If you lived a hundred years ago, you would have wanted to own a Packard.
Created in Warren, Ohio, the Packard automobile was equated with luxury, reliability and innovation.
One of the best-kept secrets is that Dayton has an important piece of the Packard history. The world’s only restored Packard Dealership operating as a museum is in downtown Dayton, at 420 S. Ludlow St.
We met with Daniel Badger, the museum’s managing director, who not only took us for a ride in a 1937 Super 8 Coupe Roadster, but gave us a private tour of the museum.
We learned some amazing facts. Here are our favorites:
Uniqueness: “What really sets this museum apart is we are an original 1917 building and an original showroom,” Badger told us.
Endurance: The building remained a Packard dealership through 1939.
Originality: The lights in the showroom are the original lights.
Famous celebrities: Most of the vehicles come with a special history. “We’ve acquired a huge number of celebrity vehicles,” Badger said. Those include cars owned by the Dupont family, both Procter and Gamble families and Perry Combo. Plus, the museum showcases notorious gangster Al Capon’s last car.
What lies beneath: The building has a basement. It’s not open to visitors, but that’s where specialized mechanics work on restoring and maintaining the cars.
Run, run run!: Kudos to those mechanics! “Each vehicle on exhibit today runs and drives,” Badger said.
Tours available: Museum docents are happy to tell you about the cars. Length of your tour mainly depends on your interest level. The tours can last 20 minutes or several hours.
Grease is the word: The grease in the grease spools back in the service area are filled with oil used back in the day. “They’re still dripping oil!” Badger said.
Student projects: The museum works with art and design students from Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School and Stivers School for the Arts. “As time goes on, the folks who can put the cars in context are becoming a smaller portion of the population. So it’s important to find ways to stay relevant,” Badger said.
10,000 and going strong: The museum sees about 10,000 people a year. About a third of them are local and the others are from out of state, sometimes even out of the country.
Wedding bells: The museum is the perfect venue for a wedding or private party – on average, two or three weddings take place there each week, with the bride making a memorable entrance in one of the vintage cars.