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FDR’s Packard removed from museum for preservation, parade duty

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Photos courtesy New York governor’s office.

Rather than peruse the latest executive cars and limousines for its officials and diplomats to wave at crowds in future parades, the state of New York decided to reawaken a car already in its possession – the Packard Model 905 that Franklin Delano Roosevelt bought new 85 years ago.

“Just to leave it sitting here, I don’t think is what FDR would do,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters earlier this week when retrieving the Packard from the New York State Museum in Albany. “This is a national treasure, and it’s going to be a great marketing device for the state of New York.”

Purchased toward the end of Roosevelt’s second term as governor of the state for use as a staff car, the Full Classic dual-cowl phaeton features Packard’s Twin Six V-12, dual sidemounts, and leather interior. Rather than a winged goddess hood ornament, the 905 features a special New York governor’s fleet insignia.

Introduced at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, the Ninth Series Packards resurrected the Twin Six name, though this time attached to a Cornelius Van Ranst-designed 67-degree V-12 good for 160 horsepower. The Twin Six-powered cars assumed the position of flagship, aimed toward buyers of the Cadillac V-12 and V-16 models and, despite the ongoing Depression, continued to power Packards through 1939.

Roosevelt didn’t use his Packard for long; after his election to president in 1932, the Packard went into the state’s fleet. Governor Thomas Dewey’s purchase of a 1942 Cadillac effectively sidelined the Packard, though it did emerge again briefly in 1982 for Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus of the Netherlands during their visit to Albany.

With about 40,000 miles on it, the Packard – last inspected in 1988 – has since resided largely out of public view in the museum. Before it will make any public appearances, it is first scheduled to go through a preservation process with an unnamed shop in Connecticut.