Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Discussions on Henney and other makers of specialty Packard vehicles.
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Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Post by PACKARDAPL » Sat Apr 19, 2014 6:55 am

Thanks for all those photo posts, I didn't realize that so many had the "standard" Henney paint when new. Therefore, I believe you
are correct in thinking that all were delivered this way with additional lettering and only got other paint in later years. In as much
as this was considered a CIVILIAN defense ambulance, priority sales of produced units would have likely gone to either larger cities or to
ones adjacent to larger military faculties. Allowing a few extra to NY City, the ones we have photos of just about fill in the production
roster of units built. Too bad Henney was unable to fill out the ordered 100 CD units, but even the few made were noteworthy.

As to chassis differentiation, Henney got everything in parts from PACKARD. Frames, drive-trains, hubcaps. Henney hand assembled in house
each custom chassis, but usually would call the 2001A {1901Aetc} the standard chassis & the (160-180s) 2003A the custom one. They were both
commercial chassis, with the 2003A chassis was a heavier duty one & of course the senior Packard fronts were some different. Henney mostly
referred to the numbers (2001A) to identify the units, but Packard used both over the whole lines-- more the 115/120 designation for juniors and 160/180
for senior models which was easier and it has been picked up & carried over by collectors. Motor choice was usually an option, but very heavy models underperformed on a "junior" chassis. In fact, Henney was pretty flexible on modifying or substitutions on orders, if you wanted to pay for it, generally they would do it, if feasible. These frame(s) for a couple different wb's were specially built by Packard for Henney and featured extra heavy supports. In 1935
the 282CI motor was intro'd in the 120 line. It grew slightly over the years to the widely used 288-which is likely what is in your CD. If the original
head is still on the motor, it says the CI right in the center of it, however many long service units got replacement heads (they cracked & warped) or got replacement motors. Most anything mechanical in Packard is pretty easy to locate. When dealing with Henney exceptions & substitutions to the norm are
often found. In the final months in 1942, "seeing the writing on the wall' at Henney, they tried to build out as many ordered units as possible using what parts were on hand or were available. The 1942 Henney catalog has all the exhibited cars with 1940 hubcaps rather than the 1942 style. A number of delivered standard units also featured 1940 caps reflecting the growing parts shortage as defense work took over. They were inventive and adaptable at HENNEY.
A brisk business in used units helped keep Henney going during WWII.

As to the bumper, I posted below a side shot of a CD from Cincinnati or maybe Cleveland fire department. Note the rear bumper sticks out some, the difference is that "step" plate spacer between the body and the bumper. It appears to be a solid step plate rather than a gravel deflector. Also note that
interesting door on the side. That looks factory and may have been one of those extra unlisted "options" that turn up from time to time. Did any other
CD you saw have one of these?? As requested I also post a couple shots of the airport limo---its very big!!--and the 1942 combo. Also a page from a
Henney publication showing some of the plant and work-in-progress.
1942HENNEY BB.jpg

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Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Post by henney42 » Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:45 pm

"Wow!" is what comes to mind in response to your most recent post. I appreciate the chassis information, but that photo you supplied of the Ohio ambulance is what really captures my attention. Any chance there are any other photos of it?

I can identify this particular CD ambulance as being from Cincinnati, and as shown in this photo, it was no longer being used as an ambulance. The Salvage Corps was a division of the Cincinnati Fire Department whose duty it was to salvage whatever property could be saved from fire scenes while the firefighters were working on saving lives and fighting the fire. This Henney former CD ambulance was unfortunately being used as just a fancy panel truck in this duty. You'll notice that it is unit #1. Unit #2 was a custom-bodied 1947 Cadillac constructed by the Kelly Auto Body Company of Cincinnati. Although Cadillacs are not the purpose of this forum, I'll take the liberty of posting a couple photos of it for its historical value.

Notice that the Cadillac was constructed with rear side doors. This leads me to assume that the side door on this Henney was a later modification done in Cincinnati and is not an original Henney feature. The fact that you can see through the side door's window to the background behind the car implies a matching door on the other side as well, which would also be consistent with how the Cadillac was built. I also notice that the ventilation duct running the length of the roof appears to be of a non-standard size and much more pronounced from the Henney original design.

As with just about any car both this old and of such low production, I think a lot of questions will never have absolutely definitive answers. While I'm sure Henney could have built a CD ambulance with side doors, I think the photographic evidence suggests that they most likely all left Henney being practically identical. I'm sure that 1942 was probably a chaotic year for the manufacturers, possibly to the point that Henney may have declined any requests for custom touches, such as side doors, due to not having the time, or manpower, or even the desire to bother with such a request at that time.

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Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Post by PACKARDAPL » Sun Apr 20, 2014 3:32 pm

I hope you found those photos of interest. That Cincinnati CD photo is the only one I had. You are
probably right about its door conversion & other changes--it was a professional job--perhaps Kelly did it
at the same time it did the Caddy. The 1942 production schedule at Henney seems to have revolved
around available parts and supplies. The employee base generally was then consisting of long time
workers at the plant--and therefore less affected by military service. The fact that they leaned on
traditional wood framing in many of their special products helped them adapt to growing shortages.
They maintained a considerable stock of Packard parts & supplies. They often "banked" a number of
semi finished bodies of the same body style until they were ready to mate them with the desired chassis.
They were "coach-builders" of the old school and relied on tried & true methods to craft their custom bodies.
My Airport limousine has a wood floor & major wood framing behind the metal body. Hand built meant just
that--{I bet it also has more than 100# of body lead in it.} I am told due its size; they could only build one
"airport" body at a time in the shop, then had to send it to the ground floor, where it was mounted by a
crane on the 205" wb special chassis--literally on the sidewalk. However; as you point out, low production
specialty models will probably have continuing questions about how & why that never can be satisfactorily

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Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Post by henney42 » Sun Apr 20, 2014 4:27 pm

This discussion has definitely been informative and eye opening, and I thank you for that! I'm glad I stumbled upon it! My compliments to you on your two 1942 Henney Packards. I apologize for not mentioning them sooner, but that photo of the Cincinnati Civilian Defense unit just really grabbed all my attention. I had not seen that photo before. To be honest, while I definitely can appreciate your combination car, its your airport limousine that really catches my imagination. I imagine it is because of its increased rarity, both new and with surviving units. It sure would be a great sight someday to have your limo and my ambulance sitting next to each other on a showfield!

Your comment in one of your earlier posts about differing hubcaps being used on the 1942 models as supplies dwindled happened to come at a timely moment. Literally just days ago, the gentleman who watches over my offsite cars for me and who knows a thing or two about Packards himself, commented that his curiosity got the better of him and began looking through my ambulance and found the hubcaps in the back. He proceeded to comment to me that he didn't think they were the appropriate ones. Your comment about the differing hubcaps set my mind at ease about that! Although several of the photos posted in this thread are not exactly the most clear, it looks like not every one of the CD ambulances had identical hubcaps either.

You're absolutely right about Henney using a lot of wood in their bodies. I have also heard the story that Henney's airport limousines had to be finished outside simply because they wouldn't fit in the plant! If my memory is correct (I've not seen my CD ambulance since it got put away for the winter last fall), I seem to remember seeing a surprising amount of wood used in its construction as well. I recall front doors being wood framed and the ambulance box appearing to be made of plywood covered with sheet metal. Given the fact that this was also 1942, I suspect that the beginning of material rationing and shortages possibly contributed to such construction methods.

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Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Post by PACKARDAPL » Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:26 am

Until we have more photos of the CD; there is one more thing we can look at regarding CD History. Where did they all go???? Just F Y I !!!

McPherson's Henney book says that there were 100 ordered (by whom? USA? Civilian Defense?) and only ten or so were completed. He further
stated that New York City got the bulk of them. So therefore using the photos that we now have, we seem to be able to account for the likely initial
destinations of most of the CD's built. I had to get the "guess-o-meter" out and estimate a bit also. Based on other period records etc. at Henney,
I would estimate that this 10+ total was the initial completion batch, but they would have also actually finished a couple more later when they were
building out as much as could be completed from parts on hand--remember these were orders--which mean SOLD units. Therefore, I would estimate
a probable construction total on the CDs as 12-14. Henney probably kept good totals on its production, but these appear lost and not available at this
date. IF you use those collected photos & McPherson's data; you can make a tentative CD roster.

>>>>>>>>>>>1942 Henney Civilian Defense Ambulances<<<<<<<<<<
New York City, NY 3 (All departments); more likely 5 or 6

Long Beach, CA 1 {Survivor in Illinois}

(Portland?), Or 1 {1992 Survivor in Oregon-present unknown}

Chicago, IL 1 possibly 2

Lakewood, NJ 1

Cincinnatti, Oh 1

** Springbrook, ?? ?

& Possibly a couple units with unknown users

Which taking the minimum numbers--totals out to 8;---the maximum numbers; totals out to 12; both are consistent with the historical figures
and my estimations. Survivors 1, possibly 2 out of a dozen or so; which gives a survival rate; 8% to 16% of the total--Just for your information.

**ONE Illustration of a CD shows lettering as; City of "Springbrook" which I believe was just an artists conception rather than a unit sold;
there are several Springbrooks in the US, but they are all very small places--not likely qualifying for an expensive CD ambulance.

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Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Post by henney42 » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:53 am

Thank you for taking the time to do the math regarding the CD ambulances that have been confirmed via this discussion. I do not disagree with your assumptions, I'd just like to add a few of my own comments.

The unit in Oregon that apparently briefly appeared in 1992 and disappeared again is unfortunately an unknown. While it may be logical to assume that it had always been in Oregon, and that as Portland is the state's largest city it is logical to assume that it may have been stationed there, these are of course assumptions. I use my own CD ambulance as an example. My unit is known to be the former Long Beach, CA unit, even though it now resides in Illinois. Someone not in the know may logically assume that it had always been in Illinois and thus would logically assume it to be the original Chicago unit, which is not the case. I only mention this to play devil's advocate, not to cast aspersions on your list.

I agree with you that the Henney advertising artwork showing a unit lettered "City of Springbrook" is most likely a product of their artist and likely does not reflect an actual unit. Given the fact that the known units all appear to have gone to major cities, it seems unlikely that a "Springbrook" received one of these few units. Personally, I have often wondered why Henney didn't use "City of Freeport" for their advertising artwork.

Given that the photographic evidence suggests that the units were all practically identical as completed, that would suggest either they all had a common purchaser, or Henney had a "you can have any color you like as long as its black" attitude. I'm inclined to lean towards there being a common purchaser. There was a federal Office of Civilian Defense in existence from 1941 to 1945. I wonder if they were the customer.

I wouldn't be surprised if Henney had more CD bodies under construction when the supply of chassis ran out. I remember reading somewhere, but look now as I might I can't find the source, that suggested that some Henney CD bodies may have gotten mounted on chassis other than Packard. Thomas McPherson also authored a 1973 book titled "American Funeral Cars and Ambulances since 1900". In that book, he states that Henney produced 3500 CD ambulances from 1943-1945. Frankly, I find that personally to just be a case of wishful thinking. One would think that if that many had been produced, there would have been known survivors long before now. I wouldn't doubt that Henney wanted to produce 3500 units, but I find the "approximately 10" figure stated in his 2009 Henney book to be much more believable. In all fairness to Mr. McPherson, I'm sure that a lot more research and a lot more material was uncovered in the 36 years between the two books mentioned here.

I also seem to remember seeing some mention made at one time about one of the CD ambulances possibly making it over to London, England to serve in the British war effort. But this is another case of try as I might, I just can't find the source for that memory. In any case, I would find that claim to be dubious, given how few were built and how they apparently were used for service on the home front.

Dave Czirr
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Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Post by Dave Czirr » Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:29 am

Knowing nothing about the CD vehicles, and not that much about Henneys as well, I've sure enjoyed this exchange between two folks who really know their vehicles and have added some interesting data on a little-known aspect of Packard history!!

Perhaps the person who recalled Packard units in London units was thinking of this we-known Packard advertisement? Of course it shows a conventionally bodied ambulance, and pre-war at least as far as the U.S. involvement in the war is concerned.
London Ambulance.jpg

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Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Post by PACKARDAPL » Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:21 am

MY assembling a tentative CD Roster was just an exercise in fun. Even so, with the very small "universe" of CDs produced--this shows
generally how they probably were initially distributed. Your comments are well taken & a regional "guess" location based on specific data is just
that, but for my purposes works better than just a ??? So, knowing where your CD unit was found in California would have at least suggested a
Southern California origination. Many a very used hearse or ambulance have had several owners, but I have found that many (old)units I have seen seem
to stay in their general region {maybe 250 miles} of first sale. {when known.} I have a Henney ambulance that has had 7 owners I know of--spread
over a couple hundred miles & has wound up 10 miles from its original delivery point. With rarity, collectors get involved & then units can travel great
distances. Therefore, we have accounted one way or another for the majority of CD deliveries. I still feel that around a dozen CD units is correct since
this is both supported by the data and it fits the collection of photos that you have assembled. Any new ones that turn up will likely be similar to the ones
we now have. Having one out of a dozen is still a pretty rare vehicle--especially if it turns out to be the "last" one. This exchange here and exposure of
the photos in the Packard club & PCS publications will likely tell us if any more survive at this time. {Don't hold your breath!}

I have to agree with your assessment of probable Henney actions regarding modifications or paint schemes. Also a Civil Defense agency as the
order originator seems very likely. That 3500 figure sounds like some advertizing flak memo; puffing inflated future goals rather than any serious
production numbers. We would be hip deep in CD ambulances if it were true. During the whole year of 1939 Henney produced only 1200 or so units
of all styles, which seems to me about the highest production level that Henney could sustain over a longer period. Dave beat me to posting that London
ambulance ad. it looks like the basic Packard 1939 ambulance. I note they reported very satisfactory service from them.

Regarding the "hubcaps" Henney must have had a substantial supply of 1940 DeLuxe type caps (with script)on hand; as they were substituted pretty much
across the lines in 1942--possibly even in the late '41s. Once source said the few deluxe 1942 Packard caps they got were reserved for the top of the line
Senior (180 Super 8 units.} Chrome was one of the first materials embargoed for civilian uses, and Packard had substantial war work underway long before December 7th. That's why the so called "black-out" trim models finished out the 1942 model year for all the automakers.

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Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Post by henney42 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:30 pm

Thanks for posting that Packard ambulance ad, Dave. I have seen that myself, and I also wonder if someone saw that ad and confused it with the Civilian Defense ambulances. I'm glad that you've enjoyed reading this discussion, and I hope other members have as well.

This discussion has inspired me to go though my other professional car books, and I found another, albeit brief, mention of the CD ambulances in the 2002 book "The American Ambulance 1900-2002" by Walter M. P. McCall. Although he does not come right out and say it, Mr. McCall implies that the CD ambulances were originally intended to have dual rear wheels, but were built with single rear wheels due to war time tire rationing. Mr. McCall's book has one photograph of a CD ambulance, which is the same photo used at the bottom of page 162 in the Henney book of the Chicago unit. The photograph caption in McCall's book, though, provides some additional information. McCall's photo caption identifies it as being a Chicago unit. which I had already believed it was, and states that it was donated by the American Legion post #206. One of the photos I posted on the first page of this discussion shows the Chicago unit in its as-delivered paint scheme, surrounded by Legionnaires in what appears to be a handing-over-the-keys ceremony. I think this information gives credence to my belief that the ambulances probably all left Henney painted the same and were only repainted later into department-specific schemes. I did a quick search for Chicago American Legion posts, and there is a post 207 and 208, but not a 206. But perhaps there was a post 206 that simply doesn't exist anymore.

I remember seeing a photo of a CD ambulance with blackout covers over its light, but I do not have a copy of that photo myself, and it was also an end-on view of the unit, so no side lettering was visible to indicate where it was stationed. I have wondered if my ambulance was a blackout model, given the fact that things like bumpers and light bezels, things that you'd expect to be chrome, are painted. Another thing to wonder about I suppose!

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Re: Rare Civil Defence Henney Found

Post by PACKARDAPL » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:24 am

Patrick; I looked at every posted photo and in MCPhersons book and I think your conjecture about your unit being a "Black-
Out" model is probably correct. The bumper & trim could have gotten painted in a subsequent repaint, but it seems unlikely that
the bezels would have gotten this treatment. This could mean that the CD's completion was post Dec '41, as that was the period that
got caught in the parts (chromed) shortage. If my speculation is correct, this CD may have been one of those finished in the
last days Build-out. In the initial batch of CDs--all the photos (that show the front) I see posted seem to have chrome bumpers and
chromed trim items. I note that they also appear to have the big ("senior) '42 caps generally--the 200HD model would have been considered
a special order whether or not it had the "eight"(120) or "super eight" (160-180) chassis. Other photos taken in later years show a few
of the post war large & small covers {probably of the 1948-50 style} which are similar to the 42s. Your CD, likely being a late assembly
model, might have had to take whatever was left on the shelf by then. Large style chrome 1942 caps--non Clipper ones--are not
easy to find, but occasionally you will see a blackout/ olive drab one in a swap-meet. They should have a red hexagon in the center of
a black circle on a full disc chrome cover. The later '48 style has a larger black circle with Packard lettering in & around the it.

RE: the Chicago American Legion ambulance, maybe Civil Defense just facilitated ordering these things rather than making a
big dollar order. They still would have to have the "certificate of need" in Jan 1942, so by ordering thru the local CD they could have
received it. In as much as Freeport is not too far from Chicago--maybe someone negotiated a "deal" price for the organization to
buy this ambulance. Any guesses on price?? Based on catalog prices of the most expensive Henney products, my guess would be
around $4500.

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