"Gosh!" sighed Gus Wilson wearily as he
tipped his chair back against the wall and lighted his pipe. "I sure
didn't realize what I was letting myself in for when I appealed to the
readers of POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY to help me advise Bill Crowley what
kind of a motor car to buy. Did you ever see so many letters in your
"Most as many as Lindbergh got. I
guess," chuckled Joe Clark, his partner.
"I haven't totaled them up yet, but
there's thousands in that stack and every single one of them has been read,
"All ready for you, Bill," Gus greeted
Crowley as the prospective automobile buyer entered the Model Garage office.
"These letters ought to make it easy for
you to decide what car to buy. At any rate they'll show you what other
people would do in your position. Let's go over this bunch just as I picked
them out without trying to get them in any particular order. I'll read
the top one. It's from B. Giegerich, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
"Forget the light cars and consider your
$2,000 all spent to satisfy your wife's vanity and your own. She will
adore the rich upholstery and roominess of the larger car and you will
admire the ease and quietness of an engine that can maintain a smooth,
steady sixty miles an hour with the comfort and security afforded by added
weight and larger wheelbase.
"The ideal car for you is the Studebaker
Commander Victoria. It is cozy but roomy, and you have the kids where
you can keep an eye on them. The Studebaker's superiority over other
cars of its class lies in lower engine speed. It is the secret of long
life, smooth running, fewer repairs and minimum oil consumption. The
Studebaker holds dozens of world records for endurance and speed and has all
the latest features such as four-wheel brakes, balloon tires, crank case
ventilation, gas pump, engine heat indicator and so on. With what's left
out of your $2,000 you can buy Mrs. Crowley a new hat and coat to match the
"That's one way of looking at it,"
commented Gus as he reached for the next letter. "Let's see what Peter
Herzig, of Plainfield, New Jersey, says:
"Bill Crowley has the money to invest in
an expensive car, but his knowledge and experience in handling any kind of
car amounts to plus nothing. His wife, who also will drive it, knows
no more than he does. Therefore an expensive car would be a waste of
money. I suggest that he buy a 1928 model Ford sedan for the following
"It is the best value for the least
"It will stand wear and tear better than
the higher priced cars.
"It is easier to operate and to care for
a Ford than any other care, which in the long run will be a big advantage to
the two inexperienced drivers.
"Not only is the initial cost less but
the upkeep of this new model Ford is much less than that of any other car
thus far built."
"That," said Gus, "represents exactly the
opposite point of view. Of course, the final and conclusive test of
how a car stands up is in actual service. That applies to any new
model of any make.
Here's what R. E. Ambrose, of Verdi,
Nevada, has to tell you:
"With a six-year-old and even an
eight-year-old child riding in back, for safety's sake he must have a coach.
He must have a six-cylinder car because
he can choose from among the best sixes within his price range and because
the six gives ease of driving in traffic and is easier to park than an
eight. He has missed the joys of motoring long enough to feel entitled
to the added benefits of a six, yet he would not fully appreciate an eight,
even if he could afford it, until he has cut his motoring teeth on a car of
inferior capabilities. Four-wheel brakes are essential for the safety
of his precious cargo. So for tried and true quality, size,
appearance, he can find nothing better than the good old Hupmobile."
"I suppose he recommends the coach
because the kids couldn't open the doors and fall out," suggested Crowley.
"That's Mr. Ambrose's idea," agreed Gus.
"The rest of his arguments seem sound enough, except the one about
four-wheel brakes. All cars have them now.
"Here's one from a woman, Mrs. H.A.
Thomas, of Indianapolis, Indiana:
"I think Bill Crowley should buy a
Chevrolet four door closed model. Just because Bill has $2,000 is no
reason for spending it all on a machine. This is his first car, and he
should buy a dependable car - one that is easily driven and repaired at low
cost. He should buy a four-door closed model so that he can drive it
in any weather and because the children will not have to climb over the
people in the front seat every time they get in or out. He needs four
doors, not two.
"This first car of Bill Crowley's is for
use close to home - shopping, visiting, pleasure and business; and an
inexpensive car is the most practical for such use
"On first driving a car the speed craze
gets one - a light car will not tempt one into disastrous speed."
"Seems to be a difference of opinion on
that four door, two-door question," Crowley commented, when Gus finished
reading. "Which is better, anyway?"
"Being a bachelor, I can't answer that
one," laughed Gus. "I never had to drive a car with children alone on
the back seat so I don't know how they act. Let's read the next one.
It's from Otho A. Morris, of Kerrville, Texas."
"Bill Crowley should first purchase a
used car. It is a mistake for a person of average means, with no automobile
experience, to buy a new car. We value things by comparison.
After Mr. Crowley has been aggravated for
a year or so with an old model he will know how to appreciate a new one, and
he will know by experience just what new car will best suit his needs.
"In his search for a used car he should
not purchase too old a model, for that would disgust him with automobiles at
the start. I would suggest an Overland touring 1924 model, the kind I
have. It will take him where he wants to go and bring him back and be
a fine little car.
After he goes through a winter with it
and discovers the disadvantages of celluloid curtains, he will know how to
appreciate an enclosed model. Experience with an old car will make an
automobile mechanic out of him by the shortest possible route. Then he
will know how to take proper care of new and more expensive car when he
decides to make the change.'
"That," said Gus, "is one viewpoint on
the used car question. I remember that letter, but here's another from
Ralph Cummings, of Los Angeles, Calif. There's no getting away from
the fact that their arguments are as sound as any of the others.
Here's what Cummings says:
"There is no good reason why Bill
Crowley should purchase a new car. With $2,000 to spend he can get a
really fine secondhand Cadillac not more than a couple of years old and in
perfect running condition. All new cars are secondhand any way the
minute you drive them a few miles, so why not let the other fellow suffer
the loss of the first year's depreciation - which always is the heaviest,
plus the war tax, delivery and conditioning charges and so on? A good
secondhand Cadillac will outlast any new car at the same delivered purchase
price, and he will have a better looking and more comfortable car, a car
that will do him justice in any company.'
"So much," said Gus, "for the secondhand
car question. Now, listen to Grandison Irving, of Yale, Mich.:
"I would advise Mr. Crowley to buy a Nash
six-cylinder sedan because it has the best bearing system, with seven main
bearings, and full pressure oil feed. It has overhead valves with
lubricated valve stems and rocker arms.
"The oil drain and radiator drain are
accessible without soiling the hands. Oil can be added to the supply
in the crank case through a large, handy hole in the top of the engine
without using a funnel like a French horn.
"In addition to these features, Nash
cars have fine bodies and the interior fittings are of the best. They
don't change styles very often, so your car doesn't get to be a last year's
model within a few months after you have bought it."
"Of course," commented Gus, "there are
other cars on the market that have some of the features brought out in this
letter. And some of them wouldn't mean anything to the owner who has
his oil changed by the service station. The point is that this
particular combination of features appeals to this particular owner.
Here's another, from W. S. Hoover, who lives in Albion, Pennsylvania, that
stresses various mechanical features:
"I suggest that Mr. And Mrs. Crowley buy
a Chrysler 72 coach. There is no rear door for their youngest child to
open and tumble out. Although the Chrysler has been on the market less
than four years, it already holds third position in dollar volume sales.
It was the first car to combine acceleration with high speed, accomplished
by using a small flywheel, 4.6 to 1 gear ratio, and a motor turning 3300
revolutions a minute, mechanical features such as the seven-bearing
crankshaft, full pressure lubrication, oil and air filters, thermostatic
heat control, invar strut pistons, motor supports mounded in rubber shackles
web crank case supports for main bearings, and the new turbulence cylinder
head giving a six to one terminal pressure.
"The coach is closer coupled than the
sedan and Bill won't appear lost when driving alone. Mrs. Crowley will
appreciate the beautiful interior of the body and the exceptional ease of
"Whew!" gasped Bill. "My head is
whirling already. That's all Greek to me."
Gus smiled. "It represents," he
explained, "the point of view of the man who takes an interest in the
mechanical features of his car. Naturally, mechanical features won't
mean anything to you until you have driven cars for a while and even then
you may never learn anything about what goes on under the hood. And if
you do, you may figure things out that other mechanical features are more
important to you than the ones mentioned in that letter. Well, let's
get on to the next. Another woman - Mrs. Grace H. Murphy, Melrose
"I can't think of one reason why Bill
should have a car, but I can think of fifteen thousand seven hundred and
twenty-three reasons why he shouldn't!
"First, last and always there is the
matter of expense.
"Second, think of the wear and tear on
his wife's nervous system.
"Third garage rent alone will pay the
premium on a $5,000 life insurance policy to protect his family.
"Fourth, there's no reason in the world
why Bill should pass everyone else on his way to work. Besides, the
street cars are sure safe and sane.
"Fifth, it's easier to pay carfare than
"Sixth, Bill had better be spending
Sunday in church and with his family than in the garage.
"Seventh, with an automobile Bill and his
family will be leading the life of a pack of gypsies instead of developing a
decent home life.
"Finally, I'm sick and tired of riding on
the back seat of my Bill's car."
Gus joined in the gale of laughter
provoked by this letter. "That," he said "is a warning to show you
what will happen if you get too nutty over automobiles. Now here's a
letter with a totally different idea, "he continued as he picked up the next
"I would like to make a suggestion, in
regard to that new car you are thinking of buying.' (This is from Lucile
Boone, of Mantua, Ohio.) 'I suggest that you buy two of the new Fords,
a roadster and a two-door sedan, in place of one larger and more expensive
car. The roadster can be used in fine weather and the sedan will be
handy for bad weather and winter. You say Mrs. Crowley is going to
drive, which means there will be times when you each want a car. When
that happens you can let her take the sedan and you can take the roadster.
Thus each of you will have the use of a car, whereas with one expensive car,
either you or your wife would have to go without. Then, too, if one
car is temporarily out of commission the other will be a available so you
won't get stuck without any car."
"I never looked at it that way," observed
Crowley. "Do you think much of the idea Gus?"
"That depends on several things," Gus
stated. "If you haven't a two-car garage you'll have to pay out extra
money for storage. If you don't use the car for business you aren't
likely to want it during the daytime when your wife needs i... Of
course, if you have room to store two cars without extra expense and you
need a car for business use, two cars will be of more use than one.
"The next letter, I see, is from John P.
Picco, Salt Lake City, Utah, as owner of a light six. He writes:
"This is my third Essex coach and it is
better than the other two, which is going some. I have over a dozen
friends who have bought Essexes on my recommendation and to date not one of
them is anything but pleased with the purchase.
"I am an Essex enthusiast because every
one of my Essex cars has shown less than seven cents a mile for operating
cost, which includes every cent I have spent on operating, insurance,
depreciation, interest on money invested, garage rent and so on. I can
go fifty five miles an hour all day long and feel rested at the end of the
"And here's an old timer Jess J. Rogers,
of Miami, Florida," said Gus, proceeding to the next letter:
"Dear Gus: I think your friend Crowley
has made a mistake in waiting until he could spend as much as $2,000 for a
car. It has made him more or less a cynic. Now if he had started
in the automobile game about the time I did he would probably have had $300
available and there would have been no question as to what car to buy!
In another way he has missed the spirit of adventure that belonged to
automobiling as practiced ten years ago. Roads are so good now that it
has lost all the thrills. Crossing Georgia or the Carolinas now is but
a matter of a few hours' driving, while ten years ago it was real adventure.
"I suggest he buy a Willys Knight Model
70, painted in two shades of gray, and black above the window sills.
This will give him a rich but not gaudy car that, because it has no valves
to grind, will give him simplicity in operation, low upkeep cost and simple
power without noise.'
"He is quite right about the roads being
better," commented Gus, "but any one who gets any thrills out of rotten
roads can find plenty to practice on!
"Here are a couple of letter that don't
hold out much hope for you, Bill, as an auto driver;
"In the first place, writes Rube W.
Davison of Holderness, New Hampshire, 'I wouldn't spend $2,000 on a car.
Half that amount leaves something for doctors' bills or general repairs
should Bill climb a tree while learning. A Pontiac coach would be my
choice, as Mrs. Bill could easily handle it, and when the whole family is
learning to drive there isn't much left of a poor car at the end of a year -
so why spend so much on something you are going to spoil?"
Then Gus read a letter from John G.
Hanna, of Dunedia, Fla.
"I advise bill Crowley to buy a Dodge
Victory Six sedan. The six-cylinder engine is the most satisfactory
and the sedan is the family model. The car is large enough for
comfort, but not so bulky and heavy as to increase the difficulties of a man
learning to handle his first car. The price is far below Crowley's
limit, as it should be, because a man's first car is bound to involve more
service and repair expense, more rapid wear and depreciation and earlier
trade-in than will be expected after he becomes a skilled driver. The
staunch steel body is an item the inexperienced driver cannot afford to
"And now here's a letter from a man who
has been driving cars for twenty-five years, R. C. Jennings, of Denver,
Colorado," said Gus.
"I drove my first car, a steamer, in
1903,' he writes, 'and I haven't missed many days since. I have owned
forty-five different cars - a great number of them haven't any surviving
relatives at the present time. There have been the most wonderful
changes the past twenty years, so that today it doesn't make much difference
what car you buy, merely how much you want to spend, as all cars will return
dollar for dollar if given the proper treatment. I find that cars in
the $1,600 class give the best returns for the average family, I would
advise Bill to buy a five-passenger Buick sedan, give it proper care, and
receive in return service and satisfaction.'
"This is the last one, from Wallace
Bryson, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa," said Gus.
"Concerning what make and model car Bill
Crowley should purchase, it is my best judgment that he select the Auburn
8-77, five-passenger sedan, for the following reasons:
"Comparison is the only basis of value,
and the Auburn invites comparison, not only with cars in its price class,
but with those costing hundreds of dollars more. In beauty of design
it is two years in advance of competitors. Therefore it will be
up-to-date when the owner wishes to dispose of it.
"The body construction is of the best
kiln-dried wood and high grade steel.
It is equipped with cam and lever type
steering especially designed for balloon tires, affording the driver sixty
percent less muscular effort. The motor is equipped with vibration
dampeners, insuring no vibration at any speed. The chassis frame is
exceptionally strong, having seven cross members, three being tubular,
providing a rigid foundation. The universal joints are of hardened
ground ball and socket construction, and the four-wheel mechanical brakes
insure quietness and safety."
"There you are," said Gus, as he shuffled
the letters into a pile and handed them to Bill Crowley. "I'd advise
you to read them all over again very carefully and make a list of the
various reasons for buying."
"In other words," Bill said, "you're not
telling me what car to buy. You're letting me in on the secret of why
other people buy cars so I will have something to go on when I pick out my