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Off The Beaten Path: 1917 Packard Motorhome in Oklahoma

| Updated Sep 26, 2015

On our trip along historic U.S. Route 66, we are finding wonderful scenes and historical places through Missouri, Kansas (13 miles of it), and now Oklahoma. One of the unexpected wonders is the Afton Station & Packard Collection on old 66 just south of Exit 312 on I-44.

In a restored DX service station and Official Packard Service garage we found an extremely fine collection of vintage automobiles, with about one dozen Packards fully restored.  The main building houses the “newer” cars with a number of 1950s Packards and a Kaiser among others.  The rear building houses some 1930s and earlier cars. The surprise vehicle is a 1917 Packard Motorhome.

Packard Motorhome - Outside sideMotorhome signDavid Kane and Laurel Kane moved their car collection from Connecticut and retired to Afton along Route 66. They restored the former gas station to house their car collection. The Packard Motorhome is in the building behind the main building. It looms large in its maroon paint looking like the day it rolled out of the California factory. It is about 25-feet long with entry doors on the driver's side and where the front passenger seat would normally be. A curved stairwell is carpeted and leads up one step into the carpeted flat interior.

Packard Motorhome - frontThe driver's seat sits all alone in the front, with a wood dash, huge steering wheel, and few creature comforts. The interior is in excellent condition.

Packard Motorhome - GalleyThe scene looking aft is that of a classic railroad chair car, with a counter along the right side containing a  stove and a round china sink. There was an ice box to keep things cold.  Walnut kitchen cabinets line the ceiling corners for the first eight feet on both sides. Windows provide highway views on both sides. Then a divider wall extends from both sides leaving a two-foot wide aisle to the rear. On the right side is a spacious floor-to-ceiling closet closed off by a door. Opposite the closet on the left side is a closed bathroom, now empty, but probably once containing a bucket toilet and a sink with a water tank.

Packard Motorhome - rearThe rear bedroom is fitted with seven-foot red velvet covered sofa/single beds on both sides, with a red end sofa bridging the aisle at the end of the vehicle.  Described as “convertable sofas”, we assume it would make one giant bed. We could imagine that comfortable brocaded chairs and a dining table would have furnished the kitchen area back when the motorhome plied the roads of California. We were told that the Packard Motorhome conversion was very popular, and that after the prototype was viewed, “thousands” of duplicates were made. One would expect to see the Packard Motorhome in the RV Museum in Elkhart, Indiana, but here it is in all its glory hiding amid a restored Hupmobile (only 340 were made using old Cord dies) and 1930s Packards.

Farther along the road we encountered a giant blue whale, but that's another story.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2015-09-26

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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