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Sixty Years In A Barn: 1920 Chalmers 35-C

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This is one of the most complete and original, and running, barn finds ever; according to the seller. This 1920 Chalmers 35C 5-Passenger Phaeton is in Winkel, Netherlands, about an hour north of Amsterdam. This car was sitting in a barn in Pennsylvania since the 1940s and it was discovered in 2006. This is an incredible find.

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The Chalmers Motor Company was named after Hugh Chalmers of National Cash Register fame. He had also been involved with the Thomas-Detroit Motor Company since 1907. He eventually bought out Mr. Thomas and the company became Chalmers-Detroit and was known as the Chalmers Motor Company by 1911. Their 4-cylinder cars racked up win after win on the racing circuit and they added a very successful 6-cylinder car in 1912.

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The company’s new 6-cylinder cars continued to set records but sales dropped off sharply in the 1920s during the post-WWI recession. In 1922 the company merged with Maxwell and the combined company became a part of Chrysler in 1924. And, as they say, the rest is history. Speaking of history, this car has a boatload of history and it’s in superb, original mechanical and working condition.

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That seat covering sets the tone for the whole era perfectly! The seller says that “everything works on this car; fuel gauge, temp gauge, horn, lights, runs perfect, rides perfect.” It even has new tires. This car has “Tilt Ray” nickeled headlamps and everything is said to be in working order. Oddly, this same car was sold at an RN auction in Hershey, Pennsylvania in 2007 for $7,700!

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This is a 224 cubic inch L-head six-cylinder with 45 hp and it’s said to run perfectly. I wouldn’t do a thing to this car, just maintain the mechanical systems and drive it as is. It would be a show-stopper at any gathering. This piece of history is found on eBay with a current bid price of $5,300 and almost five days left on the auction. It’ll take an extra couple of thousand to ship it back to the US if that’s where you’re located. How would you use this car – would you restore it or just maintain it and keep it as original as possible?


  1. Van

    If she doesn’t want to ride in your old jelopy leave her at the curb.
    Who needs a restoration, not me.

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  2. RayT Member

    Hard choice on the “restore or maintain” issue. A car like this deserves to be as factory-fresh as possible, yet is only original once. I think I’d keep it as-is for a while, at least, but would eventually feel the need to see it shine.

    Looks like a fair price, too, though you’d have to add the cost of a trip to the Netherlands to make sure, unless you consider it such a bargain that you’d buy sight-unseen.

    Though not usually attracted to cars of this era — preferring “newer” (1920s-on) machines — I really like this. There’s something about it that gets to me. Some of the stuff that gets on BF (particularly the emissions-strangled, bloated boats from the late 70s and 80s) doesn’t ring my chimes at all, though I’m NOT complaining! Hope this one gets a good home!

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  3. Joe

    Very nice car. Really like a couple of the artistic photos as well. At first glance I thought it was the base for the vehicle used in the Beverly Hill Billies TV show. But after a quick google search discovered that the car in the show started off as a 1921-22 Olds barn find and the custom car builder George Barris turned it into one of the most famous trucks on TV. For those who care, it sold last year at BJ for 275K!



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  4. Brad

    If money were no object?

    I’d leave this one exactly as it is – the thing is a time machine. Then, using the original as a reference – I’d build an exact replica I could drive without worry. At night they would sit side-by-side.

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  5. grant

    How neat is this? Restore it? Don’t you dare! Is that a throttle or the timing adjustment on the steering wheel?

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    • Dale

      Both! The levers are lined up, but there are two knobs there. I grew up with a 1922 Chalmers, not that different from this car.

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  6. erikj

    tyou said it best just make it a good running driver. It looks so good as is and a great reference for someone restoreing one of these or something like it. looks like a great car

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  7. Luke Fitzgerald

    Rod it – haha – just a joke

    Like 0

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