(first posted 12/31/2011) In 1948, classic Rolls Royces were just dusty old cars to be picked up on the cheap. Like one Lindley Bothwell, out mucking about with his “collection” of Rollers. Wonder how long he kept them and how much he got for them? (image source: LIFE)
“Honey, If You Don’t Get Rid Of All Those Old Junkers In The Back Yard, I’m Going To Call The Tow Truck”
– Posted on June 5, 2015
They’re still cars to be picked up on the cheap, mainly because nobody wants to pay RR prices to fix them. The depreciation on a Rolls is staggering when you consider their high society status and original price. Anybody who buys a classic Rolls is either a collector or an idiot because they’ll be deep underwater trying to fix it.
That must be why BMW bought the company their cars suffer from the same disease huge purchase price dubious reliability thru out life and horrendous parts and repair costs and amazing depreciation the guy I bought a parts Hillman from has an immaculate V12 7 series 1/4million bucks new here he paid $4500.
For the record, VW bought Rolls-Royce (the car company) but failed to secure rights to the brand – which was owned by Rolls-Royce (the aero-engine company). BMW then scooped the rights to the name. Yesterday’s Rolls-Royce is today’s Bentley.
Boy, does that take me back! When I was a kid in Woodland Hills, California, my parents often took me to the Bothwell ranch nearby because they had old cars! My father, being an engineer at Douglas Aircraft, liked it because they had old planes as well. Somewhere I have snapshots of one of our visits. I don’t know how long the family had been the San Fernando Valley, but I think it was one of the first. I wonder what happened to that property. In the 60s it was still among orange groves.
Related story: In the 80s I used to take my ’69 Cadillac to Bliss & Bothwell (now defunct) on Santa Monica Blvd. for service. On one occasion their mechanic left a big wrench rattling around on top of the wheel well. They didn’t want it back. I still have it.
Also, there is a street running through the Valley named Lindley Avenue.
I should have known someone would fill in the details. We lived in Woodland Hills briefly in 1985, bur was not aware of the Bothwell Ranch then, Almost certainly developed by then. There were still some vestiges of the old Valley left then; must have been beautiful in the day.
It never ceases to amaze me how so often someone has those details to fill in as “they were there” back in the day.
Okay. It’s been almost a decade since this post but since I just found it . . .
The Lindley ranch is still there with the car barns nestled amongst the orange and grapefruit trees. The elder Bothwell passed on and his son, who folks thought would ruin things, instead sold a car or two in order to build decent structures for the collection.
I’ve not been out there since (last in the early 2000s) but the cars are still there, I’m sure. If I remember, I’ll drop a note to his god-daughter to see what she knows.
In the back of the photo the is a car looking like its been uted I remember a newspaper article years ago in Victoria about an old guy who was still using a cut down 1921 Rolls Royce ute to gather his fire wood along the Murray river and how much $ the RR nutters were willing to pay for it IF he wanted to sell, he wasnt interested.
What a concept. They built them strong, it makes sense!
At the local concours (Forest Grove) one year, best of show went to a Pierce Arrow the owner found in a Montana stream, where it had been converted to run a sawmill.
A bit of Googling delivered this more up-to-date Minnesota Ute:
You reminded me that when I was a kid in the early 50’s I used to see regularly in the Tacoma area a Pierce Arrow that had been converted to a homemade station wagon. Varnished wood iirc….
A friend of mine has a Lancia Lambda that was found on a farm being used as a gate, because the height of the body meant the cows could not reach the hay shed, it was opened by pivoting about the rear axle. The purchase price included a new gate…
Pops went to England in the late 1940’s & early 1950’s , he told me out in the Country were lots and lots of pre war Rollers cut down into Farm Trucks .
Speaking of Rolls, just came across this fine Rolls-Royce / Maybach comparison test video by the Times of London. It opens with both cars at the track, cornering for lap times, Blue Danube Waltz and squealing tires. Just the thing to go with a nice champagne.
Happy New Year!!!
Another RR vs. MB track test, most amusing.
I worked with a guy back in the 80’s, who had purchased a number of old Packards, Cadillacs and big Nashes in the late-40’s and early-50’s. Apparently they were dirt cheap. I asked why, and he said that in the postwar era, everybody wanted something new. Old cars were seen as good for nothing but scrap by then. Even expensive old cars were being given away. He told me he’d purchased a very nice 30’s Packard for something like $50 in 1950 or so. He would drive them for a short period of time, or until they broke which was often. Then he would find another car and keep going. He was not a hot rodder, so none of the cheaper cars appealed to him.
By the time we discussed this in the mid-80’s, he was a little chagrined for having scrapped those old cars, as by then they would have been worth a small fortune…
A story my Dad told me was him and my Uncle bought a mid 30’s V-12 Packard touring sedan (he doesn’t recall what series it was or what custom body it had but he recalled “it was a limousine”); my Dad went into the Navy (this was 1951) and apparently, my Uncle drove it (raced it on the backroards of rural Missouri) until the engine threw a rod to where it was promptly junked. I think between them they paid $100.00 for the car in 1950.
The big Packards (not the 120 or 110), Cadillacs, Lincolns and Marmons of the 1930s were gas hogs, even by the standards of the day.
The 1949 ohv V-8s from Oldsmobile and Cadillac were a big deal because they offered both better performance AND decent fuel economy for the day.
They were also cumbersome to drive (no power steering) and stop (Cadillac didn’t have hydraulic brakes until 1934, and Packard adopted them a few years after that).
That is why many people who bought these cars brand-new employed chauffeurs to drive them. By the late 1940s, the young men who were strong enough to drive them wanted old Ford V-8s or a brand-new car.
The big luxury cars of the 1930s were put together with meticulous craftmanship, but they were inferior in every way in performance, handling and braking to a brand-new car by the late 1940s.
Think of how old those cars look in comparison to what was new in 1948, and they were about 20 to 25 year old cars, imagine today, a 1992 car really wouldn’t look that old in comparison.
That’s very true. Also consider how quickly the engineering evolved, even over a 10-year period.
A Model T (production ended in 1927) could barely break 40 mph, a Model A not much better than 60. Then consider what a 1937 Ford V8 could do. Maybe 90 with a standard rear end? So in 10 years you went from golf-cart performance to something that could at least keep up with today’s traffic.
And that’s just the engines. Prewar mechanical brakes (hydraulics were a late-’30s addition for most makes except Chrysler products) were downright dangerous by postwar standards.
And even that ’37 was downright clunky compared to a ’49. And a Y-block 1955 Ford would leave the ’49 in the dust.
You can drive most postwar cars on daily basis today, at least in theory. A prewar car is much less practical. And people realized that even then.
Development of tetraethyl high-octane fuels by American & German petroleum chemists in the ’30s led to higher-performance fighter planes during the War, & higher-performance cars afterwards.
The 88hp Duesenberg Model A (1921) had 4-wheel hydraulic brakes before Chrysler, but was very expensive, being built in a workshop, and overshadowed later by the J. And the brothers failed to patent it?!
I wonder how many of these were Springfield, Massachusetts produced cars. At first, I thought that them being RHD meant he was cornering the market on imported Ghosts, but it turns out that Springfield Ghosts were RHD too.
The one in the foreground appears to be a Springfield Rolls, as evidenced by the recess in the wheel hub, which was not in the Derby cars.
I do wonder where those cars ended up. I’ll bet at least some of them are still around.
Reminds me of the “Round Door” Rolls Royce, a 1925 Phantom I that was rebodied in 1934 with a very dramatic one-off streamlined body by the Belgian coachbuilder Jonckheere. It somehow ended up in a junkyard in New Jersey in the 1950’s, where it was saved by a collector and restored. Received another restoration in 2001 and it’s a multiple award winner on the show circuit today. Almost lost forever.
Semi-off-topic but irresistible … I noticed an interesting picture of a ’39 Plymouth limo on an article in the online UK Spectator. The picture wasn’t truly related to the article but luckily had a descriptive name. Turns out the limo belonged to Finland’s national broadcasting service, which had a whole FLEET of them. They were using ’39 Plimos for remote broadcasting instead of the panel vans that most radio stations used in those days.
fabianinkatu radio house
to see a whole bunch of pics, including one where the Plimo is towing a streamlined charcoal-to-fuel converter.
1972 article about Mr. Bothwell’s collection–his property then “one of the few remaining commercial orange groves” in the Valley.” Interesting to hear about movie appearances:
Here’s a link to a 2009 article about Lindley Bothwell’s car collection. As of that year, the collection was still intact.
Leave it to Autoweek to have that story on their website without any photographs of the cars.
Yup. In the early 60s, prewar cars didn’t amount to much. There was a gas station at the corner of Michigan and Greenfield in Dearborn that always had a couple old ones for sale. Dad and I stopped for a look one day. I checked out an early 30s Roller limo, climbed around inside, and there was a 20s vintage Dodge there the same day. Both a bit worse for wear. I remember the Roller having a couple dents in the front fenders and a smashed turn signal. The leather on the driver’s seat didn’t look that great. The mohair in the back was in good condition.
“Leave it to Beaver” is one of my favorite TV shows. Lumpy, the spoiled friend of Wally’s had a very wicked sounding 40 Ford Deluxe ragtop.
Wally’s first attempt at a car was when he brought this home. iirc he paid $25 for it. He didn’t have the money or skills to get it running. The parents got tired of the heap laying around so they persuaded Wally to get rid of it. Wally ended up parting the thing out, got his $25 back, paid the junkyard to haul the carcass away, and had a few dollars profit left.
Lumpy’s Ford was repeatedly referred to in the most derogatory of terms. It certainly looked old fashioned by the standards of the day when compared to the flashy finmobiles that inhabited the rest of the show.
No doubt many collectors would sell their sweet old grandmothers for a clean ’40 ragtop today. My, how times change. Great post, Paul.
Lumpy’s Ford was repeatedly referred to in the most derogatory of terms.
Yup. Lumpy always referred to it as his “heap”.
Eddie’s car was apparently a late 30s Chevy, but I never saw it running.
When Ward called the junkyard to try and sell Wally’s car, described as a “37 coupe”, the junkman replied his yard was full of 37 coupes and he would not pay for another one.
No doubt many collectors would sell their sweet old grandmothers for a clean ’40 ragtop today.
In the mid 70s, Motor Trend offered one page of space for *free* classified ads for cars. The editors selected submissions for publication if the car was particularly interesting, or the ad was clever.
I vividly remember an ad for a 40 Ford sedan:
Forty Ford for frugal fee.
Ford fairly firm, flies frequently
Five hundred, fifty five Federal Francs.
$555 for a running, driveable original condition 40 Ford? *faint*
HA! Fundamentally flabbergasting.
Better history lessons here than I ever got in School .
Assuming many of the beasts pictures were indeed neglected, crushed, cannibalized etc. and don’t exist intact now, that only makes them rarer now, thus more valuable. So we can look at this pic wistfully and say “Why didn’t we make an effort to save those old beauties?” That’s time travel and that’s not possible and would alter things a bit.