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Tom Brown's 1935 Packard Roadster
(from Volume 15, Issue 167)

The story behind Tom and Sandy Brown’s 1935 Packard Roadster you see pictured here actually begins with a previous car that Tom built - the 1936 Packard Super 8 Club Sedan which appeared on the cover of Issue 119 four years ago. While doing research during the construction of the ‘36 Sedan he came across a photo of a Packard V-12 Roadster build by Le Baron in 1935 as a one-off custom for a wealthy customer (it cost an astounding $7,500 in 1935). Looking through the archives of the Parkard Club which Tom had joined, he was unable to find the car itself, but did come across another picture of it. Knowing that even if he could locate the original Roadster it would be a million dollar item, Tom decided to puts his talents to work once again and create his own.

The project started with a 1935 Standard 8 three window coupe (which is a rare car itself....but nothing like the Roadster), which was purchased in pieces without an engine or transmission. Tom then cut the top off, did a little cowl work so a ‘35 Packard Phaeton windshield would fit, got rid of the door glass and rolled the top of the doors, then extended the cowl over the dash - all to match the picture he had of the original Roadster. The top was made using ‘34 Ford irons, which were lengthened and widened. The original car was a V-12 so he also needed a V-12 hood, which he found in Colorado (the Standard 8, Super 8 and V-12’s are all the same from the firewall back). As a result the wheelbase was increased 4 inches, to a super long 139 inches in total.

Other things involved in the Roadster transformation include installing a C-4 Corvette front cross member, moving the fenders forward 4 inches, and lengthening the running boards. After rebadging the car with the V-12 hardware....presto, he had a one-off 1935 Packard V-12 Roadster of his own. Well, of course that is the simplified version of the story - because as we all know the devil is in the details, and this car has tons of detail work everywhere you look.

Under that long hood you’ll now find a Mopar 426 cubic inch Hemi, which was bored 60 over to now displace 525 cubes. It incorporates a Callies 3/4 inch sroker crank, Eagle 7.1 rods, Weisco pistons, Keith Black valvetrane, Comp hydraulic cam, and a Stage V heads and intake topped with dual 600 cfm Holley carbs. An MSD 6AL ignition system lights the fire, and custom headers and exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers routes the spent fossil fuel rearward. Wanting total control the transmission chosen was a Tremec 5-speed by Keisler Engineering, with a hydraulic clutch.

Other, more traditional hot rod items incorporated into the car include a 9-inch Ford rear end with 3.7:1 posi gears, Moser axles and Explorer disc brakes. Explorer rear springs also made it onto the Roadster, and along with air ride suspension in the front and rear allowing the car to profile perfectly.

Rounding out the elegant package is black and Seduction Red paint from House of Kolor expertly applied by Frank Gifford of Classic Illusions, which is complemented by a set of American Racing wheels (8x16 inches in front, and 9.5x16 inches out back), with the spokes painted to match the main body color, and topped with a set of custom center caps dawning Packard badging for a cohesive feel. The interior was the work of Paul Atkins, and was done in matching black and maroon leather, with the rumble seat as inviting as the rest of the interior.

Tom’s cool one-off 1935 Packard V-12 was finished in January of 2008, and at our Beach Blast 14 car show in Cocoa Beach on May 18th, 2008 it was a big hit. So much so that it received the most participant votes, and as a result took home the Best Of Show honors - which include being featured on the cover and in the center spread of Mike Kelly’s Cruise News. Of course it has also gotten many other awards, but for Tom and Sandy Brown of Palm City, Florida the real pleasure has been derived from driving the car and seeing it put a smile on people’s faces. CN