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1929 626/633 Classic Car Rally Prep Recommendations
Just popping in
Joined:
9/5 13:43:28
From Edmonton
Posts: 2
Hi everyone,

I am looking at purchasing my first Packard. I have had several classics from the period before so am generally familiar with the technology and drive-ability.

I want to get into touring and long-distance endurance rallying and have done a significant amount of research for both. Ultimately, the end goal is the Peking to Paris rally, but that is a few years down the road. As much as I want a gorgeous Super Eight or Twelve, if I will be driving it relatively hard, I want to use a Standard Eight. I have found several 1929 models, both in 626 and 633 guise that I am considering, in either club sedan or sedan bodies, and a mixture of side mounts and rear mounts, wood and steel wheels. All are straight 8's with three speeds, I do not know the axle ratios.

Aside from the normal spare parts to bring along, and normal prep work for beefing up certain parts, what are known fault areas in these Packards that need attention before long distance rallies? Period modifications? Recommended modifications? The car would have to be built not for power, but for maximum reliability.

Posted on: 9/5 14:24:29
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Re: 1929 626/633 Classic Car Rally Prep Recommendations
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/2/24 23:05
From Australia - Sydney
Posts: 406
"What are known fault areas in these Packards that need attention before long distance rallies? Period modifications? Recommended modifications? The car would have to be built not for power, but for maximum reliability."
As no one has chimed in on this I will give my opinion.
I have restored two 1929 633’s and have had long term ownership and driving in one of those, a Roadster. Used as they were intended they are great cars. I have no experience with anything like the Peking to Paris and assume it requires sustained high speeds and handling on some rough roads .
In my opinion they are entirely unsuited to such conditions and I would say the same about at least most similar makes of cars of the era. You do not state what speeds and distances would be required The standard Packards are good for maybe 50 mph max, they will go faster for very short bursts but at the risk of serious engine damage
They are very robust cars, that is not an issue, for their intended use.
Modifications : These are many issues that would need attention.
The engines are slow revving and they are geared to run in top gear down to walking pace, not high speed. My Roadster which has the are the highest drive ratio of about 4.3 : 1 will cruise at up to 50 mph but at that speed the engine is working very hard, 45 mph is better. Also these cars have babbit bearings which are apparently less robust at high sustained speeds than modern slipper bearings. Fuel consumption with hard use would be huge, sustained cruising at 45-50 mph requires about 12-13 mpg. With hard driving that fuel consumption could double or worse so with a 20 gallon fuel tank the range could be around 80 miles.
So what to do about those issues, high ratio drive &/or overdrive. More gears would be better, 4 or 5 speeds.
Large auxiliary fuel tank
Low revving engine, replace it with a much later engine, now it’s a hot rod.
The suspension is good on good roads but these cars have massive unspring weight and hitting a bump on a tight corner throws them off line. Try lifting a complete back axle assembly it’s a two man job and they will be straining. Maybe better shock absorbers would help that does not fix the fundamental problem. Independent back and front end suspension would be the ultimate solution.
The brakes are fine for sedate use but will fade easily with sustained use. I always change down a gear on long steep descents and reduce speed accordingly. Hydraulic disc brakes would help but keep in mind these are very heavy cars.
The steering has many turns lock to lock, fine for the intended use of the car but not good for any sort of competitive driving.
Lights are just OK at low speed for short distances, the generator will stuggle to keep that battery charged for any length of time when using the lights so 12 V modern alternator and driving lights will be essential if night driving is required.
I don’t know how well the 90 year old wood framed body would hold up under rough conditions , not well I suspect.
There may be other issues I have not thought about but unless I am completely misunderstanding the type of long distance rallies proposed, the Packard is a very poor choice and the modifications required would destroy the original car.
Maybe I am being a “killjoy” what do other think?

Posted on: 9/9 15:32:36
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Re: 1929 626/633 Classic Car Rally Prep Recommendations
Just popping in
Joined:
9/5 13:43:28
From Edmonton
Posts: 2
Hi David, thanks for the response.

These were all issues I was concerned with, but considering as I like a challenge, I wanted to consider the Packard of this era. There have been a handful of Packard that have run the rally in the past, and a large amount of cars from 1925-1935 which have made the journey. Just this year, a Rolls P1 finished very well in class with fairly minimal troubles (among other cars from the period who also finished well).

A bit of background on the rally, it is approximately 13,000 kms from Peking (now Bejing) to Paris. Is is not a high speed rally or a race, but rather an endurance event, so a sustained speed of 40-45 mph is not a problem of being too slow on good roads. The most challenging part of the rally is the portion through Mongolia, which is rough and can be quite slow. Known upgrades include heavy duty shock absorbers, heavier shackles for the leaves, upgrades tires and wheels, and reinforced chassis components. This goes further to include smaller modifications.

Some upgrades I would do for the car right now, not just for P2P but for any touring application:
Overdrive, upgraded suspension, better fuel system including larger fuel tank, engine and trans rebuild and possible conversion to insert bearings, better brakes (though you cannot convert to discs), upgraded lights, alternator, and many others to address most of the problems you have brought forward.

There are other wooden-bodied cars that frequently take part, however this was something I was concerned about with the 626 and 633 construction as you have noted. Certain things are against the rules like converting suspension to independent, disc brake conversions, or other things that drastically change the function and appearance of the car. A quick google image search for "Peking to Paris Packard" will show a 1928 touring and 1934 Super Eight. There you can see generally these cars are not highly modified from the original guise.

As I am not fluent in Packards, what are known areas of parts breakage and frustration under normal touring?

Posted on: 9/10 9:14:25
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Re: 1929 626/633 Classic Car Rally Prep Recommendations
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/2/24 23:05
From Australia - Sydney
Posts: 406
Thanks for the clarification. I am not averse to long distance touring, but nothing like a trip of 13,000 kms but in my case the car has to be essentially as original otherwise I would get a later model.
However to your question " what are known areas of parts breakage and frustration under normal touring?"
I can't think of anything on the 6th Series cars that I would rate as a weakness under normal touring. They are robust.
I have never heard of a broken axle but I guess it has happened. Everything on these cars tends to be over engineered and well made.
I thought of another issue. the Bijur lubrication system can be a problem. If any of the drippers become blocked that part will not be lubricated. Replacing the system with grease nipples is worthwhile.

Posted on: 9/10 15:25:04
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