Virginia Brinkerhoff purchased the Series 833, Model 461 Packard in 1931 from the Norfolk Motor Company in Norfolk, Va., and then drove her four-passenger Phaeton to her home in Virginia Beach.
The all-black 4,185-pound Packard had a base price of $2,425. Brinkerhoff soon mastered the four-speed manual transmission and developed an ambitious plan — she was going to motor across the continent to San Francisco, Calif.
She enlisted another adventurous woman to accompany her on the epoch journey. The 319-cubic-inch, 100-horsepower, straight-eight cylinder engine never missed a beat on the round-trip odyssey.
By 1949, records show that Brinkerhoff’s doctor bought the 18-year-old Packard from her for his son, Vincent Barber, on the occasion of his 21st birthday. He paid $500 for a car that had been driven 32,000 miles.
The next year, Barber drove the Packard to Cocoa, Fla., on a non-stop 18-hour excursion at 60 to 65 mph, consuming 123 gallons of gasoline and 14 quarts of oil. In pre-interstate highway days that trip was remarkable. Fuel consumption averaged about 9 miles per gallon. The capacity of the fuel tank is 25 gallons.
After 15 years in Florida, Barber sold the Packard in 1965 to another Floridian, Ned Treadwell. A friend of Treadwell’s was Skip Lane. From the initial time that Lane saw the Packard he was smitten by its beauty and was not reluctant in expressing his admiration of the car to Treadwell.
Following 31 years of ownership, Treadwell told Lane that he was going to sell the Packard. Knowing how the car appealed to Lane he offered it to him in 1996. There was no hesitation. Lane retrieved the car on a trailer from an Alabama storage garage and soon had the Packard at his Melbourne, Fla., home.
Since Lane is president of the Lane Buick-GMC dealership in Melbourne his Packard underwent a mechanical and cosmetic restoration at the dealership.
Lane reports that the old radiator had to be replaced. Instead of louvers on each side of the engine hood, Packard designers opted to place three small doors on each side to permit heat generated by the engine to escape. A chrome stone guard is mounted directly in front of the radiator. Thermostatically controlled slats open and shut automatically to help regulate the temperature of the coolant.
Directly in front of the one-piece windshield is a cowl ventilator to help cool the occupants of the front seat. Only the driver’s side of the windshield has a wiper.
In addition to the big headlights and the two running lights, both front fenders are crowned with parking lights. In case more light is needed the driver can direct illumination with the spotlight.
A Packard step plate on the running board provides a metallic “welcome” mat when entering the car via any of the four doors. The carpet is tan, as is the leather upholstery. Each door has a leather pocket for incidentals. The fabric top is also a tan color.
At each end of the handsomely wood-grained instrument panel is a small glove compartment. The shoulder-wide, three-spoke steering wheel is necessary for leverage to turn the front wheels. A floor-mounted handbrake is at the driver’s left knee.
The Packard rolls on 7.00×19-inch tires and each wire wheel is dressed up with trim rings. Both of the spare tires have a designated place in the front fenders. At the rear of the car is a five-rib luggage rack that can accommodate the Packard with fitted luggage.
Lane declared the restoration complete in 1999 and promptly entered his now two-tone cream and brown Packard in an Antique Automobile Club of America meet in Cape Canaveral where his restoration efforts were rewarded with a trophy.
Whenever and wherever Lane drives his 1931 Packard he finds that it is a crowd-pleaser. “It’s a gem,” he says. — Vern Parker, Motor Matters
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Copyright, AutoWriters Associates Inc., 2011