- The Washington Times - Friday, April 25, 2008

About the time he retired Hal Hermann purchased a 1933 Packard from a widow. Mr. Hermann knew that her husband had owned the car since 1971. He had even taken Mr. Hermann for a ride in the well worn car a few years before his death.

Because of the Great Depression the production run of 1933 Packard was shortened to only 7.5 months, ending in August 1933. Consequently, any 1933 Packard is a rare automobile so Mr. Hermann was happy to acquire the Packard Eight Sedan in the autumn of 2001 with a retirement restoration project in mind.

“I didn’t realize what a project it would be,” Mr. Hermann says.

Once he had his Packard at his Fairfax home, he spent about a year disassembling it and determining what was to be done and in what order. By autumn of 2002 the restoration began with the L-head, straight eight, 320-cubic-inch engine and three-speed manual transmission were pulled out and sent to a shop in Maryland for rebuilding.

Fortunately, all the parts of the car were there, even though some were totally worn out. Mr. Hermann believes the original owner of his car was a B&O; engineer who bought the car priced about $2,150 for his wife in Cumberland, Md.

After 17 years it was sold to a shade tree mechanic in the Shenandoah Valley. Twenty-one years later the third owner moved the car to Falls Church. That’s where it was when Mr. Hermann became the fourth owner.

From one end to the other the car was stripped and parts were either repaired, replaced or sent off for replating. Mr. Hermann reports that originally his car had been painted dark blue. “I wanted something different,” he says and he chose a dark green color with a double hairline of wheat colored pinstriping.

The Packard never was equipped with dual side-mounted spare tires, instead the single six-ply, 7.00x17-inch spare tire is mounted at the rear between the split rear bumper and above the 20-gallon gas tank. So as enormous as the Packard is, it has practically no luggage or cargo space.

A mechanical fuel pump feeds fuel to the downdraft carburetor that has an automatic choke. Five gallons of coolant circulate through the radiator where a 19-inch fan with six blades keeps the temperature under control by drawing air through the 16 vertical vanes in the radiator grille. Four doors on each side of the engine hood can be manually opened to enable heat to escape. A pair of cowl vents can be opened to draw fresh air into the cabin for passenger comfort. If that isn’t sufficient, the huge wing vents can be cranked open to scoop in massive quantities of air.

Passenger comfort was always foremost in Packard automobiles. Beside the accelerator pedal is a foot rest. For passengers in the rear, they too, were provided with a foot rest.

The Packard is equipped with 10 windows and to keep the silhouette low, the windshield is a mere nine inches high. Windshield wipers to clear the glass are suspended from above the windshield.

All instrumentation is clustered in the center of the dashboard with a glove compartment at each end. The driver’s left hand operates the emergency brake while the floor-mounted gear shift lever is handled by his right hand. The three-spoke steering wheel has a large diameter to give the driver some leverage to ease steering chores.

Mr. Hermann says optional extras on his car include:

• Heater.

• Side mirror.

• Fender lights.

• Twin trumpet horns.

• TWhite sidewall tires.

• Goddess of Speed hood ornament.

Other equipment that came with Deluxe Packards includes:

• Dual wipers.

• Shatterproof glass.

• 8-day windup clock.

• Front and rear bumpers.

• 2 stoplights and brakelights.

Although the highest speed on the speedometer is 120 mph, Mr. Hermann cautions, “Don’t try it.” He surmises that his 120 horsepower Packard is good for about 80 or 90 mph, keeping in mind the braking of the heavy car is done mechanically.

“It has sort of a happy spot around 56 or 57 mph,” Mr. Herman says.

Riding on a 127-inch wheelbase, the Packard can be turned in a 23-foot radius circle,

As the restoration progressed, Mr. Hermann determined the right side of his car was more weather worn than the left. He suspects that the car was once stored under a carport with the right side exposed to the elements.

“Luckily,” he says, “We didn’t have to replace any of the wood framing.” The insert in the roof of the Packard evidently leaked because Mr. Hermann found roofing tar smeared over the top of his car. That unsightly mess was removed and a new roof insert installed.

With the mechanical work complete as well as the exterior, Mr. Hermann tackled the interior of his Packard. About two years later Mr. Hermann declared the restoration complete in the autumn of 2007.

“It took a long time,” Mr. Hermann admits, but there is no feeling like driving a 1933 Packard with his wife, Kathy, beside him on a fair weather day.

Some things are priceless.

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