In September of 1947, Packard debuted it 22nd series of automobiles, introducing its first all-new designs since 1941. In the Packard Eight range, one model was entirely new to the lineup, blending the style of the four-door Touring Sedan with the practicality of a station wagon, trimmed in elegant wood paneling. Built for just three years, the Packard Station Sedan woodie is a something of a rare sight on modern roads, and in early April, the 1948 Packard Station Sedan seen here will cross the auction block in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where it will be sold at no reserve.
Described by Packard in its 1948 literature as “the successor to the station wagon,” and an “all-occasion beauty,” the Station Sedan used a steel floor, roof, and sides, with only the tailgate crafted from northern birch, which was also used to trim the doors and greenhouse. Inside, plywood was used to line the cargo compartment, with stainless steel “no mar” strips affixed to prevent scratches to the wood finish. With the rear seat folded and the lower clamshell rear door open, the Station Sedan gave owners a cargo bed that measured nearly nine feet in length.
Built upon the Packard Eight’s 120-inch wheelbase, the Station Sedan had two-row seating that offered accommodations for the driver and five passengers. Seats were covered in a blend of cloth and vinyl, materials that Packard promised would “out-look and out-last natural leather.” As with other Packard Eight models, the Station Sedan featured a chrome-trimmed dash painted to resemble wood grain, and standard instrumentation included a speedometer, oil pressure gauge, ammeter, temperature gauge and fuel gauge.
Power for Packard Eight models came from the company’s 288-cu.in. L-head inline eight-cylinder, rated at 130 horsepower. While the only transmission offering was a three-speed manual (with an optional overdrive), synchronized gears simplified shifting, and four-wheel servo-assisted hydraulic drum brakes ensured safe and consistent performance. Up front, the Station Sedan used an independent suspension with shock absorbers and an anti-roll bar, while in the rear leaf springs and shock absorbers (including a fifth shock absorber to dampen sway) kept the live axle in check, providing both a comfortable ride and reasonable handling.
Despite its functionality and attractive styling, the Station Sedan remained in Packard’s lineup only from 1948 through 1950. Priced at $3,425 in 1948, the model was the most expensive offering in the Packard Eight lineup, and nearly as expensive as the better-equipped $3,500 Packard Super Eight Touring Sedan; for comparison, a wood-trimmed Buick Roadmaster wagon stickered for a comparable $3,433, while more mainstream wagon offerings from domestic manufacturers could be purchased for as little as $1,893 (for an eight-passenger Ford Special Deluxe station wagon) or $2,013 (for a Chevrolet Fleetmaster station wagon).
Details on the car to be sold in Fort Lauderdale are sparse. From the images provided, it appears to be a restoration, possibly an older one, with the car finished in a pale yellow. Purists will object to the painted bumpers and rear hinges, but overall the car appears to be in good condition. While not a concours contender, the car would make an impressive weekend driver, and would likely be a hit on the local show circuit. It is offered at no reserve. Auctions America predicts a selling price between $45,000 and $65,000 when the car crosses the stage in Florida.
The Fort Lauderdale sale will take place from April 1-3 at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. For more information, visit AuctionsAmerica.com.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Kurt Ernst.
After months of meetings with land-speed racers, mining companies, and federal agencies, the Utah House of Representatives late last week passed a bill urging the Bureau of Land Management to make it safe once again to race on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Introduced at the beginning of the month by Utah State Representative Stephen G. Handy, Utah House Concurrent Resolution 8 points out that racers noted a thinning of the salt flats as early as the 1960s and that the flats were designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern in 1985 before “strongly urging” the BLM, the United States Congress, and the state’s congressional representatives to come up with a plan to restore the salt flats “to safe land speed racing conditions.”
“It’s a real tragedy, what’s happened there,” Handy told the Salt Lake Tribune. “There are things that we cannot do that we would like to do with those lands within our sovereign borders that we cannot effect.”
Last September, after the cancellation of Bonneville’s Speed Week for the second time in as many years, Utah Governor Gary Herbert wrote a similarly worded letter to the Bureau of Land Management, noting that despite the agency’s responsibility for the landmark, “the Bonneville Salt Flats are not only severely damaged but are, in fact, approaching ruin.”
While neither the House bill nor the governor’s letter pinpointed a specific cause for the deteriorating salt conditions and heavy rains contributed to the back-to-back cancellations, the Bonneville racing community has long blamed the BLM and nearby mining company Intrepid Potash, which leases part of the Bonneville Salt Flats from the BLM for its operations, as the cause of the thinning salt and of the declining salinity in Bonneville’s underground aquifers.
“We need to make sure the Bureau of Land Management acknowledges the tons of salt that have been removed from the salt flats,” said Stuart Gosswein of the Save the Salt Coalition. “We need a reclamation plan in place, and they’d be the ones to approve it.”
Lisa Reid, a BLM spokesperson, said that the BLM “wants to be responsive” on the issue, but that it would not be appropriate for the agency to comment on pending legislation. The BLM last yearcommitted to a study of the shrinking and thinning of the salt flats, though as the Utah Alliance pointed out in a press release, previous studies of the salt depletion have come to widely varying conclusions about the source and extent of the depletion.
Previously proposed solutions include restarting the salt replenishment program on the existing land-speed track, shifting the land-speed track to BLM property south of Interstate 80, and the transfer of ownership of the track from the federal government to the state of Utah. The latter would be possible under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act, which allows states to purchase up to 6,400 acres of BLM-supervised public land per year for recreation purposes.
HCR 8, which passed the Utah House of Representatives 71-1 on Monday, has since been sent to the Utah Senate for consideration.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Daniel Strohl.
When Preston Tucker’s automobile factory closed, it left behind the makings of more than a dozen additional vehicles, some of them rather easy to assemble, some a little more difficult. Now, more than 65 years later, one of the latter will soon make has made its public debut and become quite possibly the last Tucker to ever be built.
UPDATE (19.January 2016): This Tucker will also head to auction in April as part of Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale sale. The pre-auction estimate ranges from $950,000 to $1,250,000.
For the last quarter century, the total number of Tucker 48s built (not including the Tin Gooseprototype) has stood at 51: 37 built and sold from the factory in Chicago, 13 completed after Tucker shut its doors, and one built from parts decades later. Yet Tucker enthusiasts have long known of a collection of parts floating around the collector car community that could, feasibly, come together to build one more Tucker. Those parts just needed somebody intrepid enough to put them all together.
A number of collectors tried, according to Jay Follis, former president of the Tucker Automobile Club of America. Ezra Schlipf, who bought much of the contents of the Tucker factory at its bankruptcy auction in 1950, sold most of the parts necessary to build a whole car – the cowl, dash, seats, and chassis of car #1052; the front sheetmetal from car #1018; NOS bumpers, front doors, quarter panels and decklid; and an engine and transmission – to Stan Gilliland, one of the co-founders of the Tucker club. Gilliland never assembled the parts into a whole, though, and ended up selling the lot to Dick Kughn, who in turn sold it to Wayne Lensing, who had planned to use the parts to create an exhibit replicating the Tucker assembly line.
Meanwhile, Tucker enthusiast John Schuler of Aurora, Indiana, had begun his own search for a Tucker to purchase or restore. “When I started, there was this period where nobody was selling Tuckers,” he said. “And then when they did start selling them, the prices kept going up.” He did manage to buy a Tucker six-cylinder air-cooled engine, but he kept missing out on private sales or getting outbid on Tuckers at auction.
Schuler knew of Lensing’s parts collection, but plenty of other Tucker enthusiasts before him had tried and failed to convince Lensing to sell the parts. “I think my timing was just right,” Schuler said. “Wayne’s dream was getting a little harder to fulfill, so he decided to sell.”
So in the spring of 2010, Schuler sent the parts to Tucker expert Martyn Donaldson to have him take inventory of the haul. According to Tucker historians, factory engineers used chassis #1052 as the testbed for the automatic transmission Preston Tucker initially envisioned for the car; the engineers were actually able to get it running and driving around the factory with a dashboard and seats bolted to the chassis. Tucker #1018 had been wrecked in 1948, but its front sheetmetal remained undamaged. Schuler couldn’t likely source another automatic transmission – only one complete automatic transmission car had been built – so he had Gilliland rebuild a Tucker Y-1 transmissionfor the car.
The only major parts the haul didn’t include were rear doors, a roof, and a floor. Donaldson then sent the partially assembled car on to Brian Joseph at Classic and Exotic Service in Troy, Michigan, where Joseph not only fabricated a floor and roof, but also a pair of rear doors, using patterns from other Tuckers the shop has worked on.
“I didn’t realize when I started what a big job it was,” Schuler said.
With the entire assembly/restoration completed earlier this month and the Tucker now running and driving and painted maroon like the Tin Goose, Schuler said he believes #1052 will be the last Tucker built using mostly original parts. “Jay, who’s been around the Tucker hobby long enough to know, said he doesn’t think there’s enough parts out there to make another car,” Schuler said.
The most recent Tucker to be completed using original parts like Schuler’s was #1051, which Chick DeLorenzo completed in the late 1980s using body #1054. Some observers tend not to think of that car as an authentic Tucker, and Schuler said he’s already heard similar criticism of his car. “There are a few people against it,” he said. “Why? That’s a good question. We’re not saying this car is something it’s not, we’re not saying it rolled off the assembly line, we’re just saying it’s basically some Tucker parts we’ve put together. I think most people will be excited about seeing another one.”
Tucker #1052 debuted last year at the Concours d’Elegance of America in St. John’s, Michigan (where it won its class), and made a followup appearance at the Red Barns Spectacular at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, where Follis serves as director of marketing.
This year’s Auctions America Fort Lauderdale auction will take place April 1-3 at the Broward County Convention Center. For more information, visit AuctionsAmerica.com.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Daniel Strohl.
In 1983, Medway, Ohio, residents Robin and Mike Barry purchased the property adjoining theirs for a single reason: Long abandoned and overgrown, it had become an eyesore, along with a potential public health and fire hazard. Clearing the lot and razing the structures would give them a better view, enhance their property value and deliver a premium residential building lot for resale. Even after cataloging the dozen or so classic cars on the lot, the Barrys had no way of knowing that automotive history, in the form of a 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz “Raindrop” prototype once used by Harley Earl, lurked beneath the decades of overgrowth.
As Robin Barry related to us, tracking down the lot’s owner proved to be a challenge. It had been part of a divorce settlement two decades before. The owner’s “crazy ex-husband” had continued to pile junk on the property, in the house and in the barn, long after the marriage was terminated. Content to be rid of the land and the problems associated with it, the woman was eager to strike a deal with the Barrys.
After receiving the keys to the house, Robin and Mike became the first people in 13 years to set foot in the buildings. All 12 rooms of the circa-1873 farmhouse were stacked floor-to-ceiling with magazines and car parts, and the barn was also crammed full of scrap. Enlisting the help of an automotive enthusiast friend, the Barrys took inventory of the vehicles on their newly acquired land, which soon became known as the “Cadillac Ranch” for its trove of Cadillac models and parts.
One such model, stored under the barn’s overhang, seemed to defy description. Missing the front end body work, the convertible boasted a fiberglass rear, and tailfins that were neither from a ’58 nor from a ’59. It lacked the Cadillac Eldorado’s rear fender vents as well, and by all appearances, never carried such ornamentation from the factory. With little time to research individual vehicles, they dug out the mystery Cadillac and dragged it to the edge of the property, where it sat alongside a host of other classic cars.
Time has blurred the details, but Robin remembers that the backyard yielded five Cadillacs, all from the 1940s and 1950s, along with a 1969 Pontiac Firebird convertible, a 1933 Hudson Terraplane, a Snap-On Tools panel van, and other assorted vehicles. Once cut free from trees and bushes, the cars were unceremoniously dragged curbside, where they attracted almost non-stop inquiries from passersby.
One such visitor was Jim Walker, an owner of Walker Brothers Oldsmobile and Cadillac in Dayton, Ohio. Perhaps recognizing the mystery Cadillac as one of the five 1958 Eldorado Biarritz convertible prototypes built, each equipped with a moisture-activated power top, Walker began negotiations on the car, along with five others on display. As Robin puts it, he paid “a hefty price” for the collection, which helped to fund the ongoing work on the property.
Eventually, all of the cars were sold off, and the contents of the house (“worthless and valuable,” in Robin’s words) were sorted. The 4,000 magazines, including a debut copy of Hot Rod, were sold at flea markets, raising enough cash to rewire the house and barn. The sale of other items funded further restoration, and three years after taking over the property, the Barrys sold the renovated house, barn and land for enough money to buy an old farmhouse of their own.
As for the mystery Cadillac, research by later owners showed that the car was almost certainly the one used by Harley Earl, and one of just two examples known to survive today. Partially restored during its time with Jim Walker, the prototype was sold to the Wiseman Collection, which finished the work sometime in 1998. In December of 2007, the Cadillac prototype sold at auction to Paul and Chris Andrews for $330,000, and in May of 2015, it traded hands again for a fee-inclusive price of $324,500.
Robin, whose husband, Mike, passed away in 2005, remembers the reclamation project that ultimately saved the Cadillac, and other cars, with fondness. “The eyesore turned into a darn good investment,” she said, “We did all the work on the place, and I can’t remember ever being that dirty before or after.”
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Kurt Ernst.