1922 Packard Twin-Six 7 Passenger Touring
When I was a kid, my family would usually take a summer vacation at an event known as the “Great Lakes Regional Tour” which was sponsored by chapters of the Veteran Motor Car Club of America (VMCCA). The tour would be held each year at a different place near any of the Great Lakes. Because of its central location and its bountiful tourist attractions, Michigan was the state in which the tour was usually held. Thus, our family called it the “Michigan Tour” (even when it was at Lake St. Joseph in Ontario).
The crowd that would usually attend this event was fairly predictable. This was the annual tour that was tailored to bringing children and grandchildren. We made many friends from other states that we would see at “camp” each summer. In addition to the kids, there were many octogenarians who just loved being around all the young people. They would arrive at the tour as a couple, but they would have a different “herd” of kids in their cars each day. It was great for us kids because we could ride in a brass Packard “30” one day, a Duesenberg the next and any number of other marques with roadster bodies and a “rumble seat.” We were kids in our fathers’ candy store.
There were usually just shy of one hundred cars that would stay at a resort for the week with tours on each weekday except for Wednesday, which was an off day that you could use to fix cars or enjoy the facilities of the resort. Thursday was always the “Mystery Tour” where the kids spread out among all the other cars to be “runners” for the drivers who were a little less “sprite”. It was always a game like a Scavenger Hunt, but frequently with old car themes.
One of the couples who attended the Michigan Tour was a man named Paul Baldwin of Grosse Point, Michigan. He had two “twin-six” Packard’s that were painted identically. They looked like brother and sister cars. One was a 1920 roadster, which Mrs. Baldwin would often drive, and the other was a 1922 seven-passenger touring car with a big back seat and two “jump-seats”. It was the perfect car for a “cadre of kids” Since I am one of six, we all spent some great times riding with Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin.
In about 1966, my dad asked my brother Al and I (we were six and eleven, respectively) if we wanted to take a plane ride to Grosse Point and visit Mr. Baldwin. It turned out that his wife had died recently and he was starting to feel his age too. He wanted to find homes for each of his cars. After contacting my dad, we were winging our way out of Burke Lakefront Airport on a little commuter plane to hear his proposal.
The price was very reasonable and dad wrote the check after about fifteen minutes. From there, we drove the 1922 Packard back to Cleveland using the interstates and the Ohio Turnpike. Along the way, we had a flat tire. The Packard had lock-rings to hold the rim onto the wheel and this one flew off the car and into the guardrail. It took a while to stop safely, but after we did, my dad had to walk about a half-mile back to retrieve the lock ring. It was mangled, but he had a spare for just such an occasion. After fixing the flat, we were back on the road again and arrived back in Strongsville without further incident.
From that point one, the Packard was the workhorse for family outings. It had original upholstery that was in great shape, but it never met an ice cream cone that couldn’t be wiped off with a damp towel. The paint was beautiful and the engine ran like a top. When the twelve-cylinder engine would idle, the only thing you could hear was the slight hiss of air entering the carburetor. Frequently, my dad would balance a nickel on its edge on top of the radiator cap, while the engine was running. It never fell.
Over the years we did quite a bit to the Packard to keep it in top shape. It never failed to finish a tour. It was also the first twelve-cylinder that I ever drove. It was not to be the last.