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Posted By: Brian Laurance
Posted On: Tuesday October 13, 2020 at 12:01 PM
Quarter MIle Drag Race video, 1942 Packard 160 limousine vs. 1941 Buick Limited
Matt Harwood of Harwood Motors recently put together this preview video. The video was shot from the backseat of the Packard. I'm not sure how to link the video directly here. Maybe John Kuvakas can help, or you can copy and paste the link into your browser search window. Great entertainment here for fans of the late pre-war classics.


Details from Matt:

"We did run both cars at full throttle from roughly 10 MPH, no holding back or soft-pedaling. I wanted to avoid shifting simply to reduce stress on the clutches or gearboxes in the heat of battle--these old guys are a lot less tolerant of a flubbed shift at full throttle than a modern transmission. And after all, the Packard is for sale; I didn't really want to hurt it. As with any race, there was certainly more in each car than we got out of them (if you listen, you'll hear Michael slipping the clutch a bit in this race, which is why the Packard took off so much faster).

"Overall, however, I'm satisfied and the races were consistent enough that I have confidence in the result: with sufficient road, the Buick is notably faster. We did four runs to get a variety of different camera angles, and the process was the same each: get next to each other with cars in high gear at idle and when we cross a specific driveway next to the road, punch it. The Buick ultimately won every race, sometimes by a lot, but on the first run it was only by half a car length. This video shows the most common occurrence, though--a decisive come-from-behind win for the Buick. In the final pass, the Buick absolutely DESTROYED the Packard start to finish, but I suspect that the Packard was getting hot at that point. Buick maintained 180-185 degrees all day, including sitting and idling while we reviewed and reset the cameras, Packard was showing more than 3/4 on the gauge by the final race--not dangerously hot, but warmer than it liked.

"The result is pretty much what I expected: the Packard is faster off the line, but once there's real speed involved, the Buick's superior breathing takes over. The Packard really works best at delivering low-end torque, making shifting completely optional around town unless you're at a dead stop. I figured it would run out of breath eventually and that's exactly what happened. You can see the Packard's velocity plateau at about 50 MPH and it really works hard to drag itself past that point. That's when the Buick is hitting its stride and the dual carbs and overhead valves are taking over. You can see the Packard's speedo indicating that it was hitting 70 MPH by the end of the 1/4 mile, and that speedometer is pretty accurate. The Buick is well into the 70s by then.

"But yes, I did mention to Melanie and Michael before we started that I wasn't 100% confident that the Buick would win. I was pretty sure, but one's posterior is a poor judge of actual speed. At the same time, I did not want any cheating or holding back or faking it to make the Buick come out on top. I wanted legit results. If the Buick lost, well, it would be disappointing, but it would be the truth.

"Other factors: Buick is 400 pounds heavier than the Packard. Buick has 4.20 gears compared to Packard's 4.10s, but that's close enough to be a non-factor. Buick tires are 750-16 while Packard wears 700-16, so they're taller making it a wash on mechanical advantage. Packard has 39 more cubic inches to work with, which isn't insignificant, but after overcoming all that curb weight is no longer a factor, breathing is what matters and the Buick gains speed much more rapidly than does the Packard.

"I should probably also acknowledge that it might have been even closer had my Buick been stock with stock progressive carbs, stock manifolds, and stock 2-inch exhaust system. On the other hand, I handily beat a Packard 160 convertible coupe several years ago before I did any of the modifications, but that race started at a higher speed (like 40 MPH), so the Packard's low-end torque was taken out of the equation--that guy was pretty pissed when the Buick walked away from him.

"Melanie reports that the cars sounded epic roaring across the finish line, and she got footage of that, don't worry. You can hear that the Packard has that familiar '40s trucky grumble that all such cars seem to have. I've never heard the Buick's exhaust note at speed, so I don't know how it sounds. Maybe I will now.

"This part was a lot of fun, but also stressful. I was really worried about losing and Michael said afterwards he didn't want to lose, either. So we were really racing.

"Stay tuned for the rest of the video, which hopefully we'll have in a few weeks. Enjoy!"

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Message thread:

Quarter MIle Drag Race video, 1942 Packard 160 limousine vs. 1941 Buick Limited by Brian Laurance #50651
that was very very good.....you don`t see something like this everyday (EOM) by John Barry #50651.1
Gotta love those Buicks! (EOM) by Terry Daly #50651.2
Here's the video by John Kuvakas #50651.3Moderator
Thank you, John! (EOM) by Brian Laurance #50651.3.1

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