Dissolution; Sunday Packards: October, 2019

Yesterday my wonderful wife and I attended our annual neighborhood picnic/gathering. As always, we had a marvelous time. Our neighbors are polite and friendly.

After that I attended the last “First Saturday” car show for 2019 sponsored by our local Corvette club. As always, I had a great time. The people at the show were polite and friendly.

Even though the two events were only about two miles apart, though, they might as well have been two million miles apart in terms of the attitudes towards what is happening in our country today. I remain convinced that the US is headed towards dissolution. I also don’t think that will be a bad thing although I seriously doubt I will live to see it.

I reject most policy tenets of both major parties in the US. I also reject the notion that I have to pick one. I cannot and will not vote for a candidate with whom I disagree on 75% of policy even if I disagree with the other candidate on 80% of policy. The “lesser” of two evils is still evil. I think the policy platforms of both parties are rife with inconsistencies.

The political spectrum is two-dimensional, at most. The real world is three-dimensional, at least. Do the math.

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Let’s do more math, but more fun this time…

The probability that at some time in the next 2-3 years I buy a car manufactured by a defunct American car company is probably 75%. The probability that car is a Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk is also about 75%. That means, overall, a 3-in-16 chance (about 19%) exists that I will buy something other than a GT Hawk. Here are two possibilities:

 

See the source image

See the source image

 

The top photo, “courtesy” of Barrett-Jackson, is that of a 1956 Packard 400. The bottom photo, “courtesy” of Mecum, shows a 1956 Packard Executive.

I have shown photos of these cars before. I have also declared my extreme affinity for the 1956 Packard Caribbean Convertible. However, unlike my Ultimate Garage 2.0, barring some unforeseen monetary windfall a Caribbean is out of my price range. When I began publishing Ultimate Garage 2.0 in late May Hagerty gave an average value to a ’56 Caribbean Convertible of $67,000. I’m not going to spend even a third of that amount on my homage to a defunct American car company.

1956 was, of course, the last year for “real” Packards that were not badge-engineered Studebakers. That year also saw Packard adopt a “modern” 12-volt electrical system with a negative ground. Packard 400 production for 1956 (Model 5687) was 3,224 cars; production of Executive hardtop coupes was just 1,031 vehicles.

On classiccars.com one ’56 400 is listed with an asking price of $14,980. 56packardman has written that price is too steep for that particular car. On Hemmings one Executive is shown with a list price of $18,900.

One obstacle to buying either ’56 Packard is their sheer size. The Executive is about 215 inches long; that’s almost 18 feet. A 400 is 18 feet-plus at 218 inches. Modern garages are usually only about 20 feet deep. As a comparison, my 2016 Corvette Z06 is about 178 inches long or a shade under 15 feet.

Anyway, as I have written many times before a line from the movie Diner seems appropriate, “If you don’t have dreams you have nightmares.” I have nightmares, anyway, so I might as well try to have some nice dreams, too.

 

#DissolutionOfTheUS

#1956Packard400

#1956PackardExecutive

#NiceDreams

#somanycarsjustonelife

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Frugal Friday, 1956 Edition

Not 1956 again! Hey, my brain has a mind of its own. 🙂

This week’s Frugal Friday will feature four cars not all of which will be bargain basement. Trying to clear the deck of this idea in one post, I will show a 1956 model Oldsmobile, Packard, Pontiac and Studebaker, each of which is still less than the current average “transaction price” for a new vehicle in the US. I can’t believe I have to write this, but those four makes are all defunct American car companies. I will use Hemmings and AutoTrader.

OK, the Oldsmobile…

 

 

From this classics.autotrader.com listing a picture of a stunning 1956 Oldsmobile 98. Yes, the dealer is in Canada—the Toronto area, to be exact. While the ad states that the car has about 100,000 miles, the copy also states that the engine has been rebuilt (although it doesn’t say when) and that it is a “show and go car, spend no money, just enjoy.” What’s the asking price? $23,500. Surprisingly (or maybe not), Oldsmobiles of this vintage in decent condition are not super cheap.

The 98 was Olds’ top of the line model. This is a Holiday hardtop coupe of which 19,433 were produced in 1956 at an asking price of $3,480, actually a tad less than the hardtop sedan. The engine for the 98 was, of course, a V8. 1956 was the last of three model years in which the Olds engine displaced 324 cubic inches, but HP/Torque were increased each year reaching 240 HP/350 LB-FT for 1956. Given Oldsmobile was the company that introduced the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission it should be no surprise that this car was equipped with a 4-speed Hydra-Matic.

 

 

Also from classics.autotrader.com a picture of a 1956 Packard Executive, but not the one I showed a while ago. The ad copy is skimpy; the list price is $16,000. The ad does read “Complete, running. Will need some restoration.” The Executive model, of which only 2,815 were produced (1,031 were hardtop coupes like this one), was a very late entry into the 1956 American market not being introduced until April of 1956. It was a cross between the “entry-level” Clipper and the “senior” Packards. The drivetrain was the Packard 352 cubic-inch V8 (senior cars had the 374 cubic-inch engine) with either a 3-speed manual or Packard’s own Ultramatic transmission. Engine output was 275 HP/380 LB-FT.

I would consider purchasing a car like this in the future, especially for $16,000 or less, but I am wary of parts scarcity as well as the lack of mechanics who could service it.

 

 

From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1956 Pontiac Star Chief. I am smitten with the two-tone paint. Unfortunately, in the ad it is spelled “tu-tone” and not just once, but three times. (56packardman subsequently informed me that, in the manner of the “Tudor” spelling for two-door Fords, “tu-tone” is not necessarily a mistake.) The seller is asking $19,500 and claims the car is in “excellent” condition. Pontiac made 43,392 of the Star Chief hardtop coupe in 1956 with an “MSRP” of $2,665; the Safari wagon was $3,129. Only for 1956 the Pontiac V8 had a displacement of 317 cubic inches; output was 227 HP/312 LB-FT. This car has an automatic transmission, but the ad doesn’t state whether it’s the original Hydra-Matic.

The car below is listed on Hemmings and AutoTrader and has been shown before on a Frugal Friday. While I would prefer a pillar-less hardtop coupe (Golden Hawk or Sky Hawk) one in decent condition doesn’t seem to be available right now so I will show this pillared Power Hawk.

 

 

Country Classic Cars in Staunton, Illinois has had this car listed for awhile, but the asking price remains $12,750. The Power Hawk used Studebaker’s 259 cubic-inch V8 engine that produced 170 HP/260 LB-FT with a two-barrel carburetor and 185 HP with a four-barrel. The top of the line Golden Hawk actually used Packard’s 352 cubic-inch engine that was in the Clipper and Executive. Remember that Studebaker and Packard were one company in 1956. This car has an automatic of unknown origin, but the base transmission was a 3-speed manual. Studebaker produced 7,095 Power Hawks in 1956—the only year for this model and the year before the Hawk series was “adorned” with tail fins—with an asking price of $2,101.

So we have four classic 1956 American cars made by defunct companies, three of which can certainly be purchased for less than $20,000 and who knows about the fourth. Do any of you have even a tiny fraction of my interest in defunct American makes?

 

#FrugalFriday

#1956Oldsmobile98

#1956PackardExecutive

#1956PontiacStarChief

#1956StudebakerPowerHawk

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Compulsion

I wasn’t going to post today, but here I am. As I awoke before 5 AM for the second consecutive day and since I cannot use the treadmill because my wonderful wife is still asleep, here I am. Once again, OCD is a bitch even if it’s OCD-lite.

 

I have been reading Packard: A History of the Motorcar and Company edited by Beverly Rae Kimes. She was, perhaps, the finest chronicler of American automotive history. The book is enormous at 800 pages and with my other wonderful trait, ADD, sometimes I just can’t wade through all of the details about the engineering, the interiors, etc. However, I am enjoying the book.

Would you buy a car without a working master cylinder?

 

 

From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1956 Packard Executive without a functioning master cylinder. No, I am not going to buy this or any other car anytime soon, but as I have written before my brain is pestering me with the idea of buying a car that was built before I was born and is not too expensive. The seller is asking $8,000.

This was the last model year for the “real” Packard manufactured in Detroit. It was also the only year such cars featured a negative ground, 12-volt electrical system, the standard for cars built in the last 60 years. Of course, that is changing as some manufacturers have moved to a 48-volt system.

While this car will not end up in my Ultimate Garage 2.0 another Packard might. Speaking of Ultimate Garages I am still hoping more of you will send me yours. Not that I can’t post yours after I reveal mine, of course, but some of you might not want to wait until then. I will probably start before Memorial Day.

 

#compulsion

#Packard

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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