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Were Old Cars more Fun Than Modern Ones?

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,515
    I couldn't do it simply for fiscal reasons. There aren't many cars where you won't burn money on a restoration. Even on "Wheeler Dealers", they only come out ahead because the labor is billed at zero. A 40K labor of love is pretty tough for me to embrace, when the car looks and runs OK as it is. And with an imperfect car, you can actually drive it without worrying about un-restoring it.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,515
    edited January 2012
    I wonder if they'd even touch it. Every now and then I see a W123 or W126 sitting on the back service lot, and I shake my head. There are very competent independent mechanics in the area, especially for non-current models.

    I'm sure they'd want to rebuild the engine - there's probably 10-15K. Suspension work would be 5K no doubt. Then I could blow 5K each on interior and paint. Maybe a couple more grand on bodywork. Tires and brakes maybe 2K. It would keep going on and on.

    Then again, I'd still be in for the same as a base C-class.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,610
    When I was 16 years old I bought a 1952 Chevy for 35.00. The guy who sold it to me told me that it needed an engine rebuild and a new fuel pump.

    Well, for 7.00, I bought a rebuilt fuel pump that my dad helped me install.

    The car ran just fine. Yes, it would go through a quart of oil every 500 miles or so but it didn't smoke, didn't foul the plugs and it generally ran quite well.

    Did it "need" an engine overhaul? Well, probably so and I told the guy I sold it to a year later that. I ran into him a couple of years later and he was actually commuting 40 miles a day...no overhaul and according to him, it's thirst for oil hadn't increased much.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,515
    edited January 2012
    When I bought the car, it burned oil - about 2 years later a piston ring broke, which would foul the plugs in no time, and I had to get that fixed. Opened it up and had a bunch of other things done too, to the cost of maybe 4 grand. Not a fun expense as I was a college student then. But I weighed the repair vs buying another car for the same money - better use of funds.

    Now it burns a quart every 800 miles or so, heavy for a modern car but within specs according to the manual. It smokes the most when sitting in traffic and even then it's just a puff. My mechanic says don't worry - it will eventually need a valve job (I never had proper adjustments done when I was in school or just after, too busy and cheap) but it's not worth fixing yet. The car doesn't owe me anything after so many years.

    And why would I spend a fortune to restore this? It's not exactly junkyard looking yet:

    image
  • berriberri Posts: 4,142
    I'm guessing the early post war Chevy's are through 57? So Isell, which one of those years would be your very favorite? I think I like the 55 or 56 best, but really the 49-52's were pretty cleanly styled cars for their time too. Personally, I never could get into the looks of the 53 or 54, I just thought that Ford was better looking inside and out those two model years.

    When I was a kid I had an uncle who was an engineer with Bell Labs and had a bunch of patents. He drove a 50 Chevy stove bolt 6 he bought new back then until he finally decided to upgrade in 63 to a new LeSabre (which he custom ordered based on engine, tranny, etc.). That Chevy never got on the used car lot because when he went to pick up the Buick, a mechanic bought it outright from him in lieu of a trade. My uncle kept that Buick until he passed away in the 1990's. He willed it to a nephew who lived out in NJ and was an old car fanatic. My uncle was very up on maintenance, but both of those cars were very long lived vehicles with little in the way of mechanical issues.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,511
    I'd put the dividing line at 54/55 - '55 and later were much more similar to each other.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,142
    I see your point. The GM's were really modernized in 55, but weren't the changes at Ford and Chrysler more styling rather than modernized engineering in 55 and 56? I guess a lot of us look to 57 as when things really started to change, but that is probably as much styling as engineering I suppose. Of course, given lead times back then a lot of the 57's were probably actually being developed in 53 or 54!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,610
    That is a very nice looking car! I know I've seen it on the streets.

    Just don't ever lose one of those special hubcaps!
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,168
    "... weren't the changes at Ford and Chrysler more styling rather than modernized engineering in 55 and 56?"

    I believe the restyled '55 Ford was based on the '52 platform, although it had an all-new look. However, the '55 Plymouth had a new platform, and, for the first time offered a modern, new OHV V8. I think the difference between the '54 and '55 Plymouths was as dramatic as the difference between the '54 and '55 Chevys. The same was true for the other Chrysler Corp. brands.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,610
    Very favorite? Actually I like them all. I do have a soft spot for the 52's since that was my first car. I have owned several 49's 50's and 54's.

    I like the 54's too especially since they have the upgraded engines with full pressure lubrication.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,142
    However, the '55 Plymouth had a new platform

    Oh yeah, that's right- they advertised it as something like the $500M look. I don't really know, but I heard one drawback to it was reduced legroom? I always liked the looks of the 55 DeSoto and Dodge.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    edited January 2012
    Very favorite? Actually I like them all. I do have a soft spot for the 52's since that was my first car. I have owned several 49's 50's and 54's.

    Someone in my family, or possibly an old tenant, once had a '53 Chevy. Here's an old pic of my house, taken in 1965, according to the date stamp on the back of the pic:
    image

    BTW, does anybody know when color film started becoming common? For some reason, this pic just feels older than 1965. I always wondered if it was just a real old pic, that didn't get developed until years later.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    Oh yeah, that's right- they advertised it as something like the $500M look. I don't really know, but I heard one drawback to it was reduced legroom? I always liked the looks of the 55 DeSoto and Dodge.

    Dunno about the reduced legroom, but none of those cars from that era were very generous with regards to legroom. I've sat in a '55-56 era DeSoto and Chrysler, and up front, they're really not all that roomy. The seat is high, but it's sort of like sitting in an old truck. You can't really stretch out.

    I've heard that, for the most part, those cars were designed to be a perfect fit for a male driver around 5'10" or so. I remember one year at a car show, someone let me sit behind the wheel of his 1950 or so Olds 88, and that sucker was cramped for my 6'3" body! Headroom was good, but the steering wheel was way too close, and legroom was horrible. I would love to know how fat and/or tall people were able to drive those cars!

    Also, I think it was the 1956 Chrysler that was advertised as "The car with the 100 million dollar look" Or something like that.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,610
    Yep, that's a 53 Chevy all right!

    It's the stripper model, the 150.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    Somewhere around here, or at my Grandmother's house, or my Mom's, there's a some really ancient pics of the house, with a '37 Plymouth parked in that spot! Wish I could find those!
  • berriberri Posts: 4,142
    BTW, does anybody know when color film started becoming common? For some reason, this pic just feels older than 1965. I always wondered if it was just a real old pic, that didn't get developed until years later

    I remember as a kid that color film and its processing were both kind of expensive, even in the mid sixties (like 3 or 4 X more expensive than b&w) - just like color tv I guess. Yearbooks and the like were all mostly b&w back then. I'm thinking color photos got relatively cheaper somewhere in the 70's. In fact, b&w tv's were fairly common around homes until the 70's as well. So I think a 65 b&w picture is quite likely to be real. By the way, that house kind of looks like it could be a vacation home in some resort area. Maybe its the front porches.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,515
    Didn't your grandparents usually have more modern cars? I remember you mentioning their old Fords and Chevys. Or is that from the other side of the family? That car does look kind of aged in the pic.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,515
    Thanks. It comes out mostly on Sundays when the weather is nice.

    The hubcaps are on there pretty tight, and there are actually sellers who carry replacements - for a price. Almost half my life with the old beast now and nothing has fallen off yet.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    Didn't your grandparents usually have more modern cars? I remember you mentioning their old Fords and Chevys. Or is that from the other side of the family? That car does look kind of aged in the pic.

    Yeah, they did. This house is from my Mom's side of the family. My grandmother's Uncle Luther built it, with the original part of it dating back to 1916. It used to be a general store with just two rooms and a front porch. Then, a kitchen was added on, and an apartment upstairs. The earliest my grandmother can remember the house is 1934, when she was 10 years old, and used to come down from Harrisburg PA to visit, and would sleep in the front room upstairs. She was 10 years old then.

    Uncle Luther died in 1960, and Aunt Carrie signed the place over to my grandparents, with life rights to it. But, she didn't like staying there alone. She'd rattle around the house all day, but then go across the street to sleep at my grandparents' place at night. In 1961, they moved her in with them, and started using it as a rental property.

    My uncle remembers one of my great-aunts (Granddad's baby sister Maye, who always reminded me of Betty White's Ellen character on Mama's Family) as having a white '53 or so Chevy. But I don't know why she'd have it parked in that spot.

    Anyway, by the 60's, my grandparents were doing the the station wagon thing. They bought a new '60 or '61 (nobody who's still alive remembers the exact year) Nomad wagon, and then a '64 or '65 (again, nobody remembers the exact year) full-sized Chevy wagon. And, after that, came the '68 Impala 4-door hardtop that my Mom ultimately got, that I vaguely remember as a kid.

    I'm guessing that '53 Chevy belonged to a tenant. One of the tenants actually died in this house, at some point in the 60's. I remember, when I first heard that, it freaked me out. Until I found out that TWO people died in my grandmother's house across the street! Aunt Carrie, and then, in 1969, Grandmom's mother. Back in those days, in rural areas at least, I think it was common for people t just pass away in their own home, rather than go to the hospital.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    To be fair, those things weren't the pinnacle of quality of refinement,

    Oh, you are so right!!! IMO, they sucked when they were new, but from an historical perspective, and given the condition of this one, it's very cool. Not sure there's enough oil in Kuwait to keep it full, though.... ;)
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