Packard racing car is “UItimate Barn Find”


Packard Motor Car Co. is best known for the luxury cars is produced between 1899 and 1958, but the company built this “Twin Six” racing car in 1916. This speedster was inspired by the similar “Packard 299” that legendary driver Ralph DePalma had success with a bit earlier.



Since there were no pit crews at early auto races, cars like this one were built to carry two men. A mechanic rode along with the driver. The mechanic’s job was to maintain pressure in the fuel and lubrication systems with a hand pump. It was a dangerous job and the only “safety restraint” for the mechanic was a wooden handle on the dashboard.

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In 1920, Packard shipped this two-man racing car to Argentina, where it won an event called “The Championship of the Mile.” It was successfully raced throughout South America until the beginning of the 1930s. At that time, it was simply retired to a storage shed in Paraguay where it sat for the next 70 years.
In the early 2000s, it was discovered by Greg Dawson of Carmel, Ind., who later donated the Packard racing car to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Mich.

Packard’s “Twin Six” model was powered by a V-12 engine that was literally two inline sixes on a common crankshaft. The 424-cid Twelve generated 88 hp. That doesn’t sound like much today, but back then horsepower ratings were calculated differently and 88 hp was a lot. In fact, this car had a top speed of 104 mph.
With its 112-inch wheelbase, this Packard is pretty large for a racer, but the large tires mounted on wire spoke wheels meant that it traveled a long ways each time the wheels revolved. When Dawson discovered the car 70 years after it was interned, he considered it the “ultimate barn find.” And ultimately, he decided to share it with thousands of other car enthusiasts who visit the Gilmore Car Museum each year.

About John Gunnell 137 Articles
John “Gunner” Gunnell has been writing about cars since ‘72. As a kid in Staten Island, N.Y., he played with a tin Marx “Service Garage” loaded with toy vehicles, his favorite being a Hubley hot rod. In 2010, he opened Gunner’s Great Garage, in Manawa, Wis., a shop that helps enthusiasts restore cars. To no one’s surprise, he decorated 3G’s with tin gas stations and car toys. Gunner started writing for two car club magazines. In 1978, publisher Chet Krause hired him at Old Cars Weekly, where he worked from 1978-2008. Hot rodding legend LeRoi “Tex” Smith was his boss for a while. Gunner had no formal journalism training, but working at a weekly quickly taught him the trade. Over three decades, he’s met famous collectors, penned thousands of articles and written over 85 books. He lives in Iola, Wis., with his nine old cars, three trucks and seven motorcycles.

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