1957 Pontiac Clipper

Lee and Geri Carpenter’s 1957 Packard Clipper Has VAE club history at its best.

This 1957 Packard Clipper was originally owned by the parents of one of the VAE’s founding members. Peveril Peake. We are the second family owner having bought it from Pev in 2004.

The 1957 Packard Clipper Town Sedan was the next to last year of Packard; 3,940 cars built in South Bend, Indiana. It has a Studebaker 289-cu.in. supercharged V-8; 275 bhp; 333-lb.ft. torque; Borg-Warner three speed automatic; twin traction differential; 0-60- mph: 11.0 seconds ( 1957 Road & Track )

1957 packard clipper dashboard

This was Pev’s mother’s car, purchased new from Archie Myer’s Studebaker in Winooski, Vt. on January 2, 1957 ( from the original bill of sale ). The fly swatter hanging on the heater dash knob was the dealership’s free gift with purchase! This car was rarely out in the rain, never in the winter and never slept under the stars. 1957 packard clipper princessPeveril began calling it ” Princess”. When we acquired it in August of 2004, our daughter was then 9 years old and she donated her “purple ” Princess” pillow, to the car. And it has lived in the back window since!

Lee grew up in the same town as the Peakes in Bristol, Vermont. He and Pev were friends and had many adventures together. When Packard and Studebaker announced there were to be no further productions of this car Peveril purchased a used one exactly like this one, for a parts car. In 1968, Lee, at 16 , bought that parts car as his first car under the condition that it be returned to Pev when Lee was finished with it, in whatever shape it was in. Lee drove it until the transmission and super charger died. We now have, from that car, a spare dash, trunk lid, four doors, and all the glass from it stored in the garage attic !

Peveril saved many things including the original bill of sale and registration. At every registration renewal he would document the mileage of the car. He also saved the owner’s manual ,shop manuals and accessories booklet.

In 1969 Peveril and Lee, along with two others, drove this car out to South Bend, Indiana to the home of Studebaker for the Second International Meet. The judges were about to deduct points for the windshield wipers and spare tire, until Pev pointed out they were the originals! There it was awarded second place. That same spare is in our trunk today.

It remains in all original, unrestored condition. The engine has 121,000 miles on it, not rebuilt. The paint, trim, carpets, headliner and upholstery are also original . It has been in the VAE’s Stowe Car show every year since 2004, and in the Senior Class since 2013. It has chauffeured a number of brides and grooms, including the Carpenter family and Gale and Judy Boardman and their daughter, then our son’s first prom. It was invited to be a part of the Hemmings Motor News’ Concours D’Elegance, twice. ( 2010 and 2015 ) As well as being a feature in their Classic Car ( Feb 2010 ) magazine. It has been awarded first place in the Studebaker International meets of 2007, 2008, 2014, 2016 as well as first place in other Studebaker zone meets.

57 packard clipper

 

 

Our trip to South Bend May 2017

From Geri Carpenter

To quote Peveril Peak , the original owner of our Packard ( and one of the founding members of the VAE) this was a trip that was “fraught with danger and emotion” We didn’t get started on time as planned. Leaving a day late due to rain, we couldn’t even make it out of the garage! The Packard’s battery was dead, so we made a quick trip to Interstate Battery, for a new one. Lee opted to not take the bright lime green one they brought out to the counter, and asked for one in black.

Twelve miles from home the left front hub cap popped off while going around the clover leaf highway! I quickly watched where it rolled along the edge of the road. It was on an overpass and could have gone through the guard rails down onto Interstate 89 but didn’t. This was a blessing in disguise as I picked up an 18″ bungee cord along with the hub cap ( which was undamaged). This bungee cord came in handy later in the trip.

About ten miles down the road we got stuck in Route 7 construction. In the rain and mud the car got plastered and appeared like a two toned painted car. Black on top, brown on the lower half. Covered with mud.

Our trip went uneventful thereafter except for the geese around Syracuse, NY. While passing a Wildlife Preserve, two Canada geese, decided a good place to land was in the middle of our lane on the highway! With only a couple of car lengths of road ahead of us Lee honked the horn, which they ignored. He then had to swerve quickly to avoid hitting them! We could imagine the dented grill if we were not able to swerve around them. They stood a good 2 1/2 feet tall! When we were 20 miles from South Bend we hit stop and go construction traffic which took us an hour to get through. Then, 890 miles from home we arrived at our hotel.

The next day, in the rain, we headed for the host hotel. We gassed up about one block from our hotel and at the very next stop light the car started spewing steam !!! It was raining and about 45 degrees. We pulled under the next hotel’s canopy and to our good fortune, it was the host hotel of the Avanti Club! Almost immediately people came out to help! Lee opened the hood and found anti-freeze spitting all over the engine compartment. Once the steam cleared Lee found the radiator cap had loosened. We added about a gallon of water and we were on our way……. ooops but the hood wouldn’t latch ! Here’s where that bungee cord came in to good use.

We registered at the event hotel and made our way, in the rain, to the fairgrounds where the judging was taking place in the swine barn. The wait was quite long even though three judging lines had been set up. The delay was because the ‘trailered’ car owners were unloading in the judging barn instead of outside, and taking up a lot of time and space.

Once inside the long barn we did have time to wipe the car down and replace the hub cap. They said they would not deduct points for the rain. Our poor engine compartment had antifreeze splattered all over it. They took quite a while looking over the car, we were there for an hour and a half.

Thursday evening was the member’s meeting/buffet. It was down-right awful! 500 people were seated with three food stations. Nachos, a potato bar (yes, a potato bar where they put a scoop of mashed potatoes in a martini glass and you added your toppings) and lastly the slowest pasta serving bar in the country. They individually heated up our chosen sauce in an omelet pan, then added the pasta. A very slow process. And NO desserts! The Studebaker band played loudly throughout the whole dinner. We could hardly speak with others at the table. We did not stay for the evening auction.

Friday we woke to a beautiful day. Sunny and dry, but cold and windy. We headed for the museum. The parade was at 3 pm and it was poorly organized, not marked and there was no one directing traffic. Once finally downtown, it was a very nice event. There was a great turnout of cars and people. All of downtown had been cleared out and it was curb to curb Studebakers for about 4 blocks! The Studebaker band played again over a PA system.

Saturday was another bright sunny cold windy day. We arrived on time at the Proving Grounds and sat around the tarmac waiting an hour and a half. We were grouped with 14 cars in each pack. We had 2 laps around the 3 mile banked cornered track. We made it up to 70 MPH. This was fun, and I dare say, it made Lee’s day. Then on to the fairgrounds where they had reserved the front three rows of the field for those of us who were at the Proving Grounds. This was a nice gesture and well appreciated as we arrived later in the morning. Throughout the show there was the huge projector showing old Studebaker TV ads from the 1950s. This was cool and entertaining. (I believe they are available for purchase at the Studebaker Museum.) During the awards presentation the winner’s pic-tures were up on the screen with their name and points. We were award-ed a second place plaque. Perhaps the splattered antifreeze deducted points from our score! We checked off a list of state license plates and counted 29 different states with a Studebaker plate!!! As well as 2 Canadian Provinces.

Our traveling adventures were not over, as we had not yet parked in our own driveway. Coming home, as we were getting on I87 North we rounded a cloverleaf entrance ramp and TWANG!!! That same left front hub cap went flying across the 3 lane highway, across the median, into the next three lanes. A car had to brake, but got around it, then the car in the next lane…. Ka-thunk.

Damn. Good thing our spare tire has a matching hub cap!

So, if anyone doesn’t believe their car has a personality, think again. We think that Princess (the Packard came pre-named) did not want to go on this trip and showed us!!!

Happy motoring everyone,
Geri and Lee Carpenter

What does “FG” Mean?

Dave is taking a brake this month – An email exchange with our VAE expert on Vermont number plates.

fg series vt license plateVAE member, John Sandvil, recently purchased a Vermont number plate with # FG81. John bought it because it was different but did not know the reason for its odd number.

1950s vermont license plate prefixesTo the rescue….Gary Irish. This is part of his reply: Yes, I can tell you what it is, and will probably tell you more than you want to know! It is a plate for a state owned vehicle, and more particularly for the Fish & Game department. State vehicles were first issued special plates in 1922, and through 1925 had “STATE” written out on the bottom of the plate, similar to truck and repairer plates of that era. From 1926 to about 1950, they had an “ST” prefix, and at least from 1951, only an “S” prefix (I know 1948 had ST and 1951 had S, but don’t know about 1949 and 1950). This went through 1960, and in 1961, they issued permanent plates to state vehicles with a two letter prefix designating the department to which the vehicle was issued. These plates did not have a painted border, but somewhere around 1970, new plates were issued, essentially similar except these had a painted border. These were used until the mid-’80’s, when they transitioned over to the plates in use today. I’ve attached a few pictures to give you an idea of what they looked like. The F&G plate is probably similar to the one you are asking about. The similar one without the border is Forest & Parks. I also added a sheet that gives the meaning of the letters on the 1961 version. And by the way, the picture of the 1925 state plate may look a little odd – it is a replacement plate. These were used to replace lost plates, and were embossed with only the non-unique parts of the plate. The motor vehicle department, at that time housed in a house which once stood where the state office building is on State Street in Montpelier, had a supply of these, and when a request came in for a replacement plate, they took the appropriate blank (in this case STATE, (pictured left) but they also had them for passenger, truck, etc.) and hand painted the number on the plate in a workshop in the basement of the house and sent it out.

1925 vt license plateAfter answering your note about the license plate, I got to thinking that maybe you can answer a question for me, or at least you might know someone who can. I recently got a copy of a picture, which shows a man named Clinton Abbott in the middle of what is now Route 15 in front of the park in Underhill Flats. He was the Underhill station agent for the Burlington & Lamoille Railroad. The car has a 1911 dealer plate on it, and I was told by the person who gave me the picture that Mr. Abbott, at one time, was a dealer for Reo automobiles. From anything I can find online, this doesn’t look like a Reo, and I am wondering if you or someone might be able to tell me what make of car it is. From looking at pictures online, the closest thing seems to be a Maxwell, which has a similar shaped hood, but other details of any I could find didn’t look right, such as the cowl.

Wheel Tracks was unable to reproduce the picture that Gary Irish is referring to, but….does have a beautiful picture that can be emailed to you. There is a gentleman driving the car and two youngsters around age 10 as passengers. The Underhill church can be seen beyond the green. Please ask and I will email the photo to you. email…gafiske@gmail.com

Happy New Year – 2018

happy new year 2018As the time is getting close, I will first wish one and all a Happy New Year. It is a bit hard to believe it will be 2018 (if you are reading this, it is 2018!) It seems like yesterday that we were all trying to decide how to say the years in the 2000s, should we say 20-01 or 2,001 and now we are 18 years later!

Now that the introduction is out of the way, on to the subject; New Year’s Resolutions. I did some research (on the internet) so you can agree or disagree but isn’t everything on the internet on the up and up?

New Year’s resolutions started with the Babylonians over 4000 years ago. They started off each new year with the resolve to change something for the better. Previously, it was usually something for someone else like pay off a debt or return a borrowed item. The Romans made prayers to their god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. Other groups made resolutions through the years, and for the most part the present-day resolutions, have gone from trying to help or improve life for others to self-improvement. The most popular goals include improve your physical well-being; eat healthy, lose weight, exercise (more), drink less (alcohol), quit smoking, get rid of old unhealthy habits. Other thoughts are laugh more, enjoy life, reduce stress, improve finances, get a better job or do better at the current one, volunteer, settle down, spend more time with family, go to church. The list can go on and on and I really commend those who take the plunge and can manage to reach their goal and stick with it, but the internet tells me that less than 8% achieve their goals.

Which now brings up the question of why can’t we seem to keep our resolutions and reach our goal, after all, whatever we have chosen to ‘improve’ without much doubt needs improvement or we wouldn’t have chosen it. I have given this much thought and guess what? The internet backs me up! We tend to set goals that are too hard, complicated or just plain too big, like lose 100 pounds, get a job that pays 4 times what I’m earning now, which probably would require more education, moving, etc., all of which I am not willing to do. You get the idea. We might have more success if we said lose 4 pounds a month and plan how to accomplish this, i.e.; walk, skip one restaurant meal a week, shop in the produce aisle for half of my groceries. Is there a light dawning? For most of us, we need to start small and build on that.

Another thought I have is going back to what was the original purpose for New Year’s resolutions; make someone else’s life better, return the shovel to your neighbor or give your parents back the money they laid out for your education. Now that would sure brighten my New Year!! I am sure you could make someone’s life better with just a friendly smile and a hug. Realizing the world we live in today, how about a smile and a wave or handshake. I am sure the Milton road crew’s life is made better every time Mary shows up with cookies! Probably their wish is that Mary’s New Year’s Resolution is to set a goal of a dozen or 2 cookies twice a month!

1992 Jaguar XJS Elegante

A beautiful 1992 Jaguar XJS Elegante owned by Serge Benoit

serge benoit 1992 jaguar xjsWe have all heard about Serge Benoit… or should we say, we have all “heard” Serge Benoit. Serge has been our “French Voice” at our August Antique & Classic Car Meet for many years. He and Gael Boardman keep the show rolling on the public address system at the 60 year old car event.
Serge lives along the Richelieu River in Sabrevois, Quebec surrounded by, what appears to be, over 1700 square miles of farm land, extending from our border to the St Lawrence River. The vision we Vermonters have is that just a few miles north is Montreal, when all the time there is this beautiful farm land laid out like you would see in our Midwest.

Serge spent over 30 years working for Canadair and Bombardier, both companies very familiar to all of us. He presently works part time for a bus company called “Trans Dev” who operates busses throughout Serge’s area including Montreal, both school busses and transit busses. Serge drives them all. The balance of the time Serge operates the company, he started seventeen years ago called “Eval SB”. If you have your eye on an old car, or even a not-so-old vehicle, you can hire Serge’s company to find if the purchase would be a good idea…or a bad one. His company evaluates 100 to 150 vehicles each year.

Now to the XJS Jaguar that Serge owns. Serge found the car at an estate sale last November and is the third owner. Other than some brake work, the car was ready to head down the highway….or autoroute, so they say up his way. Jaguar made about 115,000 XJS models between 1975 and 1996 with V12 engines in most of them. The “purists”, so Serge calls them, were protesting the car should also have the 3.6-litre Jaguar AJ6 straight-six engine under the hood. The protest worked and 500 XJSs were built with the six cylinder engine.

Serge’s Jag is called the Jaguar XJS Classic and between 1992 and 1996 they made about 8800 2-door coupes and 19,000 2-door convertibles. Transmission choices were the 5-speed automatics (Serge’s car) or the 4-speed manuals.

Jaguar was founded in 1922 and was transformed a number of times with different companies in England, until 1990, when the Ford Motor Company bought Jaguar. Eighteen years later, in 2008, an Indian company by the name of Tata purchased Jaguar and retains ownership today. All Jaguar cars are, however, still built in England.

Sir William Lyons (1901 – 1985), known as “Mr. Jaguar”, was with fellow motorcycle enthusiast William Walmsley, the co-founder in 1922 of the Swallow Sidecar Company, which became Jaguar Cars Limited after the Second World War. Serge said the XJS Jaguar was Mr. Lion’s last “build approval”

1992 jaguar xjs enginePerformance wise, the XJS top speed is 150 MPH with a 0 to 60 of 6 seconds. The six cylinder, 24 valve engine produces 240 HP and the V12 engine puts out close to 300 HP. A little, like what Shelby did to Fords, a performance company by the name of “Lister” was asked to make the XJS perform, straight-up, with a Ferrari…..and they did it. They transformed 90 XJSs into 200mph-plus supercars. At over 600 horse power….we all should have one!
In the meantime, Serge’s car is a Grand Touring Jaguar that replaced the beautiful, legionary XKE……and does a great job carrying on the tradition.

 

It’s in the Bag

When doing engine work or restoration work, organization is key to success. I recently overhauled an engine in my shop, and I was greatly aided by a careful and thoughtful organization when I took the engine apart.

I carefully catalogued the nuts, bolts, hardware and parts in zip lock bags, carefully labeled with a sharpie marker. The valve cover bolts were placed in a sandwich sized bag, labeled valve cover bolts, Left. The head bolts and miscellaneous hardware were placed in quart sized bags and labeled. These bags were then placed, in a gallon sized bag, labeled and Left.

This method continued through the engine disassembly. The oil pump bolts were bagged, and placed in the bag with the oil pump. All of the bags of parts were placed in a box with all the other parts.

When I reassembled the engine, all of the nuts, bolts and miscellaneous hardware were easily located, and the order of opening and unbagging the parts, easily gave me what I needed without wasting time searching, and minimizing the risk of placing the wrong hardware in the wrong location. When installing the left cylinder head, I grabbed the bag labeled Left, and all of the hardware was clearly labeled. When I was done, all the hardware was accounted for. There was nothing missing, and nothing left over.

I also use this strategy when I take a car apart for major work or restoration. There is nothing more maddening than not being able to find a part when needed.

Zip Lock freezer bags have an extra strong zipper, and provide a white rectangle for labeling. The next time you are in the grocery store, I would suggest buying a few boxes of sandwich, quart and gallon sized zip lock freezer bags for your shop.

Beware – Friday The 13th!

These BRRR mornings are reminding us that there is a cold winter to come. Cold as it is, we in Vermont have it much better than most parts of the world, so no more complaining. In Vermont, tornadoes, earthquakes, wild fires, mud slides and hurricanes are rare. Of course, there are exceptions, like the microburst that blew down our barn in 2008. Anyway, on Friday the 13th, I once again fell and broke some ribs, right in my own kitchen. With the help of Tylenol and sympathy from the medical profession, I can still cook meals, feed the cats and birds and do laundry. I’m forbidden to do anything really strenuous like use the vacuum cleaner, oh darn!

Fortunately, I had already cleared the flower beds and what little we had for garden vegetables – cherry tomatoes and basil was about it.

Then it was time for the Gypson Tour up next to the Canadian border set up by Duane Leach which I first thought would be too painful – antique cars do bounce around when on back roads. But, take Tylenol and a blanket and go for it, I decided. So glad I did as it was a great tour, with beautiful scenery. Then there was all of the delicious food at Gary and Sharon Fiske’s home, once we got there – I am not the best navigator so we were the last to finish, but there was food left!

Then came the gale force winds that rattled the area last weekend. While there was havoc all around us, we were fortunate to have only one tree blow down and Wendell started up the outdoor wood furnace, so we had warmth and never did lose electricity, as did so many others. Our blessings, right? That was true until last Thursday evening when we were alerted by Green Mountain Power of a fifteen-minute electricity outage while some final fixes were made. It turned into a two hours outage. Guess it was our turn for a little taste of inconvenience. But, all is well now – so far!