HomeThe MarketPackard museum remembers ‘Old Pacific’ and the 1903 coast-to-coast coup

Packard museum remembers ‘Old Pacific’ and the 1903 coast-to-coast coup


Lamborghini wasn’t the only car company born when its founder was unhappy with a car he’d purchased. In 1898, James Ward Packard bought a Winton but soon took it back to Alexander Winton, who suggested that if Packard thought he could do better, he should. And he did.

Packard and his brother, Williams, manufactured electrical devices and they hired away two of Winton’s employees and produced their first motorcar, the Packard Model A, in 1899. 

Dealing with a washed out bridge near Grinnell, Iowa, on the trip from SF to NYC | Packard museum photo
Tom Fetch poses with ‘Old Pacific’ | Detroit Public Library photo

By 1903, Packard was on Model F and staged a publicity stunt to prove the durability of its cars by sending plant foreman and test driver Tom Fetch and The Automobile magazine editor Marius Krarup to San Francisco to drive a Model F nicknamed “Old Pacific” from there to New York City.

“With no maps and few roads east of the Mississippi, Old Pacific conquered mountains, desert, and swamps in an epic 63-day journey across America,” the National Packard Museum notes. “Old Pacific’s triumph was a publicity coup, demonstrating Packard’s durability and reliability, and establishing a reputation for automotive quality that would endure for fifty more years.”

At noon on Saturday, September 15, the museum in Warren, Ohio, will present a “Coffee & Donut” educational seminar on the “The Legend of Old Pacific: America’s Pioneer Road Trip.”

“Come see photos from the road trip and hear about the adventures Fetch and Kraus encountered along the way,” the museum reports, “including a murder in Carson City, Nevada!”

California museum seeks road-trip artifacts

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento plans a special exhibit on road trips and seeks some road-tripping artifacts to display with selected vehicles. Items sought include vintage suitcases, car bingo and other games, cameras, ice chests, food boxes or tins, maps and guide books, etc. Also sought are vintage road-trip photos that include a vehicle in the image. If you have something you might loan for the exhibit, which opens on September 28, contact [email protected].

Speaking of road maps, the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, has a special exhibit on paper road maps and on September 21-11 will host the annual convention of the Road Map Collectors Association.

Special events this weekend

America on Wheels museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania, has rescheduled its Classics and Cruisers on Hamilton car show for the afternoon of September 15.  From 11 a.m. until noon that same day, the museum offers at lecture by Chris Wantuck on “History of Henry M. Leland, founder of the Cadillac & Lincoln Car Company.”

The Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine hosts a Cars & Canines show with the SPCa from 9 a.m. until noon on September 15.

The Simeone Foundation Auto Museum in Philadelphia’s Demo Day on September 15 will carry this theme: “1948, The Day They Stopped The Trains,” and will focus on the first serious attempt to revive sports car racing in the United States after World War II in Watkins Glen, New York. The museum is looking for some “guest” cars to participate. See the museum website for details.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, hosts the Wish Upon A food Truck Festival on September 15 with 35 food trucks and a variety of children’s activities scheduled. The event benefits Make-A-Wish Philadelphia, Delaware & Susquehanna Valley. Among featured guests will be Chopped junior champion Danielle McNerney, American Ninja Warrior competitor Joe Moravsky and racer Bobby Gerhart Jr.

Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, Florida, hosts its monthly car show Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The Kansas City Auto Museum will be among the participants in the American Royal BBQ Car Show, scheduled for September 15 at Kansas Speedway. The museum also is celebrating “Austin-Healey Month” with several example on display at the facility in Olathe, Kansas.

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento visits the local Universal Technical Institute at 4100 Duckhorn Drive to present the Campus Classic Car Show from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on September 15 .

The Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, will participate in the Danville d’Elegance weekend September 15-16 and at 6 p.m. on September 20 will offer a screening of Tucker: The Man and His Dream.

The Beaulieu museum in England launches its annual Autumn Lecture Series on September 15 with Steve Fenwick of Renault Sport Racing discussing “F1 Cars: An Engineering Challenge.” On October 12, it’s Steve Waddingham, historian at Aston Martin Lagonda, talking about “Aston Martin: A History.” November 12, Petere Williams will discuss his motorcycle racing career. On December 8, Chris Keith Lucas, managing director for Jaguar specialist Lynx, will present “If I had known then what I know now.”

Jaguar I Pace at the new V&A Dundee museum | Jaguar Land Rover photo

Scotland’s new V&A Dundee design museum opens Saturday with a full-size clay model of the Jaguar I-Pace, styled by Scottish native Ian Callum, among the opening displays. 


Mark your calendar

The Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine offers a Demo Day on September 20 with talks at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The Saratoga Automobile Museum stages its annual collector car auction on September 21-11.

Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California, will stage a book signing from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on September 22 featuring Peter Brock and his latest work, The Road to Modena: Origins and History of the Shelby – De Tomaso P70 Can-Am Sports Racer.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will host the Road Map Collectors Association show on September 21-22 and the Matchbox toy show on September 23. 

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento opens its special “road trips” exhibit on September 28.

America On Wheels in Allentown, Pennsylvania, opens a new exhibit, “Fabulous Fins of the ‘50s and ‘60s” on September 29.

Located just across the road from the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the GM Corvette Assembly Plant stages its annual “Vettes, Hot Rods & Families” car show on September 29. 

Robert Williams’ ‘Hot Rod Race’ among the features at new Petersen exhibit | Museum photo

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles opens its newest exhibit, “Auto-Didactic: The Juxtapoz School” on September 29. The exhibit kicks off the museum’s year-old 25th anniversary celebration.

The Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, is doing a road trip by coach on September 29 to the Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI at Laguna Seca. 

The British Motor Museum, located on the grounds of the former RAF Gaydon base, hosts the third annual Gaydon Military Show on September 30.

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles will fete Wolfgang Porsche at its 24th annual gala, scheduled for October 5.

The British Motor Museum will use its social media feeds to present “Archive Live!” throughout the day on October 5. The interactive feeds not only will go behind the scenes at the museum’s own archives, but will help visitors understand how to preserve their own family documents and photographs.

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento stages CruiseFest on Fulton Avenue on October 6.

The AACA Library & Research Center’s yard sale is scheduled for October 9 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The Beaulieu museum in England continues its annual Autumn Lecture Series on S October 12 with Steve Waddingham, historian at Aston Martin Lagonda, talking about “Aston Martin: A History.”

The Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, celebrates its 30th anniversary with a Gala scheduled for October 14. In addition to dinner and silent and live auctions, the evening will feature music by Franc d’Ambrosio of Phantom of the Opera fame.

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles stages its annual gala on October 5. The event will honor Wolfgang Porsche and will feature car collecting comedians Jay Leno and Tim Allen.

The Simeone Foundation Auto Museum in Philadelphia offers an in-depth conversation and book signing at 2 p.m. on October 13 with Luca Dal Monte, author of Enzo Ferrari: Power, Politics and the Making of an Automotive Empire. 

The Simeone Foundation Auto Museum in Philadelphia offers the world premiere of Maserati: A Hundred Years Against All Odds, the first comprehensive film about the marque and its history, to be shown at 7 p.m. on October 23. The event includes a conversation and discussion featuring producer Philip Selkirk and director Luca Dal Monte, a former Maserati director of marketing and public relations.

The Simeone Foundation Auto Museum in Philadelphia plans “An Evening with Hurley Haywood” featuring the sports car racer on October 26.

British museum needs junior detectives | Museum photo

From October 27 to November 4, the British Motor Museum invites children to serve as junior detectives to find the “Missing Plans” and to learn how to do secret car designs in invisible ink. The adventures begin daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m or 2 p.m.

The British Motor Museum hosts the “Large Model Aircraft Show” on October 28 with more than 100 large static radio-controlled aircraft on display.

On October 31, the Simeone Foundation Auto Museum in Philadelphia presents its 11th Spirit of Competition award to Roger Penske on an evening that will feature Amelia Island concours founder Bill Warner as master of ceremonies.

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email [email protected]

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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