Tom Brown's 1936 Packard Super 8 Club Sedan (from Volume 11, Issue 119)
It has become tradition that the Best Of Show winner (determined by Participant Choice voting) at our Beach Blast car show in Cocoa Beach gets to be a cover car and featured in the center spread of our magazine. Well, such is the case with Palm City residents Tom & Sandy Brown's 1936 Packard Super 8 Club Sedan....kind of. You see, we needed a car for this month's cover, and decided we could just pick one on Saturday, the day before the actual show date of Sunday, May 16, 2004. We had seen Tom & Sandy's super cool cruiser before, and decided we would love to feature it - and THEN it won the Best Of Show title the next day. I guess everyone in attendance must have agreed with us, it is indeed a very special car.
Tom bought the car in California in 199 as a basket case. It included many boxes of parts, but no rust. The owner Tom bought it from agreed to trailer the car to Tennessee, where Tom and his buddy Neal O'Neal met him with a trailer of their own. The car had to be winched from one trailer to another because the car had no wheels, axles, engine or transmission. When Tom got to sifting through the boxes of parts he found that some of them didn't even fit the Packard, and of course a few turned up missing as well.
Soon the updates and modifications began. A 1986 Corvette C-4 front cross member found its way onto the Packard, along with a 13-inch disc brake upgrade. Out back now resides a 9-inch Ford rear end fitted with 3.7 posi gears and a set of Explorer disc brakes, with Aldon coil overs located at all four corners. The rear frame was modified to accept Explorer leaf springs and Air Ride air bags.
The exterior modifications lean more towards subtle enhancements, since the stock 1936 Packard Super 8 Club Sedan body is inherently beautiful on its own. However, the roof was chopped 3-inches, and a Nova wagon roof insert was used to get rid of the original cloth section. The paint and body work were artfully handled by Frank Gifford of Classic Illusions Custom Paint & Body in Palm City, Florida, with the paint fading from charcoal gray at the top to black at the bottom for a nice subtle effect. Add the Legacy rims by Billet Specialties (8x16 inch fronts wearing 225x60 Good Years, 9.5x16 inch rears with 295x65 rubber), and the elegant chrome grill, bumpers, hood side louvers (accented with small flames), and the rare "winged lady holding a tire" hood ornament and it adds up to a classy combination that still retains a hot rod flair.
Inside you'll find a tasteful interior, which has gauges mounted inside a turned aluminum cluster and the banjo style steering wheel loks right at home. Jeff Phipps was called upon to stitch the gray leather upholstery, which like the rest of the car lends itself to a bit of an understated elegant look that still has that "wow" factor. And with the length of the cabin there is certainly plenty of room to bring friends along for the ride without sacrificing comfort for anyone involved.
Once the hood is opened this car continues to impress, as you'll find a 511 cubic inch Hemi by Arruzza Performance (though Tom threw a bit of humor into the mix and the valve covers now read Packard Performance). It started with a 426 block, to which was added a Callies 3/4-inch stroker crank, Eagle 7.1-inch rods, Wiseco pistons, Keith Black valve train, Stave V Engineering aluminum heads, a Comp Cam, street Hemi intake and a set of headers. Behind that you'll find a 727 automatic transmission from Fourth Gear in Apopka, Florida, which also uses a Gear Vendors overdrive to give it even longer legs on the highway. The funny thing is even though the Hemi is very big, given the long engine compartment dimensions (the hood is about 1/2 the length of the entire car) it doesn't look at all cramped, like the result would be in almost all other cars.
As with most great cars, this one really needs to be seen in person to fully be appreciated. Pictures simply can not capture all the subtle details you'll notice with the human eye as you look everywhere on this well conceived and well crafted car. I'd be inclined to call it a luxury cruisers, since it is certainly classy and accommodating to be in, but with that 511 Hemi under the hood that hot rod feel is only a mash of the foot away. Quite a cool combination! CN