Bath Tub Packard: 1948 Club Coupe

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Available for sale in Canaan, New Hampshire, is this 1948 Packard Club Coupe here on craigslist. Back in December, we featured a very rare Packard “woody” station wagon, which was a fascinating car, but the rough condition and expense to restore it would have scared away many potential buyers. The asking price for this one is $4,995.

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So here for our Packard fans, is a somewhat nicer example. The seller has very little to say about it, but a few things we can see in the photos will suggest an interesting story. Most noticeable in this second photo, is the presence of failing clear-coat paint. To me, it suggests this car had a shiny paint job and probably looked pretty good – within the last 20 years. Maybe 10. At some point after that, one of its owners left it outdoors to fend for itself against the elements. Which obviously hasn’t done it any favors. The photos also suggest the car is sitting in a storage lot of some kind, or more likely, someone’s personal collection, and not a salvage yard as it might first appear at a passing glance.

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The lone interior shot tells us it was in original condition, and chances are it was a lot nicer than this before the recent neglect. Why was this car left outside to rot? I’d love to ‘ask the man who owns one’ and find out.

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Also visible in the door jamb, may be this car’s original color, which is probably dark green, like the exterior. While Packard wasn’t around to invent the basecoat-clearcoat paint that appears on the outside of this car, they were certainly around when the first ‘metallic’ paints were offered. It is rumored that the first metallic paints were created by accident, when internal parts in a pigment grinding machine failed, and left fine metallic dust suspended in the paint. So it would be interesting to learn if this big beautiful Club Coupe had a metallic paint job originally, as not many manufacturers were doing that in the late 1940s.

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Those same late 1940s that were the last really good years for Packard, before they were overtaken in sales by Cadillac. How Packard lost its way has been the subject of much interesting reading, with more than a few books written on the subject. How this owner lost his way might be interesting too, but I’d much rather learn about who will get this car inside and pull it back from the brink. How about you?

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Comments

  1. Mark E

    I owned a 1950 club coupe and really loved both the design and the smooth quiet ride. It would glide down the highway at 55-65 all afternoon at 22 mpg. These were Packard’s price leader car and come with the small engine, the 288ci straight eight which has a beautiful exhaust note and is silky smooth.

    If anyone on here gets this car, I have a good set of hubcaps and a hood ornament.

    • Bill McCoskey

      The car featured is not the Standard 8 or Deluxe 8 versions that comprised the vast majority of the 2-door 22nd series Packard 2-door cars. It’s a Super 8. This car has the more deluxe interior with pleated & button-tufted seats, the light tan painted sections on the steering wheel, the chrome trim on the “wood” surrounds at the top of the interior door panels, etc. Outside, the only external differences between the Standard & Deluxe, & the Super were the taillights with 2 lenses instead of one, and the belt line molding extends along the sides of the trunk lid. Mechanically it’s the same, except it’s not the 288 engine, it’s the 327 version. It probably has overdrive, but lacking the red clutch pedal, it’s unlikely it has the “Electromatic” clutch system.
      As someone who has owned hundreds of Packards over the last 40+ years, I can say this one IS worth saving.

  2. Mark E

    Forgot to add, prices on these in good shape are in the $8-15k range so unless you’re going to do all the work yourself, I’m afraid you’d end upside down with this one. If you look on Hemmings there’s a ’49 4-dr that had a full body restoration but was never put back together for $4500 and a nice metalic green ’48 4 door in decent driver condition for $8250. If you look, yes, you can spend $30k or more for one of these but decent drivers can still be had for under $15k. Unfortunately the club coupes are quite uncommon and somewhat hard to find.

  3. Scotty G

    Beautiful! I dream about restoring a car like this someday, and now that shockingly enough I didn’t win the powerball, I can’t just hand it off to a restoration shop to do.

  4. Howard A Member

    This style Packard ( 22nd& 23rd series) has roots in our family. ( only 4 doors) My grandfather bought a brand new 1948 Packard Custom 8 for $2800 ( a hefty price then, almost $28,000 today) We found the original bill of sale when cleaning out his house years ago. He also got the “Cormorant” hood ornament, a $16 accessory ( $157 today, and they fetch over $300 at swap meets now) He drove it until 1961 when he hit a bus, and totaled it and bought a new ’61 Chevy. Before they towed the Packard away, he took the hood ornament off and put it in his basement. FF to 1980. My dad found a 1950 Standard 8 in Milwaukee that had been on blocks in a back yard since 1959. The widow said, her late husband parked it then when gas went over .25/gal. It had the 288, but was the 1st year for the “Ultramatic”. We bought it as a tribute to my grandfather, and picked up more parts cars, 4 in all, one just for a visor and I amateurly restored it, and proudly put grandpa’s Cormorant on the hood. After much trying, (with a starting unit) the old Packard started after 21 years sitting, and we had that car for almost 30 years. While the automatic was a bit slushy, like Mark sez, get that baby rolling, ( heavy beast, the engine alone weighed almost 1000 lbs.) and it was true Packard all the way. ( some say you could balance a nickel on end on the cylinder head while idling) I took it to several shows and a parade once ( with the temp needle pegged on H) and many people never heard of it. I got Studebaker and Hudson a lot, and when I said, “No, it’s a Packard”. “A WHAT?”, they’d say. It ended up sitting in my brother’s barn for several years, and fell into disrepair, but still presentable. We sold it in 2011 for $3,000, but before it went, like my grandpa, we kept the hood ornament. This is indeed a rare model, and well worth it. BTW, this car had a cool feature. The gauges needles and numbers were that glowing material( like watches) and a black light in the dash and at night, all you saw was the needles and numbers.

  5. Joe

    Here is a complete list of cars for sale by the owner of this car. Looks like a hidden gem up in New Hampshire!

    “Parts of the Past”.

    http://partsofthepast.com/ClassicCars.html

    Prices seem very reasonable as well. 67 GTX, 61 Bubble top all seem priced right and potentially brought back to life. If I had the time I would drive up there this weekend.

    Enjoy…

    • Jeff Staff

      They have a decent reputation on the HAMB message boards (Jalopy Journal).

    • Cassidy

      Thanks Joe for supplying that link! Considering those cars are in NH and parked outside, they look in remarkable shape. Well, most of them. I’m tempted to buy that 4 vehicle car carrying and bring out 4 that look like they are ready to drive soon. Piggy bank, here I come!!

  6. Rodney

    I’ve heard (but unable to verify) that “flake” type paint originally used ground fish scales to get the sparkle.

    • Rob

      I think that it was pearl paint that had the fish scales.

  7. RON

    joe; thanks for the link n the parts of the past. that is quiet a site this guy really knows what to collect. some realy hard to find stuff there a lot of it would be cost prohibitive to save but worlds of parts. most of those convertibles with the kind of rust that come with northern cars like that just aren’t worth it even for parts. thanks again it isdefinitely worth knowing about

  8. Joe

    Here is a satellite image of the lot. Looks like most have rusted tops, some still have paint. Has to be 200-300 cars.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@43.6536838,-71.9847033,18z/data=!3m1!1e3

  9. Rob

    I wish I was rich. I would go see this guy. What a collection!

  10. Woodie Man

    My first car as a precocious sixteen year old was this 1950 Ultramatic in 1970. A Doctors car, it was sitting in my grandfathers garage and I bought it for $250.00 from my Dad.
    I cant remember if I posted this here before. But here it is

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Woodie Man, Mine was very similar to that. I always thought the hood ornament looked like the “peace sign”. My grandfather’s Packard had those bumper guards, while mine did not. No matter. That stock bumper would knock anything into next week.

      • Woodie Man

        Hi Howard…enjoy your comments here. She was a beaut. Had the original mohair interior and the robe cord on the back of the front seat. The Cormorant was quite a hood ornament. The bumper was on its own quite a piece of metal. I give my dad a lot of credit for letting his old car crazy kid buy this. Ah well a great memory!

      • Howard A Member

        When I saw this car for sale, I had to do a “double take” Exactly like mine, except I had the smaller “dog dish” hubcaps.( and no whitewalls) I miss that car.
        https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/08/c7/0f/08c70f8aca07b815d6cd67ab94bf23fc.jpg

    • Bill McCoskey

      Woodie Man;

      The car in your picture is a fairly rare vehicle. For the 23rd series cars, the Super 8 version now rode on the 127″ wheelbase like the big Custom 8 cars. But the Super still had the 327 5-main bearing straight eight engine, and a less opulent interior. They got their own little change to the grill shell, instead of the “eggcrate” divisions on the Custom 8, the center section had 6 curved blades that matched the longer grill sections below. That’s how you can tell it’s a Super 8 instead of the lessor Standard 8 or Deluxe 8 2-door cars.

      • Woodie Man

        Hi Bill…..Yup….it belonged to a Doctor when somehow it ended up being lien sold to my grandfathers garage. I can still see the car in the corner covered in dust when my Dad said you can buy that! $250.00…..luckily I had saved summers of paper route money . My Dad had it towed home and he and I in the dead of the East Coast winter squirted Marvel Mystery oil into the cylinders and it fired right up. That pix was taken in the summer of ’71 in the yard. The interior was absolutely like a new car….mohair and perfect. A summers worth of teenagers bombing around in it did no harm as I didn’t allow open containers in the car! :)

  11. Mike_B_SVT

    I spy with my little eye… a green 1967 Mercury Cougar XR-7 parked next to the Packard!

    • Cassidy

      and not listed for sale…. :(

  12. Paul B

    My neighbor had a ’50 4-door when I was a kid in the late ’50s. Green-gold color, definitely original metallic paint. It was a already a second-hand beater, and he used it to get to the train station. Automatic. He was a ham fisted, lead footed driver and the old Packard endured, without breaking, an incredible amount of abuse from him, including full throttle takeoffs every morning immediately after startup in the bitter cold. That type of disrespect of a fine machine bothered me even then. I won’t soon forget the rasp and moan of the straight eight with the throttle floored going up the hill past our house.

  13. gerry Member

    There is a for lack of a better word “Barn” Near me that has a 1950 I always thought was a re-paint because of the metallic look to it now I’m wondering if its original. I really should do a write up on this place and submit it

    • Vince Habel

      Gerry

      From the looks of the bumper I would think it is a repaint.

  14. gerry Member

    The bumper is actually covered in clear silicone caulking in an attempt to protect the chrome there is chrome under there it is one of the wacky preservation attempts that the owner of this collection has done. I did scrape a little off with my fingernail and it looked like decent chrome underneath

    • Howard A Member

      Hi gerry, the bumpers on the ’50 were all chrome, as opposed to the earlier ones that had the car color in the middle portion. While this color does seem a little loud for 1950, the color chart does list 2 greens that may match. The “Sylvan Green Poly” or the ” Spruce Green Poly”. Originally, my Packard was ” Maumee Maize”, but we painted it slate gray. ( btw, good luck finding that enameled shield on the grill, which the feature car is missing. They were the 1st thing to get broken in a front end bump) http://paintref.com/cgi-bin/chipdisplay.cgi?year=1950&manuf=Packard&info=&page=1

  15. Jason Houston

    The cleaning on this sure throws rocks at the 1949-51 Nash!

  16. Bill McCoskey

    As to the origins of metallic paints, here is the real story:
    For the 1933 Chicago World’s fair, & the section known as “the Century of Progress, Packard created a very special V12 4-door, with a custom body by Raymond Dietrich.

    Only a couple of days before the fair was to open to the public, the car was getting it’s final paint applied. As stated in the original blurb above, the mechanical mixing system failed [special small steel balls that kept the paint mixed were defective and deteriorated during the paint mixing for this car, known as “The car of the Dome” because it was in the center of the huge dome for the transportation display. There was no time to repaint the car, and as some of the top Packard executives like the way the sun reflected off the unusual finish, they decided to “play up” the unique way light reflected off the car.

    Here is what MoToR magazine had to say about this show car in 1933:
    The factory’s description, noted “the costliness of its interior furnishings. All body hardware is heavily gold plated and so are the steering column and instruments. Wood paneling and trim are highly polished burley [sic] Carpathian elm. Built into the back of the front seat is a cabinet extending the full width of the car.

    “The right side is occupied by a full length dressing case with gold plated fittings. At the left is a cellarette with a drop door which becomes a glass covered table when lowered. Inside are large gold cups in racks and large gold containers for liquid refreshments. Upholstery is especially selected beige broadcloth. The exterior finish is called Sun Glow Pearl, a new finish which is gold, or brown, or pearl, depending on how the light strikes it.”

    That said, while this particular car turned out to have a beautiful opalescent quality about it, it was quite a few years later before any of the paint manufacturers were able to create metallic paints in large quantities and maintain quality at the same time. Even when the post war Packards like this 1948 were painted with metallic, it was more of a light dusting of pearl, rather than with large flakes.

    As far as I can tell, the Car of the Dome resides in the Otis Chandler Collection in Cal.

  17. Donald M Brown

    Packard story from 1967. My dad had retired the family 1949 eight sedan to second car status and had a almost new 67 Caqdillac. The Cadillac transmission suddenly went out about 50 miles from home. Dad called the dealer it was under warranty but they were not helpful about getting the car there. Dad did’nt know any tow truck people and called our friend who had a universal tow hitch who came with the Packard. Towed the Caddy all the way up out of Scranton, a huge steep mountain in second gear. I sat in the Caddy to help with brakes. Sixty miles later pulled right in front of the Caddy showroom door towing the Caddy. Plenty of customers around. It was comical watching the dealer workers rushing around to unhook the Caddy from the Packard and to push it in the shop as the spectacle had attracted a lot of attention. Seeing similar cars made me recall the incident and what a fond memory it was.

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