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Valley’s National Packard Museum acquires 1948 sedan

WARREN — A 1948 Packard that participated in multiple presidential inauguration parades now has a permanent home at the National Packard Museum.

The new acquisition — a black Super Eight Sedan that seats seven passengers — went on display earlier this month. It was donated to the museum by Michael and Julia Cosgrove of Carey, Ohio.

“Over the years, I’ve traveled to a number of Packard club meetings and events and those Packard owners have been to the museum,” Executive Director Mary Ann Porinchak said. “The owner knew this Packard was significant and was looking at downsizing and wanted to give it to an organization that would continue to tell its story and display it to the public.”

For more than 30 years, the car was part of the fleet of vehicles owned by the Bellevue Hotel in Washington, D.C., and was used to shuttle U.S. senators and representatives as well as other VIP guests around the Capitol or to the airport.

Porinchak said they are reaching out to a previous owner, who worked at the Bellevue Hotel, to get more information about some of the dignitaries who may have ridden in the car. One name that’s been mentioned is Oscar-winning actor and “Godfather” trilogy star Al Pacino.

The vehicle also was used in inaugural parades for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

While that history makes the vehicle appealing, another lure for the museum is the car is in unrestored condition.

“Typically, when somebody buys a car of this caliber, the first thing they want to do is put it back in what they refer to as 100-point condition, so if they go to a concourse event, the judges will find it at the top of the line in beauty, styling and condition,” Porinchak said. “Thankfully, in recent years, there’s been a movement to keep more and more cars in their original state. From what we understand, this car was not put into any adverse conditions and was kept in a heated garage.”

There are some scratches on the driver’s side door, but for a vehicle that shuttled many people while in use, both the exterior and interior are in impressive condition.

The vehicle is huge with a 141-inch chassis and a 327-cubic-inch L-head Straight Eight engine and a three-speed manual transmission. Packard Motors made 1,742 of the seven-passenger sedans, and the list price in 1948 was $3,500.

Porinchak said the museum hasn’t had the vehicle appraised, and she cannot release the value of the vehicle from the past owner’s appraisal.

The body design also differs from many previous Packard models. Porinchak said the rounded design reflects the post-war style popular at the time.

“Packard was doing everything it could to be competitive in the the automobile market,” Porinchak said. “It was taking too long to get back in business after building engines for the war effort for so long.”

The vehicle was named “Fashion Car of the Year” when it debuted by the Fashion Academy of New York.

The hood ornament, instead of the Goddess of Speed, is the cormorant (an aquatic bird) that Packard Motors used in different forms in its post-1930 models.

“The cormorant appears on the Packard family crest,” Porinchak said. “It’s very protective of its young. I’m not sure if that’s significant and why they chose it for the crest.”

agray@tribtoday.com

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