Some of our History
Niagara Packards is a region of Packard Automobile Classics (PAC) which is devoted to preserving and promoting automobiles built by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit between 1899 and 1958.
Our region of The Packard Club includes members living in the Buffalo area of New York State and southern Ontario. Our club meetings are in Burlington, Ontario. We currently have about 70 members.The Club organizes summer and fall cruises to destinations in southern Ontario and western New York. It has winter non-driving meets, visits other summer time cars shows and meets, and offers a bi-monthly Newsletter. The membership is very helpful in assisting when finding parts and information is required for automobile restoration. George Hamlin, V.P. Regions for the Packard Club in 1977, had his mind set on a cross-border region. Bill Burhans in Lockport New York had in mind a local Packard club in Western New York.
Bill knew a few Packard owners in the nearby Buffalo area, and with the persuasion unique to Marine Corps “topkicks” he banded together four willing souls. Together, the five made application to the Packard Club for a charter under the title Niagara Packards Region, P.A.C. Bill Burhans was elected director and Wally Goodman became Secretary Treasurer. Wally was a high school teacher (later Principal) and well-known bandmaster in Western New York. Al McNab, brother-in-law of Packard personality Paul TerHorst, became Membership Director. Professor Bob Mehl of the English Department, University of Niagara Falls, author and columnist with Old Cars, became Activities Director and Jim Gardiner, an engineer with General Electric, rounded out the group.
The Charter was granted on April 15, 1977 and announced at the 1977 PAC National Meet in Chicago. In August, the founding directors summoned all Packard owners in Western New York and Southern Ontario to assemble at the home of Bob Mehl on Grand Island. There were more than forty Packards on Bob’s lawn that day. Founding member Al McNab had moved away from Buffalo the previous month, and so the first order of business was to name a successor. Art James was picked and took over the membership roll. By the end of that August day, Niagara Packards had thirty brand new, smiling members. Under Bill Burhan¹s guiding influence, Niagara packards grew successfully, helped out occasionally by neighboring Allegheny Packards. Bill Burhans, assisted by Goodman and James, staged Niagara ‘81 in Niagara Falls, Ontario at the venerable General Brock Hotel. Two hundred and one Packards sought space in the crowded parking lot each day of the five-day event.Membership participation during the early days was remarkable. Founders’ Day at Niagara-on-the-Lake filled Simcoe Park with Packards of all sorts, with up to 60% of members attending.