Sunday, December 4, 2016

Interest in historic preservation runs in the family. . .

. . . and that applies to things built on land and things built with wheels too.

The picture above was taken in the rotunda of the State Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan. That is my father on the far right. He and other members of the Packard Motor Car Foundation received an Award of Excellence from the MotorCities National Heritage Area for their work in the restoration of the remaining facilities at the former Packard Motor Car Company Proving Grounds. Here is the announcement shared with the Trustees from the Chair of the Foundation:

I wanted to let you in on a bit of good news.
     Today the Packard Motor Car Foundation was selected as the winner of the 2016 Award for Excellence in the “Preservation” class by the MotorCities National Heritage Area, an affiliate of the National Park Service.
     Several months ago, we completed a nomination form and just a few weeks ago, I was notified that we were one of three finalists for the award. Here is that press release.
     The awards were announced under the capitol rotunda in Lansing, MI as part of Automobile Heritage Day as proclaimed by Governor Snyder. I attended the program as representative for the PMCF and was backed up by fellow trustees, Bruce Blevins and Charles Blackman. Six of our volunteers also came along for support – Ray & Ro Hollingsworth, Bruce Webster, Mary Anne Demo, Larry Telles and Steve Cizmas.
     Before the program started both Charles and I discussed that we had some very good competition and that it was not a slam dunk for us. So, I was both relived and proud when we were announced as winners for Preservation.

Below are some pictures of the former Proving Grounds that were included in the award application:

Rendering of early days of Packard Proving Grounds. This is the entrance boulevard with double gates which new Packard automobiles passed for testing. In the distance, you can see the large, high speed, oval track. That is not part of the property any longer, having been sold for development.

This is a present day aerial perspective showing one of the gates and buildings that underwent restoration. The facilities can be rented out for special events and car shows take place on the grounds during the warmer months.

My Dad’s interest in cars, and Packards in particular, spans a lifetime. He and I (see below) stand before a 1940 Packard All Weather Cabriolet, ahem, a few years ago. It has a removable canopy over the chauffeur’s compartment. This was his first collector Packard which he purchased in 1955.

Below is my Dad and Mom in a 1951 Packard 250 convertible. My Dad retrieved this car from former Packard dealer in Alpena, Michigan in the early 1970’s. Mr. Smith, the car dealer, used the car during the 1950’s as his personal car and as a way to promote his business.

Here’s another view of the same car from a distance.

He still has both cars. They make up a collection of rolling automotive history.