Geraldine Craw

Walk into our 'Old Packard Room' and your eye may be taken by a smart blue and black car with an unusual grill – nick-named the 'Shovel Nose'. The body style is a coupe sedan and under the bonnet is a straight eight engine of 319 cubic inches generating 110 horse-power. This motor was known as the light eight.

The Packard 900 was Packard's first attempt to produce a cheaper entry-level vehicle into the luxury car market and also to boost sales at the height of the depression. The idea was to lure buyers from rival car makers; but with the advanced styling and modern features of the 900, the car was desirable to buyers in the Packard market. Therefore, buyers who would have purchased the Senior Packard cars tended to buy the 900 instead. Consequently, this model was produced for one year only.

When viewing the car, one of the most noticeable features is the 'shovel nose' grill, a design that was only produced on the Packard 900s. Henry Ford claimed that this car's styling influenced his 1933/34 Ford V8 Victoria.

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Our particular 900 has a very interesting story. It was the display car exhibited at the January 1932 New York Auto Show. It was purchased at the show by Robert McDougall, a well-known Christchurch biscuit and confectionery maker (Aulsebrooks) who also donated the money to build the McDougall art gallery in Christchurch.

Robert McDougall used the car after the show to tour extensively around the USA. Before returning to New Zealand, he decided to replace his left-hand drive 900 with a right-hand drive version, but was told that no car of this style was available. The Packard factory then offered (no doubt with a financial encouragement) to change his present car to right-hand drive. This done, in spring 1932 the car was shipped to New Zealand.

Graeme purchased the vehicle in 1975 and was the fourth owner. It is one of our rarest cars and reputedly the only right-hand drive Packard 900 in the world.