Curbside Classic: 1937 Packard Motor Home – Ask The Man Who Sleeps In One

Packard 1937 RV fsq

CC reader Norm forwarded me an e-mail with pictures and just a bit of info on this splendid 1937 Packard motorhome. Why wasn’t this in my driveway on Christmas morning with a big red ribbon and bow?

Packard 1937 RV ff

Let’s take a little walk-around and really savor this gem. According to the e-mail I got, this was the only one built. But there’s at least one other one with the exact same motorhome body, that was for sale a couple of years ago, and was shown here. That one is a 1935; these were obviously built by a small-scale builder of motorhomes.

There was a market for them. In 1972, on my hitchhike up the coast of California, I ran into a guy who had a somewhat similar motorhome built on a 1936 Ford truck chassis parked right next to the cove in Mendocino. He told me he had picked it up from a movie studio storage lot for peanuts, and had been used by a popular star in Western movies in the late 30s and 40s, whose name I have forgotten. It was used when they were shooting out in the desert. He showed me the inside; how I lusted over that motorhome, and what I wouldn’t have given for that instead of hitchhiking.


Packard 1937 RV patina

The owners bought this for $16,000 about a year ago, after sitting for many years. It’s got some fine patina, and the new owners buffed it and clear-coated it, preserving the glow of what almost looks like oiled brass or so.

Packard 1937 RV engine

The engine need just a bit of work before firing up and running. This rig has about 40,000 miles on it. This appears to be the series 1502 Super Eight, which had the long 139″ wheelbase (possibly lengthened) and used for commercial cars as well as the Super Eight 7-passenger touring car and sedan. And the engine would be the “big” 320 CID straight eight, a legendary and massive thing weighing some 1000 lbs. It was rated at 135 hp. Torque? Sufficient.

Packard 1937 RV sifnal

I’m assuming this is some sort of turn signal/trafficator, but I could be wrong.

Packard 1937 RV side door

Let’s step inside.

Packard 1937 RV inside

All the comforts of home, except a bathroom. Those generally didn’t appear in RVs until after the war or in the 50s.

Packard 1937 RV spice rack

The spice rack has what looks to be period-correct tins. I’m guessing they probably don’t get actual use anymore.

Packard 1937 RV rear

Here’s the tail. The 1937 California plates add the right touch of authenticity.

Packard 1937 RV int

Oh good; they left the key inside. Color me gone…