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Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum, Part 6

Packard continued to evolve with the introduction of the 1936 Model 1400 Straight Eight Sedan. It was equipped with an 8-cylinder, 319.2 cu. in. engine with 3-speed transmission. The original cost was $2,385.00. New features that year included a redesigned, sloping radiator, downdraft carburetor and a new Delco-Remy ignition system with octane selector.

Also new this year was the front and rear "suicide doors". I presume they were so named since they were hinged at the back rather than at the front.

Interestingly, Packard initiated a publicity stunt where a vehicle was randomly selected from their assembly line then run non-stop at their proving grounds — stopping only for driver changes, fuel, oil and tires. The drive completed 15,432.5 miles.

Note that Bob Hope was proud owner of a Packard that year.

Here is an interesting 1938 Model 886 Packard Eight with a commercial chassis and a Henny Flower Car Body. It was powered by an 8-cylinder, 282 cu. in. engine with a 3-speed transmission.

At the 1937 National Funeral Director's Convention, Henny introduced a streamlined Flower Car, self-leveling built on a Packard chassis. It featured a convertible top and could also be used to carry chairs and other necessities to the home of the deceased or to the gravesite.

The self-leveling feature consisted of a complex system of electric motors, hydraulic pumps and actuators to assist the coach while the casket was being loaded or unloaded on uneven surfaces.

Only 10-12 were actually manufactured and only four are known to exist.

I was most intrigued by this — an Earl C. Anthony hood ornament which doubles as a radio antenna. Only six are known to exist.

And how many times have I mentioned that I love "woodies"? This one is a 1948 Packard Model 2201 6-Passenger Station Sedan "Woodie". It is powered by an 8-cylinder, 288 cu. in. engine with a 3-speed transmission. The original cost was $3,450.00.

Woodies have a certain mystique, shared by many automobile enthusiasts. As a result collectors tend not to part with them, with the inevitable increase in value beyond their non-woody contemporaries.

And yes, that is my dad in the background.

Superficially, woodies resemble a station wagon but note the name "Station Sedan" — to improve the appeal to afficionados. Importantly, the Packard version includes curved lines — it is not a rectangular box like most of its contemporaneous competitors. Even the wood is real — northern birch.

This particular vehicle is really tricked out with fender skirts and sun shade. The restoration paint job is the original color, a creamy yellow called "Arizona Beige". All the gauges work, including the radio. The museum even has the original owner's manual.

Next we find a 1950 Packard Model Custom Convertible featuring an 8-cylinder, 356 cu. in. engine with a 3-speed transmission and column shifter. This was Packard's most expensive model that year at $4,520.00 — but apparently too expensive since only 77 were manufactured.

This was the time of the outbreak of the Korean War and Packard became the "Master Engine Builder" and was awarded the contract for diesel engines for the U. S. Navy.

However, this luxury vehicle led the industry with power windows, power locks, power top, Bedford Cord seat inserts, hydraulic valve lifters, fender skirts and AM radio.

By 1955, styling had changed dramatically as evidenced by this 1955 Packard Series 5580 Caribbean Convertible. It was powered by a V8, 352 cu. in., 4-barrel carburetor engine teamed with a twin Ultramatic transmission — and stopped with Easamatic power brakes.

This was a rare and expensive automobile when new — costing some $5,932.00. The three-tone paint job was an exclusive for this model.

In 1954, Packard Motor Car Company purchased Studebaker Corporation with the resulting company called the Studebaker-Packard Corporation. Although Studebaker was larger at the time, Packard's balance sheet and executive team were stronger. One of the results of that merger was the 1958 Packard Hawk. It featured a V8, 289 cu. in., supercharged engine paired with an automatic transmission. The original cost was $3,995.00 for this "family sports car".

By 1956, Studebaker-Packard's financial condition had deteriorated to the point that there was no choice but to discontinue manufacturing in all Packard facilities. By 1963, Studebaker (having dropped the Packard name) was in a financial death spiral. Production ended in December 1964.

Interestingly, an effort is being made to resurrect the Studebaker company by Ric W. Reed. Stay tuned.


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com