"Bringing Home A Rumble Seat Coupe"
A lot has happened since last month! We have our paint and have started our finish bodywork on our '51 Packard hard-top. However, we had to put this project on hold as a deal finally came together to buy a car I have wanted for years: a 1936 Packard Rumble seat Coupe. The coupes in the V-12 and Super 8's were made in limited numbers and very few survive today. I found this one in Appleton, Wisconsin. This '36 Standard 8 has dual sidemounts, rumble seat, dual golf club doors, wire wheels, Bijur lubrication and ride control. These cars were the last of the old style engineering, with straight axle, manual spark advance, mechanical brakes, suicide doors and 17" wire wheels. These would all be changed for '37, giving way to independent suspension and hydraulic brakes. We are tracing the car's history now. On its VIN plate is stamped, "Delivered 2-28-36, Thompson Motor Co., Beverly Hills, CA. It was reportedly sold to a high-ranking military man and was in Pearl Harbor during the bombing in 1941. It still has an inspection sticker from Hawaii on its rear bumper. What interesting times this classic must have seen!
Sitting inside the car is a very personal experience. Looking out over the long hood, sighting over the cormorant, you imagine what other drivers might have seen. This intimate 2-seater has a package shelf behind the seat with a roll-down rear window allowing conversation with the rumble seat passengers.
The inside is black leather and has a wooden window frame around the rear window (and should have wood grain on the door window frame and dash, but they have been painted exterior color, which is very close to the original Packard Cream[yellow]).
The car is powered by Packard's silky smooth 320 cubic inch, 9 main bearing straight 8 engine, and rides on a 134" wheel base-a huge car for 4 passengers.
Even though we had to complete the 1600-mile trip over a weekend, it was fun and interesting traveling through Nashville, going by Opryland, seeing Dick Clark's Rock & Roll Review, then to Bowling Green by the Corvette Museum and GM Assembly Plant (we didn't see the Everly Brothers, but could hear "Bye, Bye, Love" in the distance!). We passed by many of Southern Wheels' advertisers as well: Trailer world in Bowling Green, Midwest Car Exchange in Chicago, Valenti Classics in Caledonia, Wisconsin, Harley Davidson in Milwaukee, Tower Paint in Oshkosh, then, as we drew near our destination of Appleton, Wisconsin, we saw the "Old Car Weekly" 1950 Chevy Panel truck.
Soon after our arrival, I was test-driving the '36. Restorer Charles Butts rode in the rumble seat to detect any possible problems, as I drove and listened from inside. A 60-mph drive on Wisconsin country roads proved to Charles that the car sounded good, but he wasn't going to ride back there again without goggles!
There never really was a question about buying the car, so the deal was completed and the owner invited us in for a cool drink and a snack of Wisconsin cheese curds (the youngest possible form of cheese). The flavor is nutty and they squeak as you eat them!
Back on the road, all the way home we were given "thumbs-up" and lots of conversation at gas station fillups. When we arrived home Sunday, I started making a list of the parts the car needed. The engine compartment has been cleaned and detailed, and after rubbing out in the next two weeks, it will be ready to drive. It's fun to drive this car while doing the details, so look for a drive report in upcoming issues. See you next month for a return to the '51 paint project!