Had a camshaft for a V-16 made from scratch.......no restoration is easy or straight forward. In fact....you must be crazy to restore a car.....from the standpoint of doing it, or paying for it. 

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Those really are insane numbers Ed ! 40 - 60 K for chrome wires ?  I take it you are talking #6 Buffalo's . I don't even like them in chrome. Apart from many / possibly most  Duesenberg's and the odd Motor Show display car , did many O.E.M. Buffalo wheel cars even have chrome wheels when new ?

 Most of the ones I encounter at swap meets are painted. even more so # 5, and Rudge Whitworth. { teens , 20's, not the 1930's and newer on the RW } 

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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On 4/13/2022 at 11:39 AM, edinmass said:

1912Staver..........we offered it as a project to several people looking for one.........they all passed. We ALWAYS try and save the car if we can............especially the rare models.......like this one. There were no takers at any price........

I have a friend who needs a pile of stuff to finish his 1936 Pierce Arrow. I'll get a hold of him and let you know.

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Ed, I have a suggestion for you if sales slow down on the Classic PA parts  front.  Early 1970's Japanese parts cars / light trucks. I have had a 1973 Datsun 620 since the mid 1980's. Paid next to nothing for it , drove it for a few years. Decent little truck, but time caught up with it. It sat in my wife's goat pasture for the 15 years it took for that phase of her life to pass. The goats loved it, sat all over it on nice days.

 Cleaning up the yard just in case we do move , and was going to load it up and take it in for scrap. But I had the thought that these trucks are somewhat popular with the younger set and it might be worth the time to take a few snaps and put it on Craigslist.

 The ad  wasn't up for an hour before the emails started coming in. By 8:30 last night a person had paid in full without even having much more than a glance at it out in the yard and looking at the CL photo's. Plus 4 more people ready to back their trailers up or call a tow truck for it by lunch time today. Never have I had a response like this for anything I have sold in the past. Early 70's Japanese stuff is red hot around here. And this was just a really beat parts truck , I mean really beat. Apparently parts are worth their weight in gold for these vehicles. All of the other 4 people asked me to give their names and numbers to the guy who bought it so they can try to buy the parts they need from him. Wish I had 5 or 6 more stashed away.

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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Japanese? Post war? It’s hard to explain to people how much of a pre war guy I am. I like and find all cars interesting. A GTO250 and a 66 Ford Mustang are the same to me. Doesn’t make me right. I’m very narrow in my car interests. I had a very large modern repair shop for decades. Old cars were my relaxation. Loud hot rod type cars, race cars, just don’t float my boat. Early brass or a Model J with a cut out making thunder……fantastic. It’s a strange little world I live in. And I like it. Driving this years special Ferrari or Lambo…….zero interest. What I like probably wouldn’t interest 85 percent of the general car guys. 
 

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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3 minutes ago, edinmass said:

Japanese? Post war? It’s hard to explain to people how much of a pre war guy I am. I like and find all cars interesting. A GTO250 and a 66 Ford Mustang are the same to me. Doesn’t make me right. I’m very narrow in my car interests. I had a very large modern repair shop for decades. Old cars were my relaxation. Loud hot rod type cars, race cars, just don’t float my boat. Early brass or a Model AJ with a cut out making thunder……fantastic. It’s a strange little world I live in. And I like it. Driving this years special Ferrari or Lambo…….zero interest. What I like probably wouldn’t interest 85 percent of the general car guys. 
 

Honest about your interests. Nothing wrong with that. I have my own quirky old car interests and they don’t lineup with the vast majority of car people either. 

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Just pulling your chain Ed. Although I must admit I was thoroughly amazed by the interest in the Datsun heap. 

 I would be almost as dedicated a pre war guy as you are if there was any more than a handful of them within a substantial distance from where I live. 

 A fair number of black era T's, various Model A's, Dodges, Chevy's, and Plymouths. But very few higher quality pre war cars. And those that do exist are far from my reach. At sale time either they change hands quietly or head South to an Auction. I have only seen a tiny number advertised for sale locally over the decades.

 Lacking any real chance of buying a middle of the road Brass car or a better quality , somewhat sporty ,Nickle era Stutz, Marmon etc. I have defaulted to what I can actually own. Mostly post war British sports cars. You like the big Classics, I tend much more to Brass and Nickle.

 

 I cherished every moment I spent with my friends fathers Model J. A Canadian car from new, but when my friends father died the car was sold at a U.S. auction to a U.S. buyer. The family needed the money , and they felt they would do better at a U.S. sales event.

There are a smattering of the cars that make up your stock in trade around here  . But they exist  in a much different world than what I live in.

No sense falling in love with, and pining away over something that only exists thousands of miles away.

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