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b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
Used to post in a previous Packard thread, but it is long gone.

Became a Packard Club member at the end of June and on July 3rd drove up to Tyson's Corner, Virginia for the 37th Annual Packard Meet.
There was no time to officially register for any of the Events, but I did go to the indoor swap meet, which was really interesting.
And on July 4th went to the car Show at Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg , Va.
Seeing all those cars on the basically empty Dulles Parkway was a sight to behold.
It was brutally hot that day, but there were over 150 cars there.
Got to see some incredible Carribbeans and a 1913 Touring car. And everything in between.
Several members have told me it is possible to find good running 120s for $4500.
Where can I find one of these?
Anybody got any ideas?
Everything that I have looked at is around 14K.
Mr. Shiftright?


  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,246

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I would think a decent running 120 in fair to average condition could be had for around $8,000 or so---but $4,500 sounds like a car with a lot of cosmetic problems or damage. You can certainly find a good running late 40s "bathtub" Packard for $4,500 or a 50s sedan for even less than that, but a 30s era 120 would probably cost more IMO. However, if the members of the Packard club are telling you that, and since club members tend to OVER value their cars, well, I'd have to reassess my own idea of what a decent 120 is worth in that case. Maybe then meant a "running" car that is cosmetically very poor.
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    I think I need to find an "in" with somebody or find a barn or estate car.

    My preference is a '34-38 120. Maybe a '39. The later cars hve too much chrome on the front and those chrome strakes down the side.

    Found this on ebay last night.

    I imagine the bidding will go much higher though.

    I also found a '41 110 that at first blush looks good. Upon closer inspection the paint is bad and there are several dents in the body.
    Current bidding is at $5900. I would think by the time I got it painted and the chrome done I would be in the hole in a major way.
    Plus it will always be a 6 cylinder car not an 8.
    And I don't like the front end. Doesn't have what I consider to be the classic packard grille.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I think you need to stick to 8 cylinder Packards if you want to come out alive after you fix it up.

    I'm sure if you "worked" the clubs and just hung around something would come up. Packards tend to be kept by older owners and they like to pass on their cars to people who will care for them. They aren't speculative type collectors as a rule. The real greedheads tend to be in the more modern cars which are bought and sold (sometimes) as commodities rather than objects of affection.
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    I think you are correct about that. Unfortunately I am in SC and the closests Packard shows are in Florida and VA. So it will take some effort for me to get there.
    I have made tentative plans to go to the 2003 Meet in Santa Rosa, CA.
    I think I need to see a lot more cars before I get a handle on what I am buying.
    My observation of the Packard Meet in VA was that I was probably the youngest guy there(39). Most were in their seventies.
    I need to spend some more time with these guys and found out what I should look for. I am sure they have a line on a lot of cars that never get advertised.
    I saw 4-5 120s and Super 8s there that I could live with. I would guess that they would sell in the 24K-37K range.
    Most of these cars were probably in better condition than the average Packard.
    I was surprised how many cars at the Meet were not judged. I guess they get them in good shape, have them judged for a couple of years then drive and enjoy them and not worry about a ding or stone chip.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yes, many good deals in the collector car world never get advertised. Cars are what they call "hand sold", person to person, not by mass advertising.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Shifty, what's your take on the long-term value of '30s Packards? If most of them are owned by guys in their 70s that doesn't seem to bode well for the future.
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    There were a lot of people in their 50's and 60's attending the Meet.
    They were probably in the majority.
    Quite a few in their 40's.
    Might have a lot to do with disposable income, Not just the fact that guys in their 50's are buying musclecars now.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I think that aside from the truly exceptional 30s cars, most mass-produced 30s automobiles face a fairly grim future. They will continue to decline in popularityand value as a new generation of collectors switch to more practical and valuable cars.

    . So if it's a Packard sedan or a cheaper model, I suspect not many people in the future will continue to restore or maintain them, and they will be scrapped/sold off by families/ hot-rodded or modified / driven around and enjoyed until they drop / or just sit there and disintegrate. How many people still drive stagecoaches or ancient bicycles or old fire engines?

    However, the big dual-cowls, V12s, special-bodied cars, etc., will always hold their value and always be preserved. The winnowing process in collectible cars always favors the exceptional and discards the ordinary. As restoration costs increase and values decrease, it seems logical that cars that aren't worth much will disappear or be forgotten
  • dranoeldranoel Member Posts: 79
    I just realized while reading these Packard posts, that it's been 50 years since I last drove my dad's black 1939 Super 8 touring sedan(model 1703). He traded it in on a new 1952 Plymouth. I still like to look at old photos of that car--lot of good memories. I keep thinking I'd like to try to find something comparable--but I like my current toy of the last 9 years, a 1985 Porsche 911 and can't justify two "fun" cars. I know--I know, it's an apples and oranges situation. Oh well, maybe some day----
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    It's easy to rationalize.
    I believe in the 3 car ownership plan: One to show, one to go, and one for the shop. LOL.
  • chris396chris396 Member Posts: 53
    I rarely see any Packards locally. And when you do, you are right, the owners are usually as old as the car.
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    Ran across this on hemmings last night.
    There is an all Packard Show in Palm Beach this weekend. November 22-24th.
    I am going to try to run down there. Spend the night and come back late the next day.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    How the overdrives worked on the Packards?

    I was once tempted by a 1950 Packard that was for sale. I remember the owner telling me it had an "electric overdrive". Sound familiar?

    I also remember him telling me that the automatics..Ultramatics (?)were a total piece of garbage.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    No, there was no "electric overdrive". What he meant was a lock up torque converter, as you see on modern cars. DOH!

    Packards got worse and worse as their little empire crumbled, but they always had great engineering. Their last cars weren't executed very well, but the ideas were really quite advanced, with torsion bar suspension, self-leveling, lock up torque converter and electrically operated automatic tranmission, all in 1955. The car was of course a pig to drive as most '55s were in those days but Packard's "swan song" was remarkable in that they attempted to innovate right until their grim and horrible end.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    Packard's last cars: that includes the rare Hawk, right?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Yeah, Shifty, would you include that one in your pantheon of Packard all-timers?
  • rea98drea98d Member Posts: 982
    The Hawk, isn't that the one the Packard purists call a "Studepackard"?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    It's not a Packard, it's completely, totally a Studebaker, and it's a fraud. AND it is very homely, too--neener, neener....LOL!

    Last true Packard was 1956. Keep the truth alive. Tell your friends.
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    Never ridden in one but people have told me that the Packards with the torsion bar suspension ride incredibly well.
    The V8 engines that were in them are another matter.
  • dranoeldranoel Member Posts: 79
    The 828 page book, "Packard, A History of the Motorcar and the Company" by B.R. Kimes, published in 1978 by Automobile Quarterly Magazine, is a fantastic source for Packard info. Lots of high quality photos (mostly black & white)and much text detail. I don't know whether new copies are still available, however used copies probably are available. Also, The Packard Club at has a lot of packard info.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Another great book is "The Packard Story" by Robert Turnquist. Definitely out of print butsometimes it shows up on Ebay or Alibris.

    The tornsion bar Packards do ride well in that floaty-boaty kind of way--just don't take a fast corner.
  • wevkwevk Member Posts: 179
    Back in the mid /late 50s a neighbor had a series of used packard limos which had a window between the front seat and rear seating area. His 5 kids would ride in the back while he and his wife road in front with the window - up!

    Many a time I wished our minivan had one of those.
  • grbeckgrbeck Member Posts: 2,358
    The final Packard's suspension was especially interesting because two torsion bars linked the front and rear suspension! I don't think any other manufacturer has tried that trick.

    The sad part about Packard's story is that what ultimately killed the firm was the merger with Studebaker. Packard was still viable when it merged with Studebaker in 1954, but the South Bend firm hid its true breakeven point during the merger talks. Studebaker was pretty much on the ropes by 1954, with uncompetitive labor costs, an outdated plant and no money for new cars (which it needed, as the 1953 line was a sales flop). Packard made some headway in early 1955, but it couldn't overcome severe quality control problems and Studebaker's uncompetitive cost structure. In the end, the bankers decided that Studebaker was (temporarily) worth saving and Packard wasn't.
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    I think it was called the Studebaker-Packard Corporation into the sixties even though no Packards had been produced for years.

    From what I have read in the 'Rise and Fall of the Pacard Motorcar Corp." there was a downward trend inprofits in the '30s when they brought out the lower line of Pacakrds. They sold more cars than ever (over 200,000 per year) but the profits per car were way way down vs. the big cars.

    This caused them to expand production facilities, labor, etc. All to make less per car.
    So I think the thirties is when it started to go downhill.
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    This month's issue has Jamie Lee Curtis on the cover and a story on a guy with a 10 car garage.
    There is a incredible picture of 5 of his cars parked out front.
    2 of them are flawless examples of Packard's best.
    A 1932 and a 1934 act as bookends in the picture.
    His collection is above reproach.
    Jamie Lee looks pretty good too.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    That '50 Packard I was talking about wasn't an automatic. It was a three speed manual. It had a button on the dash as I recall(it's been a long time) that was marked "Overdrive".

    The owner/seller told me that was the "electric overdrive".

    The Packard wouldn't start..."needs something minor" I never found out.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Ah, okay. It's just an ancient overdrive system using both cable and a solenoid and relay.

    After about 30 mph, you push in a knob attached to a cable (like a hood release), then let off the gas and you are in overdrive and "freewheeling". To get out of overdrive, you floor it and a solenoid allows you to get out of freewheel by pulling out the cable.

    This is about 1935 tech but it worked pretty well. You only got o/d in second or third gear. The o/d gearset was attached to the regular transmission in the rear. Borg Warner made it. It's a nice option for older cars. Usually, an o/d equipped car had a lower rear end ratio so they were a bit faster off the line.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    Well, I do remember (barely) the OD handles under the dash. Last one I ever saw was on a '66 Impala. I wouldn't have believed they made this into the sixties but I saw it.

    And I remember how these worked. Pretty slick, and a pretty desirable option.

    But, the Packard was different. I don't think it had a handle, just a button. Probably worked the same way only maybe with a switch instead of a cable.

    Maybe that's why he called it "electric".?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Hmmm....I always thought it had a cable system...maybe it was just the same button they usually put under the gas pedal for the solenoid, so you could then pull out the cable. Flooring the gas pedal to disengage the cable wasn't very pleasant.

    Even the "electric overdrives" they made in the 80s weren't really electric...I think they just activated little hydraulic pumps that did what the cable used to do.
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    Due to business reasons I can't get down to the Packard Show in Palm beach and Ft. Lauderdale this weekend.
    I was looking forward to seeing the cars.

    Turned 40 yesterday. i guess in a couple of years I will be the typical age of a packard owner. So I won't have any excuse not to buy one.
  • dranoeldranoel Member Posts: 79
    The high water mark for Packard production was in 1949 when 98,000 units were manufactured. Cadillac only made 81,000 and Lincoln only 38,000 in that year. Some of the so-called independents did OK in 1949: Hudson-137,000, Kaiser-50,000, Nash-135,000, and Studebaker-200,000. We all know what happen to all the above--only Cadillac and Lincoln survive. If only Packard management was a little more awake as to the changes in the marketplace----- and pro-active with possible mergers while they were still healthy. maybe ??? we'd still have Packards ???
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,555
    ...if Packard had never taken over Studebaker? Maybe they would've merged instead with Hudson/Nash? I wonder if they would've made it on their own. Either way, I'm sure they still would've had trouble in the middle-price shakedown that occured in the late 50's.

    I read somewhere once that they had actually talked about merging Studebaker-Packard and Nash-Hudson. I guess if that were the case, the Studebakers would've been entry-level, with Nashes a step up, then Hudson, then Packard?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I don't think anything could have saved Packard. They were doomed by the Big Three. The only reason Packard sold cars fairly well in the late 40s is that the government gave the first steel allocations after the war to the smaller companies. So Packard, Studebaker, Kaiser, etc. got first crack at steel supplies and could get a good jump on the Big Three is terms of production and new models.

    Then the Korean War once again slowed down the auto business and gave the "little guys" another breather and more war contracts to keep them alive. But by 1955, it was open warfare, no holds barred in the auto business, and the "little guys" were slaughtered and carved up in short order. Were it not for war shortages, etc., this all would have happened in 1946 or 47 I bet. Packard was basically in the grave in 1940.
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    The December issue covers a bunch of Car Shows from Meadowbrook to Orphans at YPSi to the Woodward dream Cruise. Too many to mention.
    Some absolutley stunning cars, many models I have never heard of and lots of perfect Packards.
    Pick it up at your newstand.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    Didn't know about the steel allocations.

    Kaiser built the liberty ships. Maybe someone thought he deserved special treatment?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    The FDR administration always had a poor relationship with industry. Roosevelt was trying to bring us out of the Depression and big business thought he was just meddling in their turf. The bad feelings even carried on into the war years. I just wonder if steel allocations were a way the New Dealers could punish the Big Three.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    No, I think the Big Three could have destroyed the independents anytime they wished, but needed to do it cleanly, lest they face anti-trust action. They were in no sense punished, they were soon enough making money hand over fist. After World War II, you could have sold a lawnmower with two seats for a fortune. Americans were hungry for cars and there weren't any in 1946. Without a proper steel allocation, the Independents would never have even gotten back up to speed in 1946. Besides, the Independents did a lot of war work, they earned it.

    Packard built engines for PT boats and probably for JFKs PT 109.
  • rea98drea98d Member Posts: 982
    "Besides, the Independents did a lot of war work, they earned it."

    It's not just the independents that did war work. Chrysler built tanks. Caddilac built Tank engines. Ford Built B-24's. A lot of B-24's. Basically, every factory in America was turning out war supplies between 1942 and 1945. Our factories weren't getting bombed, and Germany's were. The Me-262 and the Panzer were much better fighting machines than the P-38 and the Sherman, but we could crank out 10 Sherman tanks for every Panzer the [non-permissible content removed] feilded, and the few Me-262s they put into service, they had trouble finding jet fuel for. Sure, the independents built a lot of war materials, but no more or no less than any other company, so if they were being given special treatment by the Government, it was in the interest of foster competition, not to repay them for wartime production.
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    By 1943 Germany was having a hard time getting fuel period, much less fuel for the Me262(there is one in the Smithsonian).
    Hitler used the Me262 incorrectly, if he had used them against the bombers they would have been devestating.
  • rea98drea98d Member Posts: 982
    Hitler did a lot of things incorrectly (Such as how he botched Dunkirk, allowing the Brits to escape, and just about the entire way he ran the war in Russia). He was a much better dictator than he was a General. Which, in reality, is a good thing, 'cause it made it that much easier to kick his tail.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    This is way off topic but since we're drifting helplessly in this direction...

    Apparently our wartime bombing, accomplished with great loss of life, did very little to slow down Germany's production. Their war production actually peaked in 1944 because prior to then their economy was still geared to consumer production and because their armament factories were only working one shift. Then they brought in slave labor, not the most motivated labor force. I have this on the authority of J.K. Galbraith who was in charge of a government survey into this stuff in 1945.

    Using the Me 262 for ground support wasn't a great move either.

    Speaking of Packards (was someone speaking of Packards?) any truth to the idea that giving Packard's senior(?) bodyshells to the Russians was one nail in the coffin?
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    Okay let's talk about Packards.
    Saw a '37 120 yesterday. Packard blue. Nice driver.
    Needed paint and chrome. Running boards were rusted underneath the rubber step.
    Needed window glass.
    Wonder how much this car is worth? 8K, 15K?

    Stupid question for Mr. Shiftright. Were the rear bumpers chrome on these cars. many of the ones I have seen the bumpers are painted grey or silver.

    What is correct?
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    Currently reading a book by Len Deighton called
    "Blood, Tears and Folly." It is an objective look at WW2. It is amazing that England survived after all the gaffes they pulled during the War.
    They were in bad shape financially and had some incredibly stupid generals.
    The North Atlantic and the Naval losses are stunning to read about.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    It's just part of the lovely myth that generals and corporate board members all know what they are doing.

    I never saw a Packard with a factory painted bumper, no.

    1937 was Packard's zenith. They never again made that much money or that many cars. It was all downhill from 1937 but it took almost 20 years to die, because of the war reviving business.

    Stalin had bought a number of Packards in the 1930s. He liked them. I guess Russia did get ahold of old Packard body dies in the 1940s that Packard wasn't using anymore. I think they were supposed to build staff cars and such for the war.

    Yes, I think the small automakers were given the steel first to stimulate competition primarily--that makes sense.
  • grbeckgrbeck Member Posts: 2,358
    Packard performed one of the most remarkable feats of any American automobile company during World War II - it took the Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engine, and not only adapted it for mass production, but also made several improvements to it in the process. The United States Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau remarked, "Only Packard had the nerve to tackle it, and the job I see done is remarkable." Packard built over 55,000 engines by the end of the war.

    As for the Soviet Union receiving the dies for Packard's old prewar bodies - there is some dispute about this. In the Packard Club's publication (I think it's titled "The Cormorant"), the late GM stylist Dave Holls claims there are too many differences between the Russian ZIS and ZIL and the old prewar Packard One-Sixty and One-Eighty for them to be the same vehicle. On the other hand, in the excellent book, "Packard - A History of the Motor Car and the Company," the author claims that the Roosevelt administration asked the company to sell the old dies to the Soviet Union, and Packard agreed.

    Even if that is true, I don't think the sale hurt Packard. The One-Sixty and One-Eighty were outdated before the war compared to the Cadillac and Packard's own Clipper. Packard probably wanted to concentrate on the more modern Clipper (which debuted in early 1941 and was fully competitive with prewar Cadillacs) after the war.

    It's too bad the independents didn't merge right after World War II. They might have had a better chance of survival. George Mason of Nash pushed the idea in 1947-48, and Nash and Packard actually came pretty close to merging in 1948. The idea was presented to the Packard board of directors for approval. But there was some disagreement over who would run the combined company.

    A combined Nash and Packard would have been an interesting company, and a far better fit than either Nash-Hudson or Studebaker-Packard.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yeah, but what a clash of coporate cultures! I think it would have been a mess, and the cars no better than the string of AMC products we had to endure later on. You can't merge sick companies and get a well one, I don't believe.
  • b4zb4z Member Posts: 3,372
    Have you guys seen the 1958 packard wagon for sale on ebay. a wild looking ride.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    What a hideous car!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    To put the name Packard on such a pig!
This discussion has been closed.