- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

CARROLLTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Picture yourself as a wealthy socialite in the 1930s.

After finishing a friendly game of bridge with your chaps, your driver pulls up and opens the back door of your spacious automobile. Once seated, you employ the foot rest, draw the window shades and relax.

You can do that if your vehicle is a 1936 Packard Eight Club Sedan.

An American answer to the Rolls Royce, only 4,004 of the Packard Eight models were manufactured in 1936, according to packardclub.org.

It’s unknown exactly how many of the luxury car models have survived the past 80 years, but one is owned by Jerry Powers of Clio, according to The Saginaw News (https://bit.ly/1L2vzAU ).

An antique car collector and restorer, Powers purchased his Packard about six years ago and has worked ever since to restore it to its former glory.

That mission came to fruition July 7, when the sedan left the driveway of Carrollton Township upholsterer John Town.

Town, who runs his business Moonlight Upholstery out of his home, spent the last six months putting the finishing touches on the rare vehicle.

“Usually, I can have a car done in two months,” Town said.

The Packard presented unique challenges, Town explained, since it’s such a rare car. Town had to scour the Internet for specific parts. At times, he had to improvise.

“It’s totally insane to find the parts,” he said.

The 1936 Packard Eight Club Sedan has many unique aspects, including:

- Two glove compartments: a small one on the driver’s side and another on the passenger side that is so deep, you can nearly fit your whole arm in it.

- A luggage rack on the back of the car that folds down when needed.

- Two bud vases: Car air fresheners weren’t around in 1936, so the car came with two bud vases, mounted on both sides of the car’s interior. Town found some on eBay that fit perfectly.

- Hood ornament: The Packard is known for its elaborate hood ornament, which depicts the “Goddess of Speed.” Town paid to have one of the originals repaired to put on the vehicle.

- Foot rest: The spacious back seat includes a foot rest for passengers.

- Courtesy lights: Decorative lights are mounted on each side of the car’s rear interior.

- Unique paint job: While the Packard Eight models were mostly black, Powers decided on a specialty paint job of cream with red detail.

- Hydraulic shocks: If the ride is getting bumpy, the driver can slowly pull a lever to smooth it out.

And Town also had to rebuild most of the car’s interior.

“When I got it, it just had the front seat, the back cushions, one arm rest and nothing else,” he said.

Now it is complete, lined with faux leather in a light sand color with teak trim. There is also desert sand-colored carpet lining the floor.

Town beamed with pride as he stood in his driveway, discussing the work he completed on the vehicle the day before it was picked up.

Powers appreciated the work done by Town.

“I just think he’s very creative and very thorough,” Powers said. “I’m very pleased.”

An example of his creativity, Town used a woman’s broach to inset in the shift knob when he wasn’t able to acquire the original, decorative knob.

After noticing two small slots near the ashtray on the back passenger side of the car, Town researched what originally went into the slots. He found that a small notebook and pen were placed in one slot and a tiny hand mirror was typically in the other.

Town went out of his way to make sure those small details were in place before the car left his property.

Powers and Town both have a long history with classic cars.

Town has dealt with numerous cars since he first started working as an upholsterer in 1975. He opened up his shop in Bridgeport Township in 1983 and for the last 15 years has worked from his home at 3280 Bauer in Carrollton Township.

In that time, Town has completed upholstery work on about 300 cars, he said, in addition to working on furniture, boat seats and other projects.

“I’ve worked on everything from a 1923 T-Bucket all the way up to a DeLorean,” Town said. “But these ‘30s cars, they’re just incredible.”

Powers’ experience with owning classic cars goes back about a decade before Town started his upholstery career.

“My favorite car was probably the first one I restored, which was a ‘29 Ford Model A pickup roadster,” said Powers, 80, of Clio.

That was 50 years ago, Powers said, and he still has the vehicle today.

Other cars he has restored include a 1937 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery, a 1941 Chevrolet convertible and a 1939 Buick, which Town also upholstered.

Town is ready to now start on his next project, a 1957 Chevrolet station wagon. But before he shifts his focus, he took a few moments to reflect on the six months he poured into the Packard.

“I really busted my butt on this one,” Town said. “I wanted it perfect.”


Information from: The Saginaw News, https://www.mlive.com/saginaw

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