Michael F 1948 Packard Custom Eight Victoria-22nd Series 2dr Convertible

An Extraordinary Life

Clarence Opsal was one of three partners who owned S.O.S. Packard Dealership in Williston, North Dakota. He was always on the hunt for a "special" Packard and he found it. He became the proud 2nd owner of a 1948 Packard Custom 8 Victoria Convertible with the magnificent 356, equipped with overdrive and electomatic clutch, Packard Ivory exterior and light red leather interior with tan Bedford cloth inserts. It was originally purchased by W.W. Bumgardner in Hollywood, California. Mr. Bumgardner was affiliated with the Los Angeles Breakfast Club.

I received a phone call from the Opsal family and was the car was offered to me if I was interested in purchasing it.

I restored the car and called the Opsals and asked if they were interested in seeing it. They certainly were and just so happened to be having a large family reunion the following week. A 92 yr. old brother of Clarence was coming from Williston, grandchildren from Hawaii, the eldest son from California and all the daughters of Clarence were coming from all across the country. Then during our conversation they happened to mention that it was a shame Clarence' brother Harold wouldn't be attending because he was caring for his ailing wife. I agreed to bring the car to the family reunion, but first I offered to drive the Packard on its maiden voyage to Harold and his wife's home and so I did.

I arrived at Harold's home on Loon Lake to a fanfare. He and his wife were photographed in the car, shared stories and many memories. I took my leave and stopped at Granite Point Resort to check the vehicle and its components before driving to my home in Spokane, Washington. As I entered the resort a car skid to a halt, a gentleman jumped out of his car and flagged me down.

He said his name was Chuck Bumgardner. He, his wife and son had just finished a week stay in a rented cabin at he resort and were just departing for home in Glendale, California. He said that as a young boy he used to wax the cellular grille of the exact same car for his grandpa "Willie" in Hollywood, California. His grandpa would reward him, after a job well done, by allowing him to ride "solo" in the back seat on the way to have ice cream at their favorite parlor in Hollywood. I suggested he and his wife jump in the driver and passenger seat and have their son "solo" in the back seat while I took photos of them with their camera. They were thrilled.

Chuck kept in contact with me and fully authenticated the car was in fact that orginally owned by his grandfather Mr. "Willie" Warn Bumgardner of Hollywood and the Los Angeles Breakfast Club. Chucks' wife informed me soon after our meeting that Chuck had passed away due to cancer.

Yesterday, I was driving in Spokane running errands when an old friend, Denny Wilkerson came along side of me. He was driving his original 1930 Chevrolet. He said his wife was now a resident of the Riverview Care Center and he was "hosting" a car show for the residents and for his wife. He begged me to bring the Packard convertible within the hours of 10am to noon so I drove home and drove the car over to the care center.

The array of vehicles was fantastic. The residents and caregivers were having a ball and a man approached me to say he was Harold Opsal, that he and his wife were now residents of the care center. The crowd gathered with excitement as they photographed him in the drivers' seat and Harold shared memories of an extraordinary life.

6 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Carrie Chewelah July 13, 2014 at 13:24
    I love the story, fact is I learned how to swim in Loon Lake. Old cars are worth restoration.
  • 2
    Carrie Chewelah July 13, 2014 at 13:24
    I love the story, fact is I learned how to swim in Loon Lake. Old cars are worth restoration.
  • 3
    Gerald Scollard Spokane, Wa. July 13, 2014 at 01:54
    Great story, and I know because Clarence was my father-in-law. He loved cars and especially the Packard. The only sad part to this story is that Clarence died before Mike bought this car from me and never got to meet Mike and see what an amazing restoration job he did on his beloved Packard.
  • 4
    Vivian Seifert Portland, OR July 15, 2014 at 18:23
    What A Gem.... Fit for a King & Queen... Classic can only bring joy to people, and Smiles of all the memories of where they have been and where they will go.
  • 5
    Penny Scollard Spokane, Wa. July 16, 2014 at 17:54
    I loved the story, but I have special memories of that car as Clarence was my Dad. I used to drive that car to high school and other activities and loved driving it. I loved that car, but I loved my Dad even more. Glad other people are getting a chance to see this special car
  • 6
    Monica Livengood Spokane, WA July 17, 2014 at 22:26
    Thanks for the story. I know how much you love that car. I love to hear you tell people about the Packard. Your face just lights up every time you talk about it.

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