Saturday, August 19, 2017

Northeast Classic Car Museum, Norwich, New York, Part 2--August 19, 2017: Some Classics

The museum did a pretty good job of arranging cars chronologically for the most part and after the pioneer cars and the Brass Era ones we came to the impressive collection of what the Classic Car Club of America designates as "Full Classics."  There were some very fine examples of the most desired classic cars built in America.

1929 Duesenberg Model J
This Duesenberg is one of only three "All Weather Cabriolets" built by Holbrook, a coachbuilder located in Hudson, New York.  Duesenberg ordered ten bodies from the firm (three of these transformable town cars, two enclosed seven-passenger limousines, and five five-passenger sedans) but a further order of ten was cancelled due to the Great Depression.  It is believed that only three of the original Holbrook bodies survive as a number of the cars were rebodied with more up-to-date designs from other coachbuilders. Holbrook itself, established in 1908, ceased operations in 1930.  The price for this car would have been around $18,000 at the time.

1933 Marmon V16 Convertible Sedan
The Marmon Motor Car Company of Indianpolis introduced its magnificent V16 in 1931.  It had been under development since 1927 and arrived on the market after Cadillac had brought out its own V16 with the help of ex-Marmon engineers.  A 491 cu. in. motor, it produced 200 hp and was an all-aluminum design with steel cylinder liners.  The V16 was only produced for three years and in 1933, its final year of production, only 84 Marmons (all V16 models) were built as the company went bankrupt in May of that year.  Only three years earlier Marmon had produced 12,000 cars.  At $5,075 the V16 was a hard sell in the Great Depression.

1930 Packard Model 745 Roadster
The largest--on a 145 inch wheelbase--and most expensive Packard in the 7th Series, around 1700 of these Deluxe Eights were built in the 1930 model year, with this Roadster style perhaps the rarest.  New for 1930 was a four speed transmission and this example also boasted the optional ($90) wire wheels.  Powered by a 385 inline eight cylinder engine, the 745 had a factory price of $4,585.

American Austin Cars
Who would not have a soft spot for the American Austin?  The Butler, Pennsylvania, company, a licensee of the British Austin Motor Car Company, seemed to have the ingredients for success.  With stylish bodies designed by the brilliant Alexis de Sakhnoffsky in the best Art Deco fashion, the American Austin, powered with the same engine as Austin's successful Seven, garnered great attention when launched in 1930.  A small car with great style and excellent gas mileage selling for $445 during the Great Depression should have been a hit but after first year sales of 8,000 were never matched and production ended in 1932, only to be restarted in 1934, this time going until 1937, with a grand total of 20,000 cars built.

Amazingly, the company was revived as American Bantam in 1937 and production continued until 1941, with the company offering a range of body styles and selling 6,000 more of the little cars.  The Bantam story of bad luck did not end there, however.  The company built the prototype of what was to become the legendary Jeep but the US Government, requiring large numbers of the vehicles, gave the contract for the cars to Ford and Willys, which had much larger production facilities.  American Bantam made Jeep T-3 trailers and after the war made two-wheel trailers until taken over by another company in 1956.

1930 Henderson Model KJ
This sensational Art Deco motorcycle is a one-of-a-kind, based on a 1930 Henderson but extensively reworked to this form in 1936 by Ray Courtney, a metalsmith and designer who worked at Oldsmobile.  Courtney built a number of highly innovative motorcycles.  This one was clearly inspired by the Chrysler Airflow and Courtney's goal was to build a motorcycle focused on comfort rather than speed.  It sits on 10 inch scooter wheels and has balloon tires sourced from the aircraft industry.  The Henderson chassis received considerable modification, including hydraulic brakes and front suspension parts from Oldsmobile.  Courtney made the beautifully curved bodywork and fenders and apparently rode the motorcycle himself, although only one example was built.  In spite of its extraordinary appearance, it was impractical and difficult to ride, let alone replicate.

1930 Cadillac Series 452 V16 Seven Passenger Sedan
Cadillac's magnificent V16 was introduced in 1930 and 4,000 were built by the time production ended in 1940.  Although some cars were furnished as bare chassis to noted coachbuilders (probably less than one percent of the V16s), Cadillac offered "Catalog Customs" in no fewer than 50 body styles which were produced by Fleetwood.  This example, a four door sedan weighing nearly 6,000 lbs, would have had a list price of $7,225.

The V16 was introduced in January 1930 and through Fall of that year dealers were required to furnish the factory with weekly and monthly owner reaction and service reports on each V16 delivered.

1931 Cadillac Series 370A V12 Coupe
The V12 Cadillacs were similar to the V16s except for having hoods that were 4 inches shorter, smaller headlights and dual horns.  The instrument panels and rear lights were similar to the V8 cars.  This example was purchased as a true "basket case" and had the rear portion of the body hacked away, perhaps for use as a tow truck.  Restoration took 18 months.

This car was powered with Cadillac's 135 hp V12 and was constructed on a 140 inch wheelbase.  A sporty two passenger coupe, it would have cost $3,795 new.

1925 Stutz Model 693 Roadster
This handsome Stutz Roadster sold for $2,880 and was powered by a 70 hp six cylinder engine.  1925 was to be the last time a six was offered by Stutz, which introduced the famous Vertical Eight the following model year.

1931 Cadillac Series 355 V8 Convertible Coupe
This car was purchased by George Staley, who founded the museum in 1995, to be used as a template in the restoration of the V12 "basket case" 1931 Cadillac as the rear sections of the V8 and V12 would have been identical.  Both cars were restored over a two year period.  This car, powered by a 95 hp 353 cu. in. V8, boasts a body by Fleetwood on a 134 inch wheelbase, and listed at $2,945.

1934 Buick Series 50 Convertible Coupe
Only 506 of these handsome Convertible Coupes were made, fitted to a 119 inch wheelbase chassis and equipped with a inline eight cylinder engine displacing 235 cu. in. and producing 88 hp.  The two passenger car sold for $1,230.

1918 Cadillac Type 57 Seven Passenger Brougham
In 1918 $4,145 could buy you this impressive Cadillac.  Restored to its original specifications (including the upholstery pattern), the car is powered by a 314 V8 of 31.25 hp and featuring detachable cylinder heads.

1911 Hupmobile Model 20 Runabout
Robert Craig Hupp cofounded Hupmobile in 1909 after stints at Oldsmobile, Ford and Regal, and introduced the 20 hp Model 20 that year for $750.  In 1911 the company built 6,079 cars and that same year Robert Hupp departed after a dispute with his partners but Hupmobile was to go on competing successfully in the mid-priced field until the Great Depression and corporate battles resulted in the end of production in 1935, although the company did not declare bankruptcy until 1940 after the ill-starred attempt to have Graham-Paige build the Hupp Skylark using old Cord 812 tooling.

1912 R.C.H. Model 25 Five Passenger Touring Car
After Robert Hupp left Huppmobile, he went on to build the R.C.H. car (using his initials after a legal battle with his old company when he wanted to use the Hupp name).  Selling for $850, the 22 hp R.C.H. was meant to compete with the Ford Model T and offered self-starting, a rare feature in this price class even if the starter was gas-powered (a $50 Prest-O-Lite option) before eventually replaced with electric starting.  The car sold well enough but far outstripped the factory's capacity to deliver and lack of working capital saw the company reorganized in 1913, changes that included the departure of Mr. Hupp.  Production was resumed in 1914 but the rush to fill orders meant quality suffered to the extent that the car's reputation was ruined and the last R.C.H. was built in 1915.

1907 Cadillac Model K Runabout
The Cadillac Model K made automotive history when early in 1908 three cars were disassembled, the parts shuffled, and then reassembled to demonstrate their interchangeability in a test in the UK.  This was a huge step forward in precision engineering and won Cadillac the Dewar Trophy for the most important advancement of the year in automotive technology.  This Runabout, powered by a single cylinder 10 hp engine, sold for $800 and weighed in at 1100 lbs.

1924 Lafayette Seven Passenger Touring Car
Among the considerable number of rarities in the museum can be found this Lafayette.  The Lafayette Motor Car Company was founded in 1919 with the intent of building high quality cars in Indianapolis that would compete with Packard and Pierce-Arrow, as well as foreign makes such as Rolls-Royce and Mercedes.  Many of those involved with the new car had come from Cadillac, including that firm's Chief Engineer.  When the new car was revealed in 1920 it was learned that Charles Nash was behind the new firm, although it was separate from his Nash Motors Company.  

The new Lafayette was powered by a 90 hp V8 (later upgraded to 100 hp) and numerous body styles were offered when production began in August 1920 as 1921 models, with prices starting at $5,000--just in time for the post-World War I depression.  Only 700 cars were sold the first year and in 1923 operations moved to Milwaukee as the company was reorganized with greater Nash Motors investment.  The last of 2,267 Lafayettes was built in early 1924.  Nash was to revive the Lafayette name in 1934 for a lower-priced Nash model.

1937 Chrysler Series C-17 Airflow
Chrysler was a pioneer in applying aerodynamic thinking to its cars and the Airflow, introduced in 1934, was revolutionary in its unit body engineering, interior space and strength.  The cars had sloping V-type windshields, fender skirts, front and rear vent windows and recessed headlights mounted in teardrop-shaped housing that included parking lights.  This example shows how Chrysler, hoping for better sales, had changed the hood and grille to look more conventional. In 1937 some 4,600 Airflows were built in Coupe and Sedan body styles, the final year of a model that never gained public acceptance.  The C-17 Airflow retailed for $1,610 and featured an inline eight cylinder engine of 138 hp.

1938 Graham Model 97 "Sharknose" Sedan
Graham hoped to reverse its precarious financial situation with radical styling and the result was what the company called "The Spirit of Motion," but the public nicknamed "Sharknose." Conceived by noted designer Amos Northup, the forward-leaning front end, from the nose to the fenders housing square headlamps, more than implied speed even when the car was parked.  Available only as a tow or four door sedan, the car won design awards but alienated buyers.  Only 8,000 cars were produced in its three year model run and in 1940 Graham ceased all car production.

1924 Packard Single Eight 143 Seven Passenger Touring Car
With production beginning in June 1923, this marked Packard's introduction of a new straight eight engine along with four wheel mechanical brakes.  Closed cars were Packard Blue with red, and later blue, striping, while open body types, such as this example, were a vermilion-striped Dust Proof Gray, with brown Spanish leather in the interior.  The car sold for $3,850.  The new engine displaced 357 cu. in. and produced 85 bhp.

1937 Cord Model 812 Sportsman
Originally intended to be a "Baby Duesenberg," the Gordon Buehrig-designed Cord 810 came onto the market in 1936, in four body styles and propelled by a Lycoming V8 of 125 hp.  It was a sensation, with its front-wheel drive retractable headlights, hidden door hinges, coffin nose, and lack of running boards.  Production delays and mechanical problems meant only 1,174 were sold in its introductory year.  The 812 was the same car in 1937 but also was available with supercharging, boosting the power output to 170 hp.  Some unsold 1936 cars were renumbered as 1937 models and when production ceased that year only a total of 3,000 examples had been made in the two year run.  This supercharged example, priced at $3,619 (or 40% more than a standard model), was one of the last Cords made.

1935 Auburn Model 8-851 Phaeton
When E.L. Cord came to the struggling Auburn Automobile Company in 1924, he realized that he had to find a way to compete on a limited budget with bigger manufacturers' offerings.  This was done by restyling the cars and Auburns were to boast looks that belied their modest price.  However, the success of the Cord era came to an end with the onset of the Great Depression and by 1934 the company was in financial straits.

This 8-851 Phaeton was value-priced at $1,275 and had a Lycoming inline eight cylinder engine.  The 851 Auburns were also available with superchargers.

1935 Auburn 653 Convertible Sedan
The 653 was a Gordon Buehrig redesign of the 851 model but equipped with a six cylinder engine to be sold at a lower cost in the hope of offsetting falling Auburn sales  It was identical to the more expensive car in appearance but had a shorter hood.  This convertible sedan was priced at $995.

The Northwest Classic Car Museum boasts a particularly fine selection of classic Packards
A pair of 1931 Packards...
1931 Packard Model 840 Deluxe Eight Coupe
2,035 Model 840s were sold in the 1931 model year by Packard, offered in a staggering twenty body styles.  Powered by a 384 cu. in. straight eight of 120 hp, this five passenger coupe weighed in at a stately 4,673 lbs and cost $3,850.

1931 Packard Model 833 Standard Eight Roadster
Eleven body styles were on offer for the Standard Eight, which were all built on a 134 inch wheelbase and powered by a 319 cu. in. straight eight engine of  100 hp.  This sporty Roadster was priced at $2,425.  6,096 Model 833s in all styles were built in 1931.

1936 Packard Series 1408  Convertible Sedan
682 of Packard's V12 "Senior Packards" were built in 1936, utilizing the 175 hp engine that had been introduced in 1932 and would continue in production until 1939.  This $5,050 Convertible Sedan was one of five body styles available and weighed nearly 6,000 lbs.  While Packard earned great prestige from its V12 cars, it was sales of lower priced eight- and six-cylinder vehicles that kept the company going during the Great Depression.

1937 Packard Series 15 Model 1034 Seven Passenger Touring Sedan
The Packard Twelve enjoyed its best sales year in 1937, with 1,300 cars produced in that model year.  This Touring Sedan cost $3,885 and was one of thirteen body styles offered.  Options on this car include dual side-mount tires with covers, heater, radio, and a luggage rack.

1935 Lincoln Model K Series 541 Four Door Sedan
1,411 Lincolns of all types were produced in the 1935 model year.  This Series 541 car was on a 136 inch wheelbase chassis and was fitted with Lincoln's 414 cu. in. V12 of 150 hp. The museum car has a three window five passenger sedan body and sold for $4,300 new, with 278 examples built.

1930 Lincoln Model L Model 176B Dual Cowl Phaeton
The Lincoln Model L had been in production since 1921 and the founding of the Lincoln Motor Car Company by Henry Leland.  The model continued in production under Ford ownership of Lincoln after 1922 and this car is representative of the final year of the model before the Model K arrived in 1931.  90 of these Dual Cowl Sport Phaetons were built, priced at $4,400, and powered with a 384 cu. in. V8 making 90 hp.

1936 Lincoln Model K Series 300 LeBaron Convertible Sedan
In 1936 the less expensive Zephyr was introduced and would be Lincoln's predominant seller in the coming years.  However, the Model K remained available until 1940, featuring a 150 hp V12 engine of 414 cu. in. displacement, and 1,515 were built in the model year.  Only 15 were five passenger LeBaron Convertible Sedans like the museum car, priced at $5,000, and riding on a 136 inch wheelbase.
1936 Cadillac Series 75
The Series 75 was a full-sized range powered by a new 135 hp V8 introduced in 1936.  This engine, of 346 cu. in. displacement, would remain in production until 1948, finding application not only in Cadillacs but tanks produced by GM during World War II.  A stylish car that was not as good as the Cadillac V12s and V16s and outsold by cheaper LaSalles and Series 60 Cadillacs, the V8s were to predominate in Cadillac's future business nonetheless.  The Great Depression kept sales low and only 5,248 Series 75 cars were sold in 1936.  This big sedan would have cost in the order of $3,000.

1938 Cadillac Series 38-90 Sixteen Convertible Sedan
Cadillac introduced a new V16 in 1938.  It was 431 cu. in. in displacement and made 185 hp.  It was essentially a pair of eight cylinder engines, with dual carburetors, oil bath air cleaners, manifolds, distributors, coils, fuel pumps and water pumps.  Introduced in October 1937, 315 V16s were sold in the model year, with this Convertible Sedan listed at $6,000.

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