Hooniverse Asks- What Pre-WWII Car or Truck Do You Covet?

A few months back we had a Hooniverse Asks in which I queried you as to when you thought cars became ‘modern.’  Most of you felt that cars built from about the mid-’70s onward could be considered modern due to their driving capabilities and build materials. Sure there were exceptions to the rule, but for the most part anything with a fat bumper and a catalytic convertor was, to the majority of you, a modern car.

Today’s question concerns cars that today could not under any circumstances be considered modern, especially not in regards to braking, handling or safety. The automotive industry, especially in the U.S., came into being in the last decade of the nineteenth century, however it wasn’t until the teens that cars like the Model T brought automobile ownership to the masses. That era, the Model T age so to speak, saw an incredible explosion in auto makers and the number of models offered. Even the great depression couldn’t totally quell the desire for new iron, although most of the new makes that arose in the previous two decades did die along with the stock market and Middle America’s dreams.

But the auto industry still chugged along – popping out both new models and new technologies – V8 engines, electric start, the car radio to name a few – and it seemed that noting could stop this 20th Century juggernaut. Then arrived Pearl Harbor, an evil little Guy with an even littler mustache, and a defining moment in the history of the World. Dubbya-Dubbya Two put such strains on  the American industry that auto production had to give way to the likes of B29 production, aircraft carrier production, and M4 Sherman production. So complete was the halt in civilian auto making that this event serves as a delimiter of eras – those being pre-war and post-war.

Most of us fall into that post-war period, and hence naturally gravitate to the cars and trucks that likewise were produced after the global conflict. But that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate those that came before. For me, it’s the ’33 Fordor V8 that really floats my boat. I don’t know if it’s the rakish look – exemplified best in the edition with four suicide doors – or maybe it’s that it seems to be the prototype for the Citroen Traction Avant, yet another of my favorites. What about you, is there a car or truck from the era of flapper dresses and speakeasies that flaps your dress or speaks easily to you? What pre-war car would you most like to have?

Image source: [eaglefreeenterprises.com]

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63 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What Pre-WWII Car or Truck Do You Covet?”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    Dusenberg SSJ
    <img src="http://www.supercharged.com/images/classic_car_images/Duesenberg-SSJ-roadster.jpg"width=500&gt;
    ~400HP, 140+ MPH, 0-60 <8sec. In 1935!

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      My brush with one of these:

  2. skitter Avatar

    Good call on the Traction-Avant. I'd take any of them, as long as it's all one color.

  3. njhoon Avatar

    I want all of them, I love prewar cars. If I had to choose make mine with a V16. A V16 Caddy please.
    <img src="http://www.remarkablecars.com/main/cadillac/cadillac-00064.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. dmilligan Avatar

      Argh! You beat me to it! Here's one I like from 1932:
      <img src="http://www.adamcarolla.com/CarCastBlog/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Cadillac1932_V16.jpg&quot; width="”600”/">

    2. CptSevere Avatar

      I agree. This gorgeous example has the later, flathead V16, which apparently was the better engine. It had a 135 degree angle, rather than 45. I'd take either. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_V-16_engine

  4. OA5599 Avatar

    If I had unlimited resources, I would pick the Buick Y Job.
    <img src="http://www.seriouswheels.com/pics-1930-1939/1938-Buick-Y-Job-fa-track-1024×768.jpg&quot; width=500>
    In the real world, though, I'd settle on the production vehicle that most benefitted from its styling, the 1941 Cadillac convertible.
    <img src="http://www.sportscardigest.com/wp-content/uploads/1941_Cadillac_Convertible-S111.jpg&quot; width=500>
    I think there have been a cumulative 5 years in my life when my dad didn't have at least one '41 Caddy around, but sadly, never a ragtop.

    1. Charles_Barrett Avatar

      I was aware of Harley Earl's Y Job Buick concept car, but never made the stylistic connection to the 1941 Cadillac before reading this post today. Thank you for enlightening me…!
      Pictured together, it's undeniable.

    2. OA5599 Avatar


    1. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
      Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

      …and a Graham-Paige Sharknose
      <img src="http://www.oldandyoungtimer.com/uploads/8688/1.jpg"&gt;

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        I'd so rock a Graham Hollywood if I had a chance.
        <img src="http://www.motorbase.com/pictures/contributions/991202//std_1941_graham_hollywood_supercharged_sedan.jpg"&gt;

    2. Robert Emslie Avatar
      Robert Emslie

      It's not the cough that carries you off, it's the coffin they carry you off in.

  5. acarr260 Avatar

    Auburn Boattail Speedster seems obligatory. I'll try to drop an image of mine here…
    <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3485/4050727146_93e325de2f.jpg&quot; width="500" height="375" alt="P1000279">

  6. $kaycog Avatar

    I really like the 1934 Ford Roadster.
    <img src="http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/1934-ford-deluxe-roadster-3.jpg"width="500"/&gt;

  7. Alff Avatar

    My wife is passionate about color. I think a lovely striped Ruxton will do the job for her…
    <img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_OGymN8fFoHI/THglgG-MEoI/AAAAAAAATxo/xdG7dSjWPeE/s1600/1930+Ruxton+1.1.jpg"width=500&gt;

  8. jeremy![™] Avatar

    also a good thing we are talking only about production cars. otherwise…
    <img src="http://www.0-60mag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/auto-union-type-c_1937-donington-gp.jpg"&gt;

    1. joshuman Avatar

      This was my desktop background image for a while.

  9. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    1931 Studebaker Speedster. In 1931, George Hunt, a Studebaker research engineer, drove a Speedway roadster to eleven speed records at Dry Lake in California. It covered 100 miles at an average speed of 90.35 miles per hour.
    <img src="http://www.tomstrongman.com/ClassicCars/Don%20Armacost/Images/19Stude.jpg&quot; width="500">

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      If I didn't have unlimited funds, A Model T Coupe, mildly hot rodded. No chop and intact fenders, please.
      <img src="http://www.autorama.com/casi/images/ridler/large/scan0012.jpg&quot; width="500">

      1. Paul_y Avatar

        Ts that haven't been hacked to bits are just plain sexy. They are worth hot-rodding, but it's so much cooler when they're not rail dragsters with a T body tub on top.

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          Poof?Sent from my iPhone

  10. west_coaster Avatar


    1. Paul_y Avatar

      I won't thumbs-down you for this, but BOOOOOO.
      There aren't a ton of prewar cars that I personally lust after, but there's got to be something that you'd dragon.

      1. west_coaster Avatar

        I love, love, love MANY pre-war cars….when other people own them.

  11. muthalovin Avatar

    Better red than dead, I always sez.

  12. topdeadcentre Avatar

    Today is a lovely day for a picnic here in New England. And so today, I covet a car that will, as a matter of course, have its own "ship's china" and sterling silverware in a custom pattern. I'll bring food enough for all the Hooniverse regulars, in hampers too large for a normal Classic's trunk. A 1935 Bentley 3 1/2 liter wood-bodied shooting brake:
    <img src="http://www.oldwoodies.com/img/uk/35bently3.5liter.jpg&quot; width="550">

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      I always thought a shooting brake had only two side doors.

      1. topdeadcentre Avatar

        Try a Google Image Search…
        Generally speaking, the ones based on sports cars have two doors, and conversions from sedans ("saloons" in the UK) have four doors. The Wikipedia article explains some of the evolution of the shooting brake name.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      If we're talking pre-war woodies, I would go with something domestic and bit more egalitarian, but in my view equally desirable.
      <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/armacost_front_quarter.jpg&quot; width="500">

      1. topdeadcentre Avatar

        Oooooooo… that's really nice. It might even fit in my undersized garage; I'd need a full-sized carriage house for the above Bentley.

  13. rovingardener Avatar

    M-B 540K. Or a Mercer Runabout.

  14. CptSevere Avatar

    Just about any mid-thirties Packard. A friend of mine had one, a 1936 coupe with a rumble seat (it even had a compartment for your golf clubs) and I've ridden in it a few times. It was whisper silent, smooth as silk, and just dripped class. That car had a presence unlike anything else I've seen.

  15. Reuven Avatar

    Chrysler Imperial Airflow. The '34.

  16. Jim-Bob Avatar

    Nothing says awesome quite like a Tatra T-87, so it's the pre war car for me. I mean, it has a huge stabilizing fin on the back-how cool is that? Also, it has an air cooled Hemi V8 that has almost double the horsepower of my daily driver. Couple that to the controversy surrounding the theft of some of it's design ideas by Ferdinand Porsche for use in the VW Beetle and you have an interesting and usable car on modern roads.
    <img src="http://www.autosavant.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/tatra_image_1.jpg"&gt;

  17. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    That's MKZ three-window coupe, I'll have you know.

  18. tonyola Avatar

    Pretty, but there's a Talbot-Lago that's even prettier.
    <img src="http://www.petersen.org/images/Exhibitimages/Talbot_Lago_1937_T150_SS.jpg&quot; width=500>

    1. fisheater Avatar

      I might be wrong, I am no Talbot historian, but I believe these are the "same" model. Talbot-Lago built all of them buy hand it it was up to the craftsman/artist/customer to fine tune the details and final shapes. Everyone one of the T150 are unique but they are all T150. To pick one above the rest is a bit extreme when they are all so lovely. But art is subjective.

      1. tonyola Avatar

        They are the same basic car as far as I know, but the maroon car is one of the most seductive automobiles ever built. That's why I picked it. The blue car is very pretty but just not quite as breathtakingly gorgeous.

    2. Devin Avatar

      I would do anything or anyone for that car.

  19. Paul_y Avatar

    I'm going to have to go with the Traction Avant:
    <img src="http://www.all-free-photos.com/images/autos/IM0108-hr.jpg&quot; width="640">
    ….but Talbot Lagos, Tatras, and Model Ts that haven't been chopped to bits are also ok with me.

    1. citroen67 Avatar

      Hells yes! I know it's not pre-war, but my all time coveted Traction would be the 1954 15CV "H" with the hydro-pneumatic suspension in the rear. You've got to love it when a company gets bought by a larger company and basically gets turned into one big experimental laboratory with seemingly endless funding!

    2. citroen67 Avatar


  20. importautowerks Avatar
  21. discontinuuity Avatar

    Ford Model A (hotrodded, of course)
    <img src="http://www.ruffrodders.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=66643&stc=1&d=1227032342&quot; width=500>

  22. engineerd Avatar

    Last summer at the Meadowbrook Concours I finally got to see my favorite pre-war car, and one of my favorite cars of all time. Not just one of them, but two! I just stood there and stared, probably with a stream of drool coming from the corner of my mouth. I said to my wife, "These are some of the sexiest cars ever built! Look at them! They're like rolling art! Look at the way the sheetmetal is formed, its voluptuous curves. Look at the shape…it just looks fast!" She didn't get it. She said, "They just look like hunks of metal."
    Well, maybe you guys will appreciate them.
    <img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4086/4846546701_c1ba344c4a.jpg&quot; width="500" height="333" alt="1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante">

  23. dukeisduke Avatar

    For me, a late '30s Buick, or a '40 Pontiac.

  24. citroen67 Avatar

    Citroen Boat-Tail Roadster!
    <img src="http://blog.hemmings.com/wp-content/uploads//2010/05/citroen1.jpg"&gt;
    <img src="http://www.motorbase.com/pictures/contributions/000120/std_1924_citron_roadster-_rvrmx.jpg"&gt;
    And sadly, there is a gentleman that is local to me right here in Michigan that not only owns one, but is selling it too(!)…but it is just too far out of my price range. 🙁

  25. tonyola Avatar

    1936 Squire – an ultra-rare English sports car. Just look at it a while.
    <img src="http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/images/large/2102/Squire-1500-Vanden-Plas-Sports-Tourer_1.jpg&quot; width="600/">

    1. topdeadcentre Avatar

      <img src="http://cdn.smosh.com/smosh-pit/082010/darwin%205.jpg&quot; width="200/">
      "Say no more, squire, say no more!"

  26. Tomsk Avatar

    Gotta be a Pierce Silver Arrow. Five were built, three are known to survive, and all look much newer than 1933.
    <img src="http://grandcanyon.free.fr/images/tacot3/original/1933%20Pierce-Arrow%20V-12%20Silver%20Arrow%20by%20Phillip%20Wright.jpg&quot; width="500">
    As for something semi-attainable, a 1935 Ford convertible sedan or wagon would be sweet.
    <img src="http://i.pbase.com/u15/xl1ken/upload/4457671.1935FordCab01lo.jpg&quot; width="500">
    <img src="http://www.imagenesygraficos.com/fondos-escritorio/data/media/22/1935-ford-woody-dgreen-fvl2-mx-.jpg&quot; width="500">

  27. Mad_Hungarian Avatar

    1938-40 Cadillac Sixty Special: <img src="http://www.laconcours.com/06winners_pix/PICT0143.jpg&quot; width=500>I say 1938-40 because I prefer their open rear wheels and narrow grille over the '41 redesign which makes the car look heavier. If you want Hydra-Matic to do your shifting for you, though, you have to go with the '41.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      Personally, the '41 is my favorite. It does look heavier but to me the boxier ends and fenders are a better match with the squared roofline. It's as if the rest of the car finally caught up with the modern roofline. It also looks lower mainly because of the low grille and integrated headlights. The '38 you pictured has the sidemount spares. While they add a lot to many old classics, somehow they interfere with the Sixty Special's clean lines. As the '30s progressed, hoods became shorter on luxury cars as the passenger compartment was moved forward on the chassis. That left less room for the sidemounts so they had to be mounted higher up like on this Cadillac. Most Specials came without the spares and the cars look better for it.
      <img src="http://image.automobilemag.com/f/features/news/25_most_beautiful_cars/6697205+w440/0610_z+1938_cadillac_60_special+25_most_beautiful_cars.jpg"&gt;

      1. Mad_Hungarian Avatar

        I think where we differ is that I see the Sixty Special as intentionally a transitional design, so having both "new" and "old" elements works to my eyes.

  28. earlofhalflight Avatar

    Sunbeam 3 Litre Super Sports – the chosen personal transport of the likes of Henry Segrave and Woolf Barnato. I've lusted after one of these since I was a teenager.
    <img src="http://img.feb-search.com/img2/8/5/8/3/3/0/5/0/58330557n05_1926_sunbeam_super_sports_profile.jpg"&gt;
    I'd happily take a Cord 810 or 812 as my other pre-war.

  29. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

    While I do like the prewar LeMans Bentleys, if I had to pick just one, it'd be the Itala 35-45hp:
    <img src="http://www.ritzsite.nl/Spyker/1907_Itala_35-45_HP_Peking-Paris.JPG&quot; width=500>
    "What needs to be proved today is that as long as a man has a car, he can do anything and go anywhere. Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?"
    -Le Matin, 31 January 1907.

  30. Tomsk Avatar

    I forgot all about the 1910-12 Oldsmobile Limited.
    <img src="http://www.antiqueolds.org/images/limitedHDR.jpg&quot; width="500" />
    (At least) 60 horsepower from a 707 ci (11.6L) straight-six, 42" tires (Factory donked, yo!), had goatskin seats, and roughly 10 are known to survive.
    Oh, and it cost about $5,000 new. That would have bought you a pretty nice house back then.

  31. OA5599 Avatar

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/96/Count_Zborowski_With_Chitty_Bang_Bang_1_At_Brooklands.jpg&quot; width=500>
    I intended to feature Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but since it didn't actually exist in fiction or in prop form until after WWII, I decided to feature Fleming's real life inspiration, Chitty Bang Bang.
    <a href="http://www.brooklands.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=96:zborowski-and-the-chitty-bang-bangs&catid=52:cars&Itemid=50” target=”_blank”>http://www.brooklands.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=96:zborowski-and-the-chitty-bang-bangs&catid=52:cars&Itemid=50

  32. Granny Avatar

    Since all are pretty much out of my range, I'll dream as I have for many years that I might own a Jaguar SS-100, closely followed by the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 of the same era. I also love the 8C 2900. Thanks to everyone above for all the great mentions and photos. I love that Squire!

  33. EnsignSlow Avatar

    That would be the 1939 Delahaye Type 165 "World's Fair" Cabriolet by Figoni et Falaschi. In my opinion it is the sleekest, most cleanly-styled body to come out of that coachworks, and it certainly doesn't hurt that they draped it over a triple-carbed four point five liter aluminum V12.

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