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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Packard museum recalls a past Royal Enfield shares

1929 Packard Dual Cowl Phaeton; truly king of the road.
My Royal Enfield motorcycle recalls a simpler time — before Google — when mechanical devices ruled the world they roamed. It's a dinosaur, but not one of the big ones.

A ride to the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum reminded me how magnificent the really big dinosaurs were. Although the museum features thousands of bits of automobile memorabilia, it's basically the collection of Packard motor cars built by local florist Arthur O. Stone.

1939 Packard Victoria convertible is a chiseled Art Deco masterpiece.
Mr. Stone began collecting grand old Packards in 1944, long before he could really afford them. His collection grew with his wealth. Good with his hands (his handmade furniture is on display throughout the museum) he was comfortable keeping his cars running. All 32 of the Parkards in the museum will move under their own power.

Their 12-cylinder engines make them powerful, but Mr. Stone's Packards are really made splendid by their bodywork. Today, there is nothing about the appearance of a Mercedes Benz that Hyundai can not duplicate. In their day, Packards were beyond imitation. Dual cowls, sweeping fenders, rakish convertible tops, immense wire wheels and bright paint and chrome lifted them above the Fords and Maxwells.

I love bulb horns. This 1926 version looks delicate;
visitors invited to squeeze it discovered it makes a lot of sound.
A Royal Enfield motorcycle may share little with a Packard except wire wheels and a great slogan. Royal Enfield has "Made Like a Gun." Packard's motto was "Ask the man who owns one."

Packard: Ask the man who owns one. My grandfather drove nothing else.
My mom's father was one of the lucky men of his day who could afford to own Packards. She fondly remembered riding up high in cars that, to a child, seemed truly immense.

Streamlined body, but 1950 Packard grille still expresses authority.
One of my earliest memories is of riding with my grandfather in what must have been one of his last Packards. Although the car was rounded and sleek, in keeping with the styles of the early 1950s, that dashboard could have been scaled up into a Gothic cathedral.

The dashboard is almost all I remember about that car, probably because I was too short to see over it.

The Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum is at 1527 SW First Ave., Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Phone is 954-779-7300.
1948 Packard woody makes no sense (the body is steel) but it's impossible to ignore.
What looks like ill fitting panels on tailgate are really the roof drip gutters
carrying down to fender level. Perfect.
The collection would not be complete without the "last Packard." Although the 1958 was a Studebaker underneath, there's no denying the body has that Packard presence.

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