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Board index » All Posts (su8overdrive)

Re: Ok, I'm calling your bluff. Show me how Packards were "better".
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In the years i'm interested in, the late '30s, immediate prewar cars -- my '47 Super a warmed over '42 One-Sixty Clipper-- if you compare any Packard, junior or senior, with an upper echelon GMobile, the Packard has a needle or roller bearing where the Buick or Cadillac has a plain bushing. Bearings are to an automotive chassis what jewels are to a watch, so think of a Packard as a Rolex, a period Cadillac/Buick as an upscale department store timepiece.

Packards of this era were alone in offering a fifth rear shock absorber to control lateral side sway. Sadly, too many of Packard's refinements were unseen, and subtle.

Packard offered overdrive, something not seen in any GM product 'til the '55 Chevy, with its Ferrari grille, just as the '67 Camaro aped the '63 Ferrari Lusso, and the introductory '27 LaSalle was an unabashed copy of Hispano-Suiza.

GM sold sizzle, with just enough steak to seal the deal.
Toss in the sophisticated styling of the 1940 1/2 C bodies,
and HydraMatic, and Packard was in trouble. HydraMatic was a convenience option, has nothing to do with a serious road car, does nothing for performance, but when you're in the car business, you offer what people want, or think they need, or you go under.

I've no interest in anything after 1947 and agree with Tom McCahill, dean of domestic roadtesters, who raved about the '46 Clipper Deluxe 8 and previous Packards, that the '48 Packard was "a goat." By this time, the GM production men Packard started recruiting back in 1933 to teach them how to produce and market the One-Twenty, a stellar car that saved the Company, had taken over Packard
and reverted to what they knew: producing Oldsmobile/Buick-level cars.

But ALL independents died. No one could match GM/Ford tool amortization costs, afford the "necessary" 1950s annual model changes, expensive TV advertising. People who rave about other marques conveniently forget that all Cadillacs from 1936-on were junior cars, increasingly sharing components with lesser GM divisions; that Rolls-Royce's main business from 1935 on was aero engines, the cars increasingly a rationalized, tho' skillfully marketed product with bodies stamped out by the same Pressed Steel producing bodies for humdrum little Austin family sedans and half the English car biz;

that Hispano-Suiza survived/survives making pumps for nuclear power plants;

that all Lincolns from 1936-on other than a handful of outsized Model Ks through 1940 were "Ford and a halves," then FoMoCo fodder, even using HydraMatic, as Rolls-Royce/Bentley did beginning in '52, their first year for an automatic transmission.

By 1953-54, even Chrysler was down to a mere 12.9% of the domestic market, leaving just a "Big Two." Ford nearly folded in 1948, industry reporters cited Ford Motor Company's bookkeeping dept. being "....a small room filled with ancient men with receipts in shoe boxes."

Henry Ford II, only 26, knew enough to bring in the Harvard "Whiz Kids," including father of the Edsel and Vietnam War, Robert McNamara. They turned things around, but a friend's original 1950 Ford has such poor quality you can stick your smaller fingers through the cracks of the passenger side door when it's closed.

I'll leave it to others to drum up Packard's bathtub and '50s merits, but the only noteworthy things i can think of are Ultramatic's direct-drive, lock up torque convertor, which one of the gents cited above, and, and, um....uh... that's it, because Torsion Level was from Bill Allison, an outside engineer who had to sell the hell out of it to Packard's complacent management after GM and Ford turned it down. Oh yeah. Reversible seat cushions......zzzzzz....

Packard's sole production hit of the '40s, the svelte 1941 Clipper, came from outside-- Dutch Darrin, but you don't expect all that Detroit Athletic Club, Masonic, East Grand Avenue boardroom ego to admit their first big hit since the '35 120 was from a fast-track Hollywooder who chased skirts and swore like a sailor. Doesn't matter who on Packard's staff appropriated or fussed with Darrin's proposal. If you take up oils and paint "in the manner of Cezanne or Monet," whose work is it?

Look at the horrendous non-quality of the Packard Darrins
in 1940, produced in the old Auburn-Cord Connersville, Indiana plant, far from East Grand Avenue's quality control. As Darrin said, "Packard was so afraid of GM they couldn't see straight." So Packard let those beautiful Darrin victorias go to the highest-profile public, with doors flying open, front fenders flapping. Compare with the relative body quality of the 1940-41 Lincoln Continentals, despite their lackluster engines.

At the risk of invoking ire, the bathtub Packards were hideous. Look how much crisper, hipper, the '48 Cadillac looked than that year's Packard, despite the latter's refined, strong chassis, drivetrain.
John Reinhart and others wanted to retain and "sweeten" the 1941-47 Clipper, good enough for Rolls-Royce to use, razor-edged, with a modern, curved, one-piece windshield, as the 1956-65 Silver Cloud I-II-III and concurrent Bentley SI-SII-SIII.

Several auto journalists on both sides of the Atlantic dismissed '50s Packards as looking like "bigger, gaudier Fords." A Packard Mayfair coupe with stick and overdrive
was and is a good ride, but Packard was just another car, an also-ran by the '50s.

In their heyday, Packard wasn't a follower. Packard stood apart and uphill from, while competing against, not following, GM and the rest of the industry.

They weren't also-rans.

Packard didn't need buffs defending them as "nearly as good" as such and such.

They were Packards. Always thought it timely that Alvan Macauley, Packard's president 1916-39, chairman into '48, president of the Automobile Manufacturers Association 1928-45, often called "the only gentleman in the car business," left the Company in 1948.

I agree with Tim Cole above. I've seen too many semiliterate Joe Sixpaks attracted to Packards, witness Darrins, Twelves and other once lovely, understated models in resale red and other circus wagon Branson, Missouri konkours kolor. Whitewalls on everything, just like the rubes in the 1941 Cadillac Club of America, formerly known as the CCCA, and for many years, "a Packard club."

BTW, PT boats were such gas hogs they often had to be towed back to base by destroyers.

You want the best from the brass years, it wasn't Packard, or Pierce-Arrow, or Peerless. It was Lozier, Chadwick, Simplex. From the 1920s, a Stutz-- overhead cam, hydraulic brakes. A former Buick engine designer, Howard Reed, tried in the late '30s to talk Packard's increasingly hidebound management into not just overhead valves, but an overhead cam, according to Maurice Hendry. Packard's mgmt. replied that such an engine's "noise" would be unseemly in a Packard. Didn't stop Buick from trumping stablemate Cadillac during 1941-42.

Tim Cole's right as rain. Packard made some fine, fine cars. But some perspective never hurts.

PackardInfo is an equally fine site, a fitting homage to Packard. Like Dr. Cole, many here try to share what insight, tips we've accrued through the decades. But we don't walk on water, and can learn from everyone, witness both the genial level of discourse, and pictorial charm, of

Today, there are many people who can tell you down to the last lockwasher and cotter pin HOW a car was built,

but not WHY.

Posted on: 2012/6/19 17:20

Re: Bugs in the Trunk
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Amen. Aside from being toxic, carcinogenic, mothballs smell foul. You have to wonder why anyone would have a lovely old automobile that smells like dying geezers, a funeral home. Who wants to bomb around in that?
And these are some of the same zombies who wonder why younger people don't care about old cars unless someone's dropped a Chevy V-8, tilt wheel and velour upholstery in one. Ugh. Brain dead.

Posted on: 2012/6/19 14:20

Re: Bugs in the Trunk
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I agree with Packard bent eight. I use nothing but a bag filled with cedar shavings in my '47 Super. Mothballs
are toxic to us, to all life, as well as insects. Same with poison in aerosol cans. If a coupla bags full of fresh cedar shavings don't drive them out, then spray carefully as JD suggests. But then stick with just cedar to prevent them or their relatives from returning.

Cedar's also a nice, fresh, natural smell. Our '40s and newer Packards have woodgrain instead of real wood veneer,
which is the only place they come up short against R-R and Bentley, in my 'umble opine, so this is a nice bit of win-win in the healthier bargain.

Posted on: 2012/6/18 16:25

Re: My Battery has a Fur Fetish !
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KTS, the gents above wisely get to the gist of your problem. But the last wet battery i had, an extra large 3EH in my case, for which i had to slightly bend the battery tray lips out to accept, did maddeningly seep at one of the terminals, despite my electrical system being in fine shape. That, and preferring the Optima's mere 18-lb. weight against the 56-lb. extra HD wet battery, and my friends reporting satisfactory starting using lone six-volt Optimas in their large-engined survivors, clinched it for me. Being in England, you get the concept behind Bentley Continentals,
Railtons and the like. Weight is the enemy in any fine road car, and your 745 be grandfather of us all.

BTW, i can now use all the empty space on my battery tray as a place to rest tools, drop light whilst fussing in the engine bay, but this added benefit moot given the location of your 745's battery.

Posted on: 2012/6/12 17:58

Re: My Battery has a Fur Fetish !
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As always, BigKev and OD speak the unvarnished truth.
And some wet batteries simply leak more at the terminals than others, even battery to battery, same brand/model.
Just another reason most vintage/Classic owners in my circle have been supremely happy with the Optima six-volt battery since the 1990s.
I installed, as in previous collector cars, a brass, marine-grade master disconnect switch in my '47 Super,which was available at my local auto parts emporium. NAPA or any quality store should carry or be able to order it. Just make certain the switch you use is rated for more amps than your starter pulls.

I mounted it in the firewall, beneath the dash, keeping
my 00 gauge battery cable as short as possible. A great convenience and peace of mind, and of course, it prevents the Packard clock from draining the battery during the long periods between runs in rare, rare windows in our hellish traffic to keep the car fettled.

Posted on: 2012/6/12 17:14

Re: New Packard Owner
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Stu -- Jaunty looking car. Packard used the 526 chassis as
test bed for at least one works speed car. The late Bev Ferreira, longtime Bay Area owner of Packards ('37 Twelve victoria, '41 160 sedan), and other collector cars, owned
your model albeit with the trunk elongated as it was used originally for bootlegging. Otherwise, the car looked stock as yours, all the better not to attract attention from the authorities.

Your '30 Hudson's a quality car, too. They had high nickel content blocks, like Reo Royale, and were also popular with those running hooch and those pursuing them.

ScottG's right. You're no mechanical moron if you keep a '79 Fiat Spyder alive. They're slick little cars, but adjusting their valves, as with XK Jaguar engines; that time-consuming, maddening exercise of selecting the right shims makes you wish such cars had adopted the small thumbwheel on Hispano-Suiza H6 and J12 engines; each audible click indicated a thousandth of an inch.

Nifty Packard, and nice to see one "in the white," a real
summer car.

Posted on: 2012/6/10 18:31

Re: New Quaker State Oil
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Sportsfans, listen to Tim Cole. This entire ZDDP fire in a crowded theater nonsense started because a couple CCCA members with 1936-48 flathead Cadillac V-8s had their chintzy bronze timing gear go bad coincidentally after recent overhauls. Packard wisely used hardened steel, reason #8,372 why we're here.

I was wondering when the ZDDP scare would rear it's empty lil' head here, dreading the day, hoping PackardInfo would be immune.

Lotta words, bottom line: The zinc level in most major motor oils is the same as it was back in the 1970s, and we didn't hear this malarkey then. Instead, it was don't use multiweight, don't use detergent, you "hafta" use antifreeze, use only distilled water in your cooling system, never put a battery on a concrete floor.

Then it was don't use silicone brake fluid, and half the bubbas making dire predictions didn't and don't know the difference between silicon and silicone, or probably take, much less pass, high school chemistry.

Zinc levels were increased, but in the last few years, SM, SN oil ratings decreased them---back to where they were in the 1970s -- because too much zinc harms catalytic convertors.

There are always a bunch of JimBobs rebuilding their hopped up Chevy V-8s. This recent zinc curtailment gave them a new black helicopter, grassy knoll to point to.
Internet blither spreads like wildfire. Contrary to Fox "News," repeating something that sounds good doesn't make it so.
Everyone's allowed to have opines, to rant.

But we're here for, as Sgt. Joe Friday requested, "Just the facts, ma'am."

I happen to use Kendall GT1 10W-30 because it's an old, respected brand, popular on the East Coast, where i came of age; because it used to be the same deep green as Packard painted their engines through '50, because it smelled, and smells, nice.
Consumers Reports several years ago ran an exhaustive test of NYC cabs using premium conventional (not synthetic) motor oils, after 60,000 miles finding no discernible wear difference from an engine using Exxon, Chevron,
any of the major oil companies' motor oils, nor any of the
major independents including Quaker State, Pennzoil, Valvoline, Castrol. I don't recall them including Kendall
merely as it was more of a "boutique" brand marketed through speed shops.

Several other major brand motor oils have the same zinc level Kendall GT1 SN now has. I spoke at some length with
one of Conoco-Philips-Kendall's degreed tech gents, himself
a gearhead with an old car with a flat cam engine with vastly higher valve spring pressure than our ancient, low-stressed, yet refined lawnmower engines.
Earlier, i corresponded with another Kendall tech maven, who'd owned a '41 Packard.

Friends who like Chevron, Texaco, other brands have had similar discussions with their R&D and tech folk, many of whom themselves own and drive, old, some very old, collector cars.

One of the Conoco-Philips-Kendall senior techs knows one of the fellows involved with the formulation of the 15W-40 "Classic Car Motor Oil" marketed through the CCCA's Indiana Region. Regarding this fellow's endeavor and even some of Kendall Oil's current marketing promoting ZDDP, he
chuckled and said, "Any company that wants to stay in business has to give people what they want, or think they need. "

I hesitated posting this. I'd never post it on the AACA Forum's collection of barroom rants, or on the 1941 Cadillac Club of America's Forum.

But i've noted there are some bright, upbeat, helpful gentlemen on this fine site, befitting the car built by gentlemen for gentlemen, and so want to allay any fear, hysteria.

Sure now, someone who knows somebody who hears tell that so-and-so's camshaft went bad in 50 miles while using
such-and-such motor oil will chime in. So be it.

The rest of you gents, a little judicious Googling, or
even picking up the telephone and calling the motor oil of your choice's tech dept. should put this to rest.

Yeah, i've read all the downhome ol' curr magazines, too.
And through my Ferrari friends, i hear the rumors from the
box seats. Mad money does not = knowledge.

Some of us enjoy Packards as respite from the

Posted on: 2012/6/10 3:32

Re: Mysterious Items on my Instrument Panel 46 Clipper
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The above gents offer good guesses. Mine's a long shot but i've heard several Packard and other old car drivers say that in the day and since they've added a pushbutton to
enable the overdrive to be "kicked down" without momentarily flooring the accelerator pedal. Immediate prewar Chryslers, i've heard, had such a button from the factory at the end of the column shift lever.

A fellow who owned a Packard Darrin back in the '50s said he installed a door bell button on his dash to switch back to direct drive. It was just a nifty old car then, so apparently he didn't stand on formality.

An old friend who still has the '50 Ford six with overdrive he bought new said he often quickly switched the ignition key off and on, which sounds a little dicey to me,
but he did it for decades with no ill effect. I wouldn't do that, afraid of blowing a hole in a piston.

Meanwhile, if it is a back up starter button, it's a good idea. I added such to my '47, tho' i only used it to blip the starter trying to find the timing mark on the vibration dampener. Still, am a big believer in back up systems.
Consider our Packards akin to fire trucks in back up service, slumbering peacefully, but ready to go in a minute's notice no ifs, ands or buts.

Often wonder why Packard went to the gas pedal starter button in '41. Best reason i can think of is that Buick had it, and was the hot car of those days, even upstaging corporate sibling Cadillac, and the debut Clipper was aimed squarely at the Buick Roadmaster market. 'Course, that's not why Packard
said they had it in their ads, brochures, etc. But i've no
doubt someone with more insight will weigh in. In fact, i
hope they do, because i'd like to know.

Have you noticed several sporty cars at both ends of the market today have push button starters? It's hilarious.
Everyone wants a no muss, no fuss retrorod with a factory warranty and a nationwide service network.

Posted on: 2012/6/7 3:26

WWII military rating vs. marine rating
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Does anyone know the difference between the two ratings, per WWII era, late '40s? An article in the CCCA quarterly some years ago about the Cadillac 346-ci V-8s used (a pair in each) in the M-5, M-24 light tanks, M-19 anti-aircraft gun carriage mentioned their 115 hp military rating against their advertised automotive 150 at the same 3,400 rpm.

Packard's marine version of the 356 was rated 150hp against the advertised 165. Military/marine, apple and apple, or apple and orange? Only interested in how these ratings were determined during the '40s, not today.

Posted on: 2012/6/6 1:53

Re: Bypass vs. full flow oil filters
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Thank you, Dr. Cole. All excellent points, and the experience of the auld gent with the 384-ci Model 902 with
the outsized paper air filter is new to me. I've been running a Wicks 87055 in my '47 Super's oil bath cleaner since the late '90s which fits like a glove.

When i changed my oil and filter last New Year's Eve afternoon after only 985 miles since the previous change simply because of the time, not mileage, that had passed, it looked about as clean as it did at 100 miles. As mentioned, i never, ever start the engine unless i'll be driving 18-20 miles highway to equalize block, head, manifold temperatures and prevent sludge, varnish, carbonic acid as mentioned above.

A Cordite friend installed a full flow oil filter on one of his Cords, something a few 1936-37 Cord owners have done probably since the three-main-bearing Lycoming V-8, same bore/stroke as Packard's 1948-54 inline 288, shares oil with the transmission, Cords being, as we've read and heard, underfunded, underengineered.

We already know how cheesy even the upper echelon GMobiles were compared with concurrent Packards, but it's
interesting that the 1936-48 Cadillac three-main-bearing 346-ci (320-ci in '36) L-head V-8 using the same Wilcox-Rich hydraulic valve lifters as the 1940-50 Packard nine-main 356 L-head inline 8 offered an oil filter as an option, while it was standard equipment on the Packard 356.

Already have a pre-oiler on my car for full oil pressure
before turning the starter, since according to McDonnell-Douglas, Continental, the SAE 80-90% of all engine wear occurs during the first moments of start up after an engine's been sitting more than a few days, or a week, let alone a month or more.

So, short of drilling and tapping our blocks for full flow, i'm sure many of us would like to preserve our Packards "for the duration," and are all ears when it comes
to such insight as yours above. Thanks again, sir.

Posted on: 2012/6/6 1:34

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