This month we conclude our three-car series on preservation/restoration, with our 1937 Packard Super 8 1500 Touring Sedan. It is a car that didn't need restoration, just some minor mechanical and detailing. Everyone has a favorite car, and this is mine. I waited twenty-seven years before finding the right onea low-mileage car with an interesting history, starting its life in Newark, New Jersey, purchased by an archbishop, chauffeur-driven and maintained until 1952, when it was traded in and purchased by a Packard mechanic. I bought the car in 1996, and am the third owner. Its a very original car, with correct Indian Maroon, nitrocellulose paint and tan broadcloth interior. Even though it was ready to drive and enjoy, here are some of the things we have done over the years to keep it a showable driver. (For a more detailed account of what was done, see the Archives section of www.southernwheels.com.)
MECHANICAL: We did a valve job, replaced all head studs, chrome acorn nuts and rebuilt the EE23 carburetor. The entire engine was detailed and painted Packard Green.
COSMETICALLY: We buffed, polished and waxed the car and put on a new set of Lester wide white walls. The width of the white wall that was on the car was 4 1/2" and we changed it to a 5 1/2" more in scale with the car.
Detailing for dull paint: This was covered in the March, 2009 issue, and can be read in detail in our Archives online. The nine basic steps for bringing new life to old lacquer and enamel paint are:
1. Wash and dry car (removing all road grime)
2. Tape all raised and sharp edges, pin stripes and door edges to keep compound out of the door jambs.
3. Then blocking and sanding the car with wet 1500 grit (always spray the car first with a spray bottle of water mixed with 2-3 drops of dishwashing liquid) then wet sand with 2000 grit and finish with 3000 grit.
4. Now, use compound with a buffer on low RPMs, applying compound directly to the cars finish. We use PPG's DRX-25 white compound for lacquers and enamels.
5. Wash the car
6. Polish with a swirl-free polish. We used Meguiar's M-8232, polishing with a buffer and wool pad.
7. Wash car again to remove compounds, getting compound off of fender welt, out of door crevices, etc.
8. When water dries, white spots might appear. This is normal and can be waxed out with a microfiber towel.
9. Last step, hand-wax. We used Meguiar's Gold, again with a microfiber towel.
Maintaining paint after it has been buffed and polished:
As the years pass, even a car that is garage-kept needs regular maintenance. Here are the steps used to prep and already-nice paint for show.
1. Wash car with dish soap. This will strip the dirt and grease off the car, along with old wax (never wash with dirty dish soapy water after the car is waxed).
2. Lightly buff the car at low RPMs, using a cleaner/polish. We use Mothers sealer and glaze, and a foam pad.
3. Wipe down vehicle with a damp microfiber towel, then apply wax with a soft pad in a circular motion. We use Meguiars liquid Gold Class for this. Using the liquid helps to prevent wax buildup in the crevices.
4. After hand-rubbing, wipe down completely with a microfiber towel. This eliminates scratches and makes for a smooth finish.
5. Using a soft bristle brush (tooth brush) remove wax from all of the cracks, dipping the brush in clean water to prevent buildup on the brush.
6. Take a microfiber towel, wet it, wring out the water and wipe down your windows. This will leave a streak-free shine.
7. Lastly, take some Mother's mag and aluminum polish (part #05101) and hand-rub the bumpers, hubcaps and any bright parts, afterward wiping thoroughly with a microfiber towel. Tires are very important, and we like the satin black OEM finish. We use dish soap and scrub with a brush, then rinse. Be careful cleaning the white walls, and blow out with air around the rims edge to keep anything from running out and down the white wall later. On our door rubber, etc., we use PB. It keeps the rubber soft and pliable, and doesn't dry out, helping to let the doors open and close easily without sticking.
On original broadcloth interiors like ours, less is more. We just vacuum carpets and lightly brush everything else. On the dash and metal parts we use wax, and always keep cedar chips and mothballs in the car.
We hope this series has been of help in preserving what is good and restoring the rest, keeping driving old cars affordable and fun. See you next month. Enjoy your cars and keep 'em driving!