Not Everyone Should Own a Packard

Danny Koker of “Counting Cars” cruises the streets of Las Vegas searching for classic and antique cars for his next project.  More often than not he finds a suitable project which he restores, flips, or adds to his personal collection.

Many people hunt collectables cars when traveling; I am no exception.  My eyes are always searching for an interesting vehicle just waiting for a little love.  Rarely do I purchase one, but sometimes I do.

There was a 1954 Packard located less than two miles from my home.  I actually knew the owner and had taught and coached is son at the local school.  I showed my interest in the Packard several times, but it was not for sale.  Finally a few years later the car was for sale,  they were cleaning up the yard and getting rid of their junk.  I bought this cool 1954 Packard Clipper Super Panama 2 door hardtop for the exorbitant cost of $100.  Add this to the list of mistakes that all car collectors make: NOT EVERYONE SHOULD OWN A PACKARD.

 The Packard shortly after we brought it home.

The Packard shortly after we brought it home.

The body was rough, the interior was poor, and it did not run. Not only did the “Packin’ Packard,” as my neighbor called it, have these problems, I didn’t have the cash to bring it back to life.

So a driver it became. Believe it or not, we got it running with a little ZEP, and a tune up. The brakes even worked.

I made a deal with my neighbor: he would paint the car, I would buy the materials and construct a small retaining wall near his garage.  A great deal for me.

We picked a Packard color and then matched it with a 2004 Ford color that was nearly identical (check out the pictures).  

I made door panels, installed a headliner and carpet, and repainted the dashboard.  Although we painted the chrome a silver color the old Packard was at least respectable.

 The "restored" version of the Packard.

The "restored" version of the Packard.

A $2500 asking price brought a number of lookers. I sold it once for $2000, but the buyer backed out leaving me $60 cash and a bounced check for $240.  No problem, I had his $60 bucks and the car, but it was still unsold.

Thinking I was never going to unload it, a creative deal came to fruition.  The Dutch Apple Dinner Theater wanted to buy it and turn it into a stage prop. To meet their budget, I sold them the front half to just behind the front door.  I kept the rear and trunk to make a cool sofa. I was to keep the engine, but I blew it up moving the car around the property before they picked it up.

The “Packin’ Packard” has new life as the star of a “Grease” dinner theater production, and a sofa in my man cave. The car destined for the junkyard and later a “not so cool” driver, is now a dinner theater star and a useful, cool sofa.

This is just one of my personal CAR TALES, I have loads more.  All cars have them.  Leave a comment and share yours!

For Joy! For Mt. Joy!!

Today Harold and I were “free stylin’” Pickers style though Elizabethtown, PA.  It was a slow day, spotting only a ’62 four door Studebaker and a primered 1960 Buick convertible.  Neither car created much interest, so we moved on.

However our next stop through Mt. Joy piqued our interest when Harold spotted an old car,  possibly  an Oldsmobile, in an old showroom store front. Heisey’s Garage was founded in 1933, by the current owner Jim Heisey’s grandfather. 

The building was originally a blacksmith shop built in the 1800s. The Heiseys converted it to a Sunoco full service gas station and repair shop in the 1930s. From 1964-1971 it was a Simca and Sunbeam new car dealership. Today Heisey sells a few used cars and does some mechanical work.

The car turned out to be a rare ’64 Dodge 880 convertible; and of course, it had a Car Tale. Heisey said that a man, driving a ’64 Dodge travelled to Mt. Joy, twice, attempting to purchase the car.  When he said it was not for sale the man told the rest of the story.   

He owns fourteen ’64 Dodges and was prepared to purchase the 880 convertible on the spot. He already owned one exactly like this one, but another would likely fit well with the rest.  Evidently he had done some homework before he came, proclaiming that there are twelve ’64 Dodge 880 convertibles in existence.  This is lucky number 13.

 Outside Heisey's service station (above). Heisey's full service station circa 1940 (below).

Outside Heisey's service station (above). Heisey's full service station circa 1940 (below).

Heisey was proud to show us the other cars in the building. The 1940 Ford business coupe was purchased nearly 50 years ago and has gone through numerous upgrades:  350 Chevy motor, modern interior, and what’s in the trunk.

This baby would best be called a “Moonshine Runner” because the trunk area is set up with a still.  Heisey’s son scoured local flea markets and antique shops to equip the Ford with an authentic looking still.

We helped Heisey push his 1955 Studebaker pickup truck into position so that a rollback could load it for a trip to the paint shop. This local purchase was going to be a driver with a few modern upgrades.

A  1935 Ford convertible was in an adjacent garage. This is a driver which he takes out during the summer and fall months.  All of his cars have recent inspection and current license tags. 

To round up our visit we spotted a true classic.  Heisey’s  soapbox racer, which ran in the last Mt. Joy fair in 1958.  He was quick to say that he didn’t win.  But we were all winners today, enjoying the cars and sharing memorable CAR TALES.

Hershey 2018

We are looking forward to the 2018 AACA, Antique Automobile Club of America Eastern National Meet.....Hershey, this October.  Thousands of people from all countries around the world make the pilgrimage to the largest display of cars, parts, and automobilia in the world.

Each year Harold says, "Hershey always has a car that you have never seen before."  And 2017 didn't disappoint, compliments  of Hyman Ltd. of St. Louis, Missouri.  The 1955 Cadillac Die Valkyrie concept car design by Brooks Stevens and constructed by Hermann Spohn, made the car show circuit during 1955 and 1956. Officially 2 were produced but rumor has it a couple more may exist. 

The Die Valkyrie features a prominent "V" shaped front bumper and a more modest posterior.  The black and white color scheme makes an elegant presentation accompanied by its plush Mercedes 300 seats and luxurious interior; a more detailed history and specifications may be found on the Hyman Ltd. website. The Die Valkyrie is one of the rarest of concept cars available in the marketplace. Hats off got Hyman Ltd. for offering this stunning example of automotive history.

What unique vehicles will we find at Hershey in 2018?  We'll only have to wait until October 10 to find out.  Happy hunting!!!

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Life in the Fast Lane

A few times a year, my wife and I travel halfway across America to visit our son in St. Louis. Our trips usually include a visit to at least one classic car dealership, and this summer's highlight was Fast Lane Classic Cars in St. Charles. Before we even reached the first showroom, shining like a beacon in front of the building was a 2004 replica of a 1935 Auburn Speedster convertible. While the car itself was stunning, the $98,000 price stag stood out as well. I wouldn't be in a hurry to sell this baby, either!

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 A wide view of one of Fast Lane's fantastic showrooms. 

A wide view of one of Fast Lane's fantastic showrooms. 

Where many classic dealers operate under a consignment model, Fast Lane is unique in the fact that they own most of the cars they sell. And, boy, do they have some beauties for sale. From the rotating metallic-lavender '57 Chevy outside, to the '09 Lotus my son was drooling over, and all the domestic and foreign classics in between, I haven't said "Wow!" this many times in recent memory.

 A '57 Chevy rotates between the two showrooms at Fast Lane classic cars.

A '57 Chevy rotates between the two showrooms at Fast Lane classic cars.

 A 2009 Lotus is one of many foreign wonders inside Fast Lane Classic Cars.

A 2009 Lotus is one of many foreign wonders inside Fast Lane Classic Cars.

A salesman told us the dealership had been in business for 24 years, and in that time, had expanded from one building to four: two showrooms, a repair shop and a detail shop. He also explained that every car sold must be road worthy before the new owner may drive away with it. "No problems make happy customers," he joked.

The $300,000 price tag on a 2006 Ford GT turned my head, but what really drew me in was a yellow VW Beatle that had been shortened to the point where my 6-3 frame didn't stand a chance at fitting behind the wheel. The salesman told me the only way he'd successfully entered was through the passenger's side. 

 2006 Ford GT with a hefty price tag of $300,000.

2006 Ford GT with a hefty price tag of $300,000.

 A 1974 VW Bug with shortened, back seat removed. I'm still not sure who can drive this!

A 1974 VW Bug with shortened, back seat removed. I'm still not sure who can drive this!

As we walked out of Fast Lane, I saw yet another unique treasure. "That's a Packard!" I thought as I walked toward an elegant black coup. "A new Packard???" Someone had converted a 1982 Buick Riviera into a Packard. I've been thinking about this car since I left, enough to merit a call to the dealership to learn a little more. Stay tuned for another post on this one.

 Front view of this custom Riviera Bayliff Packard Sport.

Front view of this custom Riviera Bayliff Packard Sport.

 The rear end of this custom Riviera Bayliff Packard Sport.

The rear end of this custom Riviera Bayliff Packard Sport.