What sparks an interest in classic cars and hot rods? The desire to drive something different looking at today's world of generic, similar looking cars? Perhaps nostalgia or the lust for a throaty, high powered chrome accessorized V-8 engine. This issue I’d like to share the story of my 1949 Packard Super 8 Touring Sedan.
Packard Motor Cars was founded in 1903 by James Ward Packard and William Dowd Packard. The Packard automobile was known for luxury and reliability and was considered a status symbol by movie stars and the “upper class” in the 1920’s and 1930’s. They did very well until World War 2 when they converted over to make engines for war planes. Post war they relied on modified Clipper technology but by then Cadillac and Lincoln had gained the top market shares. In 1954 they were taken over by Studebaker, too late to save them and were laid to rest in 1958.
The 1949 Packard Super 8 Touring Sedan is a four door sedan, 205 inches long, 77 inches wide, 64 inches tall and weighed in at around 4600 pounds. It featured a 327 CID flat head straight 8 cylinder “L” head engine putting out 145 horsepower at 3600 RPM. The 20 gallon fuel tank would get you about 300 miles if you took it easy. The three speed manual transmission had second and third gear synchromesh and with the optional overdrive is a joy to drive. The electrical system is 6 volt positive ground which is often converted to 12 volt negative ground system.
Working in Irvine, California we would leave work early Tuesdays to go to Fudruckers restaurant for their weekly classic car and hot rod gathering. Model A’s to Mustangs, Packards to Panteras, stock to supercharged, every week was a treat to both eyes and ears.
In 2002 retirement accounts were going down faster than the Titanic, I talked my wife into “investing” in a classic car. I knew I wouldn’t have a license long with hundreds of horses under the hood so opted for an older classic. I found a 1949 Packard Super 8 Touring Sedan with it’s plush interior and unusual (at least in my opinion) good looks often referred to a the “bathtub body” in Bowling Green Kentucky through Hemmings Motor News. We picked her up in Carson, CA and our seven year adventure began. When I picked up my car, the man asked me if I’d ever owned anything like this, “you’ll find you are your own parade” he said. People stop and stare, give you thumbs up as you drive past and will stop and talk story. Shortly after we moved to Tehachapi and joined the Tehachapi Car Club. As new arrivals to Tehachapi, joining the car club introduced us to new friends and activities including the Thunder on the Mountain car show.
Owning a classic car (kept original), hot rods and highly modified cars has both up and down sides. The up side means you drive something that invites attention. Stories of learning to drive in one, a relative who owned one, experiences they had in one (nudge nudge, wink wink) or one they owned years ago are common. The down side can be cost and availability of replacement parts and service. Auto parts stores don’t stock much for 60 year old cars. It can take patience to locate a part, this is where a club can help. The Tehachapi Car Club members have knowledge, experience, and the networking ability to solve just about any problem. My worst problem was 2 cracked drum brake shoes a club member helped me get them rebuilt. Another downside is the complete lack of consideration from people, I acquired many door dings and scratches in parking lots. The bottom line, I loved my car, had so many good times, met so many wonderful people I will treasure the memories for life.
Come to the Thunder On The Mountain Car and Truck show centered at the corner of “F” and Green street held in August. Look and the vehicles, take as many photo’s as you want and talk story with the owners but do not touch. This car show is a fundraiser for Tehachapi charities, people work very hard putting hundreds of volunteer hours to bring these stunning vehicles together for you to enjoy, support Tehachapi, they can’t do it without you!