Tag: hemmings

What to keep in mind if you’re thinking about buying a vehicle sight unseen – David Conwill @Hemmings

What to keep in mind if you’re thinking about buying a vehicle sight unseen – David Conwill @Hemmings

Advertisements
Getting a clean ’63 Impala isn’t as easy as it used to be. What if you’re looking at one on the other side of the country

The Hemmings Nation’s collective wisdom is a powerful thing if you comb through it and distill it down. Back in March, Dan Strohl asked, “Have you ever bought a car sight unseen?” and a number of you chimed in with experiences and advice.

The broad consensus was that it’s okay… under certain circumstances. The main advice is to adjust your expectations (and potential offer) to accommodate for the reality that most things look better in a carefully composed photo than in person. Take the words and images of an ad at face value and, more often than not, you’ll end up overpaying.

Responses essentially boiled down to No, Yes, and Yes But, with only one or two commenters offering unqualified yesses, often illustrated with stories that demonstrated extenuating circumstances. The no answers often stemmed from hard-won experience in having purchased one vehicle sight-unseen followed by the gut-wrenching disappointment of having a vehicle delivered that was far worse than expected.

The yes-but answers are probably the most indicative of the realities of the car-buying landscape as a whole. Temporal exigency is one, extreme rarity (Robert Wingerter talked about buying a 1-of-15 Cal-Ace and Joe Essid mentioned that his Project Apollo Buick was an exception for him because they’re so hard to find) is another, as is the hiring of a qualified inspector. There were also a few comments indicating that if the price is right, it’s worth rolling the dice and, in fact, the gamble is part of the fun.

“Sight unseen” is almost no longer a thing, and that is, perhaps, the biggest reality of all. With quality digital photography available virtually everywhere, long-distance transactions happen successfully every day—but it was universally noted that it’s the buyer’s task to demand the correct photos, know what to look for, and know what questions to ask. On top of that, one has to also somehow evaluate the character of the seller to determine if they are being evasive or untruthful in their responses.

Hans1965, from overseas, noted that for foreign buyers there is really no alternative. He’s been burned in the past, he says, but advises, “Be prepared for disappointment, but if you love the car, you get over this and enjoy it…. This is part of the hobby. I have accepted that. The joy to bring an old car back on the road outweighs the pain many times.”

“Even seeing one in person is not a guarantee if you are a bone-head like me,” Joe Essid remarks. Joe purchased a Miata that ticked all the boxes and passed his visual inspection, but found out later via Carfax that he’d purchased a rebuilt wreck—tanking its resale value. Nielen Stander chimes in that Carfax Reports for late models are becoming a standard offering from large-volume dealers and auction houses—though Mark Axen notes that he purchased a late-model pickup with a clean report that still displayed evidence of repairs. “Guess it was minor damage and not reported,” was his surmise.

In that vein, commenter Frog points out that such services are “not a reveal-all.” He prefers to trust his “six senses,” the sixth being common sense, in light of his own experiences. That’s important advice whether looking at a car directly or contemplating one from a distance. It’s probably closest to how I evaluated my own sight-unseen purchase last spring, which turned out to be a great car. Since experience can’t be taught, if you’re looking at your first oldie, it’s good to have the assistance of a knowledgeable friend or club member when evaluating a seller’s representations and photos.

As norm1200 says, “Generally, I don’t advise buying without personally inspecting (or hiring a professional third party), [but] that’s assuming the buyer knows how to reasonably inspect a vehicle.”

Read on

It took a no-holds-barred restoration to turn a patched-up 1929 Model A Standard Coupe into a prize winner – Mike McNessor @Hemmings

Advertisements

Photography by Matt Litwin; Restoration Photography by Bruce LeFebvre

The Ford Model A’s good looks and low price of admission attracted millions of buyers before and after World War II. In later postwar years, those same qualities made the A one of the world’s most popular collector cars.

As a restoration project, you can’t beat a Model A: They’re simple, they’re supported by a vast network of specialists, and parts are widely available. That’s why hobbyists fixed ’em up decades ago and why many of those same Model A’s are being restored a second or third time by hobbyists today.

Here’s our feature car, circa-2012, as found on eBay by owner Bruce LeFebvre. The exterior looked solid, but the green paint was concealing a lot of makeshift body repair work.

Bruce LeFebvre, the owner/restorer of this month’s stunning Bonnie Gray and Chelsea Blue 1929 Model A Standard Coupe, is a history buff and had always admired the Model A’s styling. “They look cool,” he says. “And Henry Ford was a fascinating character who really put America on wheels.”

Bruce wasn’t what you would call a Model A expert when he started shopping for one of his own about a decade ago, but over the course of this project, he gained a lot of knowledge.

“I didn’t know my ass from my elbow about Model A’s, but I knew I wanted one,” he says. “I saw one online located in a town called Peculiar, Missouri—so I bought it for $6,500, then my friend Roger Parrott and I spent almost 10 days going out and back to get it.”

The coupe’s four-cylinder was treated to a rebuild and pressed back into service. A breakerless ignition stands in for the points and condenser, inside the stock distributor. Period accessory touches include a mount for the oil can and an Auto Lite heater.

Bruce’s reasonably priced, online auction fi nd was a nice-looking car, though maybe a little worn and in need of attention. It had already been converted to hydraulic brakes —a selling point and something which would’ve been on Bruce’s to-do list anyway. Outside, the car wore aged green paint and inside there was what looked like water stains on the upholstery. Some fresh interior pieces, some paint, and some general sprucing should have brought it back to like-new condition — or so Bruce thought. But once back at his shop in Connecticut, a teardown revealed a lot of hidden rust, wood rot, and some hasty body repairs, too.

“When I first saw the car, it didn’t look bad at all,” Bruce says. “But once we started taking it apart—we took the headliner out, the seats out, and the side panels —you could see it was packed with body filler and there was haphazard fiberglass work that looked like bandages holding it together

Read on

Is it a Cord? Is it a Corvette? Or is Marty Martino’s latest creation, the CordVette, the best of both cars? – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

Advertisements

For a vehicle that only lasted a couple years on the market, Gordon Buehrig’s Cord 810 and 812 have sure had an outsize influence on car designers and enthusiasts ever since. David North, Stan Wilen, and Bill Mitchell packed the Oldsmobile Toronado with all sorts of design elements paying homage to the Toronado’s front-wheel-drive predecessor. Multiple customizers through the Fifties tried their hand at making a sports car out of the coffin-nose Cord. And on at least three occasions, entrepreneurs have resurrected or attempted to resurrect the Cord. So Marty Martino’s really just following in a grand tradition by building a modern Cord out of the bones of a fifth-generation Corvette.

“I never thought of this project as a ‘sport custom’ in the traditional way, but being that it’s a one-off Cord-inspired design, I now see it as a continuation of the genre,” Marty said after reading our recent story on Fifties-era sport-custom Cords.

The roots of the project date back to the late Eighties, when Automobile Quarterly ran a design contest asking for its readers to envision the Cord 810, Tucker 48, or Packard Caribbean as they would have appeared in 1990. “What really made the contest exciting to me was that it was to be judged by Alex Tremulis, Frank Hershey, Dick Teague, Bill Mitchell, Chuck JordanJack Telnack, and Dave Holls, many of my automotive heroes!” Marty said.

Marty’s updated Cord 810/812 rendering.

Marty selected the 810, and while the phone-dial wheels, wraparound indent, and jellybean taillamps all reflect the era in which he re-envisioned the Cord, the coupe managed to blend the original’s subtly stepped fastback, haunches, hidden headlamps in winglike fenders, and speed line grille in with contemporary shape and proportions. The entry made it into print as one of four runner-up designs that the judges chose. Not bad, Marty thought, considering “most of the entrants were accomplished illustrator/designers, students at Art Center, and so on,” he said.

The rendering got filed away until about a decade ago, when Marty’s younger brother, Robert, expressed an interest in building a modern Cord using a Corvette as the donor car. Robert, according to Marty, “had long held 1936 and 1937 Cords as his favorite prewar car design… and considers the Cord Sportsman the Corvette of its day.”

They figured the fifth-generation Corvette would work best for this project given that Marty had already built the PsyClone Motorama tribute car from a C5 and that both the C5 and the Cord had hideaway headlamps. Robert wanted a convertible, so the brothers found a profile shot of a C5 Corvette, laid it on a lightbox, then drafted the CordVette’s design on a blank piece of paper above the profile shot using many of the same elements and lines that Marty had incorporated into his Automobile Quarterly rendering. Marty also did a little Bondo sculpting on a 1/25-scale model of a C5 to see his alterations in three dimensions.

Read on

Knowing when to walk away: Why I decided not to build my 1921 Ford Model T and what I’ll do instead – David Conwill @Hemmings

Advertisements
Tilly came home on a trailer, but as of this writing is already a running and driving car. She just needs some help to be ready for the roads of her second century.

Last night, I decided I can’t continue with my Model T project. It’s a tough decision. I’ve wanted a Model T touring car since I was about eight years old (that’s 30 summers now) and I’ve now owned two different touring car bodies and a complete car. I’ve tried really, really hard to make a Model T happen, but it never seems to work out.

If you’ve been following my columns, you know that I’ve been planning to rebuild my ’21 into an early-1930s style hot rod, called a gow job. I’ve wanted a gow since I first learned that hot rodding predated World War II—those cars look awesome and because they’ve got improved power, handling, and braking, they’re a lot more usable than a purely stock 1920s car.

Nevertheless, I’m an adult and not independently wealthy. It’s tough enough to have three kids, a house, and two cars for transportation. A purely “fun” car is great but it would be an irresponsible avenue to continue pursuing–I’ll live off ramen to fund a project, but I won’t ask my family to do that. We have more practical needs to look after first. In fact, I’ll be putting my Model T and parts up for sale soon and putting that money into the home-improvement fund

Our ’08 Charger police car. It has 350 horsepower when it isn’t shutting down cylinders at random. That’s my old ’62 Falcon behind it.

This doesn’t mean I’m done with old cars, though. Far from it. It just means that I’ve got to rethink my driver situation. Our current fleet consists of a 2008 Dodge Charger police car and a 1983 Cadillac Sedan de Ville. The Charger we’ve had for five years, and while it’s fun to drive, it has an increasing number of electrical maladies and has been spending a lot of time in the shop. Once it’s fixed, it can find a new home with someone who enjoys working on late-model Mopars.

The Cadillac we got just last week. It is very cool but I can’t see us keeping it—it’s too nice. That sounds weird, but the biggest problem with the Cadillac is that it was purchased new by my wife’s grandfather the same year she was born. A car with that level of sentimental value is something of a white elephant in and of itself. It only has 23,000 miles on it and it’s a perfectly preserved cream puff. Putting wear and tear on it would be heartbreaking, and fixing all the luxury features as they age would be an utter nightmare. Instead, I intend to polish it up (I’ve been spending a lot of time researching paint care), tune it up, and try to find it a good home before the end of the summer.

Read on

If you know the name Chilson, then you know this 1975 AMC Pacer X is special – Mike Austin @Hemmings

Advertisements

AMC made around 280,000 copies of the Pacer, of which some smaller fraction survive today. The number of clean, unrestored examples of the wide, small car is an even smaller fraction. Of that subset, a connection to Chilson Motors makes this 1975 AMC Pacer X up for bids on Hemmings Auctions a rare offering. Those already in the AMC fold know the Chilson name well. Gordy Chilson kept the AMC flame alive by hosting an annual gathering at his family’s dealerships (which once included an AMC franchise) near the Pennsylvania/New York state line. Suffice it to say, when an AMC from the Chilson collection comes up for sale, it’s probably one of the good ones. From the auction listing:

This original 1975 AMC Pacer is doubly historic for fans of the United States’ last independent automaker, American Motors Corporation. First, this is one of more than 90,000 examples of the audacious, widebody Pacer compact built in the model’s initial production year. Next, the car is reported to have been custom ordered by Gordy Chilson, of Chilson AMC in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, the site of a well-known AMC gatherings. The Pacer, with the desirable X trim package, is said to have been a display inside the Chilson showroom since the original owner traded it for a new AMC Eagle in 1987. A fully optioned car, including air conditioning, cruise control, and an 8-track audio system, this Pacer is part of the Chilson AMC collection, with an odometer reading of 26,811 that the seller believes is accurate.

This Pacer’s interior, including carpeting, is described as being entirely original, the materials presenting as being in excellent, undamaged condition. The padded dashboard also presents as being in excellent condition, with no missing trim or small controls. The seller reports that all instrumentation is functional, including the original 8-track audio system. The heating and air conditioning system are believed to be in good working order although the a/c system may need to be charged before use. The cargo area presents as being undamaged and strongly clean.

Read on

How can you preserve your tires from age-related rot? – Kurt Ernst @Hemmings

Advertisements
Sometimes, no amount of care is going to help. Photo by author

Tires may be the most overlooked—and most misunderstood—component on your car. While modern tires are incredibly capable (even compared to those made a decade back), they still require some degree of care and feeding to maximize their lifespans.Reader Doug Higbee recently chimed in with a rather specific question about tire care, asking:

Tires age. ‘We’ know this to be the case. What would be Hemmings recommendation to preserve tires from age-related rot?  I cannot confirm what I was advised many years ago: Using a pure silicone spray on the tire will help replenish what has dried from the tire over time. I have witnessed this absorption to be extremely rapid after the spray contacts the tire, leading me to believe it benefits a ‘thirsty’ tire. What is your take on this?

First and foremost, we need to acknowledge that modern tire compounds have evolved at an incredibly fast pace. In some cases, they’ve become even more specialized, too: Modern summer-only performance tires offer a level of grip unimaginable in a street tire a few decades back, but the window in which they can be safely used has grown smaller. Both Pirelli and Michelin warn that summer-only tires may be subject to sidewall cracking in low temperatures, voiding any manufacturer’s warranty.With this in mind, the rubber compounds used in a modern tires differ from the rubber compounds used in tires years ago. What may have been good advice for a ’60s-era bias-ply, or an ’80s-era radial, may be harmful to tires today. For advice on proper tire care, we looked to Goodyear, which manufactured over 169 million tires (of all types) in 2021

Per the Akron, Ohio-based manufacturer, sidewall and tread weathering, often referred to as dry rot, is a result of the breakdown of compounds used to make the tire. Though a natural age-related process, several things can accelerate this, including UV exposure, environmental extremes (particularly a hot, dry climate), high ozone levels, underinflation, and lack of use. Tires benefit from regular exercise, and don’t like to remain stationary for extended lengths of time. According to South Bend, Indiana, (and online) vendor the Tire Rack, “The repeated stretching of the rubber compound actually helps deter cracks from forming.”To care for tires, Goodyear recommends cleaning them regularly with water and a mild dish soap, followed by a rinse with clean water. The manufacturer cautions against the use of some tire dressings, specifically those that contain petroleum distillates. While these products may temporarily enhance a tire’s appearance, in the long run petroleum products can prematurely age a tire. The Tire Rack backs this up, advising that excessive use of tire cleaners and dressings can remove anti-oxidants and ozone protectants from the tire’s rubber compounds.

Read on

Which Last-gasp Orphan Brand Car Would You Choose for Your Dream Garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

Advertisements

One of the aspects of the auto industry we gearheads love to “armchair quarterback” is the demise of brands during the postwar era. Some were planned, many were not. And while we have the benefit of hindsight and tactful study, back in the day management bet on a hunch, optimism, and a clever sales pitch. So, in this week’s This or That window shopping exercise, let’s take a look at a quartette of the more memorable – good, bad, or indifferent – makes and models that were one of the last offerings before a brand’s demise, all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds. So, which one would you take home this week?

1957 HUDSON HORNET CUSTOM SEDAN

Price new: $3,011 (Today’s currency: $30,416)

There were two significant mergers during the Fifties, the first being the January 1954 union of Nash and Hudson, which became the foundation of American Motors Corporation. Volumes have been written about the fiscal pros and cons behind the scenes, all while the separate brands continued to develop models over the next few years. After ’56, though, management dropped three Hudson series—Rambler, Wasp, and Hornet Special, 11 models in total—leaving only the the Hornet Super and Custom series available through AMC’s dealer network in 1957, including this Hornet Custom sedan, which would prove to be the most popular model after attaining 1,256 buyers. That low number was due to production ceasing on October 25. In total, just 4,108 Hudsons were built (including exports), despite several “new” advances touted by the division. From the seller’s description:

Presenting well in Tri-color White, Gotham Grey and Red with reupholstered red, grey, and black interior. Originally equipped with Hudson/AMC 327/255HP Overhead valve V-8 motor mated to an optional column shift Automatic transmission. Generously equipped with Power Brakes, Power steering, optional Radio, and Parkomatic A/C. This Hornet shows well with nice paint finish and re-chromed bumpers and grill work. Has operating center emblem light, dual side mirrors, sound trunk floor and undercarriage. Short comings include door handle finish and A/C compressor removed and intact coming with vehicle purchase. Recent Service including: Engine out; Resealing of Engine; Cleaning and Repainting of Engine; Oil Change; Coolant Flush; Belts; Flush gas tank and clean out inside; Spark Plugs; Plug Wires; Ignition Coil; Motor Mounts; Rebuilt Holley Carb; New Battery; Rebuilt brake booster; Exhaust Manifold Gaskets; Fuel Pump Gasket; Fuel Filter; Battery Cables

Price$42,500LocationSarasota, FLAvailabilityAvailable

1958 PACKARD 58L HARDTOP COUPE

Price new: $3,262 (Today’s currency: $32,023)We can’t discuss mergers without bringing up the 1955 announcement pertaining to Studebaker and Packard. Here again, entire libraries could be filled with the vast assessments of the union that were penned decades later. Suffice it to say, it didn’t fare so well for Packard by the time the thinly veiled ’57 models were announced. Damage control did no better, which pitched the ’58 models – such as this 58L hardtop coupe – as a mid-year line, complete with a very identifiable front end that eventually attained a fishy nickname. Arguably a styling flop, total Packard output numbered 2,622 units, including 675 hardtop coupes. From the seller’s description:

Complete restoration including the engine, transmission, drive- train, interior and exterior. Rare, gorgeous car from the dry Nevada desert; Vintage Air Conditioning; Rebuilt 289 V-8 motor; two-speed Flight-O-Matic transmission; red with tan leather exterior trim and a beautiful gray and tweed interior; power steering; power disc brakes up front; brand new tires; 12 Volt system; Edelbrock carburetor; new exhaust; new gas tank; super straight gorgeous body; beautifully reupholstered interior; new carpet; JVC sound system; tons Of receipts included; extra parts, plaques and awards included.

Price$28,750LocationWest Babylon, NYAvailabilityAvailable

Read on

Only at Hershey Will You See a Once-common, Now-rare Car Like This 1926 Chevrolet Superior for Sale on the Street – David Conwill @Hemmings

Advertisements

1926 Chevrolet Superior V

Hershey is a lot more diverse than it used to be, but the AACA Eastern Fall Meet remains one of the nation’s premier sources for prewar cars, parts, and automobilia. Case in point is this 1926 Chevrolet Superior V, seen in the car corral at the 2021 Hershey Meet. That’s V-as-in-Victory, not V-as-in-five; preceding Superiors were the 1923 Superior B, 1924 Superior F, and 1925 Superior K. While not outstanding in any particular way, it was the stylish, slightly more luxurious Chevrolet Superior that finally drove the utilitarian Ford Model T out of the market and made way for the ever-popular 1928-’31 Ford Model A.

Because of their wood-heavy construction and middling metallurgy, surviving General Motors products from the 1920s are thin on the ground today, especially the inexpensive Chevrolet cars, which didn’t often see second lives as hop ups or long-lived, Depression-era jalopies. In 2022, most pre-1936 Chevrolet cars are found as piles of rusty sheetmetal and occasionally as preserved engines running sawmills or other improvised machinery. Encountering a solid, nearly complete Chevrolet coupe that runs and drives for under $10,000 is a noteworthy experience, then.

Of course, this car was far from perfect, and was said to be a restoration project (started circa 1994) that originated as a barn find. The upholstery was slightly mismatched and appeared to be rodent damaged, though it wasn’t stained and seemed repairable. The exterior looked good at a glance, in period colors with nicely applied pinstriping, but the finish (apparently lacquer, replicating the original Duco) had cracked and lost adhesion in several places. The car boasted only a front bumper, leading us to wonder whether that was a later addition, or if the rear had been omitted since new. Nevertheless, those were cosmetic issues only and minor—easily overlooked on a car that already ran (nicely, even), drove, and stopped.

Read on

The 5.2-liter Voodoo V-8 Made Magic in the Modern Ford Mustang GT350 and GT350R –

Advertisements

A free-flowing intake and heads, aggressive cams and high compression did a lot of heavy lifting while the exotic flat-plane crank grabbed headlines and helped make lyrical exhaust sounds


The engine produced 526 naturally aspirated horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 429 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm, while making beautiful music up to an 8,000-plus rpm redline. At the heart of its howling exhaust note was a flat-plane crankshaft — so called because its connecting rod journals (and weights) were positioned 180-degrees opposite of each other, instead of at 90-degree intervals like the cross-plane design used in most American V-8s. Flat-plane cranks are not new or unusual. Four-cylinder engines have them and Cadillac’s 314 V-8, which debuted in 1915, used one.
The flat-plane crankshaft from Ford’s 5.2-liter Voodoo V-8.

In theory, the flat-plane design delivers a V-8 with less reciprocating mass, and superior breathing, which should make an engine lighter, more compact and capable of building rpms very quickly. But it also delivers a lot of what’s known as “secondary vibration” and that paint-shaker quality increases in proportion to the size of the pistons and the speed that those pistons are moving. In a race car, it’s a reasonable tradeoff – especially if there’s a performance advantage to be gained. In a 21st-century street car, stickering north of $60,000, customers are likely to complain about shaking steering wheels, buzzing shifters, blurry rearview mirrors, etc. So, Ford incorporated bits on the GT350 that you wouldn’t find on a race car, like exhaust dampers and a dual-mass flywheel, to help smooth things out.

While the Voodoo’s flat-plane crankshaft grabbed all the headlines, this engine would’ve made tremendous horsepower if it had been built with a cross-plane crank. It inhaled through an 87-millimeter throttle body, the largest ever used on a Ford engine. The cams were aggressive, producing .55 inches of lift with 270 degrees duration and using low-friction roller followers to bump the valves. Compression is key to making power and, with a lofty 12:1 compression ratio, the Voodoo had plenty.

Read on

LS Fest West Celebrates the Chevy LS Small-block V-8 – Mike Austin @Hemmings

Advertisements

Has there ever been more universal engine solution than the Chevrolet LS V-8? It’s compact, it makes a lot of power even in stock tune, it’s reliable, and General Motors made a number of different variations in vast quantities. LS-based power has become such a default engine swap choice that it almost seems like cheating. There is a reason for its popularity, though, or even many reasons. Primarily: the Chevy Small block can fit in almost any engine bay. From junkyard finds to brand-new, emissions-certified plug-and-play crate engines from the GM Performance Parts engines, there’s one for every budget. And there are plenty of tune-up parts.

Read on