Worth Saving? 1948 Packard Station Sedan

You’ll have to have an open mind and an open checkbook for this project. It’s always a sad thing to see a once-elegant and expensive car like this 1948 Packard Station Sedan woody wagon in this condition sitting out in the woods. This formerly beautiful wagon can be found here on eBay in Florence, Alabama and there’s a somewhat ambitious buy-it-now price of $6,750 listed or you can make an offer.

I have no doubt that a few of the Barn Finds team and a good portion of the readers could tackle this restoration, but whether they would take it on is another story. In case you’re wondering, yes, those are new tires and they weren’t cheap. The seller spent $1,000 on them. You can see that every single window has been broken out and the restoration checklist will be wicked huge.

The seller shows us some new wood pieces that have been fabricated so someone had already started the restoration process at some point. There isn’t much information in the listing and sadly, even in restored condition, these gorgeous Packard Station Sedan woody wagons aren’t incredibly valuable, monetarily. They’re really nice cars but a restored example can be had at an auction or online for much less than a full restoration would cost on this example, but that’s usually the case.

Another four-door parts car comes with the sale which is usually helpful for a total restoration project. The first interior photo, this one, scared me but then they show the one above and it looks doable, doesn’t it? Although, I believe that the photo above is from the parts car as the windshield looks like it’s still there, and the paint is blue, the color of the parts car sitting next to it in the opening photo. The Packard Station Sedan was a bit different from some other woody wagons of the era in that it was basically a steel shell with wood on the outside, to boil it down. They were made for the 1948, 1949, and 1950 model years.

The engine should be an L-head 288 cubic-inch straight-eight with 135 horsepower. Clearly, this isn’t a fly-in-drive-home type of car but can this one be saved?


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  1. mark r westphal

    I just love packards, I hope she gets returned to her original condition, talk about rare WOW

    Like 19
  2. Kenneth Carney

    Restomod anyone? Looks like that’s all
    it would be good for. If done right, you could save this car and the other one too. Get a couple of 350 crate motors
    and two 700R4 trannies and call the
    drive lines in both cars done. You’ll have to scrounge for parts to finish them both. Another thing you’ll need is a very
    understanding wife or girlfriend. Either
    could be lost if you took on something
    like this.

    Like 2
  3. XMA0891

    A fully-restored one of these sidled up to me in a parking lot on Cape Cod a number of summers ago. It was magnificent. As we waited, I got to talking to the driver, he told me proudly that he’d bought the car “in a box”, and it “took him nine years and $109K to restore.” I hope that guy is looking at this one, and I hope he wants two in his garage.

    Like 13
  4. IkeyHeyman

    This is what I call an “elevator” project: the number of people with the means and desire to restore this car could fit into an elevator – with enough room left over for a pizza delivery guy or two.

    Like 10
  5. George Mattar

    Nobody wants the great Packards today; they want stupid and ugly and poorly made old Ford Broncos. The people that lust after these great cars are dying off. Heck, muscle car people, like myself, and 65 years old, are dying. I had two classmates die last week withing 2 days of each other. That is life. The cost to restore this car will be more than $109,000. Yeah, it will be magnificent, but do you want to drive a classic like this on today’s crowded highways with fat housewives shoving donuts in their face with one hand and the other hand on a cell phone tailgating you at 80 mph to get to Starbucks in time? Not me.

    Like 41
    • Skorzeny

      George, don’t let someone else take your happiness.

      Like 20
      • Dave Brown

        Which part wasn’t correct?

        Like 5
    • Howard A Member

      Oh, oh, I think my attitude is catching on,,,you’re not alone, George, but there’s not enough of us left to make a difference, so the hobby is out of control by people who want to make money off it. It’s a seemingly bottomless pit of money these folks have to tap into, since everything else has gone bust,, and we can’t compete on $1220/ mo. It’s okay, we had our turn, had a lot of fun, FOR PEANUTS compared to what some spend, and I wouldn’t want it any different. As for donut eating soccer moms in Ram dually pickups in a hurry, that’s not going to change any time soon either.

      Like 13
  6. Steve Clinton

    it looks like the termites had a field day (pun intended).

    Like 3
  7. Joe
  8. Husky

    That Packard would be the perfect car to be picked up at New Delhi Airport, India and driven to your hotel -The Imperial Hotel.

    When you arrive to The Imperial you are greeted at the same time your door opens of a sturdy built Sikh employee saying “Welcome home sir”.

    The Imperial do have some old Rolls Royces that performe the same task, but they really need a Packard Shooting Brake.


    Like 6
  9. Todd Fitch Staff

    Wow. Nice one, Scotty, or (let’s hope) it will be. Great find! IMHO any straight-eight Packard should be restored. As woody restorations go, this one has enough metal to maintain a framework and the wood is mostly cosmetic. Hope to see some “after” pictures here some day!

    Like 8
  10. Howard A Member

    Oy, IDK, pretty cashed. Wood wagons always present an extra challenge, because the wood has to look nice and incredibly labor intensive. Like George states, while I have no qualms about this car passing all the Kia’s, he’s right, you’d be a fool to drive this today, so there it sits. IDK, I could find better ways to spend $100g’s, just to have someone smack into it while texting. Too bleak? I don’t think so, and very few would restore this car. For the record, and Bill can confirm, I think that motor is the bigger 327 or 356. I read, the wagon was the top of the line and usually had the bigger motor, Bill can probably confirm that. This is too far gone, and a valuable parts car. No bids tells ya’.

    Like 2
    • JD in KC

      The Station Sedan came with the 288ci engine. Although the price tag was ‘top of the line’ the drive train wasn’t. One of the reasons they didn’t sell well.

      Like 2
  11. Len A Burke

    George, me thinks that we have mostly ageing lookers, given the name of this site. I am in that group. Sitting in my Stuart FL garage is a 1976 NSU RO80 in pretty good shape + a trunk full of parts and a second new engine in a box.
    No one wants these rotary engine cars. You are right on the Broncos, I get blown away on “that” other site when I see what people will pay for a marginal “poor mans” jeep. We seem to have two Americas, those able to offer nutty prices on old average cars, and those hurting in this medically affected economy.
    The car restoration business will shrink as the handy and inventive DIYes age. If you look at the “instant gratification” generation we old timers are seen as wasting time on the projects. To me the enjoyment in old cars, carpentry and older boats is the pleasure of creating or bringing back to life something to be enjoyed.
    Look how everything that we could afford as kids now are cost prohibitive to the kids today. We built our own water craft, repaired our own cars etc.
    Now it`s whip out the plastic and have the object dropped at the front door.
    Given the speed factor on the roads, I guess retro mod is the only way to keep up in traffic.But we can all dream and keep the comments coming fellas.

    Like 9
    • PeterfromOz

      Len, whenever you spot an RO80 at a meet, you have to walk over to find out what it is. They are a really stunning looking vehicle worthy of a place in a modern art museum.

      Like 2
  12. Courtney

    No problem couple sheets of plywood done LOL.

  13. Kenn

    First, keep the original engine. Why all the suggestions to re-power these grand old cars? George, don’t know why you sugar-coat your comments. Come right out and say what you think!

    Like 5
  14. Daniel Gavin

    Great post George…….we see the current world through the same eyes!!
    BIN price of over 6 large?!!!! Am I in the freakin Twilight Zone?!!!

    Like 3
  15. Steven O

    Here Here George! Thanks for that great example of the de-volving of our society. Way too many fat tailgating donut eating texters.
    Being an owner of a woodie wagon and a ground up, do-it-myself restoration that is going on 15 years and multiple tens of thousands invested I can tell you HELL YES! DO IT! The process is long, the expenses are dear but you will have a learned a lot, accomplished something of true substance and probably enjoyed every moment. And NO, do not resto or otherwise “Mod” this beauty. It’s too rare and unusual.

    Like 7
  16. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Joe, I took a look at the link you gave. Beautiful car. I had the hood ornament from an old Packard. I was 19, (1972) it was no longer chromed but painted silver. At the time I had no idea what car it came from.
    Wish I had that piece now. Somehow lost it at my boyfriends garage.

    Like 2
  17. Bill McCoskey

    As many of you know, “from Packards I know!” So here’s my take;

    It’s rare. It’s worth restoring. It’s far from a parts car. The body is surprisingly in decent shape. Most of the wood parts are not structural [the 2 tailgate parts are] as is the rear window posts. I don’t know exactly who has them, but the wood making plans exist to make new pieces. My biggest concern for this car is that I don’t see the tailgate glass. That’s a wagon only part, and hard to find. It can be made in tempered glass, but that’s not cheap.

    Like most woody wagons, these were expected to be used in service, not driven by the owners of estates and resort hotels, but by the people who worked for them. The people who bought them knew of the value cars like Packard represented, and expected them to last longer than buying a Ford, Chevy, or Plymouth wagon.

    As a result these were equipped with the smaller straight 8, the 288 5-main bearing engine. While it didn’t have the precision of the big 356 with the 9-main bearing engine, the smaller 288 was almost bullet-proof. they were created with an early all-vinyl interior, meant to stand up to lots of abuse. Rubber floor mats made them easy to clean.

    This wasn’t a luxury vehicle, it was a utilitarian vehicle made by a luxury car manufacturer, much like the Packard 6-cylinder taxicabs from 1939 to 1949 [I have one of those myself]. Unlike the majority of other woody station wagon brands that are long gone, the surviving percentage of Packard station sedans is far larger, because of both their reliability, and the fact they are a Packard.

    That extra car for parts is interesting. The clutch pedal appears to be the “red” color pedal [sun bleached in the photo], and that signifies it’s equipped with the Electro-matic clutch system. To get the EMC, you also have to order Overdrive.

    The VIN is listed as 825230. That’s the body sequence number, as seen directly above the heater box on the firewall. It was used during the body assembly before being joined to the chassis as a complete car. I’m going to suggest to the owner that he take a photo of the VIN plate on the horizontal part of the firewall, in front of the driver. That will allow me to provide more info on this car.

    Like 16
  18. Maestro1 Member

    The car should be left alone, and I’;m sorry to say it. all of these should be saved, but what with the virus, labor and materials costs you’d be in this a very
    large number. So unless you love these I would pass and buy something with
    more potential for more money but less grief and time involved.

    • Bill McCoskey

      Maestro1 [And anyone else who may see themselves in this message],

      “So unless you love these . . . ”

      Isn’t that the deciding factor for most of the vehicles here on Barn Finds? If not, perhaps it should be. Here is a simple test of 10 questions, I have asked customers in the past:

      1.Will you like working on [that kind of vehicle]?

      2. Do you enjoy the challenges of finding spare parts or subcontractors [like a plating company]?

      3. Do you enjoy the challenge of making car parts look & work as new?

      4. Would you like to join the clubs and participate in social activities, that exist for your chosen car?

      5. Do you fear that the project is beyond your capabilities?

      6. Are you likely to keep the car when you are finished?

      7. How much time & money do you have, if you intend to do most of the work yourself?

      8. How much money can you afford to spend if you are intending to have other qualified people do the work?

      9. Do you really have the abilities required to restore the car?

      And finally:

      10. Do you think you’ll be upset if, after you are finished, it’s not worth the effort FINANCIALLY?

      Those 10 questions, answered honestly, can often determine if you should or should not attack that restoration, and do it justice.

      Like 8
  19. Bill McCoskey

    Also forgot to mention, the parts car is a 23rd series [late 1949-50], this can be seen in the oval brake & clutch pedal pads, and the wiper knob is on the left side of the steering column [for the 22nd series it was on the top of the dash, in the center, as on the wagon]. And the dash gauges will have a different, [darker] background.

    I cannot be sure without seeing the VIN of the parts car, but with the pleated seat upholstery and the chrome strip on the wood-toned window surrounds for the doors, this is a Deluxe Eight, not a Standard Eight like the wagon.

    Like 8
  20. chrlsful

    thinkin this of the tin woody era, plesantly suprised it was not one. Gotta B one of the last. Never knew any hada swing open door, I really like it. Packard makes it even better. Never one for ‘final sales’ or ‘restoration’ cost/prices I need some other motivator with my projects – this one is in the ball park. Too bad it’s ‘out field’ as I will not “go fer it”. Another 1 that got away, will watch from afar with interest~

    Like 2
  21. Daniel Gavin

    Bill…..thank you for all your insight.
    After reading your comments, I humbly withdraw my previous post. I guess
    this is one to consider for savings and restoring.

    Stay well everyone !!!

    Like 4
  22. Bill McCoskey

    One more note . . .

    I looked the parts car photos over a bit closer. The antenna in the left front fender is the fairly rare vacuum power antenna. I confirmed it IS a power antenna, as the little ivory knob on the vacuum switch, to raise & lower the antenna, is peaking out from under the dashboard, to the left of the steering column.

    Like 3
  23. Bill McCoskey

    I know, I said one more note in the last message, however I noticed another problem; The main radiator cradle has been cut and the top part removed. This is sometimes done when people are working on the car and want to remove the engine, & don’t know how easy it is to remove the entire front clip before removing the engine.

    A half a dozen bolts at the back of the fenders, a big bolt under the radiator, disconnect the wiring, remove the bumper, & the entire front clip comes off with 2 people lifting.

    Like 4
  24. Miguel

    The Ebay ad says nothing about a title in the listing or the text.

    That would be the first hurdle.

    Like 1
  25. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    Florence, Alabama is about an hour from my home. If anybody is truly serious about this Packard and wants me to give an assessment, let me know. There are a couple vintage sport cars down that way too — project cars peaking out from a collapsing shop.

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