To be infatuated by vintage automobiles is to suffer from a romantic combination of historical curiosity and mechanical fantasy. But of all the reveries associated with a love of old cars, none is more alluring than the dream of finding a forgotten but otherwise-intact classic that's been hidden away in a barn for decades and decades, awaiting rediscovery and loving restoration.
Telstar Logistics has discovered just such a vehicle. Well, we didn't discover it ourselves, but we know someone who did... and in the realm of fantasy that's enough to provide some gratification.
While strolling past B&W Brake & Wheel Service Center in San Francisco recently, we noticed an old car from the 1920s parked in the garage near the door. Since B&W is the official service provider for all Telstar Logistics fleet vehicles, we enjoy a friendly rapport with the staff of the facility. So we stopped in to inquire about the old car. "Who owns it?" we asked. "What's the story?"
Turns out, the car is a 1929 Oakland All-American Six, and it is co-owned by Bill Mufarreh, one of the managers of B&W. The tale of how he came into possession of it goes something like this:
In another part of San Francisco, an aging mechanic recently held an auction as he prepared to close down his shop. The mechanic was a technical savant, and his shop included areas for motor vehicle repair, sheet metal fabrication, and manufacturing metal address signs for local homes. The Oakland was last driven in 1949, and for the last 60 years it was parked in a corner of his shop, covered up by an assortment of cardboard boxes and garage effluvia, until it was finally rediscovered and purchased by Mr.Mufarreh from B&W.
Now, regular readers of this Internet weblog will recall that Telstar Logistics recently took an exceptional interest in the Tulsa, Oklahoma time capsule, a concrete box containing a tailfinned Plymouth Belvedere that was buried in 1957 and unearthed earlier this year. That experiment didn't fare so well — the box leaked, so the Plymouth was reduced to a rotten heap of rusted metal.
This Oakland is different. The paint faded over the years, but apart from that, it remains original and intact. In 1929 it apparently sold for around $1245. Today it's a pristine time capsule right down to the tool kit under the front seat (shown to the left), which still includes the original owner's tow rope and a collection of accessories (including a tire air pressure valve) packed into an old cigar box.
But what is an "Oakland?" The Wikipedia telleth that Oakland was a General Motors brand manufactured in Pontiac, Michigan. In the GM product ladder, an Oakland was a more upscale alternative to a Pontiac, but it was positioned downmarket from Oldsmobile and Buick. After 1926, however, Oaklands and Pontiacs were built on an identical vehicle platform, with the Oakland simply being a tarted up and rebadged version of a cheaper Pontiac. The motoring public saw right through the marketing hocus pocus, apparently, as sales of Pontiacs took off while Oakland sales languished. In contemporary terms, the 1929 Oakland was sort of like a Cadillac Cimmaron, and it was about as successful. The Great Depression was the death knell, and GM killed off the Oakland brand altogether in 1931.
Inside the cabin, apart from the fact that it still has that old-car smell, this Oakland hardly seems like a luxury ride:
Yet it does include a few nice touches, such as roll-up shades in the rear windows, the velvet fabric on the doors, and architectural trim on the door lock toggle:
Under the hood, it has a very big horn and an inline six-cylinder engine that originally produced a whopping 60 horsepower:
We're told by Mr. Mufarreh at B&W that the restoration plan will seek to keep the 1929 Oakland as original as possible. How long the job might take is anyone's guess, but we'll stay tuned... and keep you posted.
A Lost 1929 Oakland (Flickr photoset by Telstar Logistics)
(All photos above by Telstar Logistics)