default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Steve Hansen A rare 1958 Packard, a famous actress — and me

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Steve Hansen

Posted: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 5:59 am, Tue Nov 8, 2011.

How would you guess the following are related: 1.) the last Packard car; 2.) Elizabeth Montgomery (star of "Bewitched"); and 3.) myself?

It all started at the Turlock Swap Meet back in January 1981. It was a cold, foggy day. Hundreds of classic and special-interest cars were on display. As I made my way through the haze on the fairgrounds, I couldn't believe my eyes. There in front of me was a two-tone gray 1958 Packard sedan. I had not seen one since I took a trip to Gettysburg, Pa. when this model was new. As they were then, they are also very rare today. Only 1,200 sedans were ever produced.

It appeared to be in original condition. It even had the period-correct, wide whitewall tires. The owner and I struck a deal for around $800. With the help of a friend, I drove the car back to Stockton.

It was a weird duck, even for the styling excesses of the time. The Studebaker-Packard Corporation was on its last legs. The "real" Packard had ceased production in 1956, and two years later, the company was cobbling strange fins and fiberglass extensions on '58 Studebakers. They called the result a "Packard" to satisfy contractual obligations with what was left of the dealer network.

The front end wore a grafted-on nose that resembled a shark with braces on its teeth. Fender pods were installed to accommodate dual headlights on '56 Studebaker fenders. It gave the appearance of a "bug-eyed" look. On the rear, "real" '56 Packard Clipper taillights were blended in, with the help of a few pieces of metal and chrome. 1957 Dodge-like fins were fused onto the back fenders. The round instrument gauges were borrowed from a '55 model.

It was a sad ending to a long and proud history for Packard, with its origins dating back to 1899. This was the car of the stars during the 1920s and '30s, but it fell out of grace after World War II. That's when Cadillac overwhelmed the marque as the prestige leader.

I kept the car for about three years. During that time, I re-chromed various trim pieces, repaired the brakes and got the car to run more smoothly. It attracted attention wherever it was driven, as most people had never seen one. However, garage space was tight, and something had to go.

I tried to donate it to the National Automobile Museum in Reno, but by the time they got their act together for acceptance, it had already been sold to actress Elizabeth Montgomery and her husband, Robert Foxworth. They kept the car until 1987, when it was donated for auction to benefit the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. Ms. Montgomery died of cancer in 1995.

I lost track of the relic until August 1994, when it appeared on the cover of Special Interest Autos Magazine. It was also their feature story.

The Gray Ghost now rests in the hands of a Southern California collector and probably remains the most original '58 Packard still in existence.

Documentation shows this car to be the last new Packard sold anywhere. The original owner, a man by the name of Oberkamper, bought it from J and B Motors in Turlock during the month of February 1959.

Oddball cars and rarities can be better investments than money in the bank — especially if they have pedigrees. If the Packard came up for auction today, there is an excellent chance it would easily sell in excess of $40,000.

Not a bad return for a strange-looking piece of transportation that once sold in 1981 for $800.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • Melissa May posted at 2:56 pm on Mon, Dec 24, 2012.

    salissa2003 Posts: 1

    Interesting enough, I just read this article. My father in law who recently passed away, owns this car. It is in a garage in Tom's River, NJ. I personally love this car and have enjoyed countless stories about it. This has been the best article I have read so far.


Recent Comments

Posted 10 hours ago by Walter Chang.

article: Letter: Our leaders need to be better r…

Anyone else hearing the theme song from the Twilight Zone after reading this rant??? [lol]


Posted 11 hours ago by Shane Marcus.

article: Letter: I was impressed with students a…

Yeah Its too bad the blood bank doesn't compensate these giving people in some way. Like maybe a free lunch. After all, giving blood takes …


Posted 11 hours ago by Walter Chang.

article: JoAnne Mounce: California gas tax is a …

[sleeping][yawn][sleeping] ZZZZzzzz....


Posted 11 hours ago by Jien Kaur.

article: Steve Hansen: Funding, researcher bias …

I don't know when you became a scientist Mr Maurer. So far you have claimed a career in music with famous musicians and several other care…


Posted 12 hours ago by Thomas Heuer.

article: Steve Hansen: Funding, researcher bias …

Mr Maurer Congratulations on advancing your childhood experimenting with your adult ice chest experiments. Now if I can induce you to advan…



Popular Stories



Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists