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Ask the Man Who Owns One: 1942

Ask the Man Who Owns One: 1942

Washington, D.C. "At 7 a.m. on June 21, 1942, the day before stricter gas rationing was enforced, cars were pouring into this gas station on upper Wisconsin Avenue." If they still made cars that looked like this Packard, we'd run right out and buy one. Photo by Marjory Collins for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Location incorrect

I believe this is actually upper Connecticut Ave., not Wisconsin Ave. Pete McDowell, now deceased, lived across the alley from me. His family had the service station on what is now part of the area around the Van Ness apartments/shopping complex. Indeed, for many years into at least the early 1970s the covered area in the photo remained intact -- a subsequent gas station changed the layout. But a large part of the land around Van Ness remains in the McDowell family, leased out on a 99 year lease.

The McDowell's home was the first built in my neighborhood; at the time it was built the entire area, except for apartments along Connecticut Ave., was fields.

The Packard plant

The Packard plant does still exist but is in shambles due to years of neglect, vandalism and scrappers stripping out the steel for salvage. It is in very sad shape. Here's a neat slideshow comparing the old and present day plant from the same angles. Slide your mouse pointer over the pic and it will change from old to new.

No A/C on that Packard.

The 1940 Packard was the first car with factory air conditioning.

Corn Stalks in DC?

Notice the small corn stalks in the lower left. Perhaps fresh corn is sold in front of the service station in late summer and some seeds that fell took root. Still a bit early in the war for Victory Gardens.

McDowell Bros.

Founded by A. Lynn and Julian McDowell. 5252 Wisconsin Ave. N.W. Now a parking garage.

Or the woman!

I would LOVE to own a Packard, preferably a late Fifties model or one of the earlier hand-built ones. Glorious cars.

She's a Packard Clipper

The pictured car is a Packard Clipper, most likely a 1942 model. As Dave suggests, the looks of this vehicle are very pleasing to the eye, particularly from the front. Unfortunately the car’s design history is inconclusive, though it’s clear Dutch Darrin played a role. Given his coach building work with Packard during the 30s, Darrin’s participation seems logical. George Walker is also credited with being on the design team. My father had 1946, 1948, 1951 and 1953 Packards, and as a lad I loved those cars as much as he did. The 53 was a Patrician 400 with a midnight blue roof and powder blue lower body. Beeee-u-ti-fullll, she was. In what I like to think of as a defiant flipping off of what the auto industry has become, Albert Kahn’s Packard plant still stands today on Detroit’s east side, a fitting legacy to a great car and a great architect.

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