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.

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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… staff car

Official staff car of

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.

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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.

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

  1. Bill Mclin

    Heh Bob:
    Nice slander job on Packards. Sure we can find disreputable Caddy’s, Lincolns and maybe even a Pierce Arrow! Will send you a photo of our Packards which we do not disown.
    Cheers, Bill McLin

  2. Mike Myers

    Hey, knock that bourgeois striver stuff off! My late mother in law drove a ’48 Packard (long before I met my wife, who was 5 years old when her Mom got the new Packard). Okay, my mother in law was one of those ladies who played bridge five days a week, with a husband who, once he got his business going, played golf five days a week (Sundays at home, and Monday meant his weekly club lunch, so no golf.) I guess they fit the demographic. In his later years he drove Lincoln Continentals, and she was fond of her ’63 T Bird.

    1. feralcars Post author

      OK, in your mother-in-law’s case it was more like “ask the woman who owns one.” Bridge + golf = the good life for ’50s America. Guessing they liked Ike.

  3. Byron Laursen

    To write an entire column on post-war Packards and never once use the phrase “inverted bathtub” is in itself a rare and classically elegant artifact of our times. Congratulations. Once or twice I’ve seen a woody wagon version of the late-40s closed-for-business-clawfoot making its stately way north from Santa Barbara.


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