SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Turner Auctions + Appraisals is will present the antique vehicle collection of Francis E. Tarzian Sr. on Sunday, Jan. 17, at 10:30 a.m. PST. The auction features four vehicles: a high-wheel 1907 Schacht; 1912 Ford Model T Torpedo; a 1919 White Model 15 three-quarter-ton stake side truck; and a 1921 Ford Model T center door sedan. Three were impeccably restored by Tarzian, a passionate collector and restorer of antique automobiles, whose machinist skills garnered numerous restoration awards. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
Francis Tarzian was born in 1929 and raised in New Jersey. His father, born en route while his grandmother was emigrating to America, was a stonemason who was adamant that his son Francis follow in his career footsteps. Young Francis, however, had other ideas: at age 17 – and with his mother’s permission – he ran away to join the U.S. Navy for several years. There he pursued his trade of choice, becoming a master machinist, and serving in the Korean War on the escort carrier USS Sicily.
In 1955, Francis married Vennetta Harding, then began their family of five children: Francis Jr., Rebecca, Nathan, Lydia, and Gregory. In 1969, the family moved to Los Altos in Northern California. During that time, Tarzian worked for NASA’s Ames Research Center on the Polaris missile project. One noteworthy career achievement was his development of the fittings that connect hoses to the spacesuits of astronauts.
While Tarzian had a lifelong fascination with all things mechanical, his interest in restoring cars began in 1953 when he purchased a 1921 Ford Model T Center Door Sedan. It was also in 1953 that Tarzian joined the Antique Automobile Club of America, where he became the founding member and first president of the Foothills (California) Region. Today the AACA organization boasts over 55,000 members and 350 regional chapters.
Each of the restoration projects lasted about three to five years. Mr. Tarzian was known for the exceptional quality of his restorations and the parts he produced, not only for his vehicles but for those of other collectors. Because of his reputation, he was often welcomed into car museums, where he was allowed to take precise measurements of a part so he could machine and recreate it. According to his friend and fellow collector
Doug Black, Mr. Tarzian was “the guy” for many important restorations in the 1950s and 1960s, noting “… all knew that a job done in the ‘Tarzian shops’ was a job done right the first time and that it would last a lifetime …” Tarzian’s vehicles received numerous accolades in AACA competitions: the 1907 Schacht was the winner of the 1st Junior, 1st Senior, Grand National and 1988 AACA President’s Cup. With the exception of one second-place Grand National award in 1988 (of a vehicle restored in 1967), Tarzian’s vehicles were consistently awarded perfect scores of 100 points, including the 1919 White Model 15 stake side truck. Nonetheless, despite the pleasure of earning awards, he often generously withdrew a car from competition to allow others a chance to win.
Tarzian’s daughter Rebecca Ross says that her father was a workaholic who regularly had two jobs: the paycheck of his day job went to Mrs. Tarzian to manage the family expenses, while the second, weekend job was for his “mad money,” to be spent as he wished on his passion for cars. But the entire family delighted in the automobile activities: excursions to find old car parts at the Lost Flea Market in Alviso; participating in Sunday car shows; dressing in the era of one’s vehicle to ride in the Bay Area’s Blossom Tour; searching in out-of-town venues on car forays for the music boxes that Mrs. Tarzian collected; or spending time working on vehicles with “Uncle Leon” Schneper, his best friend and fellow restorer (who loaned his automobiles to studios for period movies, including The Godfather.) The result of all this attention, care and love were exquisitely restored vehicles that Rebecca says were “a piece of jewelry you drive.”
Tarzian died unexpectedly in 1997 before he was unable to begin restoring the 1912 Ford Model T Torpedo that he had purchased in the early 1990s. Until now, the family has chosen to keep the vehicle collection intact. However, with Mrs. Tarzian’s recent passing, their children decided it is time to let others enjoy the antique vehicles that their father so loved.
Here is information on the upcoming sale (see auction details in the online catalog):
– 1907 Schacht Runabout (High Wheeler): Purchased in 1975 as an original-condition, long-term-stored vehicle. Very unusual with a short wheelbase. Complete restoration and replacement/refabrication of missing components. AACA Awards: 1st Junior, 1st Senior, First National, Grand National, and 1988 President’s Cup winner. Estimate: $12,000-18,000.
– 1912 Ford Model T Torpedo: Purchased in the early 1990s from a private seller in Las Vegas, Nevada. 100% original parts. This model of Model T was built for only three years: 1910-1912. Although this was to be Tarzian’s project for retirement, he died before the restoration could begin. Estimate: $25,000-30,000.
– 1919 White Model 15 three-quarter-ton stake side truck: Purchased in 1964. Recovered from building demolition project in Newark, N.J. Complete factory-correct restoration and replacement/refabrication of missing components. Restoration complete in 1967. Won First National 1967 (Niagara Falls/Junior). Won (Senior) First National in 1968. Estimate: $15,000-25,000.
– 1921 Ford Model T center door sedan: Unusual and rare body type. Purchased in 1953. Recovered from a barn in New Jersey. Restoration completed in the mid-1950s. Many period show plaques are affixed to the dashboard (as was the popular custom in the ’50s and ’60s. Estimate: $4,000-$8,000.
For details contact Stephen Turner, president, Turner Auctions + Appraisals, at 415-964-5250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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