In last month's Driving Old Cars I began this series with some things to consider before and after buying your car, to restore or not to restore, using three of our cars as examples to cover (1)  Complete Restoration:  1941 Packard, (2)  A Restoration/Preservation:  1951 Packard hardtop, and (3)  Detailing of an already-nice car:  1937 Packard Super 8.  We will conclude car #1 ('41 Packard) this issue and follow with the '51 and '37 in the next issues.  To read Part One from last month, visit the Archives section at

 of our total restoration of a 1941 Packard LeBaron Sport Brougham:

        Some of the things involved in BRAKES:

The '41's brakes were built from the backing plate out.  Before starting the project, we referred to our manuals for lining, drum size, cylinder bores, etc., to make sure we were starting with the correctsystem.  Everything was right, with all wheel cylinders in good shape, just needing honing and new kits.  Our master cylinder, however, was rust-pitted but new ones are available for less than the cost to re-sleeve and kit our old one, so we replaced it with a new one.  The back brake linings were in good shape, showing little wear, but the fronts were worn beyond tolerance so we found some Grizzly brand OEM type of the original material.  This material is softer and can stop these old cars better than some of the new, hardened linings, which are designed for power brakes.  There are still OEM linings around and there is a supplier in California that still makes them.  Before disassembly, we marked and photographed each piece, then we disassembled and rebuilt and painted everything.  We had the drums turned and arched the shoes.  Our drums were 12" standard and cut .045  The shoes were placed in the machine and ground a little at a time until the entire shoe surface had been cut to the same contour as the drums, for a perfect match.  With all parts ready for reassembly, we put everything back together, put in new lines and replaced our front and rear axle bearings and seals.


One big plus for doing a complete restoration is that with the body parts off, you can easily get to everything.  So, when we rebuilt the front suspension, we could see each piece top and bottom, and, without obstruction, disassembled the system right down to the frame.  Our manuals were crucial here, because this is Packard's Safe-T-Flex system and is different from most suspensions.  As we disassembled, we counted the number of revolutions when we removed the tie rod ends, and notes were made of any washers, spring washers, etc., as to where they went.  This front end is a good example of "Do your own research."  We found that the available complete rebuild kits were not complete, so we individually ordered each piece:  tie rods, king pins, torque arm bushings and a very critical piece that no one mentioned, the steering crank to frame bushing.  Even with all this, the king pins were 5/16" too long and had to be cut.  Always keep your old parts-- youll need em!  The hydraulic front shocks were rebuilt and the rears replaced, and everything was re-assembled.


The interior on these '41 Sport Broughams is really quite special.  It has burled walnut with mother of pearl inlay door moldings and wood grained dash.  The seats have individually-wrapped springs and are covered in 100% wool broadcloth trimmed with piping, and the lower cushion surrounds are pleated.  The carpet is Moss-tread (a tough, cut-pile carpet used by Packard until 1951) and the rear seats are framed with overstuffed arm rests with concealed cigarette lighters on each side.  Fortunately, our car had all of its original pieces for patterns, the original material is still available, AND, the wooden door moldings are beautifully preserved!

        The dash plastic has some patina, but will buff out to create a nice well-preserved appearance.  (New dash plastic is available for these cars.)  

        This car has power windows, and we have all of the dash and door panel switches and will rebuild the original hydro-electric system.  After removing the dash chrome, we found good examples of the wood graining underneath.  We will do the wood graining in-house, and cover the process in an upcoming issue.

        We now have all of the hard work done, leaving paint, interior, wiring harness and putting it all back together.  It has been a big project so far, but we saved this old LeBaron, and we are proud to be part of its heritage.  For more complete details of the '41's restoration, see, click on the Archives section.  

        We will continue next month with the next car in the series, Packard's first hardtop--a 1951 Mayfair with only 36,767 miles!

        See you next month, and keep 'em driving!