. . . because I was lucky enough to visit the Packard Museum in Dayton, Ohio. I took over 100 pictures and saw some fucking awesome cars. Unfortunately the lighting conditions were off for my cell phone camera so a lot didn’t turn out, but here are some highlights with information (note, most of this is what the museum guide was sharing, as they don’t have plaques at the moment as they’re changing to a new system, since my memory isn’t the best don’t take this post as gospel).
These are some of the first cars that greet you when you first walk into the museum. The center car was a parade car owned by the US Government and was constantly used in parades and President Eisenhower even rode in this car. Since this was before the infamous JFK assassination, no one really gave too much thought about important government officials riding exposed in open top convertables.
The yellow car in the background is all original, paint, leather, leather, and all. The color was a special color used by Packard for the New York market and this particular car was meant as a birthday gift for a 16 year old girl. Kids being what they are, she wasn’t too enthusiastic about the color and decided she didn’t like the car, so her mother ended up using it as a daily driver. Interesting anecdote, there is a photograph in the driver’s glove box of the girl’s parents sitting in this car that the museum guide pulled out for us to look at. It’s amazing how one story and a little photograph can make such a normal car seem so special.
In this photo, surrounded by Packards, is a Ford Cobra that belongs to the museum owner and is stored here. Awesome.
More cars, with some garage supplies from the era (more pics of that kind of stuff later).
This car was a one off, specially designed by one of Packard’s head engineers. He used this car to show off Packard’s engineering capabilities to pilot’s visiting the area. It was able to reach speeds of excess of 100 mph and a few years ago they took it out to the Indianapolis Speedway for an exhibition where they took it all the way up to 90 mph. According to the museum guide, Charles Lindbergh took a ride in this car and said that it was the fastest he ever went on land.
A side note, apparently the engineer who made this car had ordered it destroyed. Fortunately, someone at Packard wasn’t too good at following instructions because it was found years later dismantled and sitting in a barn.
Here is the propane powered car. Packard had created it as a prototype for the military as there were concerns about the availability of gasoline due to WWII.
This car was modified to compete in the Carerra Panamerica, a race that didn’t last very long due to being about as dangerous as an automotive race can get.
This 1958 Hawk Convertible was actually a prototype meant for the Studebaker Marque. The car never saw production. As an aside, according to the museum guide, the owners of Packard bought Studebaker pretty much on a handshake, not knowing the financial troubles the company was in. He says this was the beginning of the downfall of Packard.
This car, nicknamed “The Grey Wolf,” was built in 1903. It was the fastest car made at the time. It looks rickety as fuck. People must have been crazy to even try to drive this, let alone take it wide open throttle.
Everybody knows who Al Capone is. All that bootlegging and tax evading must have been good business, because this was his car. There’s no arguing that the man had taste.
This car was owned by one of the heads of Proctor and Gamble (I’m pretty certain it was Mr. Proctor himself that owned this, but my memory is fuzzy and I don’t want to commit to that statement). The reason it looks so drab is because when he bought the car, America’s economy was still in pretty rough shape and he didn’t want to look too ostentatious. So he settled for a matte paint job, no chrome, and no white walled tires. According to the museum guide, he was on occasion seen driving down the road with bales of hay in the back seat.
In order of left to right, an engine analyzer, a tire balancer, and a battery checker.
The museum was chock full of period antiques all over the place. They had everything from maintenance parts to service manuals and sales guides to garage tools to random memorabilia. The museum would have been worth the trip alone for just those.
Check out that library!
If any of you guys are ever in the Dayton Area and The National Air Force Museum seems too cool for you, definitely check out the Packard Museum. It’s fucking awesome.
The Packard Museum also had some aviation engines on display that I’ll make a second post for next week. I’ll be sure to post some more car pics with those.
Have a good night guys.
This is so cool.
Also, I read about the Carrera Panamericana and that is excellent. In the first year though, the guy with no mechanical knowledge won the race straight up on luck. He didn't know what he was doing if the car broke, and ran it into the ground so hard that he finsihed without any oil in the engine. Balls to the wall for sure. In an Olds 88