Is modification justified to save a Packard?

General topics, not covered elsewhere, of all things Packard.
flyingk15
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Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:19 am

Is modification justified to save a Packard?

Post by flyingk15 » Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:32 am

Hello all,
I'm new to the Packard world having purchased my first one a few weeks ago. The car I purchased is a 37 1500 senior which although hastily reassembled after a thirty plus year attempt at restoration is far from complete. First, let me say that what attracted me to this car is the engine. The Super Eight is a sight to behold. This car was advertised as running and driving which it wasn't. The deal I made was fair based on the fact that it wasn't running. I was able to get it running with lots of rigging and pouring gas down the carb throat. I must say that I am very impressed at how smooth it runs with raw non-atomized fuel. The carb is absolutely pitiful and a testament to the ingenuity and backwoods engineering skill of some intrepid mechanic. It is a GM carb that has been welded to the base of the original Stromberg EE-23. Then, to fill the holes and leaks at the seams they slathered fiberglass resin all around the carb! I haven’t tried using it and have no intention of doing so.

My first Packard sticker shock came when I tried to acquire the correct carb and discovered they are scarce as hens teeth and of great value to anyone that has one. It looks like $2500.00 will get me a nice one in need of rebuild… maybe. My second observation about folks that may have parts for this car is that they really like to beat around the bush and tell you about all they have but never seem to have a price…

I guess I’m just not used to finding parts for a pre-war car. I can see where parts that have survived 81 years can be valuable, but WOW! My “complete” car also needs a hood. The good news is that that will only run me around a grand... maybe, they'll have to think about it! Now I’m catching on.

So, I start looking at what a 5 passenger 37 senior will bring and it looks like if you do a really good job and everything is proper and period you can fetch around 40,000. Well, I’m no math whiz, but looking at everything I need, I realize it won’t take long to get there in just parts that need to be found… if they can be found… throw in another 6 or 7 grand for interior and untold hours of restoration work and WOW… I’m talking about one upside down car!

It looks like the general consensus on this forum is that one must be truly dedicated to the Packard marquee to accept the sacrifice and relish in the praise you will receive at shows as payment enough. I get it, I’m all about originality on my 64 MGB and hate to see someone shoe-horn a V8 in one because they’re tired of other cars kicking sand in their face. However and here’s the part where I will lose many of you if I haven’t already made your eyes glaze over! After looking around at endless Packard photos, the ones that really catch my eye are the coach built exotics like Darrin and LeBaron to name just two. If I am going to spend that much time and money on my car, then I would rather have a cool boat tail roadster instead of a frumpy limo like sedan (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

The second reason modification is so attractive is that suddenly the cost for parts is no longer a factor. I can do my own thing. I can machine an adapter to fit whatever carb has flow numbers similar to the EE-23, I could even machine my own intake manifold with dual Strombergs or make a fine hood that will cost a fraction of the original. I have no glass for the car so that’s no longer an issue, I’m missing tons of nicknacks in the interior such as instrument panel, window regulators, foot rest, grab handles, door cards, trim pieces, seat cushions, light fixtures etc etc etc. All of which are no longer a factor. The missing bumper and rechroming for what few parts I do have? Not a factor. As a matter of fact, the only things I will be searching out are four wheels and six hubcaps and yes, I must have that EE-23. My goal is to re-create a tribute to thirties coach built cars wrapped around the incredible Packard drive train and front clip.

My question to all of you that will be against this project is twofold. Where do you draw the line on what is considered a parts car as wouldn’t you rather see a Packard survive than be parted out? And secondly, why does it seem acceptable to part one out as opposed to modifying?

I guess the answer to the second one is that we all need parts and what we don’t know won’t hurt us!

Opinions?

Ron Sinclair

flackmaster
Posts: 208
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Re: Is modification justified to save a Packard?

Post by flackmaster » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:17 pm

Deep breath...parts are out there if you don't mind some hunting, networking and patience.
EE-23 in hand needing rebuild, but complete and all parts move, 537.15 delivered.
Wish I had a hood, gosh darn it, I know I saw one somewhere...someone definitely has one for less than a grand.
I do have a nice grille shell, if you need...and some free decent used hubcaps to boot.
Wheels are fairly simple, definitely out there as they were the same on LWB commercial vehicles (hearses) thru 54.
direct email please, flackmaster at sbcglobal point net

flyingk15
Posts: 28
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:19 am

Re: Is modification justified to save a Packard?

Post by flyingk15 » Sat Nov 17, 2018 6:31 am

That's great news. I do have a long way to go and will be starting with a frame up resto of the drivetrain.

Thanks, I'll be in contact on those items.

Ron

bakerallen
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Re: Is modification justified to save a Packard?

Post by bakerallen » Thu Nov 22, 2018 9:58 am

There was a time when I was opposed to people modifying an antique. I have changed my mind. It depends on the car. If you are starting out with something that is fairly decent, then I think it should stay as original as possible. On the other hand, there are many cars that are not much more than bent metal and rust. Those cars are headed to the crusher. If you find one, and want to make a street rod or something else out of it, I say go for it. You will finish up with something you like, and have saved what was left from being recycled.

In my case I have a plain jane 47 clipper 4 door. The car is in remarkable unrestored condition. The former owner was going to put a 350 Chevy motor in it. I am not going to do that. It has been a struggle, but I think I finally have the car ready to drive. It will be mostly original. There some things that are not, but I will not alter the car in any way. If the next owner wants to do more in the way of originality, it will be easy to take it to the next level. So I think it all depends on the car, and how much money you have to spend on it.

I would be interested in hearing what other people have to say about this. Thanks

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Tinman_70
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Re: Is modification justified to save a Packard?

Post by Tinman_70 » Fri Nov 23, 2018 8:34 am

My '49 Club Sedan only had a future as a parts car or heading to the crusher. It was a rust bucket, trunk floor gone, widespread rust on the doors, quarter panels gone, inner and outer rocker panels gone along with a good portion of the floors. Fortunately, someone had replaced the front fenders and hood and they were rust-free. All the chrome inside and out, except the main bumpers was in need of re-chrome or replacement. In spite of all this, the car has a unique style that I love. With that I embarked on a 5 year project to bring it back to life as close to original as economically possible. You have to have passion to work on most of the post-war Packards. The more common models, except maybe the Station Sedans and Victoria Convertibles, don't have a great deal of demand or resale value compared to the cost of restoration. If you buy one that needs a lot of work and plan on just dropping it off at a restoration shop, you are in for a rude awakening. Reproduction parts are rare and used parts tend to be expensive.

I decided to keep my car as original as economically possible. I've fiddled with cars my entire life but never did it for a living. I would be doing almost all the work myself rather than farming it out. I scoured ebay for years and was able to replace all of the deteriorated chrome and only had to have the taillight housings and bumper guards re-plated. Ebay is an excellent source for parts, I found the new replacement sheet metal panels there.. I also found some dealers that charged reasonable prices for used parts and shipping. I checked the internet and found that many of the parts like bearings and seals are readily available from numerous sources. A local glass shop cut new glass for me at a very reasonable price. Shopping around is very important!

The only serious modification from original in my car that would be noticed is the elimination of the generator and regulator in favor of a 6V alternator. I also use and electronic triggering device in the distributor rather than points and it works great with all new wiring, new batteries and an alternator. I also use radial tubeless tires that appear original. The drive train is all original, the sheet metal is original and the paint is a close to an original color as possible from a generic color. I think I have preserved the originally of the car in an efficient manner.

I've found that there are many post-war Packards available at very reasonable prices. If you don't plan on doing the restoration work yourself, look for one that needs little labor-intensive work that you can enjoy driving right away. You will have a car that is unique from the vast number of "common" vintage cars on the road!

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1935Packard
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Re: Is modification justified to save a Packard?

Post by 1935Packard » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:24 am

Ron, my own view is to pursue what makes it the most fun for you. I think you've accurately captured the reality of how hard it is to get parts for and restore these cars, at least unless you're really lucky or have a long time to look. A car that needs a lot of parts is going to be a challenge to do within reasonable cost. So I would say that if you think it would be more enjoyable for you to take the project in a particular direction, go for it.

Prudence
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Re: Is modification justified to save a Packard?

Post by Prudence » Mon Nov 26, 2018 8:30 am

Good Morning Mr. Tinmann_70...I believe that your comments are very well put. These old post war Packards are a great deal of fun and they certainly cause comment when they go to breakfast or the hardware store...or to church...Ernie in Arizona ;)

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Tinman_70
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Re: Is modification justified to save a Packard?

Post by Tinman_70 » Mon Nov 26, 2018 9:25 am

Ernie,

I think the immediate post-war Packards are becoming more popular. There is a good supply available at reasonable prices. The trick is finding one that doesn't need extensive repairs so you can get on the road quickly and start having fun! Facebook has a Series 22/23 group that has a lot of interest.

Joe
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flyingk15
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Re: Is modification justified to save a Packard?

Post by flyingk15 » Mon Nov 26, 2018 4:16 pm

Thanks for all of your opinions. After great thought and after connecting with a local Packard guy that not only answered all of my questions but also came up with some very serious missing puzzle pieces like that fabled EE-23 Stromberg, interior window trim, horn, throttle linkage, fuel pump bowl, hubcaps, firewall fittings, a wheel, etc, etc. all at a price that proves he wants to see another Packard survive has change my outlook. Also, I get the fact that these were significant cars in their day... which really hasn't changed.

So, full frame-up restoration it is. If, in your travels you happen to run across a carb choke actuator that mounts to the exhaust manifold then please let me know.

Thanks, Ron

wjames
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Re: Is modification justified to save a Packard?

Post by wjames » Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:09 am

Try Max Merrit just bought a new old stock one for my 120

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