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|26th February 2008, 13:47||#1|
Senior - BHPian
The Experience of Restoring a Vintage/Classic Car or Bike
Some 30 years ago while questioning my father on other Packards in Hyderabad he mentioned there used to be a 1938 Packard Eight with a family, not seen on the roads since the Fifties. I ended up visiting the family and was pleasantly surprised to find the car jacked up on rocks gathering dust.
As the owner had passed away I met his son and we ended up chatting about what his plans were for the car. He knew we had a 1939 Packard. He told me it was his dream to fully restore his dad's car and bring it back to full form.
His dad had upgraded the mechanicals to a Super Eight engine with a left hand drive gearbox and so the car had levers running all across the engine and down to engage the gear shift. Oddly instead of retaining the floor shift I guess the gentleman wanted a column shift and so all the handiwork was done.
As the son seemed keen on bringing the car back to life I figured it was pointless even broaching the subject of a sale and I walked away.
Many years went by, I too had spent 14 years abroad, and on returning home in 2000 I was curious to see what happened to this Packard.
When I reached the place where I had first seen the car I was taken aback to see a huge apartment complex in its place. I asked the watchman about the car that had lived in a garage for years only to be casually told, "Oh she's lying over there" as he pointed to a small plot of land across the road.
What I found there horrified me. It was nothing like what I had seen last. A once magnificent Packard had been stripped completely of all its trim, including the glasses, the bonnet and radiator was missing, the carb was gone and the manifold lay bare and open to the elements. I was relieved to see the starter and dynamo in place but basically the car looked like it had been devastated. The flooring due to years of rainfall had corroded completely and I could see the ground beneath in several places. The trunk floor was simply not there!!!
I stood there in shock disbelieving the sight. I kept relating to the machine before me in terms of my memories of an ivory coloured Packard complete in every aspect. Simply couldn't reconcile memories with reality. There was hardly anything left.
I walked away saddened and when I tried to trace out the owner I was told he had shifted to the US.
A year or so must've passed and as I can't give up on a Packard in need easily I visited the site again to be further horrified. The car had been shifted further to a side and this time they had used a crane lifting it by the roof crushing the entire roof badly. I was in tears. This was now murder and I had to do something.
I went back home and called the owner's home again to ask if he was in town from the US. To my luck the guy came online. We agreed to meet.
A sad tale ensued of how the car was dismantled with the objective of restoring, all the trim was left with a friend and some boxed up in garages. Somehow they never got around to anything on the restoration apart from the dismantling and the scraping of the paintwork. He told me many a collector had knocked on his door wanting the car and aparently now no one wanted it. He said the last anyone enquired about the car, it was a breaker offering a pittance!
I simply asked him to give me the chance to bring it back to life and a smile appeared across his face as he agreed readily.
I was excited. Very excited. I asked him where he had all the trim and he gave me some names of friends who had carried most brightwork away. I started calling them up only to be told some stuff may be lying around.
First things first. I had to get the car out of there. As I had the 39 at home (they share the same body) I noticed the wheel bolt placement was the same and ended up using the front wheels and the sidemounts from my car.
I had borrowed a Jeep from a friend and in no time we had my car's wheels on the junked Packard and a towing rod attached. The car moved freely, testimony to the superb mechanicals that didn't get jammed despite years of abuse at the hands of the elements.
My friend with the Jeep was wary of towing this monster and not sure it would pull up the hills where I lived. I was in no mood to giveup and politely asked him to sit by my side while I drove the Jeep.
Oh what a sight that was to see as a once glorious Packard all shorn of its glory ambled across behind the Jeep. Quite uneventfully we reached the hills and I figured if I were to reach the top I'd need loads of momentum.
Literally jamming on the Jeeps horn I floored her throttle as we picked pace up the slope. I don't know if it was my will that was pushing or the half spent diesel engine of the Jeep but much to my friend's amusement we made it up the first incline.
We were getting good at this, so the second and final run up the hill proved to be just as successful.
The last hurdle was a steep incline up my house's drive way but this the poor Jeep simply couldn't muster enough juice to handle. Luckily a crowd had gathered seeing this bizarre contraption and the whole tamasha of me trying to go up a steep slope.
Indian curiosity does have its benefits and when I prompted the crowd to help they pitched in with gusto and in no time the Jeep and the Packard were in the compound. Finally!!! Half the mission accomplished.
Now I needed to get the rest of the parts sitting at some common friend's workshop, who later I found out was on the verge of buying this car and restoring it!!! He turned out to be a childhood friend so I simply told him.."The car's in my house and now I need the rest...so I'm coming over with an auto trolley" and I hung up.
We loaded up the auto trolley with the radiator, side wheel rims, the fenders, the bumpers and other small stuff and managed to get all that was left back in one place.
Both my parents had a quizzical look on their face when they saw this junk in the compound. In their hearts they must've felt their beloved son had now completely lost it to think he could bring that junk back to life. They didn't want to break my heart and so never uttered a word about it. I knew exactly what went through their minds!!
I must've given it a year's rest before I finally got down to it.
You know I have this kink of wanting to do things myself.
Besides I didn't have the luxury of hiring staff to help out. I could've had some help but figured it best done alone at my pace.
So I ended up dismantling the huge 327 cu in straight 8 all by myself and carried the parts into a store. The valves were all rusted and jammed in the block (side valve engine) and so were the pictons, so I had to use help in lifting the block into my Wagon R and shifting it into a store. In went the gearbox and the differential housing, and the front suspension.
Now all that lay there in the compound was the chassis with the body. Soon I had the body undone from the frame and with the help of 15 labourers literally carried the body on shoulders across the road to another house where we had shifted. The chassis followed.
From here on started the most amazing experience any petrol head can ever desire to have. One of restoring a car from scratch and bringing it back to life.
Ownership of any of the automibile greats is in itself a very special feeling. The magnificent character and personality of these glorious automibiles makes ownership a very special experience. To have a great car in your house and be able to enjoy it and gaze at it for hours is something quite inexplicable and deeply satiating an experience. To share this possesion with people and have them appreciate both the car and your efforts to maintain it is further enjoyable and gratifying.
To own a great automobile and go through the pains of restoring it is an even more heady experience and takes ownership to another level.
But the experience that tops it all is when you own a great automobile and restore it yourself doing all the work yourself. No words can describe the emotion of hearing such a car fire up the first time around and idle on her own power.
No words can describe the sense of achievement and deep satisfaction you experience as you drive a car you have restored yourself.
For this last and most glorious of emotions I don;t think it matters if the automobile is one of the greats.
I think even if its a Luna that you have lovingly restored and brought back to life, the feeling is the same.
I urge all you petrol heads to take an engine apart sometime and overhaul it yourself. Do experience this joy as it gives being a petrol head a totally different meaning.
In time I will share with you with pictures the journey of bringing a magnificent 1938 Packard Eight back to life and actually driving it on the road to taste the success or hard work done.
I still need to complete the paintwork and upholstery and finish the car completely. But the journey so far has been unbelievably gratifying to warrant a story at this time for your reading pleasure
|26th February 2008, 13:50||#2|
Distinguished - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Mid West
Thanked: 2,492 Times
Whoa thats one long Post but I guess experiences like these need posts like these
Thanks for Sharing DKG, please post some pics if you can & also keep us updated.
|26th February 2008, 14:06||#3|
Senior - BHPian
I realise these stories are long, but usually so, as they represent decades of patient hunting for classics and bizarre tales of persuasion. These are often tales of more than just a classic found and money exchanging hands.
Stories like these often are the highlight of one's life and I'd love to read similar adventures of many BHPians here.
I'm hoping this thread will see generous particpation with many a tale being posted with enjoyable pictures.
My journey with the 38 Packard is one tiny story. Imagine what a treasure trove of tales are locked up in the memories of many a petrol head here.
I notice Julian has had a very rich life of similar experiences. I hope he will join in with many tales. Hope others do too
|26th February 2008, 15:13||#5|
Join Date: Jul 2006
Thanked: 8,113 Times
Superb! Ive always wanted a large-ish plot of land somewhere to dump unwanted jalopies much like the one you described - However bad they may be, ones that nobody else will restore.
Keep the fascinating stories going.
PS - Im working a very similar sequence of events...eerily similar. Wish me luck!
|26th February 2008, 15:15||#6|
Senior - BHPian
|26th February 2008, 15:20||#8|
Senior - BHPian
|26th February 2008, 15:54||#9|
Join Date: Nov 2007
Thanked: 26 Times
Great write up,
This could be well complimented with the pictures.
Pls post pics ASAP
|26th February 2008, 17:45||#10|
Join Date: Apr 2007
Thanked: 40 Times
Great write up, interesting experience and your devotion, hardwork in preserving such great automobile. I can only say you also deserves
to be ranked as best personalities like your impressive collections.
Keep sharing your interesting experience with pictures.
Good luck and wish to see your collections.
|26th February 2008, 18:43||#11|
Join Date: Apr 2007
Thanked: 40 Times
Interesting story about how Packard comes in cars business:
Back in 1899 when the first motorized vehicles were starting to appear, a young engineer that had recently graduated from college was fascinated with the new motor cars and wanted desperately to be a part of that industry. He was especially impressed with a car that was winning many of the races conducted to advertise the car's power and technology. Many times the cars would race against a horse to prove their endurance.
The car this young engineer favored was the Winton automobile.
(Winton made automobiles from 1898 until going out of business in the 1930's)
The young engineer decided to purchase a Winton automobile and it was
delivered to Detroit in the year 1900 on a flat bed train car.
After cleaning up the dust and protective grease he took it for a test drive.
He was pleased with the performance but felt there were a few things that could be improved.
As a good engineer, he dismantled the car and made note of areas that could stand improvement.
He felt that if he could inform Mr. Winton about these items that he would be
offered a position in the Winton factory. Upon reading the letter, Mr. Winton did not care for the impudence of the young upstart engineer and immediately replied to him. The letter that Mr. Winton sent to the young engineer is currently on file in the Smithsonian Institute.
It read: Dear Mr. Packard, if you feel you can build a better car, I suggest you try.
And the rest is history.
James Ward Packard started building Packard cars; Packard Motor Car Company was formed in 1903.
Note from the Team-BHP Support Staff : Do make sure that you provide the references/original source for every piece of material that has been taken from another website/publication, to give credit to the original author.
Source: A picture review of the Packard from 1899 to 1929
Also Please remove [FONT], [COLOR] and [SIZE] tags before posting. This has been corrected for you by a Mod.
Last edited by Technocrat : 26th February 2008 at 19:17.
|26th February 2008, 19:05||#12|
Distinguished - BHPian
Join Date: Jul 2007
Thanked: 4,659 Times
Great DKG - you, me, Karl and President are all same. All of us want a place to dump all things automotive. I have 6 minus 1 = 5 Fiats with me and believe you me, I know what I go through. There is just no place in my house where you cannot find old parts of Fiats.
Unforthnately, many normal people do not understand our passion. Keep up the good work.
|26th February 2008, 21:42||#13|
Distinguished - BHPian
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Hyderabad, AP
Thanked: 1,548 Times
Awesome write-up DKG!
Sure got the wheels turning in the minds of many, namely me.......quite a coincidence since Ive just commenced restoration on my Herald after having it laid up covered with a tarp for nearly a year since I bought it!
I will surely pm you to be able to have a look at your packard sometime.
Come to think of tat we do have a plot of land here.....'think its high-time to put it to use, although its all the more far away from the city!
Last edited by Stanher : 26th February 2008 at 21:51.
|27th February 2008, 09:21||#14|
Join Date: Jan 2008
Thanked: 3 Times
Brilliant writeup!!! gets a newbie like me all inspired. Was just searching for more information on this car on the web. Read there were classified as "light eight" and "super eights". Whats the difference?
She is a looker alright! Hearty congratulations on owning such a beauty. Would love to see some pics.
|27th February 2008, 10:05||#15|
Senior - BHPian
The Super Eight referred to a much larger 383 cu in 8 cylinder engine running on 9 main bearings bore 3 1/2" stroke 5". This engine graced the Senior Packards up until 1936
Source: Packard Automobile Classics, Inc. - The Packard Club
I will try to put together info on the various engines manufactured by Packard over the years, and host it here at the forum with pictures
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