Journal: Do You Like Pre-War Cars?

Do You Like Pre-War Cars?

By Michael Banovsky
May 20, 2016
17 comments

At Petrolicious, we believe in driving all classics tastefully, regardless of age, but I’ll admit that most of my personal interest lies with vehicles made after 1945. I can’t point to a specific reason why, but I’ve often wondered if others felt the same.

First, I urge you to all fall in love with Voisins, Mercers, Ruxtons, and Stanleys—and Bugattis, and Fiats, and Tatras. But if it came down to putting one in your garage or spending money on one over a more ‘modern’ classic, would you stick with a Pre-War car?  

I estimate I’d need about a three car garage before a Tatra or Voisin would enter the picture. I’ve driven a few, I like the designs of many, but they just don’t “do” it for me like, say, something with “Zagato” on its rump.

Early vehicles tend to be rarely seen on-road these days, for various reasons—but perhaps they simply falling out of favor with enthusiasts. How elderly do you like your classic cars?

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Singerowner
Singerowner(@singerowner)
5 years ago

I started my pre-war passion at the age of 17 with a 1933 Singer Nine Sports. I have four pre-war Singers now and find myself actually moving further back in time as the latest is a 1928 Singer Senior ‘Coachbuilt Saloon’. That car is an example of real vintage ‘stream train engineering’!

I love the engineering, style and sound of pre-war cars and they are what I always wanted even before I was in long pants. That said, I have always been the youngest guy with the oldest cars in our local group.

The big challenge today is inspiring and educating the younger generations about the value of our industrial heritage so that future generations can enjoy them as living history rather that static museum exhibits!

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson(@pdxbryan)
5 years ago
Reply to  Singerowner


Check out young Greg Horwitz’s post from a day or two ago. An example of who your looking for.

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson(@pdxbryan)
5 years ago

For me it all started with ’40 Fords, ’57 Chevys and Vettes. Then Cobras, 911s, Daytonas, and on and on. I was always fascinated by post war, full bodied cars until I saw your story on Cyclekarts. Since then I’ve been enamored of the idea of building my own miniature pre-war race car. Through the guidance of that community I’ve learned a lot about this fascinating era of autos. Bugattis are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s amazing reading up on the early designers and what they were able to come up with in those early years and then what the Germans did in the 30s. Fascinating machines and times. A personal favorite is the 1927 Delage Grand Prix car.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay(@christophergay)
5 years ago

These vehicles appeal to me because I can fix or make just about everything on them myself. What’s not to like?

Greg Horwitz
Greg Horwitz(@synracing33)
5 years ago

As a teenager falling in love with cars, I never cared much for pre-war cars. But I began to volunteer at the Simeone Foundation Museum and it really opened my eyes to pre-war cars. The Alfa’s of the ’20’s and ’30’s are absolute works of art, especially under the bonnet. The two Bugatti’s in the museums collection, a Type 35 and the legendary Type 57G “Tank” are engineering perfection. And then there’s the really early racers; American, National and Mercer; who’s giant displacement engines make such sweet music. But away from the race cars, the museum has 3 Auburns, an Oakland, a Page, and 2 DuPonts.

What really made me fall in love with pre-war cars, was getting the chance to ride in the Museum’s 1929 Stutz Supercharged Le Mans. The beautiful body and smooth but muscly straight-8 hit me in just the right spot. Since that ride, I have fallen in love with Stutz.

As a mid-20-something, I don’t have many friends that share my love for pre-war cars. In fact most my age would be hard pressed to name any pre-war car maker. But I pride myself on my love and knowledge of these cars, and when the older generations begin to dwindle in number, I hope to carry the torch of the early years of automotive history.

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson(@pdxbryan)
5 years ago
Reply to  Greg Horwitz

Very cool Greg!

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay(@christophergay)
5 years ago
Reply to  Greg Horwitz

Thumbs up.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson(@valvebounce)
5 years ago

Once you’ve grown up and got through your Zegato phase pre-war is the only way to go. I think the interest picking up now that 1960s GTs are completely out of reach to normal humans.

Look at the fuss that the Edwardian and aero-engined cars made at Goodwood MM this year and The Beast of Turin being named car of the year by a lot of people. These are real hands-on machines built by talented individuals and driven with elan.

Forget about Bugatti and Voisin look at the Vintage Hot Rod Association, Pendine Hot Rod Races in the UK and Race of Gentlemen. This arm of the old car world is great fun at the moment. The cars look great, sound great, allow for a bit of creativity and are hair raising to drive. Built your own…

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger(@gtrslngr)
5 years ago

Yeah … I really do . Fact is I love em ! Granted they are all to a number quirky , oddball and obstinate pains in the keister to drive … especially Bugatti’s of the era … but the minute you finally get your head around them …. hopefully after much instruction … good lord there is nothing like pre-war cars on the planet to be driving … tastefully as the site would infer . Add to that they are the one and only era of cars of which it is not only acceptable … but almost downright mandatory to be driving in period correct clothing …. Having your lady by your side suitably dressed as well only adds to the experience . Though errr … I’ve not been beyond toddling down the road in a Type 35 wearing shorts , tie dyed T Shirt , Persols and a ball cap myself … being the obstinate iconoclast that I am

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger(@gtrslngr)
5 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

Apologies Banovsky .. I missed the 2nd question . If … in my entire life I could of had only one classic car ….

…. hand down it’d have to be a Bugatti Type 35 road version . … my 2nd would be an Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 . Fact is … on the later …. you’ve no idea how close
I came to buying one back in the 70’s when they were still cheap …. sniff …. no idea what so ever ….. sniff ……………

Jonathan Readings
Jonathan Readings(@fv1183)
5 years ago

I keep my 1930 Riley 9 special in my garage but drive it regularly, it’s not super powerful but is a real hands on, seat of the pants experience to drive. No synchromesh so double de-clutching is required on down changes and heel and toeing when braking and down changing. it’s the best driving experience ive had and I’ve driven some classy cars like Ferrari, cobra, 911 and racing Jaguars.

JB21
JB21(@jb21)
5 years ago

Yes. They are heroic, as in a great reminder of the days when men were real men and all sheep were afraid.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger(@gtrslngr)
5 years ago
Reply to  JB21

When men were men … women were women .. children were well behaved .. cows sheep and horses ran in fear …. and driving …. even just a few miles was an adventure rather than a chore .

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange(@365daytonafan)
5 years ago

I’ve only ridden in one pre-war car and the war that it was pre was the Spanish- American war of 1898! A couple of years ago I got a ride across London in an 1897 Panhard et levassor that was taking part in the London to Brighton veteran car run the next day. it was certainly an experience and attracted far more attention that the ‘Supercars’ running around Mayfair.

As to other prewar cars would love to have a go in an 8C Alfa or Bugatti and some of the Delages and Delahayes are stunning to look at.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger(@gtrslngr)
5 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Lange

“As to other prewar cars would love to have a go in an 8C Alfa or Bugatti and some of the Delages and Delahayes are stunning to look at ”

Should the opportunity arise … Do it good sir ! Albeit with a substantial amount of pre-drive instruction and advice guaranteeing the experience to be one hell of a ride !

Boxerman
Boxerman(@boxerman)
5 years ago

The more mechanical and viceral a machine the more it appeals. The problem with pre war cars is the ones that are any good to drive are few and far between and really expensive.

The stuff from the 20’s is great. However a Bugatti, Alfa , Deusenberg, Bently, rolls ghost or Hispano start at 500k-1mill and escalate from there. For the less coin there are more or equaly ineteresting to drive post war cars.

That means that one has to have a sizeable amount of post war cars, and excess coin to before really getting into pre war stuff.

One could also shortcut to the hot rod genre, a flathead ford v8 rodded is pre war, and fun, lots of buyers there.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger(@gtrslngr)
5 years ago
Reply to  Boxerman

……. or alternatively assuming one is desperate to own one and is willing to accept that fact its a very accurate and well done replica not the real thing one could head down to Argentina to have that brilliant crew of automotive masters build you a brand spanking new Type 35 , Alfa etc minus all the poor materials the originals came with along with a couple of subtle modifications in order to make them just a tad bit more drivable .