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Archive for Wednesday, May 26, 1999

PACKARD ENTHUSIASTS TAKE TO ROAD

May 26, 1999

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Two men are driving a 1910 Packard Model 30 across the country. They made a stop Tuesday in Lawrence.

John Grundy is convinced that the now-defunct Packard automobile company made some of the best cars in the world.

So convinced, in fact, that he's spending several weeks driving his 1910 Packard Model 30 across the country.

"There's a very dependable car," he said. "In the day, if you owned a Packard, you owned the town."

Grundy, of Carmel, Calif., and fellow Packard enthusiast Jim Brodes, Tucson, Ariz., left California on May 17 in Grundy's car.

The car can go up to 70 mph, but they usually cruise around 45 mph, traveling about 375 miles per day. The four-cylinder motor gets about 10 miles per gallon.

Other features on the car include gas-burning headlights, fueled by acetylene.

They stopped in Lawrence to spend the night at the home of Grundy's nephew, Chris Grundy.

Grundy and Brodes plan to drive the car to Chicago, then drive it around the Great Lakes area and into Canada before arriving in Warren, Ohio, on July 4.

A gathering of Packard owners is set in Warren for July 6. About 2,500 cars are scheduled to be in the town for the event, which will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Packard auto company there.

"It's going to be a zoo," Brodes said of the event. "Warren is a pretty small town."

The two have been traveling both on interstate highways and secondary routes, including historic Route 66.

"There's lots of honking on the highways and lots of waving," Grundy said. "The truckers have been real good to us. They haven't come up on us or anything."

The 1910 model is one of seven that Grundy owns. "I got interested in them when I was in high school," he said.

Brodes owns 12 antique vehicles.

The men said they weren't worried about the car breaking down, even though parts are all but impossible to find.

"If you need a part, you make it," Grundy said. "We like to get our hands dirty."

Grundy's antique auto was expensive even in its day -- a new one cost about $4,800, nearly twice as much as a new home in 1910, he said.

Today, the vehicles are worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Grundy's vehicle is one of only 159 existing Packards built between 1899 and 1915. It is one of 11 remaining Packards built in 1910, he said.

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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