August 12, 2010 in City

Restored convertible ready for esteemed auto show

Post Falls shop worked on 1929 Packard for four years
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Auto restorer Glenn Vaughn, of Post Falls, walks around the 1929 Packard convertible that his shop restored for owner Richard Comstock. The car is close enough to perfect that it was invited to the prestigious Pebble Beach car show.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

A gleaming purple and silver 1929 Packard will travel this week from a Post Falls auto restoration shop to one of the world’s most prestigious car shows.

The 1929 Packard Runabout restored by Glenn Vaughn and his staff is one of 175 automobiles accepted for entrance to the 2010 Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach, Calif.

The car show is a $150-a-head, celebrity-filled event held Sunday on the 18th fairway of the golf course by the same name.

“The Pebble Beach Concours is the best,” “Tonight Show” host and classic car buff Jay Leno said in a testimonial on the event website. “Winning your class, or even coming in second or third there, gives your car a pedigree that no other show can approach.”

Restoring the Packard took Vaughn and his staff four years. The day after they finished, the car took a first-place award at a Packard show in California, where it was noticed by an official from Pebble Beach, said the car’s owner, Richard Comstock, who lives in California. Though the entry deadline for Pebble Beach had passed, the official encouraged Comstock to enter. He did, and the car was accepted.

“For some reason, they said yes,” said Comstock, who has owned classic cars for 40 years. “I haven’t had anything finished to the state that this one has been. For the car to be invited there is more than I ever expected.”

The car has come a long way since Comstock discovered it as a burnt hulk outside a Detroit propane distributor’s warehouse in 1981. Comstock said a fire had caused the explosion of propane trucks at the warehouse where many classic cars were stored, including the Packard. The car was due for fire salvage when he learned about it, said Comstock, who lived in Yakima at the time.

Comstock replaced the car’s oak framework and straightened its sheet metal exterior. Then it “kind of sat around for a while,” he said. In December 2005, he contacted Vaughn, who has carried on the internationally known car restoration business begun by his late father, Ken, and his father’s late partner, Phil Hill. A famous racecar driver, Hill became one of the longest-serving Pebble Beach judges in his retirement.

Vaughn said restoring the car to show quality has been one of the more challenging jobs his company has taken on. Every detail has to be historically accurate and authentic. And all the parts have to work, he added.

“It can’t just be pretty to look at,” Vaughn said. “Everything on (the car) is 80 years old. You can’t make it new.”

Still, after a lifetime in the auto restoration business, Vaughn said, he has lots of sources who help him find everything from the correct door handles to the precise grain on the leather upholstery.

Vaughn planned to load the Packard in a trailer and anticipated arriving in Pebble Beach today. He said he would likely “grow an ulcer between then and Sunday” worrying about every little detail.


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