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Four-Links – a Packard plant mystery, more on the Galva Checker, Brighton and Hove Motor Club meet, first car to drive around Australia

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Photo by Mike Boening.

Prior to the collapse of the production line bridge at the former Packard plant this week, the Detroit News ran a piece looking back on an unusual chapter in the plant’s history, when former owner Dominic Cristini holed up in the plant and engaged in a standoff with Detroit police that lasted months.

Twenty years later, it’s still a mystery why city and police officials posted members of the Detroit police Gang Squad at the plant round-the-clock. It’s one of several twists and turns that occurred during the protracted fight over ownership of the 3.5-million-square-foot plant, which was built in 1903 and stopped producing cars in 1956.

Several questions remain unanswered. Why was the city so interested in the Packard plant property? What was the danger that necessitated a round-the-clock police presence? And why did city officials continue trying to demolish the plant’s buildings, despite a court order to stop?

* The Internet Checker Taxicab Archive this week added to the story of Checker’s last attempt to remain in the carmaking business, a story we’ve previously featured here on the Daily.

Victor Potamkin was a popular New York car salesman who used a combination of sales discounting and aggressive advertising to transform a Manhattan Cadillac agency into the flagship of his $1-billion-a-year automotive empire.

At the time, Checker generated net income of $274K on $87 million of sales. The magic formula of Potamkin’s deep financial pockets along with his sales and marketing know-how combined with (Ed) Cole’s automotive engineering capabilities and GM connections were the perfect combination required to transform Checker. It was an exciting time at Checker! Expectations were high that the new partners would revitalize Checker’s future, new models would be introduced and the company would grow.

* Zero context to this group of photos we came across on Flickr showing some racing (speed trials?) that the Brighton and Hove Motor Club hosted in Brighton in 1960, but worth paging through regardless.

* Thanks to Lindsay Wilson for sending over this account of the first car to drive around Australia, a 1922 Citroen 5CV, piloted by a couple young men who more or less did so on a lark.

Clearly their journey was very different to the many factory-backed motoring expeditions which took place around the world. These lads had no spares and no support — relying on their ingenuity and faith. And a great deal of both were needed to ensure they could get through some areas.

Tyres were problem enough in cities in the 1920s and proved a challenge more than once for Westwood and Davies. From a letter dated October 11, 1925: “Next morning we started on the remaining 125 miles (to the next station) but more tube trouble developed. Next day we used up the remainder of our patches. We then ran for over 30 miles on one flat tyre filled up with grass and leaves, until we punctured another tyre, so we left the car and walked six miles to the Station. Mr. Egan, the manager, was just retiring but he soon made us welcome… Unfortunately they were just out of patch outfit (glue) or almost so. I put in part of a cow hide (killed that morning) on two wheels, but the tyres kept coming off. In this way we did 60 miles in two days.”

The car was left at The Pigeon Hole. On arrival at Victoria Station the boys discovered that the owners had no patch outfit as it was in their car, away at Katherine. There was however a vulcanizing machine, which Westwood spent two days “experimenting with” eventually learning to repair the tyres before a 40-mile horse ride back to the Citroen.

* Finally, IronTrap Garage tells the story of a 1927 Packard that spent the last 50 years in a Philadelphia factory. (via)