On The Road Again – Turner Auctions + Appraisals Presents The Vehicle Collection Of Francis E. Tarzian, Sr.

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Impeccably Restored Vehicles from a Passionate Collector Go Up for Bid on Sunday, January 17, 2021

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA, December 17, 2020 – Turner Auctions + Appraisals is very pleased to present  The Vehicle Collection of Francis E. Tarzian, Sr., on Sunday, January 17, 2021, at 10:30 am PST. The auction  features four vehicles: a high-wheel 1907 Schacht; 1912 Ford Model T Torpedo; a 1919 White Model 15,  3/4-ton stake side truck; and a 1921 Ford Model T Center Door Sedan. Three were impeccably restored by  Mr. Tarzian, a passionate collector and restorer of antique automobiles, whose machinist skills garnered  numerous restoration awards. 

Turner Auctions + Appraisals begins its online auction on Sunday, January 17, 2020, at 10:30 am PST; sale items are available for preview and bidding now. The auction will be featured live on multiple platforms: LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable, Bidsquare, iCollector, and Turner Auctions + Appraisals’ free mobile app, which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Apps (“Turner Auctions”). All are easily accessed through ‘Upcoming Auctions’ at the company’s website:  www.turnerauctionsonline.com/upcoming-auctions/. 

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, Mr. 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 space suits of astronauts.

While Mr. 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. This automobile was recovered from a barn  in New Jersey on property that was in the path of interstate highway construction and seized by eminent  domain. This first restoration project, one that Vennetta participated in as the young couple was courting,  was completed in the mid-1950s. It was also in 1953 that Mr. Tarzian joined the Antique Automobile Club of  America (AACA), where he became the founding member and first president of the Foothills (CA) 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…” Mr. Tarzian’s vehicles received numerous accolades in AACA competitions: the 1907 Schacht was 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), Mr. 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. 

Mr. 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.” 

It’s no surprise that a man who appreciated cars would have other mechanical interests as well – and Mr.  Tarzian did. He had numerous mini-collections of automobilia, such as spark plugs, radiator caps and other car related ephemera. Another interest were motorcycles: with his BMW motorcycle, he was a member of “The Thousand-And-One-Club” – traveling 1000 miles in just 24 hours! He also went across country and back in three  weeks. To make his motorcycle trips more enjoyable, Mr. Tarzian installed Blaupunkt speakers on which he  listened to polka music, usually on the Hugo Schneider radio show, which was popular on Sundays in the 1970s  and 1980s on KBAY.

Sadly, Mr. Tarzian died suddenly in 1997, so he was unable to begin restoring the 1912 Ford Model T Torpedo 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, the Tarzian children have decided it is time to let others enjoy the meticulously restored antique vehicles that their father so loved, and that gave the entire family such pleasure and fond memories. 

Here is information on the upcoming sale (see auction details in the online catalog):  

1907 Schacht Runabout (High Wheeler)
1907 Schacht Runabout (High Wheeler)

Lot 2: 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
1912 Ford Model T Torpedo

Lot 3: 1912 Ford Model T Torpedo:

Purchased in the early 1990s from a private seller in Las Vegas, NV. 100% original parts. This model of Model T was only built for three years: 1910, 1911, and 1912. Although this was to be Mr. Tarzian’s project for retirement, he passed away before the restoration was begun. Estimate: $25,000-30,000.

Lot 1: 1919 White Model 15, 3/4-Ton Stake Side Truck:

Purchased in 1964. Recovered from building demolition project in Newark, NJ. 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. Never placed 2nd in AACA competition (was withdrawn from competition to allow for others a chance to compete). Estimate: $15,000-25,000.

Lot 4: 1921 Ford Model T Center Door Sedan: 

Very unusual/rare body type. Purchased in 1953. Recovered from a barn in New Jersey. Restoration complete mid-1950s. Many period show plaques are affixed to the dashboard (as was the popular custom in the 50s & 60s). Estimate: $4,000-8,000.

(Photo on page 1 of Francis Tarzian in the 1907 Schacht he restored, with his son Nathan, circa 1987) 



Based in South San Francisco, Turner Auctions + Appraisals was founded by Stephen Turner to expand and complement the capabilities of Stephen G. Turner Associates, an auction and appraisal consulting firm founded in 2004. Turner Auctions + Appraisals presents online auctions in diverse categories of personal property  (www.turnerauctionsonline.com). Among them are Fine Arts, Decorative Arts, Asian Arts, Toys, Jewelry,  Militaria, Ethnic Arts and others. The company offers a range of auction and appraisal services for buyers, sellers  and collectors. Online auctions are held several times a month. Working with leading live and online auction  houses on the West Coast since 1991, Turner is a professional appraiser of personal property and seasoned  auctioneer. His areas of expertise include fine art, decorative arts, antiques & residential contents. The  company welcomes consignments and appraisals. 

For more information about the company, please contact: 

Stephen Turner, President, Turner Auctions + Appraisals, 461 Littlefield Avenue, South San Francisco, CA 94080 415-964-5250 / [email protected] / www.turnerauctionsonline.com 

For media inquiries or photos, please contact: Jill Turner, Rodin & Shelley Associates / [email protected]

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