Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My brother's "new" car

My brother collects old, classic cars. He buys them, restores them, puts them in shows, drives them, and sells them. Other people bring their cars to him for restoration.

I think the oldest of his cars (yes, plural) was a 1938 Packard (reminded me of Eliot Ness) until a few weeks ago. That's when he brought home a 1911 Buick.

It's in surprisingly good shape for being 102 years old. It hadn't been restored or in a museum or anything. The man who owned the car had been the mechanic on it for 76 years. Of course my brother has plans to restore it. The brass cleaner is already on the work bench. The engine will turn over, but it needs to be flushed and cleaned before it will run. It was driven in a parade two short years ago, so my brother is confident he can get it running again.

Operating the car is more complicated than I imagined. You can't see all of them in this picture, but there are four pedals on the floor. The brake and clutch are visible. Between them is a tiny throttle control; you can see the slot for it. Closer to the seat is a pedal on the floor that will bypass the muffler to give the engine more power when it's needed, like when the vehicle is stuck in the mud, which probably happened a lot in 1911. The two levers to the right of the driver's seat are the shift and the brake.

The spark and throttle levers are on the steering wheel. Old time cruise control.

Once you crank start the engine, you have to manually adjust the spark timing to set the idle speed correctly.

There are oil lamps on the back and both sides. The front headlamps are different. There is a tank on the driver's side with a line running to the headlamps. Carbide is dropped in water in the tank to create the acetylene gas for the headlamps. Because of the tank, the driver has to get in on the passenger side.

You can see a few of my brother's other cars in the background of this photo.

The horn is really cool. It's operated by squeezing a large bulb by the driver's seat. I couldn't get it to work, because my hand is too small. According to my brother, this tri-coil horn is the most expensive part of the car.

I asked where the gas tank is, because I didn't see a place to fill it. The gas tank is ... wait for it ... under the passenger seat! Safety first!
Speaking of the gas tank, if you were low on gas in 1911, you had to drive backwards to go uphill. There was no gas gauge, so I have no idea how you knew when it was low.

Wooden Wheels!

Licensed and ready to hit the road.

My brother always gets the coolest toys.


  1. I have to agree that your brother does have some of the coolest toys. :) I bet that he gets a lot of heads turning when he goes out on the road with one of them, even more so when he finally gets the 1911 Buick back in good condition. Speaking of which, is there any progress on that restoration project? I would love to see it in all its glory.

    Stelle Courney

  2. It must be so good to have a brother that has a huge collection of vintage cars. You get to have a lot of knowledge on different cars, and that’s a great advantage if you would want to buy your own vintage car too. @ Spartan Toyota & Scion

  3. It's not surprising for your brother; collecting cars is really a fun thing to do, particularly vintage cars like this. My dad wanted to have cars like this too for his birthday but practicality-wise, I bought him a new car that he can use regularly. Anyway, have you tried driving it? Or can I say, do your brother let you drive this?
    → Ava Harness @ EliteToyota.com