Re: Packard Bikes

Posted by Leeedy On 2019/2/26 18:13:44
In 2013, someone wrote to Big Kev on this site requesting information on a Packard bicycle. (you can go back and look it up). At that time I responded as to what the bicycle actually was. Then? Crickets.

In 2018 an auction was held in San Francisco. A Packard bicycle that appeared to be identical to the one from 2013 was auctioned in a prestigious-looking extravaganza. The Packard bicycle was claimed to be "meticulously restored" wasn't. It was merely "fixed up" with miscellaneous parts from numerous years and brands...but not restored-which means to "return to original." Apparently this Packard bicycle brought in over $2800. Now here is what somebody got for their dough:

As I originally pointed out in 2013 and will do so here again...

• The Packard bicycle in question was claimed to be from the 1920s. MAYBE.

• The handlebar stem was claimed in numerous hoopla descriptions over several years before and during the auction to be aluminum (it was) and somehow related to a Packard Cormorant ornament (it wasn't). Nor was the the stem from the 1920s. Nor was it original to this bicycle. The aluminum bicycle handlebar stem in question was made in the 1950s-no chance from the 1920s. This stem came from a company in Detroit, Michigan located on Gratiot Avenue. I had been there many times in my youth and bought several of these and they were kept in my collection until 2002 when that collection ..."largely disappeared" along with my 1956 Packard Caribbean convertible. You don't need to take my word for it about the age and source of the stem. This was an aftermarket part almost never found on the west coast. But I had several of them. If you look back and research, you can find advertisements for these stems in 1950s bicycle trade journals. It is impossible to be from the 1920s nor could it possibly be original equipment on the bicycle in question. Bicycles from the 1920s era certainly did not have aluminum gooseneck handlebar stems-certainly not aftermarket accessory ones from the 1950s. And finding this aftermarket Detroit-made stem on the west coast would not be easy at all.

• The seat on this "1920s" bicycle is from the 1980s made by Persons Company and it is a replica of a seat made in the 1950s. We mentioned these replica Persons saddles in an earlier posting. A 1920s boy's bicycle saddle would have had far longer and older-looking springs. The saddle installed here is just as wrong for a 1920s bicycle as tail fins would be on a 1920s car!

• The front sprocket chain wheel is from a 1950s J.C. Higgins (Sears) girl's bicycle or a Murray-Ohio-built girl's bicycle of the 1950s. A boy's model of the same (again from the 1950s) would have had 3 rows of slots, not 2. Either way, this is not an original component to this bicycle and is decades newer.

• The rear sprocket (and thus the coaster brake hub) with the series of round holes in it (look at the photos) most likely came from the same girl's 1950s J.C. Higgins bicycle (the hub is a Higgins/Musselman unit). VERY easy to identify as a Packard is from a Ford.

• The front fork, sprocket, 1960s-70s handlebars all appear to be chrome. Any bicycle prior to 1928 would have had nickel... and certainly not the type of handlebar design as equipped. Even if we are generous and allow it to be 1928, only certain brands/models of bicycles at that point and for years later where equipped with chrome components. This was not one of them.

• There are other issues that prevent a "meticulous restoration"-not the least of which are too-large modern cad-plated screws attaching a nickle-plated headbadge. And those pedals and grips!

Does it matter that these Packard bicycles often turn up and draw a lot of attention? Of course. But it also matters that the history that goes with these bicycle is accurate... just like it ought to be for Packard automobiles. And the bicycles deserve to be restored accurately and to be identified accurately.

But everyone can go home happy when nobody knows what they are seeing-even with their eyes wide open. Or wide shut.

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