In a December issue of the Austrlasian Post appeared a photograph of Gwen McRae at the wheel of their 1934 Packard 1105 Super 8 7 passenger sedan. That publication enjoyed a wide circulation and it was not long before Peter Sharpe from Queensland wrote to Gwen enclosing a photograph of his 1934 Packard 1102 7 Passenger limousine. Others followed Ron and Norma walker, Jim and Jan Mangleson, the Townsends – to name a few and an outing was organized for 12th December 1965.
The following article appeared in the 100th issue of the Packardian, written by the lady herself, Mrs Gwen McRae. The article was written only weeks before she passed away.
HOW WE BEGAN ………
Late in 1959 a Packard was bought. Just a little ’39 six, T.J.R. (Aust.) body. In those days not considered anything exceptional, fine for a young family with two growing school boys, all we could afford actually.
I had only been driving about 3-4 years and most cars seemed the same. Had learnt on a ’29 De Soto, crash gear box and all. Had driven a good variety of makes and models and took to driving like a duck to water, but “cars were cars” and my knowledge of same didn’t amount to all that much until the Packard. It was different. It was big (or so I thought at the time), comfortable, totally reliable, and had an extra something indefinable which to this day eludes logical definition. So a love affair began. Only puppy love at this stage, but the infection had taken hold, only I didn’t know it. Yet I had been truly bitten.
Well, the ’39 was “it” for about 18 months. Ron also bought an identical model and the pair of Packards were more often than not sitting side by side at home or on outings. But the time came to update, the ’39 began needing work, and rightfully so as it had often worked above and beyond the call of duty, used as a tow wagon many times, long trips, constant daily toil, looked after but well and truly made use of. Minimal mechanical work had been done when needed, and she was tired. She never even had a special name as our cars usually did, just “The Packard”.
So along came a ’51 Chevy. A nice car and only 10 years old! We were coming up in the motoring world. the Chev was in A1 condition and I could not say a thing against it. It also was comfortable, reliable and did all the right things, was attractive, a pleasure to drive, and I still have a soft spot for it, but it wasn’t “The Packard.” That something special wasn’t there and I often longed for my first love.
Then … … … the 1934, 1105, Super Eight 7 Passenger Sedan came along which in itself is another and long story. All 51 cwt, 147½” w.b. of it. I freely admit on first sight I was startled to say the least, I liked big cars but this was ridiculous and we really couldn’t afford two big cars with our rapidly growing boys. She was grotty, covered in layers of grime from several years of sitting in an open field and to me looked most unattractive. I was young and foolish, so you must excuse my stupidity. I didn’t realise what a beautiful price of machinery had arrived in our driveway. What? Me drive that with our pretty Chevy sitting there!
She wasn’t ready for the road for some time and in cleaning her and helping to do little jobs, and getting her ready, her beautifully proportioned lines and workmanship of quality became more apparent and I was hooked before I knew it. Packard fever had me. Totally and happily. Eventually all was organised and she began to be used., still I hadn’t driven her. Finally I got up the never and took her out one day and that was it. I was deeply in love and have never recovered. I think even the pupil in my eye took a hexagon shape.
During approximately a year of driving this beauty (and any excuse to hit the starter was good enough), I began to wonder if just possibly there could be other nuts like me, as so many other drivers admired the car and talked about old times when Packard was King of the Road and is gradually dawned that she really was a special aristocratic breed. I knew I loved her, but was it possible that others could feel the same? What if we could get together, get to know each other, nothing grand, just kindering souls with a mutual interest. But how to do it? Australasian Post had a wide Australian city and country circulations, and had a page for reader’s letters. Hmmm, not a bad idea. I submitted a letter and photo which was published in the December issue – and it all happened.
Peter Sharpe in Queensland was first in with a letter and photo of his 1934 1102 Eight, 7 Passenger Limousine. We became pen pals, he now employs my No.1 son Rod, up there. See what can happen when you buy a Packard! Gradually others came on the scene, many still with us, others gone, as in the way of life. Ron Walker and Family, the Townsends, the Manglesons, etc. and, as Peter was to come to Sydney in 1965, we organized our Inaugural Run. Nine Packards took off for a day at Kiama on the south coast. A day still as fresh in my memory as if it were yesterday. What a beautiful sight. The Townsends didn’t make the trip, but a date was set for January to hold a general meeting and form some sort of club, elect a leader and so on…