Our 1951 Packard Mayfair Hardtop is in the final hours of completion. On our list are: Trunk Covering, Adding Cloisonne to the stock hubcaps, Windlace, Mounting the rear quarter Ventiports (bottle openers) and Headliner Repair. This issue, we will cover the inside of the trunk and put cloisonnes on the hubcaps.
This '51 has its OEM Cream and dark Red leather and nylon interior, and was painted back to its original colors of Corona Cream with a Matador Maroon top. I wanted to cover the trunk in a complimentary material with dark Red as the background. Checking factory photos and other low-mileage '51-54 Packards, I found that the '51-54 200 Series up to the 400 Series had flocked side panels, a cardboard rear seat back and either rubber or composite (sort of a linoleum material) on the trunk floor. Packard used flock throughout the '40's on their Custom Clippers from 41-47 and on their Customs from '48-50, and it does have a rich look, but I wanted a cloth material similar to the '55-56 on the inner quarters and over the wheel housings and a black rubber floor mat. Several years ago, I completely covered the trunk with Kool Mat* insulation (rear quarters, floor, down in the spare tire well--everything). This is one reason I didn't go with the flocking; it wouldnt cover well over the seams in the insulation. And the other is that I found some great Maroon with a Cream fleck material to use. It is thick enough not to require backing, and thin enough to show the details of the wheel arches. I found this at Midwest Fabrics.* At first, I made paper templates of the inner quarter panel and wheel arches out of thin artist board. These fit in place okay, but it was hard to get them exact due to the many contours in the trunk. So I tried measuring the material and over-cutting each piece of fabric 4-5 inches.
Before starting, I removed everything from the trunk: spare tire, jack, back seat panel (this was what I call tar board. It is a piece of 1/8" cardboard that seems to be a composite of cardboard and a thick tar substance. My seat back was original and was a very dark Brown, similar to 3M's Dark Brown undercoating.)
My '55 Packard reference car showed the material pieces overlapping each other with no screws or piping. I rough-cut each piece of material and laid them in the trunk for a test fit. They fit fine. I numbered each piece on the back, and then put each piece back in place. There is an order to this. Example: the back piece lays down first, then the wheel arches, then the rear quarter material spray glues onto the rear quarters and overlaps the wheel arch fabric. This creates a waterfall effect where the fabrics meet at the natural seam, instead of randomly connecting them like a patchwork quilt. I laid in the back piece first. This piece runs under the mat and up a step over the rear end. Next, I put in the pieces over the wheel housings, remembering to check each piece to make sure it will fit under the rubber mat by 4-5 inches. It is important to over-cut each piece, so that there will be ample space to cut around protrusions like hinges, etc. The quarter panel pieces are laid down next, and run from the seat back to the tail light. On the left side is the gas tank filler neck tunnel. I cut a piece out of the left quarter panel material to match the tunnel shape, then cut a piece of fabric to wrap around the tunnel and overlap where the tunnel and quarter panel meet.
To mark the material, I used a piece of upholstery chalk. It wipes off easily with a lightly damp rag. I use a pair of Wiss 9" tailor's shears for cutting the fabric. (Scissors you use for cutting fabric should never be used for cutting paper.)
As I worked on the finish trim on the fabric, I kept placing my rubber mat down to make sure all pieces fit under the mat and not show any insulation on the edges. I found the '51-54 mats on eBay in a Black rubber, as well as the grayish composite mat that looked very much like the factory photo on the '51-54. The auction stated that they were an OEM fit. I found that the rubber mat I bought was positioned about an inch too far to the left. This left floor insulation exposed on the left of the spare tire. You can't just pull it to the right, because it is cut out around the trunk lock's striker brace, and two framing pieces for the backup light panel. To correct the fit, I moved the mat to the right to flush with the spare tire opening on the left side, then using a mat knife, cut some of the rubber mat on the left side of the trunk striker and the two other cutouts. This is where leaving extra material really becomes necessary, because now I have plenty of material that comes down off of the left side quarter panel and wheel housing to still fit under the mat and not show any insulation. The cuts I made to the rubber mat followed the shape of the original cutouts and look fine. There was now an inch of exposed insulation on the right side of the spare, but I sprayed black undercoating before putting the rubber mat down, all around the spare well opening and down inside it, so when the mat was laid down, everything looks black and neat. With everything in place, I now used Polymat 797 Adhesive to spray-glue each fabric panel down in order using white art card to lay around so as not to get any spray glue on the top of the fabric. Of course, some glue did get on some of the material, but it wiped right off using wax remover (PPG Acryliclean). I had tested it first on a piece of scrap material, to make sure it didnt stain.
I had left the quarter panel fabric at the tail lights about 8long so it would wrap around and cover the tail light housings. Tail lights can become very hot and could cause the material to burn, creating a fire, so I spray-glued a piece of Kool Mat insulation, which is fire-resistant, between the tail light and trunk material. Kool Mat insulates, is a heat protector, and is an excellent sound-deadening insulation. The trunk looked great, and all that was left was the jack.
I have the original jack, and some of the original finish was still on it. It was gloss not semi-gloss on the ratchet, base and tire tool. The bar was aluminum. There is a decal that goes on the base that reads APPLY PARKING BRAKE SECURELY, PLACE JACK UNDER BUMPER IN LINE WITH BUMPER SUPPORTS, JACK BAR MUST STAND VERTICAL, SEE INSTRUCTION BOOK. I have ordered this decal, and its on the way. To give a little more finished look to the jack I picked some Brown leather that coordinated with the trunk material, and my wife Karen made a jack bag by measuring the length of the jack and the width of the base, then cut a piece of leather that was double the width, plus a 1/2" seam allowance, and the length plus 1/2" seam allowance on the bottom, and a 6" rounded flap on one-half of the width at the top. The leather is laid out with right sides together, then machine-sewed down the open side and across the bottom. A triangle is cut across each bottom corner to make turning easier. The bag is then turned right-side out, using a long dowel to poke the corners out square. Now insert the jack and fold over the rounded flap. The trunk compartment is now complete.
A note on the jack is that in the '50's, some car companies supplied a jack boxwhich was a long, square-ish cardboard box, sometimes with the car logo on it. These were available a few years ago, but I have not been able to find them recently. I like the leather bag better. One last touch was this 36,000 mile car has the original spare tire. It is a Firestone 8:00x15 black wall. The Firestone 8:00x15 is not available any longer, so I bought a set of Firestone 8:20x15, 4 1/4 wide whitewalls which is very close to the 8:00. They ride great and the car steers so easy!
Another project this month is the hubcaps. The '51 came with the new-for-51 fullhubcaps with painted centers, Red hexagons with Black accenting the embossed Packard lettering around the hexagon. This full hubcap was used on the 250, 300 Series, with a dog dish cap on the 200 Series. The 400 Series had the full hubcap with a cloisonne center cap. The Mayfair started as a Junior car (250 Series) but was quickly moved up to a Senior car. The quality build had a lot to do with this and the price. It had a base price of $3750 and came with leather interior with Nylon (a new popular material in 1951) inserts in the seats and it had the 300 Series 327 CID straight 8 with Packard's own Ultramatic automatic transmission.
So, this car is really right for the cloisonnes on the hubcaps. I bought a set from Hirsch Auto Products. They are beautiful and sell for $145 each. There are people who will re-cloisonne your cores, but the prices I got were over $400 each.
My hubcaps were perfect, so it was hard to drill the holes for the cloisonnes. I couldnt make a mistake! First, I made a template. Using a piece of artist board, I set the cloisonne on top of the art board and marked two dots where my holes would be drilled. I drilled the two holes in the art board. This allowed me to push the cloisonne into the holes and draw around the perimeter with a pen. I pulled the two apart, then cut the circle out, taped it to the hubcaps center and marked the hole positions with a punch. Then I drilled the holes through the template and through the hubcap. Care must be taken to lay the hubcap on a work table (a drill press is best, but a hand drill will work). If the hubcap is not on a flat surface, it would kick back and springthe hubcap. This could result in the center not being flat, causing the cloisonn9 not to lie flat on the center of the cap. When I mounted the centers, I used a lock washer and nut.
I remember driving my '48 Custom 8 and every time I came to a stop, I heard a clink-clink. After a few times of this, I could tell it was coming from the left front. I removed the hubcap and found the cloisonne didn't have lock washers on the nuts, and one had come off, letting the nut rattle around in the spinning hubcap.
Final projects on the '51 will include Installing windlace, Kick panels, Ventiports on the rear quarter panels and Repairing the front seat cap and headliner.
Hope your projects are going well. Keep em driving!