Concours Concept: 1935 Packard Motorhome

1935-packard-motorhome

Bruce Meyer may have caused a stir when he convinced the bigwigs at Pebble Beach to let a few hotrods participate back in 1997, but we have a new class proposal for next year that will cause a real uproar. Magnificent Motorhomes will grace the lawn at the 18th hole and this 1935 Packard will be our entrant! Take a closer look at it here on eBay out of Hermosa Beach, California. A special thanks goes to Tory for the tip!

1935-packard-motorhome-rear

We think this one is fitting for the world’s most prestigious car show, especially considering that a 1934 Packard just took home top honors at this year’s event. Joking aside, the Packard Motor Car Company did produce some of the finest luxury automobiles to ever come out of United States, so it was a shock to see one in this configuration. We have no idea who converted this into a RV, but the seller claims that the job took two years.

packard-stright-eight

The fact that a Packard was cut up to build this may seem unfortunate, but the long chassis and powerful engine provided the perfect base for an unlikely project. These cars were expensive when new so very few were  built. We have heard that this one might actually be a 1937 120C. Can anyone here confirm that?

1935-packard-motorhome-interior

This Packard is fitted with a sink, stove, icebox, and closet. Now that is an option list you won’t find on a new luxury car! It looks like a mess in there, but the seller claims that there is no rust-through or rot. The restoration will be expensive, but just think of the looks on the snowbirds’ faces when you show up at the RV park in this thing. And you thought an Airstream was hip!

1935-packard-motorhome-side

Old motorhomes are full of fond memories from family vacations past and we are sure this one has some good stories. RVs do not normally get us excited, but this one is interesting and makes us wonder what else is out there. So, lets see who can dig up best classic camper find. Who knows, maybe we will see it at the Concours next year!

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Comments

  1. paul

    Wow that is one unique piece.

    1
  2. Dave

    I think it’s cool as hell.

    1
  3. Rob

    Personally in all reality I think it started its life out as a Funeral Coach. A friend of mine had a similar in SoCal back in the 60’s, we used it to haul our surfboards back-n-forth, and occasionally a coffin that was converted to hold ice for our beer.. got quite a few comments when we pulled it out for the parties ’round the fire-pit on the beach.

    2
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Nice! It very well could be a converted funeral coach.

      1
    • rancho bella

      I agree with the funeral coach thought. It’s just so ungainly looking.

      Prime candidate for an Adams family movie……………it’s just so creepy

      2
    • gregg

      I disagree with the funeral coach theory. From the looks of the rear it appears unmodified from new and I doubt you could get a casket through the side doors!

      • toolbox

        Some funeral coaches were side loaders and had no rear doors.

        1
    • William Hayes

      It started life as a 1937 Packard School Bus ferrying school kids. People used these in the 40s and 50s to build Motor homes to take them from one field to another (Share Cropping). I bought mine from Oklahoma’s RV trader who acquired the Bus from Lawton OK. in a lot of 6 of them. Here in DFW, we renovated the Bus and put it in City Park as a tour bus for the park. $1 for those under 60. Free for those over 60 (since they probably rode around in one at some time.)

      5
  4. Bryan Cohn

    Lots of potential and I can see someone buying it to perform a resto-mod motorhome build:
    Modern motorhome inside, Cummins diesel up front, all wrapped in 1935 Packhard bodywork. Who here doesn’t see this at Bonneville or at a camp ground in Yellowstone, or parked at Mt. Rushmore?

    However, the $25,000 starting price is WAY too steep, considering what you’ll spend to bring it back and its limited, (like zeeeeRow) real marketability. As we all know it only takes one, but there sure as hell can’t be 3 crazy people that want this. Can there?

  5. SteveM

    I think that’s a fair starting price considering that’s a very small fraction of what someone will mostly likely put into the restoration. It will be quite remarkable when finished. It kind of makes you wonder how marketable a modern take, built on a rear drive Cadillac, would be.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Not very, but we would like to see it.

  6. Mark E

    No, the roof is WAY too tall for a commercial vehicle. This is a purpose built motorhome. I’m just curious about the history…is it a one off and who did it? If I was a few decades younger this would be seriously tempting to to a nice restoration for driving to the local Packard meets. Would not see anyone else with one anyway.

    It’s obviously a straight 8. I believe 120s may have been only sixes but I might be wrong. I’m kind of weak on pre-war Packards but the front end looks like a senior series to me…

    1
    • Rob

      I said “started” Mark, meaning obviously it was re-converted long ago.

    • Chuck Luebke

      6 cy;inder

      • Chuck Luebke

        6 cylinder….where the 8 come from?

      • Mike B.

        …I count 8 spark-plugs sticking out the top >.>

        So I’m guessing Chuck is referring to Mark’s mention of 120’s being mostly 6-cylinders(?).

        1
    • Tom Nolin

      In 1935 Packard produced the first Packard 120, a 110 hp, 256.16 cu. in. 8 cylinder engine on a 120 inch W.B. (ergo the 120 designation). They also had a commercial unit with a 158 inch W.B. There were 7 offerings of the 120 inch W.B. series priced from $980 through $1095
      By 1937 the 120-C series had expanded to 9 offerings priced from $1130 through $1550 with 5 more 120-CD models priced $1415 through $2050. The ‘D’ suffix meant Deluxe and included a slew of dress up accessories.
      In 1937 Packard produced it’s first Packard 115-C, a 100 hp 237 cu. in. 6 cylinder engine on a 115 inch W.B. (ergo the 115 designation) There were 8 offerings $795 through $910 and $1295 for the station wagon.

      4
      • Karl

        Have never seen anything like that before I don’t want it but it’s interesting

  7. That Guy

    I agree, it likely started life as a hearse or other LWB funeral vehicle. It looks very professionally done, and it appears to be basically solid. But like all coachbuilt vehicles of this era, a lot of that rear body has a wood structure. I’ve never worked with a vehicle built this way, but I think I’d assume that all the wood will need to be replaced if this thing is going to be properly refurbished. It’s probably a bigger project than the straight, rust-free sheetmetal suggests.

    It’s awesomely cool, but it will be a labor of love to make it good again. I think a realistic purchase price is probably 1/4 of this, or less. Even then, it will never be a particularly valuable vehicle, just a unique and interesting one.

    1
  8. faston

    Magnificent Motorhomes is actually a really good idea for a class.

    If you have love old cars and old motorhomes, just netflix The Long, Long, Long Trailer with Lucille Ball and Desi from 1953. http://www.amazon.com/The-Long-Trailer-Lucille-Ball/dp/B000EHQU08

    It is actually funny and full of motor coach porn.

    1
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Thanks for the reminder. That is actually a good movie too.

      2
  9. John

    Now this is Pretty badass!

  10. scot

    ~ i live and love motorhomes, and by upgrading the interior fit and finish — oh say, 5 notches or so it could be made to look quite elegant. but modern? i don’t see how that could be done from the pics i saw while surfing eBay the other night. no place for air conditioning, no room for tanks and plumbing, most important- no headroom for anyone over five and a half feet tall. maybe an overnight camper, not a travel coach.

  11. jim s

    this is the same seller that has the torino gt 429 from the other day, the big cow like the one from 4/1, and a 73 mach 1. i wonder if he read the Ross Vasse book.

    • paul

      jim s. is on his game, good catch. & no I didn’t catch it.

  12. CAW3

    I agree that it may have been built on a lwb commercial chassis but this is not a converted hearse. The tall doors, windows, rounded flowing roof and the way the body flairs out appears to have been built by a bus, RV or trailer company. Google 1935 Henney Packard Hearse and see the difference. Here’s a 1917 Packard RV http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=978_1363828471

  13. Jamie Wallhauser

    This is a remarkable find and a real time capsule. While we don’t know the coachbuilder it appears to be professionally built and seems complete with even the period icebox and sink intact. Apparently it had light use over the course of the last 70 years and spent a good deal of it’s time being taken care of. Given the current microhome and RV trend this vehicle with the right investment could be made into a superstar either as a resto-mod as suggested by Bryan Cohn OR as a sensitive original restoration. The initial price is a shock, but it has an awful lot of potential.

    2
  14. Gerry

    Cooler than a Land Rover Dormobile!

  15. Don Andreina

    This a really nice conversion. Curved roof work suggests real attention to detail, the proportions succeed given the walk-through requirements of habitating inside. My first thought was how similar it appeared to all those great team transporters that are going through the roof interest wise.

  16. Jim

    Beyond ugly.

  17. David

    Well ok then. I like it, but it looks like what Frankenstein would drive to his own funeral.

    • Gerry

      So ole Frankie goes out in style!

  18. Don

    Packard sold a CA chassis in 1937 as this car most likely is. They are on a158 inch wheelbase I believe that this was built from that or possibly one that was already built into a hearse or ambulance. I have a parts car hearse and also a 138cd which is long but not as long as this coach. The dash, hood is 1937 120 100% positive as I have owned 35 of them over the years 1935 was suicide doors on the front , This car is not I contacted the seller with that info, but he never returned a reply. I have owned 35 1937s over the years 120C’s and 115C”s ( 6 cylinders). So I know them well.

    1
  19. Paul

    Not a Packard expert either, but I agree that the 120 series cars were 6 cylinders. This abomination looks to me to have been born as a Super 8.

    • Don

      All 120’s were and still are 8 cylinders. In 1935 and 1936 did not even have a 6. They started in 1937 and it was called a 115C. for a 115 inch wheelbase. and the 120 was 120 inches. after 1937 they were called a Packard 6 or a 110. The wheelbase to model number was not used anymore as the wheelbase increased.. In 1937 there was a 120 series car on a longer wheelbase called a 138CD 138 inch wheelbase. Then you could buy a 158 inch wheelbase chassis called a CA. from which hearses ambulances were made from. Henney made most of the CA cars. I have at least one of every model I just mentioned here. I am sure a google search would substantiate what I have written. Better yet go to http://www.packardinfo.com. and check that out . Don

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  20. skibum2

    I owned a 1935 “GIBSON” Ford that was built in San Francisco that looks very much like this body design..I could not find information on the company but this was before the internet also..I sold it to a man in Seattle and last I saw it was still in his garage. A project he was going to restore some day…It is not done yet..

  21. racer99

    Auction ended with no bids.

  22. rancho bella

    my latest thought (if you call it thinking) is……a tent revival of more than enthusiastic, self loathing, over sexed believers, going town to town in the thirties and forties. Throw a little murder into the mix. David Lynch please make another movie and put this vehicle in it.

    Gawd this thing gives me the willys, and like victims of a bloody accident………..I can’t seem to look away………………..it is just so eerie

    • paul

      I could see this as the next Adams family ride in another movie, no restore on the body, just work the mechanics.

  23. ConservativesDefeated

    What a wonderful project.if you had a hundred grand to burn. Too bad the seller either doesnt know or doesnt care about its provenance because that would tell you a great deal about who built it and what needs to be done beyond the obvious.

    The asking price is just nuts. People operate under the greater fool theory….it’s fueled America for the last thirty years. Damn shame because at one point someone could have afforded to take this and restore it for a reasonable amount.

    No its just a fools game. Shame

    1
  24. Joe Howell

    remind me of the Phutney-Creech Land Yacht that the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers used on their cross country epic.

    1
    • Joe Howell

      Reminds

      1
  25. Mike B.

    Lord Vader, your motorhome is ready…

    Ok, you can’t tell me I’m the only one who thinks this thing looks like Darth Vaders head.
    When the engine runs does it sound like Vader breathing? Can you get a horn that plays the Imperial March? Or maybe when you honk the horn it says “Luke, I am your Father!”

    • rancho bella

      Mike nailed it….Darth Vader. May I add the movie Spaceballs and Dark Helmet

      • Don Andreina

        ‘Prepare ship for ludicrous speed!’

  26. Dave

    Lets be real. I think this would be a great project to restore and would be a favorite at any auto show. But only if you can get it cheap enough for the average person to want to invest the money to make it worth while. Otherwise your looking at a rich mans toy, and how many rich people have you seen that are into motor homes?

    1
    • paul

      Lot’s how else can they have them priced in the millions. & yes the #’s are too high.

    • Jamie Wallhauser

      Dave, have you seen the luxury motor home market these days? As an alternative, the vintage RV market also has a dedicated following. Old Greyhound buses, Scotti Trailers and teardrops all are happening these days. The right buyer for this vehicle is out there and if I had the dough…

      • Paul

        OMG…Serro Scotty trailers? Talk about gluttons for punishment!

      • Don Andreina

        Jamie’s right. Find a copy of Robb Report and look for the ads for ‘Land Yachts’ amongst ads for clear perspex billiard tables and fur-lined sinks. It would take an idiosyncratic individual to purchase this, but I reckon its a beauty.

  27. scot

    ~ ‘how many rich people have you seen that are into motor homes?’
    think i can answer that with simple algebra.

    6-8 miles per gallon X $4.00 per gallon = every motorhome owner on the road.
    postulate theorem: can’t afford = don’t buy.

  28. Charles

    Cool Find!

    As for rich folks and RV’s, have you priced a Prevost or equivalant coach? Those things start at one million plus options. Check out a KOA on any interstate exit one evening, and count the number of 750K plus coaches tied up for the night. RV’s are like boats, or airplanes. They are almost priced out of reach for the average person.

    Granted if you head over to the local state park on Friday night, you will see a whole lot of 20 year-old Coachmen’s, Bounder’s, and an such.

    From the design of the body work, this vehicle looks like the conversion dates from the same era as the car. Late 30’s or early 40’s. From the layout of the windows and doors, I believe that it was always intended to be a motorhome. It would make a cool vehicle to mechanically restore and have fun with at the street party type car shows. It would fit right in with the unfinished muscle cars, and rat-rods that are so popular today. Creepy is cool. You all can have Pebble Beach. Pigeon Forge for the Spring and Fall Rod Runs is a whole bunch of fun for us common folk.

    My dad and I converted a 1941 Flxible Clipper from a former Trailways highway bus to a totally awesome motorhome in the early 70’s. Rebuilt the straight eight Buick power and mostly GMC running gear. When it was finished the unit was fully self-contained and would tow an 18 foot Starcraft ski boat at 70 MPH all day long getting 6-8 MPG.

    The Clipper was a lot more user friendly and economical to operate than the 1965 Silver Eagle bus that we converted in the 80’s. That thing cost a fortune to restore, repair, and operate.

    There are lots of vehicles from the 30’s and 40’s that lend themselves well to an RV conversion.

    1
  29. Chris H.

    I’m guessing that a different paint scheme would make all the difference here. A nice set of billet wheels to fill up the wells, a modern (yet Art-deco inspired) re-imagining of the interior, and this would be the business! Imagine cruising to different events in this thing! Cool and classy place to sleep, for sure, though I would talk to a good sheetmetal fabricator to fix the damn roofline, it’s just plain unsightly.

    • racer99

      Sorry but I’d leave the shape just the way it is. Love the idea of a art-deco inspired interior, maybe add modern running gear so you could really use it (imagine someone in a Corolla watching this thing go blowing by at 75 mph), add a period paint scheme and have some fun. I guess the argument from the purists would be that it needs to be faithfully restored but with minimal comps. establishing a restored value (and therefor what you should spend to “restore” it) becomes a crap-shoot. It’s one of the reasons that I love the car hobby — sometimes the way a project goes has nothing to do with logic or worth but everything to do with “I wanted to do it that way”. Argue on.

      1
      • Chris H.

        Agreed 110%. Value would be extremely hard to quantify here without verifiable pedigree, so have at it!

  30. PAUL

    Or you could just buy Randy Grubb’s DecoLiner & have some real resto-rod action going on.

  31. David

    I have spoken on the phone with the owner of this Packard, and he told me that it was converted when first sold, and that it was done for Mr. Earle C. Anthony. Anthony was the Packard Distributor for all of California, owned dealerships in San Francisco and Los Angeles, started and owned radio station KFI, and founded the Chevron service station chain. If it really was his, it makes this beast a really significant and museum-worthy piece of history. Because of that, I think it would be a travesty to do anything with it other than restore it as closely as is reasonably possible to its original condition, and the asking price may not be as far out of line as it seems.

    This car appears to have been built on a 120 commercial chassis. The 120 engine is easy to find parts for, and is powerful, smooth and durable, and 120 body parts are fairly common. The body appears to be mostly all there and straight. It does need a body-off restoration, but the mechanicals and basic body work should be relatively easy to deal with. The owner says the wood is free of dry rot, but I haven’t inspected it myself yet. If that’s so, it doesn’t need replacing. The hardest part of a real restoration would be the research to put the interior back in original condition and then locating the correct fixtures and fittings to replace any that are missing or beyond repair.

    Unfortunately, have too many projects already and it’s a bigger project, both literally and figuratively, than I’m ready to take on. I do hope to get a chance to see it and talk to the owner this coming weekend, as I am a Packard Club member, and I have offered to arrange some ads in the club newsletter.

    David

    1
  32. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    Thanks for the update David! Hopefully someone with the right resources can bring it back to life.

    1
  33. David

    An addendum:

    The motorhome body may very well have been built by a bus body builder. The rear windows look very much like those on some busses built by Crown Coach. Crown was a bus and fire engine builder in central Los Angeles that built a very large number of the school buses in California from at least the 1920s through the 1990s. They also built tour busses for Tanner Gray Line and did custom work for band busses and other assorted odd things.

    See .

    I’m hoping to be able to go see the Packard motorhome on Sunday and will look closely at the Packard ID plate, and see if I can find any evidence of a body builder’s plate.

    D F W

    1
    • Rob

      A Touring Bus for ushering around his clients or others .. YES!!, ‘twould make more sense re that high roof line, the single mid-door on the side, etc if what the present owner says is true ’bout its origins, ’bout being ordered by a prior Packard Dealer and entrepreneur

      1
  34. ConservativesDefeated

    @David

    Did you get to see the Packard? Earl C Anthony was a very important business man in post WWII California. Makes sense that this might have been rdered built by him.

    If you saw it can you send in some more pix or info?

    Thanks!

    1
  35. David Willoughby

    Not yet. When I called the owner two Saturdays ago, he was leaving on a business trip and wasn’t sure whether he’d be back in a week or a month.

    Using “housecar” instead of “motorhome” in my Google search, i was able to find some additional photos on a craigslist ad that have a person in the picture for scale and show how big it really is. There’s also a map showing where it is (or was) and by zooming in on a Google aerial photo of the site, I was able to find it on the lot.

    See .

    D F W

    1
  36. jim

    That thing put the ug in ugly.

  37. David Willoughby

    I disagree with Jim, I think it’s lovely. I never was able to arrange a visit when it was for sale, but it’s even lovelier now, after being sold and cleaned up — not restored. Amazingly, it cleaned up well, and the engine needed only minor work. Even the interior appears to still have most of the opriginal finish, and the new owners did a great job of adding period details.

    Photos at
    and

    Though the last comment on “justacarguy” has photos of “another one,” it’s very clear that this is all the same car; the new owner just added a 1937 license plate as part of the detailing.

    D F W

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    • Scot Carr

      ~ Glad to hear the revival has been a made, David. Are there any links to the project or the completed Packard??

      1
  38. David Willoughby

    Apparently, barnfinds.com omitted my links. Try Googling “Packard housecar” and/or “Packard motorhome” and look for links to Bangshift.com and Curbsideclassic.com, the latter titled “Ask the man who sleeps in one.” These have pictures taken by a third party; the only other link with more pictures that I’ve come across was in Russian!

    D

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  39. david

    i sold this car in rancho cucamonga ca a few years ago, wish i could ‘ve kept it. it was kept in my friends daryls garage ,just blocks from my shop (lupe and johnnys body shop for over 50 years.

    1
  40. Dustin

    I’d say 25,000 is a great price! First, Packards are rare and costly. Second, this is one of 1-10 ever built (probably a one-off). It’s the coolest motorhome I’ve ever seen!

    1

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