Wanted, 1920’s Super Six coupe or roadster

rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 12Member
I just registered here because this morning I ran across a 1929 Essex rumble seat coupe in barn fresh condition on Craigslist. Best I can tell from the photographs, it is complete, but it looks to have spent at least a few years outdoors. The roof leaked and the upholstery is missing but not the seat frame. The owner tells me it has a title and ran when parked in their warehouse five years ago. The paint it present but faded in places and the bodywork is very straight with no wood rot. It’s going to cost me 11,000 to purchase and ship 1,400 miles to South Texas. $9,500 if I fetch it myself. My sense is that it’s low mileage but that has yet to be confirmed. I only want to freshen it up and enjoy it it less than concours condition. 

 Seems if I wait a little longer and pay just a little more I might find something even nicer and closer to home. I have driven antique vehicles exclusively 40 years and have never paid this much for anything and never sight unseen, so as much as I want to pull the trigger on it, I have much trepidation about it.

Does anyone have advice or possibly a comparable example for sale closer to Texas? 
I am seeking an unmodified coupe or roadster with a six cylinder so I can at least outrun “most” model A Fords and not be mowed down on surface roads. 
Thanks in advance for any helpful advice....


Comments

  • Jon BJon B Posts: 7,020Administrator
    edited March 22
    My advice would be, hold on and look around. $9,500 is a lot to pay for a '29 that is not in pretty good condition, because 1920's cars are not bringing the money they once did, and  let's face it:  an Essex -- while it is a well-built car -- was not an expensive car.

    Don't buy sight unseen.  My guess is that you will find an Essex closer to home, and in as-good or better condition.  (Although I obviously haven't seen it.)  I know people with Essexes and they are excellent automobiles.  And the Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club is a good resource when it comes to finding parts.  (In '29, Essex was the #3 best seller...don't know if you knew that.)

    If you're set on an Essex, and you're not yet a member, I'd heartily suggest you join the H-E-T.  There are always plenty of cars for sale in the bi-monthly magazine, and once you get to meet some of the members, you may be able to get a tip about a nice car before it comes onto the market.

    Whichever way you go, best of luck in finding your car!
  • rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 12Member
    Thanks for the well reasoned advice.
    I was seriously considering heading northwest with my flatbed and hopefully saving on transportation costs.
     Stumbling upon this Essex did open my eyes to their high quality but finding a Hudson would be even better. From all I’m learning of the nickel era Hudsons they really suit the surrounding farm roads in my area.
  • BigSkyBigSky Posts: 449Senior Contributor
    Rusty, 

    Here’s a 29 coupe which is running & driving & I would bet it could be had for a couple grand less than their asking price. 

  • rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 12Member
    BigSky said:
    Rusty, 

    Here’s a 29 coupe which is running & driving & I would bet it could be had for a couple grand less than their asking price. 

    Thanks!
    I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to send them a cash offer.
  • Jon BJon B Posts: 7,020Administrator
    edited March 22
    Here's another approach: find a '29 Hudson or Essex owner in your immediate area and ask if it's okay to come over and talk to them about their cars.  If they're knowledgeable, they could give you some good information on what to look for -- and what to avoid -- in your search.  The places to look for rust, the specific noises in the engine.  And, people with a particular year of Hudson tend to know others with the same year of car, so they may happen to know of someone who is thinking of selling: a widow, an older fellow thinning his herd.  In this way you could get the jump on other buyers, before the car is even advertised.  If you're not yet a Club member, you could approach the person who keeps the registry for 1929's, and ask him if anyone on his list of owners, lives in your region.  

    At the least you could see a '29 up close, maybe sit in it or even get a ride around the block, and thus learn if you really want one, after all!

    The 1929 Essex roster is maintained by Gary Lynch at XXXessexcanada@hotmail.com

    The 1929 Hudson roster is maintained by Dany Spring at  XXX29hudsonregistry@gmail.com

    Delete the XXX before sending.


  • Jon BJon B Posts: 7,020Administrator
    edited March 22
    Incidentally, here's a '29 Hudson convertible in dandy shape, that sold at Sotheby's last year for $17,600 (including buyer's fee).  https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/fl19/fort-lauderdale/lots/r0176-1929-hudson-super-six-convertible-victoria/746872

    Might be out of your price range but when you consider how much you might drop into your car, once you buy it, the price becomes more reasonable.  Anyway, it gives you some point of reference for prices that are actually being paid, nowadays.

    (By the way: you may already know this, but the button next to the ignition switch, when depressed, shows the actual level of the oil in the engine.  Both Hudson and Essex had this feature, in those days.)
  • Courtesy ManCourtesy Man Posts: 153Expert Adviser
    Hi Rusty, now is a good time to be a buyer but as Jon cautions take your time and get a good evaluation - are you buying someone elses problem car? I joined the HET club in March 1968 and have owned many - most of them bought cheap and not running and they never got to be running. I would have been smarter to save some money and buy better cond Hudsons - not really regret as I had some great ones. We all have opinions and they are only that - but for me now  I have a definite preference for some models : Stepdowns, or 8 cyl or Hudsons of 288 cid.  If you are considering a Hudson with babbit bearings the machine work is almost nonexistent and very expensive. My advice buy a runner that you can test-run and not be too concerned with cosmetics. Find a cyl compression gage and run an oil pressure check (be cautious of an engine with overly heavy motor oil) check for rust and oil leaks.  Don't mean to be neg - now really is good time to buy and there are great buys to be had. Happy hunting. Gert Kristiansen Deseret Chapter.
  • rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 12Member
    Jon B said:
    Incidentally, here's a '29 Hudson convertible in dandy shape, that sold at Sotheby's last year for $17,600 (including buyer's fee).  https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/fl19/fort-lauderdale/lots/r0176-1929-hudson-super-six-convertible-victoria/746872

    Might be out of your price range but when you consider how much you might drop into your car, once you buy it, the price becomes more reasonable.  Anyway, it gives you some point of reference for prices that are actually being paid, nowadays.

    (By the way: you may already know this, but the button next to the ignition switch, when depressed, shows the actual level of the oil in the engine.  Both Hudson and Essex had this feature, in those days.)
    Many thanks for so much enlightenment!
    The Sotheby’s example would be just too nice for me to enjoy. I would be a nervous wreck putting it on the open road! However you make a great point, all those small repairs add up quickly, I would probably feel more comfortable with a more well worn example!

    I had noticed that the gauge said fuel AND oil and was curious as to how it was operated! Now I know! 

    I took your advice to heart and joined the club this morning. I have already placed a wanted ad in the newsletter and another on the closed discussion forum. I also included a photograph of the Essex for reference. 
  • rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 12Member
    Hi Rusty, now is a good time to be a buyer but as Jon cautions take your time and get a good evaluation - are you buying someone elses problem car? I joined the HET club in March 1968 and have owned many - most of them bought cheap and not running and they never got to be running. I would have been smarter to save some money and buy better cond Hudsons - not really regret as I had some great ones. We all have opinions and they are only that - but for me now  I have a definite preference for some models : Stepdowns, or 8 cyl or Hudsons of 288 cid.  If you are considering a Hudson with babbit bearings the machine work is almost nonexistent and very expensive. My advice buy a runner that you can test-run and not be too concerned with cosmetics. Find a cyl compression gage and run an oil pressure check (be cautious of an engine with overly heavy motor oil) check for rust and oil leaks.  Don't mean to be neg - now really is good time to buy and there are great buys to be had. Happy hunting. Gert Kristiansen Deseret Chapter.

    There is nothing negative about being cautious! I really appreciate being talked down from making a regrettable impulse purchase which was why I came to the experts! 
    It seems like many collectors and museums are downsizing these days and those that are just getting into the hobby are looking for muscle cars of the 1970s. 
    I do have a compression tester and a new 6 volt battery to turn it over with but it would take a considerable fuel investment just to check out the little Essex, so for now I will wait and see if a better opportunity shows up. 
  • Jon BJon B Posts: 7,020Administrator
    Congrats on joining the H-E-T.  I'm not trying to push this thing, but there ARE chapters and there might be one that's centered near you.  (Usually they charge $10-15 membership per year and you have to already be a member of the National).  They are a great way to meet fellow Hudson enthusiasts and you never know when someone might know of a '29 coupe sitting in someone's barn....

    You might want to at least find out when the next meeting is, and saunter over and introduce yourself.  You don't have to join, to do that, but you might make some good connections.

    Here's a map of the chapters

      and here is the webpage (on the National Club's website) that shows the contact information for the individual chapters https://www.hetclub.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&view=wrapper&Itemid=515  (I think you said you were in Texas).
  • rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 12Member
    I don’t feel like you’re being pushy, only helpful and I appreciate that. I have found my local chapter in Austin and may reach out to them electronically for now what with this pesky pandemic going on. My hope is that once my wanted ad goes in the newsletter I may get a response from older members who don’t fool around with these confounded computers. 

    I am a member of the Wheelmen, who preserve the history of the golden age of cycling. A few years ago I got a great deal from one of our members on an 1887 St. Nicholas Centaur 48” high wheeled ordinary bicycle right here in south Texas, which is unheard of!

    I think if I’m patient it should pay off in the end and the right automobile will come along. Most of our members are also older and many of us wonder what will become of our collections when we are no longer here to be their temporary caretakers. One of my wheels was built in 1877 and one just wonders how many caretakers have had it in their possession in 143 years! It still retains it’s original tiring material although it is fully petrified and unrideable with them in place. In those days the pneumatic tire was not yet invented so the tires were generally solid rubber with an internal wire holding it fast to the steel rim. This particular 1877 Coventry Machinists co. 52” wheel is unusual as it has a continuous, seamless solid rubber tire that was stretched and glued to the rim. My fellow club members suggested that I not replace it since it is quite rare to find one still in place, so it is currently residing in the Texas Transportation Museum and is the oldest vehicle in their possession!

    I’m still having a hard time putting that Essex coupe out of my mind, but I believe if I’m patient It will pay off. Meanwhile I just noticed that the hood ornament looks to be snapped off and it appears to have a dished steering wheel which seems wrong, so that makes it a little easier to hold off on it.
  • Courtesy ManCourtesy Man Posts: 153Expert Adviser
    When ready to use your 6 volt battery make sure the engine will turn over by hand . Also remember Hudsons  (up to 1955  ?) were all using the positive battery terminal to go to ground on the car. Some things lacking in my 1927 Essex were water pump and fuel pump and it only had back wheel brakes. Came that way. Never got it running. Also had oil pumped to only front of dipper tray and #6 rod/piston could score - in 1929 I think they ran lines to front and back ro remedy this design flaw. The rear axle gearing often left a max speed around 30-35 mph - (correct me if I am wrong). So several things to consider as well as what styling era you prefer.  GK
  • GeoffGeoff Posts: 3,761Senior Contributor
    A few things to straighten out - Essex never had water pump, they were thermo-syphon, an extremely efficient and trouble-free system.   Oil was pumped to front only  up to and including 1929.   45 m.p.h. is easily accomplished even with original  rear end ratio.  Essex were all negative ground battery.  What year Essex are we talking about?   I have moulds for radiator caps, door handles and window winders for 1928 and '29 models to get new parts made. 
  • rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 12Member
    When ready to use your 6 volt battery make sure the engine will turn over by hand . Also remember Hudsons  (up to 1955  ?) were all using the positive battery terminal to go to ground on the car. Some things lacking in my 1927 Essex were water pump and fuel pump and it only had back wheel brakes. Came that way. Never got it running. Also had oil pumped to only front of dipper tray and #6 rod/piston could score - in 1929 I think they ran lines to front and back ro remedy this design flaw. The rear axle gearing often left a max speed around 30-35 mph - (correct me if I am wrong). So several things to consider as well as what styling era you prefer.  GK

    If possible I pull the plugs and have a look inside with my newfangled camera snake.
    Then I add an ounce or so of oil In each cylinder before cranking on it with anything.

    Thanks for the heads up. It’s funny how people are still advised not to let car bodies touch when using jumper cables even though positive grounding is rarely used these days. I actually drive a few positive ground vehicles so it does get a little confusing sometimes around here. I have a Mk 1 Spitfire and a Ford tractor that are both meant to be wired positive ground and were modified in the past so it adds another level to the confusion. I usually buy a manual right off the bat if one wasn’t provided by a previous owner so I can head in the right direction. Dad used to say it’s all about knowing everything but knowing which book to look in. 

    I am looking forward to operating a vehicle with a vacuum operated fuel delivery system. That may have been the source of your problem. It seems like a wonderfully simplistic yet with so many different ways to starve or flood the engine with fuel. 

    Could it be that your Essex had plenty of power but you were simply being considerate of those babbitt bearing and keeping the revs down? One of my main reasons for seeking out a six cylinder of that age is that it would be faster than a model A of it’s time.
  • rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 12Member
    Geoff said:
    A few things to straighten out - Essex never had water pump, they were thermo-syphon, an extremely efficient and trouble-free system.   Oil was pumped to front only  up to and including 1929.   45 m.p.h. is easily accomplished even with original  rear end ratio.  Essex were all negative ground battery.  What year Essex are we talking about?   I have moulds for radiator caps, door handles and window winders for 1928 and '29 models to get new parts made. 
    Very interesting. 
    So it basically used convection for water circulation? 
    I love the simplicity.
  • GeoffGeoff Posts: 3,761Senior Contributor
    Yes,  as the water heated up, it expanded upwards into the header tank, and thus down through the radiator, and back, cooled, into the block.  Only disadvantage is that you have to have a good sized header tank, and the Essex holds 4-1/2 gallons of water, which of course weighs a bit, but as far as trouble goes, there is none.  I have had my 1928 Essex for 64 years, and never had overheating problems.   The temperature sits just below the red line normally ( with the sender situated in the top of the head, at the rear), and  when you start to ascend a hill, and the engine works a bit harder you can see the needle drop back to  the half-way mark.  Over half a million miles total   now.  In my experience one of the "Great" models produced by Hudson and, by a small margin, the biggest selling model ever.   229,000 of them.
    Geoff 
  • GeoffGeoff Posts: 3,761Senior Contributor
    Her'es a picture of  my Essex  earning it's keep  with a load of firewood
  • rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 12Member
    The period correct utility trailer is a nice touch. I believe these old machines are like people and need to keep moving or go into decline! How many times have you rebuilt the engine?
  • GeoffGeoff Posts: 3,761Senior Contributor
    I call it "Grandpa's Axe", because it's had three handles and two heads during it's lifetime.  I get around 100,000 miles between rebuilds. 
  • rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 12Member
    I imagine you have some interesting moments from from all those miles!
  • GeoffGeoff Posts: 3,761Senior Contributor
    I'm currently writing a book about it.
  • rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 12Member
    Sounds like a great read!
  • rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 12Member
    Since joining up I have been presented with a few interesting leads that were tempting but since they aren’t exactly what I’m looking for so I’m still looking for other options.
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