Take a look at Hemmings or eBay advertisements for classic cars and you’re sure to see a few with the phrase, “older restoration.” What exactly does this mean?
MuscleCarClub.com’s humorous “Classified Ad Translator” includes,
- 95% Complete -- Can’t find the other 5%
- Minor Rust -- Major rust you can’t see
- Family Owned -- Driven by 6 teenagers
- Older Restoration -- First owner washed it
Humor aside, “older restoration” can mean just about anything, leaving the door open regarding quality, condition, and use (or abuse).
In the case of Matt and Karla Hackney’s 1938 Packard Rumble Seat Coupe, the restoration was completed 25 years ago, but the quality was high and, except for a short period of storage in a carport, it has been well-maintained to this day. Its appearance and driving ease are that of a nearly-new equivalent, despite several car club caravans and numerous local trips.
The Hackneys purchased the car from fellow members in the local chapter of the Classic Car Club of America.
“It was restored about 25 years ago in Southern California,” said Matt. “After that, Bob and Laina Lee bought it from Tom Crook Classic Cars in Seattle. When they brought it down to show my father-in-law, we just fell in love with the car. A number of years later the Lees stored it in my father-in-law’s garage when they moved to Medford, Oregon. It was rumored they might sell, and my wife said ‘If that car comes up for sale, we need to buy it.’ One week later we were negotiating its purchase.”
For the Hackneys, this Packard’s main attraction is its appearance.
“It’s a coupe and I find it better looking than the Roadster, at least when the top is up,” said Matt. “When the top is down, a Roadster is gorgeous, but with the top up, I prefer the coupe. We love the looks, the lines, and the dual side mounts.”
With its rumble seat, this Packard garners plenty of attention at car shows.
“It’s been to the Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance and we’ve showed it at a number of Cruise-Ins. It’s fun to take a car that’s original to Cruise-Ins because people don’t know what to do with them. And rumble seat coupes are just fun cars. When I put people in the back seat you hear little kids saying, ‘Hey Mom, look, there’s somebody sitting in the trunk’.”
Adding to the joy of ownership is that fact that this Packard has required little beyond basic maintenance.
“This is one we’ve been able to just maintain and enjoy,” said Matt. “I don’t think we’ve had to do anything else. We bought a trunk for the trunk rack because we felt we needed one for touring. If we’re taking coffee and doughnuts, or something like that, even to a car show, it’s nice to have the storage room. You put the trunk rack down, throw a trunk on it, and fill it with whatever you need for the day or even overnight. Without the extra trunk the coupe doesn’t have a lot of storage room.”
1938 Packard Super Eights drive surprisingly well. At 4585 pounds, with a 134” wheelbase, the ride is as smooth as can be.
“It actually handles like a nice driving truck,” said Matt. “And I love the floor shift--It reminds me of when I was growing up, shifting my dad’s Ford pickup. In that sense, it’s a lot of fun to drive. Unfortunately, it still has bias ply tires. I have been known to change lanes if I hit a rut, and that’s pretty scary. Eventually we’ll put radials on it.”
The 320 cubic inch straight eight engine develops 130 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, which is plenty for in-town driving. But the low gears limit cruising speeds to around 45-50 miles per hour and aren’t great for gas mileage.
“With nine miles to the gallon, I don’t think we’re going to take it on any long cruises,” said Matt. “If we install an overdrive, that may change.”
A car show in Joseph, Oregon gave them their most enjoyable moment .
“We trailered it because it’s a good seven-hour drive in a modern car. At 45 miles per hour it would have been a dreadfully long and tiring day. We have a friend who had his pedal cars in Joseph, so the kids were playing on them. We’d let them sit in the Packard’s front and back seats. We had a great time doing it.
“After the show, we won one of the top prizes, the “People’s Choice” trophy which is taller than me. It’s crazy how tall it is! For their parade, we put our friends in the back seat, all bundled up; they had their hoods on so tight you could barely see their faces. It started to drizzle while we toured from town to town in Eastern Oregon, but we had a great time. At one point, we broke away from the parade to go to the grocery store. When we got into the Safeway parking lot we noticed all these people following us, so we had to guide them back onto the parade route!
“I just love using our cars with friends. It’s fun with just the two of us, but even more fun when you can pile friends in.”
The Hackneys future plans include some minor restoration tasks but mostly just enjoying their Packard.
“Our Rumble Seat Coupe is just a lot of fun; it gets a lot of double takes. It would be nice someday to redo the upholstery. It’s in good shape now but could be better. It needs a little bit of paint work as it’s starting to show the 25 years, but it’s in a heated garage so there’s no real rush.”