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Steve_Mack_CT

Rebodied Packards

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Amen, Dave. I used to say that the rarest car on the planet would be a closed Duesenberg, as you mention, it seems like there was a flurry of rebody activity late last century.

I also wonder what happens to those closed bodies, are they just sitting in people's garage or warehouse?

That would be an interesting exhibit for a museum, to find 4 or 5 town car or limo bodies......

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I used to go to a plater in Chicagoland who was in a big warehouse and there was a beautiful limo body there from a Model J - which was the donor for an open body. It would have been an easy restoration and a great car - at least they didn't scrap it, but I doubt it will ever be put back on a J chassis. It would be fun to see those bodies in an exhibit somewhere. Unfortunately I bet a lot of them are gone to hide the evidence or because the guys who built these for profit didn't care about the history anyway.

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I know of several closed sedan "winter bodies" sitting on big heavy saw-horses in the general Philadelphia area.

These Classics still also exist today in their "Summer"touring form.

In the Philadelphia area, and other colder climates it was not unusual to have two bodies for the same high priced chassis.

Derham Body in Rosemont Pa ,as well as Brewster in NY , and I'm sure other coachbuilders would swap these bodies each spring & fall for their wealthy customers. Brewster used to store these seasonal bodies on their building's top floors. They had an auto turntable up there too!

Derham also had a special building for this seasonal body storage that burned-down in the late 1950s. I remember the building & the fire !

Often while in winter storage the body would get a fresh coat of "varnsh" or laquer .

I suspect there are still a few of these closed sedan & towncar bodies still sitting in hiding somewhere ! ?

There is an original Duesenberg Model "J" Murphy Clearvision sedan currently for sale in Washington State.

It is one of the very few closed sedan Model "J"s still in original coach form !

It was once owned new by Harold Pitcairn a very wealthy Pennsylvania industialist who started & owned Pittsburg Plate Glass & Pittsburg Paints , as well as Philadelphia trolly trnsportation lines. He & his Father started American Air Lines and the first early eastern US Air Mail routes. A K Miller, the famous Stutz hoarder once flew a Pitcairn autogyro air mail aircraft for them !

A K Miller had two Pitcairn autogyros stashed away~~~

One was the famous Miss Champion Spark-Plug. The other auto gyro he actually flew himself to Washington DC & donated it to the forerunner of the Smithsonan National Air & Space Museum !

The gigantic Pitcairn mansions are still in my neighborhood in Bryn Athen PA.

Edited by Silverghost (see edit history)

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Just to play devil's advocate, at what point in time, or style of body, or chassis, does it become wrong to rebody? Wealthy people back in the 30s rebodied classic cars and most everyone then, like now, gave it a thumbs up. For example, the Duesenberg Victoria by Graber, done around 1937 on I think a 1930 or 31 chassis, is a valued historical treasure. So is Darrin's '38 Town Car on the '32 Rolls Royce Ph II. With this in mind, let's say it's 2011 and someone rebodies a '36 Packard. A beautiful design in the eyes of most observers. Now, flash forward 500 years. The car is sitting in a museum, or being shown at a concours, or a part of someone's private collection. Admirers, many or few, relish the timelessness of the art and engineering, and reflect on both date when the chassis was made and the date when the rebody was made, and fit it all into the world in which they now live. A world where traditional coachbuilding skills don't exist anymore, or maybe where they do... at the hands of a robot, where anyone can dial up any design they want. Amidst all this history and change, they admire and treasure as historical the 575 year old chassis and 500 year old body, which they consider to both have come, for all intents and purposes, from the same historical time period. Isn't timelessness timeless? If so, is it not acceptable to strive for that which is timeless, any time, so long as there remain well preserved representative examples of original works?

Edited by Mahoning63 (see edit history)

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Just to play devil's advocate, at what point in time, or style of body, or chassis, does it become wrong to rebody? Wealthy people back in the 30s rebodied classic cars and most everyone then, like now, gave it a thumbs up. For example, the Duesenberg Victoria by Graber, done around 1937 on I think a 1930 or 31 chassis, is a valued historical treasure. So is Darrin's Town Car on the Rolls Royce Ph II. With this in mind, let's say it's 2011 and someone rebodies a '36 Packard. A beautiful design in the eyes of most observers. Now, flash forward 500 years. The car is sitting in a museum, or being shown at a concours, or a part of someone's private collection. Admirers, many or few, relish the timelessness of the art and engineering, and reflect on both date when the chassis was made and the date when the rebody was made, and fit it all into the world in which they now live. A world where traditional coachbuilding skills don't exist anymore, or maybe where they do... at the hands of a robot, where anyone can dial up any design they want. Amidst all this history and change, they admire and treasure as historical the 575 year old chassis and 500 year old body, which they consider to both have come, for all intents and purposes, from the same historical time period. Isn't timeless timeless? If so, isn't it acceptable to strive for that which is timeless, any time, so long as there remain well preserved representative examples of original works?

The counter to this argument is the one the CCCA uses which is modifications by known coach builders "in period" are acceptable. The examples you cite would fall under this view of things. Reproduction Brunn Torpedo's built in the 1980s by restoration houses would fail under both criterion. However, there is a sliding scale, the Harrah Boattail built by Chris Schwartz in the 1950s certainly has more pedigree then a 1980s body but less then if the car was done by Bonhman and Schwartz prewar.

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Is the sliding scale subject to change with time? Is "in period" a relative span of years, also subject to change? Everything seems so arbitrary in the big picture scheme of things, linked very much to the people of the day who set the criteria. Reminds me of the restomods shown at auction of late, and the stories about how classic car enthusiasts at first looked with some disfavor on them but are now beginning to see them as a new type of vehicle worthy of high praise and price.

Let's say someone rebodies a classic car with a never before seen design, something that was "possible" back in the day but never realized. And let's say that all materials and construction practices were of a type, and only of a type, that existed back in the day. Where would such a vehicle fall? Just to name an example, and I could name dozens, let's say someone removes the faux running boards from the Clipper? Or swaps out the Clipper grill with a '40-41 vertical grill? Or maybe they take a '52 Packard convertible and make a low-slung 2-row (6-passenger rather than 3 passenger) Pan American? A new design inspired by the original times but not an exact reproduction of any one specific car.

Edited by Mahoning63 (see edit history)

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Is the sliding scale subject to change with time? Is "in period" a relative span of years, also subject to change? Everything seems so arbitrary in the big picture scheme of things, linked very much to the people of the day who set the criteria. Reminds me of the restomods shown at auction of late, and the stories about how classic car enthusiasts at first looked with some disfavor on them but are now beginning to see them as a new type of vehicle worthy of high praise and price.

There are no hard and fast rules as to how the market gauges value so the sliding scale would change over time. But I think "in period" is a pretty tight definition when talking Classics because of WWII. I do understand your point that many years from now, the distinction between 1939 and and 1951 may not seem that great. But if we try to use great artwork from the 15th or 16th century, even today we try to distinguish the work of a Master from that of his protege, no?

As for restomods, hotrods, specials, etc, those also have a sliding scale on value. A documented time capsule hot rod "in period" i.e. built in the 1950s by a known builder commands a premium over the same car built today.

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"master, protege"... great observation. Fully agree.

On the car values I agree that an exact reproduction will be worth less than an orginal, all other factors being equal.

Folks like Foose have been able to ratchet up their car values with good original design, craftsmanship and marketing.

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For me, it is a couple of things - the history, and also building a car today isn't quite the same as building it in the 30s, so I have more "respect" for the original. There are a number of cars that have been built from designs that were done and not built in the 30s, but I have to apply the same standards to them.

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Agree Dave. A modern interpretation of what could have been built, even using period running chassis and running gear to me is a "resto mod or resto rod" or "recreation" - not that I don't appreciate the work, but not my thing. Not too different from the retro designs on the new Mustangs. etc. but that is just my opinion.

Agree also on even the most faithful rebodies, I find them interesting (obviously to start this thread) but no matter how faithfully crafted they lack the history. Same reasons a civil war repoduction item will never equal the real thing even if flawless in execution. Or more along automotive lines, same reasons a perfect reproduction of a desirable porcelin sign is just not the real thing. At least the faithfull reporduction body replicates something of historic significance. An orginal design, no matter how talented will not have historic significance.

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The Esders (sp?) Royale and the Flynn Clipper convertible are a class that I don't mind. They are recreations of lost but real vehicles and presented as such. Part of the reaction to such vehicle shas to do with what was sacrificed to build them. The Royale was built I believe starting from "spare parts" and the Clipper from a car which has many other surviving examples.

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The Esders (sp?) Royale and the Flynn Clipper convertible are a class that I don't mind. They are recreations of lost but real vehicles and presented as such. Part of the reaction to such vehicle shas to do with what was sacrificed to build them. The Royale was built I believe starting from "spare parts" and the Clipper from a car which has many other surviving examples.

I agree with your sentiments with regards to the Esders Royale. The Schrumpf brothers bought out the factory so they had access to many original parts. The engine is from a rail car. However, if an original Royale is worth 20 - 30 million dollars, this car would be discounted heavily I'm sure. It does have the advantage that there probably won't be any more reproductions.

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Very interesting topic. New coachwork, as I refer to it, should be an endeavor that pays respect to the early craftsmen and designers. The very few OEM examples are seldom seen at times. When you do, clearly you know it if you follow histories and numbers. That aside, let's talk about the missing "pedigree" of new coachwork. I feel it's now an example of today's craftsmen and enthusiasts. While the design may be the only thing copied, the art form of construction and related restoration is something to be admired. That means the builder/restorer needs to be as faithful as humanly possible in every detail. Let's assume there's other bodies built by someone other than Fran Roxas. Which body is worth more? The better one. The more authentic representation. The balance of the car treated to the same love and attention to detail lacks only the history of ownership. Now it has it's own place in time and should be a tip of the hat to Mr. Dietrich, and a tip of the hat to the restorer. Value is something that really should be removed from such an aesthetic undertaking. Whether you write the check or swing the hammer, it just doesn't happen unless you're all in. I never considered new coachwork as "fake" or "faux". It's paying a substantial tribute and the ability to enjoy something that may simply be unavaiable. Is that so bad? I also agree that in organizations like AACA and CCCA, authenticity and heritage is a sincere percentage of the cars displayed/judged. I also think that any new coachwork version could easily be judged as tight as the gennie but in it's own class. Same paint, same leather, same materials, same drivelines. I don't think any of them should ever be "cast off" at an organized event. Just my opinion. I'd drive one in a heartbeat...

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I don't have as much a problem with new bodies as long as they don't destroy an original car to make it - even if it is a 7 passanger limousine in poor condition - and the person admits it is a recreation. There are still quite a few bare chassis out there. You have to do something with them don't you? One that I like is the purple P III Rolls slant back coupe. I believe this was made from a drawing from the late 1930's but was never made originally. There are two one off DV-32 Stutz cars that I wouldn't mind seeing made again - the 2 passanger Waterhouse coupe, and the Brunn "Patrician" 5 passanger coupe. Both of these are "lost" cars.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQAy53wqwxHtxX-jvYs2OiOIf6xgX8Xmw7LgVAM0jXG7HgwYsRO

Edited by K8096 (see edit history)

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The purple PIII was fashioned after a car in a modern painting done by Jack Juratovic. I would agree that the craftsmanship and paint/upholstery/chassis work can be very nice on new caochwork cars, and I would like to see them in a special class, and I think judging them against other new coachwork cars is fine, in fact I argued for that when I was on the CCCA board. However, I still think that it isn't the same as doing it in the 1930s given the technology and equipment that we have now. There are definitely varying levels of quality on new coachwork cars - I have seen some Bentleys that aren't that great, and some Packard and Duesenbergs that looked pretty bad not that long after they were built.

New coachwork is a good name and widely accepted - I argued that the CCCA should adopt that also. The cars become fakes when someone passes one off as real, or tries to, which has happened all too often.

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OK, I stand corrected on the P III origins. I saw this car at Hickory Corners at an "Experience." I'm surprised the CCCA let it on the field, but come to think of it, it was parked off to the side a bit on the outside of the track. The painting was there with the car, that's where I got confused. One think you do have to give credit for on the P III coupe is the restoration of the chassis. The P III chassis is arguably the most complicated pre war chassis built, certainly more complicated than any American built car, and they did a nut & bolt restotration on it.

Edited by K8096 (see edit history)

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Great thoughts, very helpful in sorting everything out. Highlander160's comments put a finger on an important aspect - the human element. The person today who seeks to create something special while paying homage to those who first paved the path. They make the classic car a living history.

One thing I have always seen as curious is the differing judgment passed on cars of equal quality that share the same recent history, namely that their bodies were largely built anew. In one case the new body is identical to the irretrievably damaged or aged old body. People label it "restored" and lavish high praise at the concours. New handle and head but the same axe… In another case, the new body has been changed from the original. People see it as new coachwork and perhaps don't lavish quite as much praise.

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I saw that Rolls at Meadowbrook a few years ago. The caption next to it said, or at least what I took away, that it was a 1924 Phantom I chassis that was rebodied around 1935.

Edited by Mahoning63 (see edit history)

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I saw that Rolls at Meadowbrook a few years ago. The caption next to it said, or at least what I took away, that it was a 1924 Phantom I chassis that was rebodied around 1935.

I think you're thinking of the "round door" Rolls. Not the P III pictured above. Two different cars.

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Another comment I'll make is that not all coachbuilt cars had perfect craftmanship originally either. I've seen the Duesenberg roadster in person that was built for the guy who was trying to get a pattent on the collapsable hardtop (there is a restored Auburn with this feature). The body side moulding was off of it and where the two aluminum body panels met it was very jagged and uneven. Restored, you'll never see this as a moulding covers it up, but when it was built they didn't take the time to cut the aluminum panels neatly.

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Great thoughts, very helpful in sorting everything out. Highlander160's comments put a finger on an important aspect - the human element. The person today who seeks to create something special while paying homage to those who first paved the path. They make the classic car a living history.

One thing I have always seen as curious is the differing judgment passed on cars of equal quality that share the same recent history, namely that their bodies were largely built anew. In one case the new body is identical to the irretrievably damaged or aged old body. People label it "restored" and lavish high praise at the concours. New handle and head but the same axe… In another case, the new body has been changed from the original. People see it as new coachwork and perhaps don't lavish quite as much praise.

The human element plays a big role here because auto enthusiasts value different aspects of the whole - it is a complex hobby/field of interest. Some strictly like the mechanical aspects, some strictly history, etc. I think value ultimately reflects this mixing if values, if that makes sense.

Mahoning, you mentioned that you were "working on a design" a while back - I thought, yet another way to enjoy this hobby!

I am not sure where you draw lines, as I said I guess market reflects the complexities I just outlined. A much lower rent district but I am thinking my next project just may be a "T" speedster which will be period correct, but not authentic (to stuff in the garage behind the Packard...) . If I proceed I will consider it a much better use of a decent but not so rare chassis and running gear than street rodding it. So how can I criticise someone who rebodies a closed Classic with a non authentic, modern body? It is hard to explain... :rolleyes:

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT
clarity (see edit history)

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What you said makes perfect sense. In fact, you can see a glimpse of this multitude of value systems playing out at Barrett Jackson each time a car comes to the podium. I understand your thoughts on the T too, makes sense.

For some reason (we car people can never really explain ourselves) I have an interest in exploring what-if's of marques or cars long gone. Maybe it just bugs the heck out of me that a company like Packard went under for all the wrong reasons. But I know it is more than that. Packard made cars that came about as close to perfection, for its time, as our culture and industry were capable of. And yet, it struggled and some would argue that it did so in part because of its vehicles' last 10%. An odd statement? Yep. But I and many others do see, in the clear glass of retrospect, opportunities that knocked at Packard's door. Now, there is no point in chasing after that last 10% in order to change history, that is impossible. But to achieve a level of artistry not fully achieved by Packard, or more accurately, not frequently enough achieved back in its day, well that is of some merit to me.

As a non-Packard example, there is a car I would love to do if I ever get in the chips. It speaks directly to this idea of doing new coachwork and working exclusively with what was available at the time. I always loved the grill with integrated hidden headlights on the '68 Olds Toronado and thought the north-south FWD engine/trans was a unique layout, but felt it was all somewhat hamstrung by the wide, billowing front wheel drive body. My idea is to take a '68 Camaro or Firebird convertible and make a rear-engined Toronado Speedster. it would be a 2-seater with the engine/trans relocated to the rear, the grill/hidden headlights integrated up front in a low position like the oval grill opening of a low-slung 50s/60s Ferrari or Maserati, and curvaceous decklid bulges coming out of the back seats like on the early 50s Alfa Disco Volante. A dazzling color like a deep red with maroon leather interior, a wider track, maybe lifted from the Toronado at the rear for 4-wheel independent suspension, period 15" wheels, maybe from an Olds. A Toronado steering wheel. Maybe cheat like Leno did and make 17" wheels that resemble 15"s.

With Packard and Pierce-Arrow there are many possibilities. Have posted images in previous threads. I do wonder what the club would think of such errant metal work.

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