Category Archives: Packard

Catching up with Great Autos of Yesteryear’s Casual Concours

We’ve made a point out of not covering car shows or auctions.. cars in that circumstance are curated and not feral as we choose to define the term. Our focus is veteran cars of note found alive in the wild.  Nonetheless, we felt a tip of the Feral Cars kufi, fedora, boater, derby, skid lid, etc. was in order for Great Autos of Yesteryear’s tenth annual Palm Springs Casual Concours.  Great cars, fun people and for a very worthy cause (Sanctuary Palm Springs providing teens in foster care an environment of health and kindness) so we figured it would be OK to break format and display some of the “goods.”

Palm Springs has long been a haven for old cars and their owners. The traffic, for Southern California, is bearable and the weather – except in the oppressively hot summer – is tepid, conducive to round-the-clock top-down motoring. The Desert Princess Resort there was where Great Autos of Yesteryear, the largest LBGT car club on the west coast and with that acronym there’s nothing not “out” about this group of enthusiasts.  Casual Concours is the unofficial start of the Palm Springs “season” that runs through May; it took place back in October so apologies for not posting this earlier. Dubbed “the desert’s most fabulous midcentury car show,” Casual Concours is, in fact and indisputably, fabulous. It’s a truly brilliant showcase for the owners and their cars, running the gamut from full boat luxury to quirky JDM curios. We had a chance to peruse the cars, schmooze with their owners and, as the Flintstones theme intones, “have a gay old time” while celebrating automotive diversity.

Some of the highlights..

“Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it..
No one wants to be defeated..”

Scott King and Sandy Edelstein’s 1991 Honda Beat won in the Best Foreign Open category. It’s a Japan domestic market Kei-class (under 650 cc) mid-engine roadster that bears the slogan “MIDSHIP AMUSEMENT” on its rear flanks. Isn’t that what happens when an aircraft carrier docks in Yokohama? One can’t really grasp how tiny it is in a photo but suffice it to note that it weights just 1,675 lbs.

Orange you glad to see this?

Accessories (and we don’t mean the J.C. Whitney kind or a string of pearls) are always in evidence at the Casual Concours: the owner of this ’73 Volvo P1800 found a set of period Samsonite luggage matching the color of his shooting brake from Gothenburg. The Porsche 356A sports a hat box mounted on a luggage rack over the boxer motor. Hatbox, boxer: get it?

Air cooled hat box

There’s a Rolls-only class at the Concours and, wouldn’t you just know it, the Best of Show was one of those selfsame Rollers. It’s Bill Stewart and Joe Gyori’s 1965 Silver Cloud III Drophead Coupe by Mulliner Park Ward. It’s just one of 101 built of which 52 were left hand drive. The presence this car has is astounding, even in a field of astounding cars. David Hemmings drove one to all kinds of rich hippie psychedelic mischief in the film Blow Up, some RR-oriented highlights of which are here.

Dennis Duca and Dean Peck’s ’75 “Hang Ten” Dodge Dart (don’t you dare call it a Duster) took top honors in the 1970 – 1979 Closed Car category. Yes, the shorty surfboard came with the Hang Ten trim option. No one is quite sure how many were sold over just two model years but it’s a safe bet most were wiped out by the crusher.

It’s not clear what the story is behind the bloody “Jerry Mahoney” ventriloquist dummy resting in the back seat of a 1957 Ford DelRio, FoMoCo’s too little/too late response to Chevy’s Nomad. Actually, we don’t really want to know that story but can assure you that the jaunty green and white two-door wagon is otherwise non-creepy.

Brick, the little dog who put the “boss” in Boston Terrier, seemed enamored of this fantastic 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire done up for a mid-century camping trip. The fact that the rear portion of the roof slides forward so one can transport a refrigerator upright seems not to have affected its eligibility as it went on win in the 1960-1964 closed category.

Doggone clever idea from South Bend

Here’s a clip of a commercial highlighting the Wagonaire from the Studebaker-sponsored Mr. Ed TV series.  Yes, Studebaker spent the first part of the 20th century trying to disassociate itself from the equine realms in light of its history as American’s preeminent builder of horse-drawn vehicles. Towards the end of its corporate existence, Studebaker made it possible for a horse to come into your living room. Go figure.

Wood is good! There is always a fair representation of wood-sided (real and otherwise) station wagons at Casual Concours and the winner in the 1980 – 1995 category — open to any car built during those peak malaise years — was, in fact, a woody. It’s a 1980 Chrysler Le Baron Town & Country with glorious fake wire wheels and tufted upholstery that would be the envy of Little Miss Muffett.

Timber!!

The plate on this 1952 Packard 400 Patrician reads SDNFEAR, an homage to the woman-in-distress film noir classic that starred Joan Crawford and Jack Palance. Sudden Fear, for which Crawford was nominated for an Academy Award, was set in San Francisco but Bagdad by the Bay’s steep grades were no match for Packard’s 327 cubic inch straight 8.

You oughta be in pictures..

Here’s a clip from Sudden Fear in which the Patrician is featured gobbling up a Frisco incline and disgorging Palance with no problem.

While the focus of Casual Concours is elegance and originality at least one overt muscle car was present. And, of course, it was a Rambler muscle car, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s a wild 1969 AMC Hurst SC/Rambler, utilizing the Pontiac GTO formula: stuff the biggest motor you have — in this case a 390 cubic, inch V8 — into the lightest body: a Rambler American. Sprinkle some Hurst <<ahem>> fairy dust on it and you’ve got a neck snapping factory-built drag racer. The bold graphic arrow, indicating the motor’s displacement, pointing to the over the top air intake recalls the slogan, “nothing succeeds like excess.”

Mke mine Scrambler’d

Heavy breather

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[photo of AMC SC/Rambler]

 

 

 

Bittersweet Hershey Scene

Malaise Era Buick Reatta and a Brass Era Model T

A visit to the Antique Auto Club of America’s annual fall meet in Hershey PA presented this site’s gate keepers with a dilemma.  Our focus has long been to highlight cars as they are — uncurated, so to speak — in their natural environment.   That means that auctions and car shows are removed from our consideration set.

’60 Olds wears a full body condom

Just the same, we’ve decided it would be OK to offer a look at some of the sights experienced at  Hershey. On the day we were there rain fell in torrents and the setting was one of poignancy that compelled us to share the resulting photo essay.  Both gleaming show cars and beaters under plastic sheeting or left on their own to endure the elements offer, at the very least, a soupçon of feralosity (feralousness?)  There’s a real sadness in this circumstance: works of rolling art and heaps, alike, are vulnerable. Indeed, as are we all.   The sun will eventually shine again and melancholy will ultimately turn to joy.  That’s certainly our hope.  Have a look…

Rainy day sale and it even “runs and drives”

If have to go to the hospital, go Packard style or “ask the man who is prone in one”

Don’t call it “Hank”

If the shoe fits, drive it.

We’ve never seen a dry Kurtis before, let alone a wet one.

Bird sanctuary

So nice, they had to do it twice

Styled by Pininfarina in Turin, built in Kenosha by American Motors

Big ol’ wet kitty from Coventry

Back to the past

Best guess is Mustang or a big hunk of roast beef

Even wet it’s better than the band of the same name

One piece at a time..

Drenched Sport Fury is still freaky and fabulous

“Help! I’m stuck on the hood of an old Cadillac and drowning.”

Moist Cosmopolitan

Like a private railroad car but tracks are not required

Isetta got wetter

You call it rust, we call it patina

Packard didn’t make a pick up but somebody did

Speaking of pick up trucks, there’s not much to talk about here.

Yes, we can all get along

“Needs some work”

Race called on account of rain

“Heckflosse” in chains

Upright elder

Mix ‘n’ match

 

 

Packard in the wild: “Ask the man who disowns one.”

Front end loaded

Front end, loaded

Dignity maintained

Dignity maintained

Packard typically occupies the same frontage in an old car thought balloon as Deusenberg and Pierce Arrow.  The truth is that for all the special custom-body, coach-built, “classic” Packard there were many more mass-produced lesser Packards.  In their day, these were driven by prosperous business people and bourgeois strivers rather than movie stars, gangsters and maharajahs.   “Ask the man who owns one” was Packard’s slogan and those Rotarians, Masons and country club members supposedly had the answer.

(Almost) the end of the line

(Almost) the end of the line

Sill, it’s not very common to see a Packard of any provenance in an ordinary street setting but a few are out there, their glory faded but not forgotten.  Packard’s ’58 model year was its last but the truth is the marque’s glory days ended on December 7, 1941 with the end of peace and civilian auto production halted until after V-J Day.  Packard was never particularly competitive against Cadillac, Lincoln and Imperial in the post war era.

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 2.58.09 PM

We were delighted with the images of a ’54 Clipper, Packard’s lower priced line,  captured by Feral Cars Field Scout Ben Edge in far away San Luis Obispo, California, Its rich patina can only happen in nature; it’s just not possible to replicate that kind of surface rust, oxidation and paint peel in a lab or even through CGI. This was the last year of Packard’s straight 8 cylinder motor which could be had in either 327 or 288  cubic inch versions in the “Clipper by Packard.”  Silky smooth and refined power was assured though the configuration was a rolling anachronism: all other top end domestics had already switched to V8 years before.  Our man in SLO reports that the car was found in the town’s historic district, around the corner from Clippers Barber Shop. Guess which NBA also-ran team he’s a fan of?

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams to go

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams gone to seed

Feral Cars Field Scout Matthew Reader gifted us with a singular shot of this quite perfect ’56 Packard Patrician that reminds us why these dreadnaughts are worth caring for.  It’s a car so stately that a very close copy, the GAZ Chaika, was used to ferry multiple generations of top level Soviet bureaucrats and party apparatchiks in the good old days. Is not ironic, then, Comrade,  that it takes model name from the Roman designation for aristocrat, member of the power ruling class power elite? Da! Is ironic!

Moscow mule

Moscow’s mule

The cars that Packard built after the war were exemplars of the bulbous school of automotive design, the vehicular embodiment of the look R. Crumb seems to most appreciate in terms of his feminine ideal.  This ’48 sedan is another patina machina of note.  We found it parked in a lower Hollywood neighborhood that, even in this age of gentrification, is still on the seedy side.

..and try any funny business, see?

..and don’t try any funny business, see?

It’s a ghostly remnant from the age of film noir when Hollywood was populated by hard boiled P.I.s who, invariably, took on cases presented to them by dames with gams up to here.  Just another long, throat-scorching pull from a flask full of Old Grand Dad, a fresh Lucky Strike and then it’s off in the Packard to see what her ex-husband has to say about the death of her latest boyfriend, “a fella from San Peedro, named Hubert Buckley.”  The wiseguys shooting craps on Selma Avenue called “Huckle Buck Chuck.” When he was still living…

Findadeath.com staff car

Official staff car of www.findadeath.com

We found this impressive ’48 Packard sedan with only 57,000 miles offered for under $13K in nearby Maple Lake, MN.  You’ll want to stash in your moll’s driveway until the heat’s off.

Is that Mike Wallace’s voice narrating this film that Packard asked its service people to watch and study back in ’52? Le’s hope there wasn’t a mid-term!

Ask the man who owns one.. if you can track him down.

Ask the man who owns one.. if you can track him down.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

Postwarriors: “the greatest generation” revisited

After having been so rudely interrupted by Pearl Harbor, domestic auto production resumed in 1946. GM, Ford, Chrysler and the independents — Packard, Studebaker, Nash, Hudson — had spent the war years building tanks, planes and whatever was needed to ensure victory over the Axis powers. This United Auto Workers song gives an encapsulated history of the union’s efforts to organize Ford Motor and to rally behind the war effort.  It really speaks volumes about that extraordinary time.

Delightfullly delovely

Delightfullly delovely and, yes, that’s an AMC Hornet aft of its stern

Initial postwar cars were, essentially, carry overs from the 1942 model year as was this ’47 or ’48 DeSoto sedan we found the other day  mouldering away and dragging its tail a bit.  It’s impressive in terms of sheer mass and presence — the roof being more than 5′ 6″ above the road) and that front grill is straight out of the deco age.

Bulbosity

Bulbosity sans filler cap

We think it just hangs around the eastern fringe of Hollywood hoping to be cast in a remake of a  film noir of the era like Dead Reckoning starring George Clooney in the Bogart role and Scarlett Johansson in the part Lizabeth Scott (born Emma Matzo — no kidding!)  created.  Hard core hip-hopper culture devotees should check on this “grill.” Surely, it will soon be the envy of L’il Wayne.

Thrill grill

Thrill grill

DeSoto was an object of middle class aspirations to move up a notch from lower class Dodge but stopping short of the old money subtext underpinning the upmarket Chrysler.  The back end on this one seems to have given way though it may have been intentionally lowered. Tough guys know that a few stiffs in the trunk tend to make a car ride on the low side and draw suspicion which some might think a “dead giveaway.”

Sophie Tucker, your Uber is here.

“Sophie Tucker, your Uber car has arrived.”

In an earlier post we covered this ’49 Packard Custom 8, photographed by Feral Cars Field Scout Davin Seay.  It, too, seems to have been designed by adherents of the  pontoon school of styling back in New Deal days.  Packard was a car for patricians, Cadillac being for the nouveau riche as well as for prosperous, yet showy, ethnic types. While a DeSoto could be had for far less than a Packard, Chevrolet was very much an entry level play.

Heavy Chevy

Heavy Chevy

We’re just nuts about the patina on this, apparently, untouched mid-line ’48 Chevrolet Fleetmaster sedan. It’s noteworthy that all the trim pieces, both bright and body-colored, are right where they should be and all are in undamaged, original condition.  We do think those whitewalls and the chrome wheel trim rings are un peu de trop for a car with such unassuming working class roots.  Then, again, maybe they’re a reflection of hopes for upward mobility during that ever so optimistic post war era.

Medicaremobile

Qualifies for Medicare

The origins of the brand names of these three cars bear addressing.  Packard, the oldest marque here, was founded in Warren, Ohio in 1899 by brothers  James Ward Packard and William Doud Packard.  Chevrolet came next, founded next in 1911. The car was initially a partnership between former Fiat and Buick race car driver Louis Chevrolet (b.1878 in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel) and GM founder Billy Durant, then on the outs with the company, to build a low priced Ford competitor.

DeSoto is, strictly, the product of marketing.  The name on Chrysler’s one-step-down (from Chrysler, itself) and two-steps-up (from Plymouth and Dodge) marque was derived from Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. This was an obvious attempt to mimic Cadillac, named in 1902 after the French explorer who 200 years earlier, founded Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit.  While he’s credited for being the first Westerner to see the Mississippi River back in 1541, de Soto’s resume also includes the destruction of the Inca civilization, introducing plagues of fatal diseases to the New World, not to mention the wholesale massacre of indigenous people.  And you thought Jeep’s Cherokee is an example of corporate insensitivity!

Hernando's ride away

Hernando’s rideaway

Badging on our ’48 DeSoto is a mid-century vamp on Hernanado de Soto’s family coat of arms.  That’s a profile of the fun-loving conquistador, himself, above a stylized representation of his crest.  Class! See?

DeSoto, Packard, Chevrolet and lots of other makes are chronicled in this Noire Car video guide with a very ‘cool school’ vibe.

We sincerely urge you to purchase this extended wheelbase 1946 DeSoto Custom that has only 76,000 miles.  You’ll make the $19K asking price back in a few weeks by renting out this 7-passenger party van of its day for weddings, bar mitzvahs and bank robberies.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com.  Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted

 

 

Film noir car in white

Phillip Marlowe marshmellow

Phillip Marlowesque marshmallow

Davin Seay, intrepid FeralCars Field Scout First Class happened upon this remarkable 1949 Packard Custom Eight in a driveway in his suburban bastion of Woodland Hills, CA the other day.  Like the saying goes, “You hardly see these anymore.”  Truth be told, you hardly saw them back then since only 15,000 Packards were built that year.

The emblem as seen at the top of the flouted grill was derived from the Packard family crest. The four flowers on the shield represent four Teutonic crosses above which is an armored knight topped by a cormorant, all of which is said to symbolize sacrifice and charity, two things not normally associated with luxury car owners.

Glory gone by the wayside

Glory gone by the wayside

Packard’s advertising slogan was “Ask the man who owns one,” so Davin spoke to this car’s owner but she’s just not a man but, rather, a woman who identified herself as Zoe.  She explained that she bought the car after having seen the film Gangster Squad.  Encountering a 64 year old Packard is unusual but finding someone who actually saw Gangster Squad is an equivalently rare occurrence. The film cost $60,000,000 to make and its domestic box office was $46,000,000 but it sure had some nice cars in it.

The bird is the word

The bird is the word

The huge hood ornament is a representation of the cormorant (water fowl) on the family crest.  Scary to think about the damage suffered if you had the misfortune to be gored by that winged chrome critter.  Ouch!

Shiftless

Shiftless; skull and crossbones optional at extra cost

This old boat was equipped with Ultramatic Drive, Packard’s answer to GM’s Hydra-Matic automatic transmission that had been offered by arch rival Cadillac. The two-speed automatic was first introduced in the ’49 model year so whoever bought this car back then would, in contemporary parlance, be considered an early adopter.  The designation could not, rightfully, be applied to the in-dash radio.  Packard offered radios starting in 1934 but we do like the stacked push buttons on this one: very streamline moderne!

No soap!

No soap!

The car presents a ponderous profile, a portrait bulbous delight and it was a heavyweight at approximately 4500 pounds, about the same as a current Ford Explorer but with approximately 100 times the class.

Big stuff

Big stuff

We found some photos of two of the Packards of this vintage seen in Gangster Squad.  It always helps to wear a hat to pull off that film noir tough guy look.

Box office be damned

Box office crime buster

The victim is down, the comorant is up

The stool pigeon is down, the cormorant is up

Got a spare $75 – 80K burning a hole in your pocket? There’s a breathtaking convertible version of this car for sale here so gather up those deposit bottles and pawn your jewels and you’ll be on your way to being asked what it’s like to own one.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.