Banner image


AEOLUS: In Greek Mythology King of the Winds
This was the hood ornament on the Woodward Packard Phaeton
AEOLUS: In Greek Mythology King of the Winds.
This was the Packard Phaeton hood ornament
1936 Packard Twelve brochure
Packard brochure - 1936

 Packard 12 emblem
Packard 12 emblem
In 1936 Robert Strong Woodward had just about completed the reconstruction of his third studio on Upper Street in Buckland. Since lightning had struck his second studio and burned it to the ground, he had not worked, but taken all of his time to supervise the construction of his new home and studio, the studio being constructed out of a former blacksmith shop. He still maintained his horse, Trigger, who had some time previously replaced his original horse, Thomas Kempis, and he was still able to hook Trigger up to a buggy and go painting. It was, however, becoming more and more difficult for him to do so.

 Photograph of this model of Packard made from a brochure published by the Packard Company of all of the 1936 models.
Photograph of this model of Packard made from a brochure published by the
Packard Company of all of the 1936 models.
At about this time he was befriended by Mrs. Ada Moore, the widow of the man who had helped to found the American Can Company, Nabisco, The Lackawanna Railroad, and the American Bankers Trust. She purchased several paintings and set up a trust fund to assist him to pay for a nurse and housekeeper. She also purchased for him a new 1936 8-cylinder Packard Phaeton so that he would have an automobile in which there would be plenty of room to set up an easel in the rear seat to enable him to resume regular outdoor painting.

Robert Strong Woodward seated in the rear seat of his Nash Advanced Six, painting in 1933, before he owned the 8 cylinder 1936 Packard. The painting being made is The North Mowing.
Robert Strong Woodward seated in the rear seat of his
Nash Advanced Six, painting in 1933, before he owned the
8 cylinder 1936 Packard. The painting being made is
The North Mowing.
Fabian Stone, his versatile hired man (who could do any sort of carpentry or stone masonry or electrical or plumbing work) was also an auto mechanic and he kept the large complicated vehicle well maintained and well polished. He made modifications to the rear seat area to accommodate an easel and a bench to hold painting materials. The car came with a trunk on the rear and Fabian constructed a cover and straps for it so that a wheelchair could be carried upside down on it. RSW was now ready to travel, and travel he did.

 Robert Strong Woodward painting in the back of the 1936 12-cylinder Packard
Robert Strong Woodward painting in the back of the
1936 12-cylinder Packard
Every Sunday he would start out in the middle to late morning, carrying a sandwich lunch, and traverse the back country roads, stopping frequently to make sketches, many of which would form the basis of a later chalk drawing or oil painting. Back home he would study these and select ones to which he would return, have Fabian lift him from the front seat into the back seat and set up his easel and paint shelf, and here he would spend the day until late afternoon painting. Many times the first day he would make only a charcoal outline of the scene, then return home, erase most of it with a cloth, leaving only outlines of the scene and then start to apply oil colors. He would then return to the scene on one or two or sometimes more days to complete the painting at the site. Most of his paintings were made on back country roads, many on dirt roads with grass growing between the tracks. The mechanics at the Packard garage in Greenfield had never worked on a car with such an immaculately clean undercarriage--from traveling over the grass in the middle of the roads. It became a sort of standing joke when the car was taken in for service.
 Packard large trunk
Rear area of Packard where wheelchair would be mounted.
Rear area of Packard where wheelchair
would be mounted.
After the days of Fabian, I was one of the chauffeurs, and what pride it was for a teenager to drive a long 8-cylinder open Packard. But I did get good at it and he trusted me. I would spend my time nearby reading, taking college correspondence courses or learning the wild flowers or native trees. And, I was nearby if he dropped something which he was unable to reach, or needed his lunch removed from the trunk, or needed his leg urinal bag emptied. Sometimes he would ride back home still sitting in the rear seat, but usually I would lift him from the rear seat up into the front seat, and pack up the easel and painting materials in the rear for a safer transportation back to the studio.

 Robe for front seat.  Note hole for shifting lever.
Old sleigh blanket for front seat. Note
grommets at top and hole for shifting lever.
 Buffalo robe for rear seat passengers
Buffalo robe for rear seat passengers.
The Packard was polished from front bumper to rear bumper each time before leaving its garage. It was always kept with the canvas top down. It was a real job to get the top up and in place, and we did it only in cases of hard rain when he was taking friends out for a ride. The front seat driver and passenger used a blanket that came down from earlier RSW days when he would go out in the winter in a sleigh. This blanket snapped onto the dashboard and covered our laps in the front seat.

 Footstone and cloth cover
Soapstone footstone -This rock
was heated by the fireplace and
put by the feet of passengers
providing warmth for hours.
There was a second windshield for the rear seat passengers which came with the Packard, but it also was seldom put in place. The back seat riders had to tolerate the wind. Whenever we took along other riders in the rear seat in cold weather we would cover their laps with large thick steamer rugs or buffalo robes (yes, they were from actual buffaloes). In especially cold weather, we would often add heated footstones for their feet. Winter rides in the rear seat were sometimes difficult to take, but with the huge buffalo robes, steamer rugs, and sometimes even footstones, guests were fairly comfortable, at least from the waists down.

 An old photograph of MLP driving RSW in the Packard with his nurse Lena Putnam in the rear seat.
An old photograph of MLP driving RSW in the Packard with nurse Lena Putnam in the rear.
There were many famous passengers who rode in the rear seat of the Robert Strong Woodward's Packard Phaeton. Beulah Bondi, actress in many of the old movies of the day including "Its A Wonderful Life," Harold Grieve, famous Hollywood interior decorator, Robert Frost, the well-known poet, Dr. Blakeslee, the famous botanist from Smith College who developed the Gloriosa Daisy after many trips in the Packard, collecting pollen from the wild Black-Eyed Susans along the country roads, and Flora White, author and educator, all had rides in the Packard. And there were many others. A couple of vignettes come to mind. Dr. Blakeslee at the time was suffering from terminal cancer of the prostate and I remember him saying " I just can't die now, I have too much work still do." And Flora White was getting elderly and found it difficult to climb up into the back seat of the Packard. As she was attempting to get into the car one time, she turned around to me holding the door open for her and said "Put your hands on my rump, young man, and PUSH!"

 RSW's 8 cylinder Packard Phaeton in 1947, Chauffeur: Arthur Bressor.
RSW's 8-cylinder Packard Phaeton in 1947, Chauffeur: Arthur Bressor.
At RSW' s death, in the settling of the estate, the Packard was sold for $50.00 to Roderick Blood, who was affiliated with Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts. The museum people have been very helpful, but unable to locate RSW's Packard to date. It was a beautiful automobile and the only other one I ever saw, was one in which President Franklin D. Roosevelt rode during his presidency. According to my proof-reader and researcher, FDR's Packard was actually a 1939, but I remember it as looking exactly the same. I still see it occasionally in the old movies of the day and reminisce.

Jan. 2007

 Extension added to garage
Extension added to garage (right center).
Addendum 1: When the new Packard arrived it was found that it was too long to fit into the garage attached to the Woodward studio. Therefore the backside of the building was extended about 3 feet to make room for it. The photograph to the left shows this addition to the back of the old carriage shed. Note also to the left the north window (a part of the studio) which is so important to artists who want just the right light for their work.

Click here to see the original specifications page from the Packard Phaeton purchased for Robert Strong Woodward.           

 This is a scan of an original advertisement for a 1936 Packard from Life Magazine.
This is a scan of an original advertisement for a 1936 Packard from Life Magazine
 Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1938 Packard.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1938 12-cylinder Packard.
Packard 12, Roosevelts Car:
From: Information and History |
Released in 1915, the technology embodied in the Packard Twelve represented a major breakthrougn in the automobile industry. It achieved great fame in its association with the one person who claimed he could not do without it - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt claimed that he chose the Packard for its reliability, but it is said that he was drawn to it by its sheer power. It was one of the last automobiles to come equipped with a 12-cylinder engine, when in 1939 Rollson (popularly known as Rollston) mounted the body. The Packard was the first armored car with bullet-proof glass to be used by an American president. Its lightweight, sporty body came to signify American prosperity.

From the Packard continued to lead the luxury-car segment, but the annual model change and changing demographics were already weakening its position. Packard was the car of the old moneyed class, while Cadillac was favored by the emerging new rich. The Depression was eroding the old aristocracy and when prosperity returned after World War ll, Cadillac soared and Packard was doomed.

The following is copied from that describes the provenance of the Robert Strong Woodward Packard. It includes a current photograph of the vehicle. The vehicle is no longer grey, but has been painted burgandy.

 This is believed to be a current photograph of the Packard Phaeton that belonged to Robert Strong Woodward Packard..
This is believed to be a current photograph of the refurbished Packard Phaeton that belonged to Robert Strong Woodward.
Five-Passenger Phaeton
Chassis Num: 757528
Engine Num: 757528
The Packard Super 8 was produced from 1935 through 1939. There were several new introductions for the 1935 Packard such as to the steering, suspension, and more horsepower. The new bodies offered true envelope styling and for the first time, the cars were designed as a whole, with body, hood, fenders and running boards integrated into a single design.

The 1936 fourteenth series Packards were largely carried over from the prior year. Several changes were added such as a new radiator which was raked back five degrees. This would be the final year for the 17-inch wire wheels and the traditional double blade bumpers with hydraulic dampers.

This example is an original five-passenger phaeton. It is one of just five or six known to have survived. Its first owner was Robert Woodward, an artist from Greenfield, Massachusetts. The car would stay in his care until his death in 1957. The car was then acquired by Roderic Blood who used the car as his fair-weather daily driver. In 1967 the car was sold to Mr. Sawyer of Gloversville, New York. It was sold shortly thereafter to Mr. Austin of Gouverneur, New York. It would remain in his care until 1982 when it was purchased by Manny Souza, who sold it to Jason Siegel. Mr. Siegel was a past president of the Florida region of the Classic Car Club of America. In 1990, Siegel began a ground-up restoration. The work required more than two years to complete. After completion the car was shown, earning both AACA National First Place and CCCA Senior awards.

The car remains in good condition in modern times. It is well-equipped with side curtains, top boot, optional wind-wings, correct Packard spot lamp, original Packard heater, and a Packard Goddess of Speed hood ornament.

In 2008 this 1936 Packard Super Eight Five-Passenger Phaeton was brought to RM Auctions 'Vintage Motor Cars of Meadow Brook' where it was estimated to sell for $225,000-$275,000. Bidding reached $200,000 but was not enough to satisfy the reserve. The lot was left unsold.

The car was last known to have been sold at auction in Florida. The auctioneer would not give out the name of the buyer.

Addendum: MLP July 2009

 Robert Strong Woodward painting in the back of the Packard.
Robert Strong Woodward painting in the back of the Packard.
 The author, Mark Purinton, and Robert Strong Woodward in his 1936 Packard.
The author, Mark Purinton, and RSW in his 1936 Packard.
Since tracing down the history of the Packard after it left Buckland after the death of RSW, there has been confusion as to whether it was an 8-cyinder or a 12-cylinder. The above document from lists the vehicle that formally belonged to RSW as an 8-cylinder Packard Phaeton. They are car enthusiasts and I am sure would not make a mistake counting cylinders! However, the possibility exists that the car in question is not the car that belonged to Robert Strong Woodward. It is also possible that the 12-cylinder engine was replaced with an 8-cylinder engine. Be that as it may, it was always my knowledge, as a youngster working for him that the car was a 12-cylinder. In an RSW lettter written during the 1940's he refers to the car as a 12-cylinder. I asked the only other living person who actually drove the Packard, and he remembered it as a 12-cylinder. After pointing out the information to the contrary, he recently said that his memory may be wrong, and that perhaps it was an 8-cylinder. We are currently trying to research the records of excise taxes paid on the car to try to determine which it was. So far we have been unsuccessful. One other piece of evidence is that the paper of listed specifications for the car, found in the Woodward studio, states that it was a SUPER 12 PHAETON. (See "specifications sheet")

Addendum 2:
It is our opinion that Robert Strong Woodward himself believed the automobile to be a Packard Twelve. In a handwritten comment about Fabian, he writes:
I owned at the time a large and very heavy Packard Twelve. This car, far beyond any I could afford to buy myself had been a gift to me from one of my patrons and friends, Mrs. William H. Moore. Realizing that because of my physical handicap I worked at my out-door painting under great disadvantage in the average car, Mrs. Moore presented me with a car large enough to use my easel and painting outfit on the back floor.
Portion of handwritten letter by Robert Strong Woodward
concerning Fabian Stone.
It is likely that RSW mistakenly believed the car to have twelve cylinders, referred to it as such, and caused those around him to accept and believe it as well.

Addendum 3:
In the continuation of our search for the Woodward Packard, we received the following letter concerning the known owners of Packard Super 8 automobiles. Hopefully, eventually we will locate the actual car owned by RSW. (We are eliminating the names and addresses for privacy reasons of these owners.)
 Letter from a New England Packard expert providing a list of owners of 1936 Packard Phaeton Super 8 automobiles.
Letter from a New England Packard expert providing a list
of owners of 1936 Packard Phaeton Super 8 automobiles.