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Packards International

I'm currently working on the restoration of a
rather plebian, but nice condition 49 Super. I
loved the curves of this car from very first sight.
It kind of like a giagantic old 911 Porche.

I've onwed the car for 10 years and spent bank to
have the engine overhauled but I'm just now finally
getting down to the cosmetic restoration. I'm
hooked up to the Packards International Club in
Santa Ana and enjoy these people immensely but most
of them are 60+ years old and I'll be absolutly
amazed if any Packard owner shows up at this topic.

I love the marque and after ten years I've learn a
hell of a lot about restoration and these cars.
The next Packard I'd like to work on getting is a
30's business coupe. Now there is one baby that
got back!!!!!!!!!!!!!. The rear of this car just
stretches on until almost no end. Think of driving
a Lincoln Mark III backwards all the time.

Any question or comments I look forward to your
responses.
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Comments

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    My dad worked for Packard for 25 years as a field engineer. They were a good sturdy car. I think undercapitalization and a tendency toward rather unfortunate styling in an era of some very handsome competitors' cars (early to mid 1950s) finally did them in. But they were well built and engineered. Couldn't change with the times, and you know what happens then, in both nature and industry.

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  • Not strictly on cars, but I hope an interesting historical note on Packard.During WW2. Packard built Rolls Royce Merlin aero engines under licence.The Packard engine was renowned for reliability and power,when the RR unit was plagued with problems ,oil and coolant leaks particularly.My father flew thro the war and credits his survival on many occasions to his Packard Merlin.Therefore I owe my existence to the fine engineers at Packard.A great shame that this company did not survive.I hope frederick is succesful with his project,keep us posted.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    Well, it's not for nothing that the noted British engineer Pomeroy I believe it was (the Lancaster car?) called the Rolls Royce a "triumph of craftsmanship over engineering".

    But you know, the Packard was really a dinosaur....they made a car that was too expensive and too conservative for the postwar automobile boom...they only survived as long as they did because you could sell ANYTHING on wheels in 1946-50. But once GM came out with OHV V-8s, flashy colors and a full lineup of cars and options, the little guys with sound but old technology were doomed. It's a miracle Chrysler made it through, but they were a bigger company than Packard with 4 product lines at the time.

    I think if Packard had had younger management and had stayed away from Studebaker (who sacked the company so thoroughly they even threw out all the historical records!), they might have made it long enough to merge with a healthy company, like AMC did.

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  • I'm too young to even have thought about the war but your stories are all similar to the ones I hear from Packard Club members. I can tell you that every time I've ever opened my hood or had the engine out of the car people are amazed at the shear mass of it and the smooooooth idle it has. Around Newport at least one old mariner waxed nastalgic on me when he saw my newly rebuilt Packard engine in the bed of my truck.

    Straight eight Packard engines are truley a sight to see. They stretch on and on and on and .......down underneaith their massive hoods. When I looked under the hood of my 49 before I bought it I was thoroughly entranced by the shear size of that straight eight block.

    I am very familiar with the history of Packard now after much reading and information through Club owners and I find it a little funny today that the late forties cars are not appreciated more. Subtract the size and scale and I really think that late forties Packards were styled very similar to Ford's "new" rounded styling that came out in the early eighties and launched the Taurus to infamousy. Packard did not rap its bodies all the way around the cars but there was a certain very modern, but classic, style to the old "bath tub" Packards. Maybe too modern for the time.

    The following years in the 50's cars went towards the very outlandish in body design. The infactuation with fins and wings like a rocket was totally contrived. Packard made some very nice cars during this time like the triple tone Carribeans but they stuck too long with a very well knon and relaible engine, their straight eight, for too long and allowed G.M. to get the jump on them technilogically.

    I think I'd still choose and in-line engine for reliability and smoothness over most any other current known configuration. My 49 327 cu.in. Packard engine is smoother today at idle than most other "modern" cars I own. It's absolutly incredible to me that a car built and designed in that era could be so smooth.

    I bought my car on pure asthetics almost a decade ago. The shear size and scale of the car amazed me and the engine was incredible. The car had a blown block when I first saw it and I spent nearly a year searching for a replacement block before I actually bought the car. I loved this car. I hate it now but that another story. (J.K.)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    Forties cars were transition automobiles and basically pre-war designs...they were good sturdy cars, but not very inspired all things considered. Another factor in the overall lack of interest in them is that they are not as driveable or pleasant as the 50s cars...with 6-volt electrics and lots of weight, and torquey but low-revving engines, it's not a combination that appeals to the modern baby-boomer collector (the generation with the cash right now).

    The situation is analogous to the 1920s cars...you can't hardly give away a common 4-door 1920s sedan....you can even buy a very nice restored car from the 1910-1920 era for $12K-$15K..., and a plain-jane 1920's sedan for $5000.

    It seems that many people want their classic car to be usable these days...people are getting bored with static car shows and displays, they want to get out and drive them. And because of that, more and more people are gravitating toward collectible cars that can easily keep up with freeway traffic and that are not exhausting to drive (power steering, brakes, a/c etc., or an open top at least).

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  • I hate the 6 Volt system in my 49. The real problem is trying to get the car started after sitting for a matter of weeks. I end up hauling out the battery in my 69 Lincoln just to get the car started. 12 Volts will reeeealy turn over the Packards 327 cu. in. in a second. You just have to be very careful not to burn out the solinoid.

    I'd agree with the accessment that the 40's weren't a highly inspiring time in automobile design but I disagree that given time auto's of this era won't come around in the consumer's mind. One thing that will drive up their value is the general exactly because of the lack appreciation now is allowing many of these cars to dilapidate into junk and the very few that are being preserved are going to be worth more.

    To be honest I did not buy my 49 for investment value, which I should have thought about at the time, but rather I was simply taken with it's mass. I am a great proponent of preservation though so I've very slowly worked on this car to bring it back from the rotting dead.

    I have an interesting comment on automobile collecting trends that really taught me about valuing the under appreciated. When I was in high school in the early 80's I had a freind whose dad had collected tons of the old muscle cars parked amoung his apple trees in total disrepair but never the less saved from the crusher where they inevitably would have ended
    up. Remeber that we'd just come through the oil cirsis of the late 70's and all these gas sucking cars were ending up either at the junk yard or the used car lot. They were cheeeeeap and the dominate transportation of recent imigrants. Now I think back and I understand in hind sight what those Chevelles, GTO's, and Boss Mustangs parked under the apples trees really were.

    Supply and demand means everything in the automotive collector's world but getting into a 40's car could infact be compared to buying a down and out stock that when fashion changes the stock soars to incredible heights. The inherent value is there but it's in a dull and boring sector of industry.

    I've been careful not to put more $'s into my 49 than I know its worth ont the market and this is the main reason the restoration has been a very slow. I just looked up a listed value in a friend's price book and found that my 49 has risen about $3K above what I had in my mind on its value. Let it be stated that I've certainly paid at least this much in storage and basic hassels from the wife over this car but it still inspires me and I enjoy its curves every dqay that I work on sanding off its multiple layers of paint.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    Well, at least you chose a very worthy marque to be involved in, so you can partake if not in the profits, at least the heritage of these cars.

    I'm not sure the really rare special-engine, low production muscle cars ever went out of fashion, but the more common big engines coupes and such certainly did, that's true.

    There are some very valuable...well, relatively valuable....cars from the 40s...the open cars and the woodies come to mind.

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  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    I've only seen a couple of Packard examples from this era and they had cost a mint to restore! The Packard Woody Wagon is cool but I can't imagine the restoration hassles involved with restoring one of these babies. I guess if you were really into wood working this could kind of be fun. I grimace just at the thought of trying to restore the simulated wood painted metal interior on my car.

    After you tell me a bit about your invovlment with the marque I'd like to ask you whether in your opinion I should just slap a new paint job on this car and move on to bigger and better projects. Is this car doomed forever in the market place. I've owned it for ten plus years now and though I personally love it I've really only heard dogging comments from people in the "know" about Packards of this era.

    I need new paint, which I'm preping myself, a headliner and door panels done at minimal cost by local trade school students, as well as a complete front and back wiring set @ $1k that I'd install. Sounds like a lot and it is.

    Will the fact that these cars are so unloved at this time make them even more scarce and valuable in the future? I doubt it a bit myself although kids in their 20's that are into cars think its total "dope" even though they don't have a clue as to what the marque was.

    I'm really tempted to just put this car together with some completely outrageous over the top interior and paint job just so I can unload it on some fool looking for cool. I'd be a total embarassment to the club members and believe me I'd enter an over the top restored 49 just to tweak a few noses. Some of the Packard people are really down to earth fun interesting folks and others well..............

    By the way my car orginally was grey on grey on grey etc. It lookes like a big upside down primered bath tub!



    When you mentioned in your bio that your come from a Packard family what does this mean? Your family owned and drove them, or they were involved with the company.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    Oh, my father worked as a field engineer with Packard for 25 years. I grew up with these cars, and in fact I learned to drive on the very type of Packard you own.

    I think with a car like yours I'd do a very economical amateur restoration that needn't be correct or extravagant. These 40s sedans will not ever be very valuable.

    Look at it this way...you can still buy certain 1920s era Packards at a quite reasonable price because they aren't the "right" Packards...so if a 1920s 4-door is only worth $8,000 in decent shape what can you expect for yours in 20 years? I even saw a 1925 Packard Phaeton SIX cylinder (everyone wants the Big Eights) in very, very nice shape sell at $24,000..and this was really over market price.

    So it's all about supply and demand really. I see nothing wrong is just fixing your car up any way you'd like and just enjoy it....you can get a modest but decent paint job for $1,500 and the interior doesn't have to look like the original. Sure, you can't show the car or brag to the Packard snobs (like you said, most club people are very kind and gracious) but so what? Packard never intended these cars to be preserved as something special...they were very well-built and well-engineered utility vehicles for driving the middle-class working man around...they aren't a car where one chrome-plates the oil pan or argues which type of bolt head is correct on the air cleaner....that's really madness, don't you think?

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  • dranoeldranoel Posts: 79
    I had a 1939 Packard Super Eight 4-door sedan(model 1703) while I was in college, what a car. I had a collision with a 1936 Ford, and destroyed it while incurring only a scratched front bumper. You could not hear or feel the engine while idling. It had a 3 speed column shift w/overdrive, which gave you 6 forward speeds. The down side : it was very thirsty for both oil & gas. A great car, but I would't trade my 1999 Mercedes 230 Kompressor 4 door for it if I had the opportunity.
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    I've spent literaly months sanding paint off my 49 Super 8 4dr. I've been in a race with an 18 yr old kid with a 71 Delta 88 in my autobody class to see who can get their car down to bare metal first.

    I'm working on the roof right now and you wouldn't believe how hard it's been. I actually had to take the tires off the car and lower it to the floor to be able to reach to the center of the roof line from on top a table. Very grueling work! I wonder how I'll paint the roof when I get to that part.

    I want to strip this car down to bare metal and then repaint it nearly from the ground up. Many of you will wonder why I'm doing this to a 49 but the fact is that I'm dumb and I've written off most of this experience to learning about restoration on a really unique marque
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    Great idea, actually...learn your skills on a genuine older "learner" car and then apply what you've learned to something more precious...smart move.

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  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    I've got your ticket and don't worry both you and I will go around and around about our differences. You'll primarily espouse the usual tenants of the collector comminity and I'll encourage people to persue their passion.

    I want to encourage the restoration of all history while you are wrapped up in the mainstream of restoring and collecting for $'s. (I say this with some reservation because you seem to have some interst in some veeeeery marginal European marques.) Be careful not to be the kettle calling the pot balck.

    You are definitly in the majority of collectors today. Your type will most definitly win the battle today but there are many decades left to both our lives.

    I am not embarrased by people like you becuase every day I meet "lesser informed" individuals who are still in awe at viewing a Packard 49 4 dr. Super 8.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    Well, I wouldn't take it personally, please don't...I'm just telling folks what the market values and doesn't value...I don't make these numbers up....also, as a historian, I tend to want to protect and preserve what is rare rather than what is more common...but again, this is not to denigrate the common. For an example, if a craftsman goes out and buys a beautifully well-made table saw, he can use it and value it and it can do wonderful things. Truly it is an object of value...but unlike, say, a precision chronometer from an old sailing ship, a table saw, even of highest quality, is a utilitarian object and really isn't suited for display in a museum (well, maybe in 300 yeaers it would be kind of interesting)....I think every object should fulfill the maker's intention and the buyer's best need. A Bugatti and a Delahaye were built to be gazed upon as artwork; a Corvette or a Ferrari to be raced, and a truck to deliver tomatoes...each thing to its purpose. Why try and dress grandma in a ballet outfit and fancy slippers? Let her be herself.

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  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    Grandma in a ballet outfit and fancy slippers is somewhat charming and most certainly provocative. We do this sort of thing all the time out here in L.A.

    I know what taste and style is but don't forget that I live in the land of formica, dinnette sets and recreated dreams. Out here we can slap an intreguing venere to almost anything and recreate it into the latest hip and gotta have thing. A well done restoration on a 4dr. 49 Packard sedan can make an impact.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    Hey, I'd look over any nicely done Packard. For realistic people like you, such a restoration can be great fun and very rewarding. I was more directing my comments to people who have expectations for glory or profit when they restore a 4-door car, only to be snubbed by the snootier car shows, etc.

    More to the point, I like to see old cars on the street, in parades, kids jumping inside of them, etc...and the 4-doors are great for this, because they make people aware of the qualities of older cars and yet the owner is risking his $100,000 investment.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    ooops! Meant to say "owner ISN'T risking his $100,000 investment"

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  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    I'm already contemplating what I'll do this grand old dame (or is that spelled God Damn?) of a car. I know more than a few Latinos that would really drool over a slammed low rider 49 Packard complete with chandelier and bud vase. I'm bending towards Leopard print uphostery and any other over the top goo-ga that I can add to move this whale out of my garage and into someone elses.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    You might try Hemmings Motor News...Packard is quite popular in Europe, and lots of Europeans read that mag...I'm looking for a Packard sedan for a Swiss client right now...but he wants a 41-42, which are more rare, though not fantastically valuable either...hard to find, though...

    No, I don't think it's a good idea to try and customize a car and then sell it...let the buyer do the customizing, because you'll never get it the way anybody else just likes it...customizing is too personal a thing, I think.

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  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    Have you tried calling Robert Escalante at Custom Auto in Santa Ana. They do a lot of restoration work for Southwestern Packard owners and he might have an idea of who would have one for sale.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    Thanks, I will...I've found quite a few last night actually....amazing what's around!

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  • ralph124cralph124c Posts: 36
    Mr. Shiftright: a question involving Packard and your father: I recall reading in the book "ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE GENERAL MOTORS", that John DeLorean was chief engineer at Packard 9before his Chevy days). Did you father perchance meet up with him? I wonder what JZD does in his spare time these days..
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    Hi ralph,

    I think John D was strictly stationed at the factory supervising the Engineering work, whereas men like my dad were field engineers, trying to find solutions for all the Packard engineering that didn't work in the real world (and not to smear a legend, but the 50s Packards, though conceptually brilliant and nicely made, had their share of problems--any undercapitalized company has this problem--think Jaguar in the old days).

    Anyway, no, he never mentioned him, and I suspect given the rich tradition of integrity among the old timers at Packard, he would not much have liked him (though perhaps would have admired JDZs intelligence and ability). My dad did know Roy Abernathy, though, and I believe George Romney...I think I have letters from them to Dad somewhere.

    Packard really was from a different time zone...a dinosaur in the 1950s. I think JDZ really didn't belong there, but I bet he learned some good skills.

    MODERATOR

  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    Shiftright-

    You ever in your day seen a chopped and channeled Packard? I was looking in the recent Hot Rodder mag at a 49 Hudson Hornet. The car really looked great! What about Packards!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    No, but might be fun to try on one of the plainer coupes from the late 40s...I think the Hudsons work well because they have a much lower profile than most of the cars of their time, so lowering the car isn't so difficult.

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  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    Understood, although this was on a 49 two door. They did actually lower the roof and suspension as well as removing all chrome. The lights were substantially reworked and very little of the original interior still remained.

    The one thing that i really hate about my 49 Packard are the lights, especially the tail lights! What the *%#$@ can I do about these things!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    Not much unless you alter the car...I always liked the tailiight from the Chrysler Airflow...they looked like a red globe with the longitude and latitude lines done in chrome.

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  • ralph124cralph124c Posts: 36
    Mr. Shiftright:
    In perusing some old NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICS from the late 50's, I came across an interesting ad-it seems that Mercedes-benz cars were first imported and sold by Studebaker-packard corp. I wonder how long this lasted? What a pity that M-B did'nt acquire Packard at this time-maybe the Packard name would be alive today if that happened!
    PS-Still mulling the Peugeot-your comment about the tranny worried me a bit-dealer still has it advertised...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,615
    I doubt Mercedes would have been interested in Packard..by that time, Studebaker had pretty much looted it and turned it into a shell, so all Mercedes would have bought was a name, which it certainly didn't need, even back then. I don't think anything would have saved Packard by 1955, it was a dinosaur and the future belonged to GM.

    By the way, it's my recollection that Mercedes was not very happy with the Studebaker arrangement, and it didn't last but a year or two before they decided to do their own marketing. Studebaker was struggling pretty hard at that time, and I'm sure MB knew this very well.

    Thanks for bringing up an interesting bit of history.

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  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    It always amazes me at how fast brand equity that took years to build up can be sucked out of a company by bad management. Packard is just one testament to this fact and it's a darn good thing M.B. got out of its relationship w/ Studebaker A.S.A.P.

    I know that Packard was against the ropes at the time but don't you think that its brand equity could have carried it a little further had it not decided to hook up with Studebaker? Packard was definitly behind the curve but the 50's Carribeans really were nice looking cars.

    The Studepackards were atrociously built and to this day are a joke when you see them side by side with original Packard built autos of their era.
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