In the April 1946 issue of Mechanix Illustrated, legendary automotive journalist and critic Tom McCahill praised the postwar Packard Clipper’s roadability.
“The Packard roll-control bar...makes this car one of the finest for the road ever built in this country.”
“The arm-building Packards of the past have faded into history; the 1946 model handles with the ease of a bicycle”
About the suspension and brakes: “The low-frequency coil springs smooth the ride” and “The self-energizing hydraulic brakes result in positive brake action and assure a longer life for the brakes.”
Interestingly, the 1946 and 1947 Packard Super Clipper Eights and the Custom Super Clipper Eights are also “Full Classics” as defined by the Classic Car Club of America (CCCA). In general “Full Classics” are “fine or unusual” cars dating from 1925 to 1941. But a handful of postwar cars are included, presumably because the body styles are similar to the prewar equivalents. These include some ’46-’48 models of Cadillac, Chrysler, Jaguar, Talbot and the aforementioned ’46 and ‘47 Packards.
So, if one wants to drive a “Full Classic” Packard with good roadability, a postwar Clipper may be the best choice. Matt and Karla Hackney had this in mind, which led to the purchase of their 1947 Limousine.
“We had wanted a ’47 for several years,” said Matt. “We like them because it’s the last year for Packards being accepted as (CCCA) “Classic Cars” and they’re very drivable. I had purchased Oregon 1947 plates about 3 years earlier in Washington at an antique store, and was happy to finally have a car to put between the two plates. I knew I’d own one someday, I just didn’t know when or how.”
Although the Hackneys knew they wanted a 1947 Super Clipper Eight, they weren’t looking for a limousine.
“My preference, I think, would be a sedan because you can adjust the front seat; in the limousine the travel is limited. But it’s kind of fun to have a Limousine, it’s a little novel. Ours has the roll up window, which is kind of a joke, because my brother-in-law with 2 children says, ‘How come I have the kids and you have the car with the roll up window?’”
The limousine was offered on eBay and its condition was a little overstated.
“According to the eBay ad, it was in fabulous condition,” said Matt. “When we got it home, we realized the seller’s definition of ‘fabulous’ might have been a little bit tainted. But unfortunately, once the cash is transferred, it’s hard to get it back. He had a good rating and we didn’t berate him but it wasn’t as nice a car as it was presented to be. That’s water under the bridge; it doesn’t matter at this point.
“But we love the car! I love driving it. The first time I drove it I went to engage the overdrive and took my foot off the accelerator and there was this really soft clunk. It was in overdrive and it was so smooth that I thought to myself, ‘Wow! This is how they worked when they were new.’ Our ’49 has overdrive but it’s not nearly as smooth as the ’47.”
Although the ad said the car was original, the “original” paint wasn’t always easy to find.
“It was dubbed as a very original car and it is very original. It supposedly has a lot of the original paint--it was just underneath the few layers of other paint. There was a little bit of Krylon thrown on it and a few other things, so we had to address the paint. There were also a lot of dents in the long, lower panels that run the length of the body to make the car look lower. It looked like they had gone over a few stumps on one of the panels and it took us several hours to straighten it out.”
The Hackneys have been able to piece together some of the car’s history through conversations with a fellow club member.
“We don’t know who originally bought it; we assume it may have been a funeral parlor or something like that. The seller had it in Seattle for about 10 years. The man who owned it before that had it in Sacramento for 20 or 30 years before that. We actually knew him through the Packards International club and didn’t know he had owned the car until after we purchased it.
“It’s been on a lot of car tours as a collector car but it only had 75,000 miles on it. It’s pretty tight, runs well, and as I said, the overdrive works like a dream.
The Hackneys plans for their limousine include more tours and some additional restoration.
“We’re going to use it as a fun driver and one of these days, we’d like to take it on a multi-state tour--just pile it full of people and take off.
“Mechanically, it’s pretty sound. The engine really runs pretty good. I think if we do a valve grind on it we can just drive it. And we’ll replace the wiring loom prior to the upholstery going in because some of the wiring runs through the headlining.
“A lot of the upholstery in the back looks pretty good, but it’s fairly fragile. It lived most of its life in Northern California, in the Sacramento area. It was originally purchased in San Jose where there is a lot of sunshine. It was stored outside for many years and the sun got to it.”
And here’s a valuable tip that may help you on your next restoration:
“We also have a little bit of glass work to do on this one and we plan on replacing some of the rubber door and window seals. Although I’ve heard of a way to restore the rubber it it’s not broken up. The former national president of the Nash Car Club, Terry Davies, said to just douse it with a little bit of glycerin and that will soften it up. There’s a school in Washington that’s doing an experiment to see just how long it lasts.”
One of the Hackneys favorite times with the limousine was at the Annual Historic Irvington Home Tour in Portland, Oregon.
“We were with several of our friends and had put our ’38 Packard Coupe on display for the Irvington Home Tour. We piled in the limousine and went touring (they had given us free tickets for entering the coupe). We had a lot of fun driving around the neighborhood and going from house to house. It was raining hard that day and the car was just a mess when I brought home. But we did have a lot of fun and turned a lot of heads!”