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Message from the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio
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2009/4/10 19:10
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Here is a message recently received from the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio.

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pdf Covid Donor Letter.pdf Size: 184.71 KB; Hits: 134
pdf Covid special mailing piece.pdf Size: 72.04 KB; Hits: 84

Posted on: 5/8 18:10:46
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Re: Message from the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio
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2006/11/29 20:35
From Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 2855
I used to go over to Warren for the Museum's annual Packard weekend, as a spectator, but (for a variety of reasons) I began losing interest in that event. I stopped going after they did away with the all-Packard car show, on Saturday, and merged it with their all-makes car show, held on Sunday.

Still, I took a look at the Donor Letter and couldn't help but notice mention of the 55 Caribbean that Howard Hughes bought for Jean Peters. So. I did a little Googling and found this article on the acquisition:

https://www.tribtoday.com/news/local-news/2019/10/national-packard-museum-gets-1955-caribbean-bought-by-howard-hughes/

I'm confused by the statement that "Hughes souped up the vehicle with two four-barrel carburetors". (There's a later mention of "some under-the-hood modifications" as well.) It's been my understanding that the 2x4 setup was factory install on all V8 Caribbeans, and I've never seen factory documentation to the contrary. Conversely, I have seen a few of these cars that were refitted with a single 4-barrel carb, intake, and air cleaner.

My recollection from a Retrospective article in an issue of Motor Trend, back in the early '70s, was that Hughes was dissatisfied with way the car ran, but could never get the 4-barrels adjusted right. So the car just sat, and that's why there were so few miles on it when Stan Zimmerman was finally able to buy it.

If this COVID mess ever passes, I'd like to go back to check that car out.

Posted on: 5/9 17:33:33
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Re: Message from the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio
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Joined:
2009/1/24 9:59
From Davis, CA
Posts: 721
Quote:

BH wrote:
I used to go over to Warren for the Museum's annual Packard weekend, as a spectator, but (for a variety of reasons) I began losing interest in that event. I stopped going after they did away with the all-Packard car show, on Saturday, and merged it with their all-makes car show, held on Sunday.

Still, I took a look at the Donor Letter and couldn't help but notice mention of the 55 Caribbean that Howard Hughes bought for Jean Peters. So. I did a little Googling and found this article on the acquisition:

https://www.tribtoday.com/news/local-news/2019/10/national-packard-museum-gets-1955-caribbean-bought-by-howard-hughes/

I'm confused by the statement that "Hughes souped up the vehicle with two four-barrel carburetors". (There's a later mention of "some under-the-hood modifications" as well.) It's been my understanding that the 2x4 setup was factory install on all V8 Caribbeans, and I've never seen factory documentation to the contrary. Conversely, I have seen a few of these cars that were refitted with a single 4-barrel carb, intake, and air cleaner.

My recollection from a Retrospective article in an issue of Motor Trend, back in the early '70s, was that Hughes was dissatisfied with way the car ran, but could never get the 4-barrels adjusted right. So the car just sat, and that's why there were so few miles on it when Stan Zimmerman was finally able to buy it.

If this COVID mess ever passes, I'd like to go back to check that car out.



Like Packard bicycles, here is another history that keeps popping up every few years–always with yet another embellished spin on it.

First, I have known this car since it first reappeared in public in the very early 1970s. At the time, this Caribbean was being driven on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood by Jean Peters' nephew. It was the nephew who got the car out of the residence garage in Beverly Hills after it had been sitting parked since 1955 when it was new. He took the Caribbean to a former Packard dealer for work. Then to the Sunset Ecology Car Wash on Sunset Boulevard and started driving the Caribbean–at least for a few days.

The car wash was just down the street from what was then the headquarters of Petersen Publishing Company (where I used to freelance). So as you might imagine, someone from Petersen spotted the Caribbean and thus it wound up in Motor Trend. To this day, I still have original poster-sized color proofs from the center-spread photos that were taken. The car had 611 miles on it when I first saw it.

Unfortunately if you want to use the Motor Trend article as a reference for this Caribbean, you'll certainly be on a merrie chase–especially when it comes to technical details and historical. After all, the MT author claimed that the car had "air bag suspension" (I can absolutely assure you it didn't and it doesn't).

The linked "Tribune Chronicle" article also contains several inaccuracies. AND the photo bizarrely makes the the car appear to have an orange stripe–at least as it shows on my computer. The original center strip color was Rose Quartz (pink). I also strongly disagree with the statement that the first seven 1955 Caribbeans were "testing cars"... who says that?

Also while the museum and newspaper are so quick to have the Caribbean top lowered, it is a shame that no one will get to see a factory original 1955 Caribbean top WITH color lining...WITH color top well...WITH stainless rear bow trim... WITH original fabric all folded up and hidden from view. ANYBODY can see a Caribbean with the top down. Seeing a factory original 1955 Caribbean top UP is the real miracle here!!!!! What's the big deal with NOT seeing the factory original top? And how many–even knowledgeable Packard fans have ever seen an original 1955 Caribbean factory convertible top????? And please... do we really HAVE to call this a "ragtop"?????

Regarding carbs...all 1955 Caribbeans had dual four-barrel carburetors. So this is a fact. This Caribbean came with dual four-barrels, but for some odd reason Hughes had an electric fuel pump hooked up to the #2 carburetor. Caribbeans had no progressive linkage... but Mr. Hughes had his own ideas and loved to tinker. What was on his mind regarding the second carb and electric pump only he would know. My friend who I knew even before he bought the car from Hughes' people in the 1970s removed the gadgetry and kept it intact in his garage.

It is a screaming pity that no one ever seems to recall articles published by the Packard Club... in their glossy magazine, The Packard Cormorant (TPC). And that "googling" doesn't always bring up factual sources. When these Packard stories arise, it's always some news stand magazine or auction house blurb that gets quoted. But reference never seems to be TPC. However TPC is where the factual Packard history usually is!

I wrote the first accurate history of the Howard Hughes/Jean Peters 1955 Caribbean. This history was published in the Spring, 1980 issue of The Packard Cormorant magazine. The article tells the whole story of this car, how it was purchased, who purchased it and when and where. It talks about the paint (which certainly was NOT all white). And IF the color stripes were only added only AFTER Mr. Hughes ordered the car, why would they be in colors Miss Peters disliked? And why would the car already have a top with pink lining and interior for the white-pink-charcoal colors? Frankly, the normal process of painting these Caribbeans at the Conner Avenue plant in Detroit was to paint them white first and then the stripes were added. This process was not done special for Mr. Hughes, although it is indeed possible that the Hughes/Peters car was completed or touched up at a dealer in Los Angeles.

As I stated in the TPC article, this Caribbean was not left to sit because of any carburetion issue. Not true at all. It was left to sit like a lot of other expensive Hughes toys. In my story I told of a pilot I once met who flew for Hughes. His orders on one occasion were to fly Mr. Hughes to New York and to have the plane gassed up and ready to leave New York at a moment's notice. Months later, the poor fellow was still sitting there with a gassed-up aircraft, awaiting further instructions and forgotten (Hughes turned up in Salt Lake City).

The Caribbean was also left sitting because Miss Peters was not at all fond of the colors. She didn't like it... so she didn't drive it. And that was that.

I can assure you, I know this Caribbean very, very well. I still have dozens and dozens of photographs I took of it in the early and mid-1970s. Here I am driving the Howard Hughes/Jean Peters Caribbean in Beverly Hills in the early 1970s. Yes, I drove it. Look closely and you will note the inside of the top is pink...

Attach file:



jpg  LeonDixonHHughesCarbbean002.jpg (461.18 KB)
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Posted on: 5/10 10:13:46
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Re: Message from the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio
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Thanks for the clarification on that Caribbean's fuel system, Leeedy.

I only went Googling to find out about the Warren Museum's acquisition, but was confused by some of the (mis)statements about the car in that Tribune Chronicle article.

I probably have that issue of the TPC, but it's boxed up in offsite storage, and I wasn't interested in digging that deep into the matter. I've lost a lot of interest in the hobby, but do hope to check out the Hughes car in person, someday.

Posted on: 5/10 12:47:08
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Re: Message from the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio
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Joined:
2009/1/24 9:59
From Davis, CA
Posts: 721
Quote:

BH wrote:
Thanks for the clarification on that Caribbean's fuel system, Leeedy.

I only went Googling to find out about the Warren Museum's acquisition, but was confused by some of the (mis)statements about the car in that Tribune Chronicle article.

I probably have that issue of the TPC, but it's boxed up in offsite storage, and I wasn't interested in digging that deep into the matter. I've lost a lot of interest in the hobby, but do hope to check out the Hughes car in person, someday


You are most welcome. Always a pleasure to provide info where I can.

I have been interested in Packards since the 1940s. When I was in college, I was so crazy about Packards and had a limited budget too. But I bought a 1956 Caribbean convertible and tow-barred the car from Florida to California in the early 1970s. I suspect I hold the world's record for tow-barring a Packard–and I have photos to prove it.

But yes, my level of interest ebbs and flows. I have even taken breaks away from the hobby. Years ago I was working feverishly in the car business, 6 to 7 days a week, spending up to 6 months a year out of the country. I hardly ever saw a 40-hour work week for nearly 25 years, so it was extremely difficult to keep up with old cars, much less the hobby. And it was hugely discouraging when several of my cars were stolen years ago. Among those stolen was my beloved 1956 Caribbean convertible (with factory air and wire wheels) that I tow-barred cross-country. But I can assure you, I will always, always love Packard automobiles and their history. That's permanent.

Here's a thought. While many of us are cooped up at home, now might just be the ideal time to break out all of those old Cormorant magazines and browse. It is amazing to see and read some of the fascinating history of Packard automobiles and the company that made them!


Posted on: 5/10 15:27:16
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Re: Message from the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio
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BTW, whatever its flaws, that MT Retrospective piece was one of three magazine articles that, initially, helped fuel my interest Packards - shortly after finding my father's old '56 Exec Hardtop quietly rusting away in a field.

I was in high school, then, with little budget for hobbies, but I availed myself of the available resources to attempt an oil painting of the magnificent center-spread photo that you cited, earlier. However, I wasn't able to capture the look of all that chrome and stainless. My (naive) approach had been to use shades of gray. I didn't understand, until several years later, that the key was to paint what was reflected in the polished surfaces.

Still, the resulting work attracted enough attention to win second place in its class at the annual high school art show. Maybe that's because I later learned (only recently) that art isn't so much about duplicating reality as it is how the artist "sees" things. That I had (unintentionally) somewhat enhanced the bustline of the striped tube top of the model sitting behind the wheel probably didn't hurt, either - LOL.

Alas, my mother did not like that painting at all. So, it was banished to the garage, and was eventually tossed into the burning barrel, suffering from exposure. If life ever settles down to the point that I can pursue my own interests, again, I'd like to pick up the brush and canvas to attempt another painting of that scene. However, there's so much more in play, here, than the current pandemic.

Posted on: 5/11 7:12:48
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Re: Message from the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio
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Joined:
2009/1/24 9:59
From Davis, CA
Posts: 721
Quote:

BH wrote:
Thanks for the clarification on that Caribbean's fuel system, Leeedy.

I only went Googling to find out about the Warren Museum's acquisition, but was confused by some of the (mis)statements about the car in that Tribune Chronicle article.

I probably have that issue of the TPC, but it's boxed up in offsite storage, and I wasn't interested in digging that deep into the matter. I've lost a lot of interest in the hobby, but do hope to check out the Hughes car in person, someday.


Speaking of losing interest in the hobby, please don't. The hobby needs all the interest it can muster these days. This could never be more relevant than my situation.

How would you like to buy a 1956 Caribbean in Florida in the early 1970s (after putting yourself in deep hock while in college)... tow-bar it all the way to California... work on it for several years... only to have someone break into your barn and steal the car and all of your spare parts and tools...? I have reason to believe my car was sold in Arizona at a big car auction about 10 years ago. YES.

Here is what MY Caribbean looked like in the early 1970s when I tow-barred it coast to coast! You can see I even paid for a temporary transport license from Florida. By the time it was stolen in 2002 I had accumulated every item that needed replacement (mostly new old stock) and had all of the plating DONE. A new correct top custom-made for me by Robbins Auto Top company was in a box in the back seat. I had a nice set of original wire wheels on the car complete with brand-new wide-whitewall tires. I rebuilt the transmission. I rebuilt the engine. I rebuilt the carburetors. Fixed the gas tank and fuel line. the only thing it needed was a dent removed and a paint job. (See the photo below with the front clip removed and lots of the work done). Want a reason to lose interest in the hobby? I've sure had it.

And knowing that SOMEBODY out there TODAY has a 1956 Caribbean convertible... with the VIN plate missing... with part of the factory A/C missing... with the dash and engine compartment painted the wrong colors... auctioned for a lot of money by a big auction company that lied and said the car spent all of its life in California, but you can see that's not true!

Of course nobody knows anything. Nobody knows "nuthin'"... THAT's enough to make me lose interest. SOMEBODY knows this is a stolen Caribbean, but they'll have excuses... everyone along the chain of thieves. And whoever has it today will claim they didn't know–in spite of all the odd things about the car. It IS out there... somewhere. IN THIS HOBBY.

But... I go on. WHY? Because Packard is arguably the greatest automobile this country ever made...

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jpg  CaribbeanInTowGD1.jpg (639.80 KB)
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jpg  FrntVUnoFendrs copy.jpg (401.89 KB)
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Posted on: 5/11 15:28:48
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Re: Message from the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio
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Points well taken.

Though still not fully recovered, finanically, from the Great Recession, and helping to care for my terminally-ill mother, I now have to look after my declining father, his house and a not-so-late-model car that he no longer drives, but refuses to sell.

Somehow, I've managed to keep all of my old cars. They're all in dry storage, but about all I can do right now is to try to keep the tires aired up.

Whenever I've thought about getting rid of any of them, I realize that after I put in all the work needed to get them out of storage and sell them without taking a beating, I might as well finish them and enjoy them myself.

Only time will tell if that's feasible.

Meanwhile, the odds may be against recovering your Caribbean after all these years, but I hope you at least wind up with another Packard of your dreams.

Posted on: 5/11 17:08:10
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Re: Message from the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio
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2008/3/4 2:53
From Magnolia, TX
Posts: 481
Leedy,
The photo of you in the Hughes/Peters Caribbean displays the bottom of the rear fender skirt below the centerline of the hubcap. Were their weights in the trunk, soft torsion bars, or just the correct rear height?

Posted on: 5/11 18:18:50
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Re: Message from the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio
Home away from home
Joined:
2009/1/24 9:59
From Davis, CA
Posts: 721
Quote:

mlgrimes wrote:
Leedy,
The photo of you in the Hughes/Peters Caribbean displays the bottom of the rear fender skirt below the centerline of the hubcap. Were their weights in the trunk, soft torsion bars, or just the correct rear height?


Okay... that's Leeedy (with 3 E's).

Regarding the Torsion-Level suspension on the Howard Hughes/Jean Peters Caribbean...

• No "weights in the trunk." Why would I want to do that? And why wouldn't the Torsion-Level suspension on a virtually new car negate the weights?

• No "soft torsion bars"... again the car at the time it was photographed had less than 1,000 miles so how would the torsion bars have gone soft?

• "Correct height"... the bottom of the skirt should just about bisect the hexagon on the wheelcover–which is roughly where it is in the photo. The important thing is that the car is basically sitting level. There are a lot of folks who seem to think that the rear of these cars ought to be hiked up in the air. A 1955 or 1956 Packard should be level. Period. There is adjustment a couple of inches either way. But the main thing is that the car is sitting and riding level. There are videos of "restored" Caribbeans on the internet with their rears up in the air... why, I have no idea. The suspension was intended to sit level. And that is what this virtually brand new Caribbean was doing when I drove it and when I photographed it.

Posted on: 5/11 19:13:28
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