Gardener’s Gardener: 1923 Radio Special

The Gardner family are gardeners who purchased this Gardner in 1995 from the dealer who had taken it in trade from the original owner in 1946 and then just stored it. (Got all that?) The Radio Specials didn’t have a radio but they did have lots of nickel trim and other cool features that made them special. It’s listed on eBay in Meaford, Ontario. (That’s in Canada, eh?) The Gardner is Automobile not familiar to many. The company began, like many, building wagons. They added Chevrolet bodies and by 1915 they were assembling complete Chevrolets and had all the Chevrolet business west of the Mississippi. Gardner sold his Chevrolet business to General Motors in 1915 and then in 1920 Gardner began building their own cars. Like other car companies, they were crippled by the depression and then finished off by the competition from major companies who also controlled the parts supply.

The interior was high-quality leather. Could this possibly be the original leather? The owners say they did the only mechanical restoration.

The Gardner Automobiles used Franklin engines. This inline four had five main bearings and the crankshaft and flywheel were balanced making the engine very smooth.  The pistons and connecting rods were carefully weighted and matched as well. There is a valve connected to the carburetor that increased oil flow under load. Forty-three horsepower doesn’t sound like much today, but it was a lot for a 4 cylinder engine in the 1920s.

This Gardner looks like just another old car to many folks today but in its was considered stylish and unique in its time. It’s difficult to guess what it might sell for, but it probably won’t sell for much more than the $10,000 opening bid. A year ago a similar car in even nicer condition sold on eBay for $16,000. If this Gardner is original, and not restored, that could add to its value.

Fast Finds


  1. Francisco

    You said the Gardner used Franklin engines. The ebay listing said this Gardner has a Lycoming engine. Which is it?

    • ed p

      I believe Franklin made air cooled engines. This car has a radiator leading me to think Lycoming is the engine maker.

    • macvaugh

      All Gardner branded automobiles used Lycoming Engines, the engine company is still in business, today, building engines for Navy Air Cushion vehicles and the M1 Abrams tank.

  2. ed p

    I’ve never heard of Gardeners Autos. Very nice for such an old car.

  3. RoselandPete

    So many of these very old cars look the same to me.

    • Francisco

      The same could be said about today’s automobiles.

      • RoselandPete

        I was thinking the same thing when I wrote that. The age of distinct styling is probably over and we’ve come full circle.

  4. Woodie Man

    I love disc wheels……

    • Alex B

      I prefer wire wheels. :D

  5. Wayne

    Only one word “Awesome”.

  6. Fred W.

    Museum or car show material. Unfortunately, not practical in today’s world.

    • Jerry HW Brentnell

      well a few years ago these cars of this vintage made the trip from british columbia to newfoundland there were lots of model A s old chevs etc the rule was nothing newer than 1940, and who cares if its practical get out and enjoy putting along at 40 mph and enjoy the view

  7. bcavileer

    30’s art deco was the styling high IMO. After the war it was all about production #’s and they started to look alike . Late 50’s and early 60’s had some style, but nothing like the 30’s. Today it takes triple digits to get even a resemblance of style. Cool car though, kinda like all the other manufacturer’s stuff then. At least you will not see 10 of them at the meet. Lot of car for little $ I think.

  8. GP Member

    Never heard of that car company either, looks quality. I wonder what there cars would look like today?

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