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PBS stations line up to air Packard special

The history of Packard is likely coming to a PBS television station near you. 

It’s the manifested dream of RK Publishing and film producer Richard W. Luckin.

The program is titled, “Packard: An American Classic Car.” Hosting the nearly one-hour production is Edward Herrmann, nationally acclaimed for his roles in movies and on television. The choice of Herrmann was natural, since he has long experience as a Packard owner. Not only that, but he offered some commentary to the section on the 1932 Packard Light Eight, since he owns a convertible.

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Luckin received more than 30 awards for his railroad documentaries and now has focused his keen ability on the subject of Packard and its impact on America. “No other car etched its name in automobile history like Packard,” says Luckin. “It survived for 59 years. Royalty, Sheikhs, Maharajas, and movie stars were seen in them. Fortunate Americans were proud to say, ‘Ask the Man Who Owns One,’” which was the famous slogan popularized by Packard.

Luckin debuted his fast paced documentary during Opus II in Warren, Ohio, July 24. General reaction was quite favorable from the select screeners of about a hundred Packard collectors. An observation was made that some of the film’s statements could have been elaborated, and one person opined that more interviewees could have been used. Generally, time constraints for television drove Luckin to compact as much as possible into the production and still maintain the interest of general viewers plus car enthusiasts. Overall, the audience reaction indicated the production is highly successful in promoting the old car hobby and the mystique that still surrounds Packard.

“I started with the idea to produce a PBS program about Packard three years ago,” Luckin confides. “One of the reasons I chose to do this is my father owned three Packards -- a 1939, 1940, and 1947. I've always have had a soft spot in my heart for Packards since I remember them growing up with them in upstate New York.” A large number of rare vintage photos from Packard’s early history are included in the film. On the DVD, nearly 18 minutes of bonus
features are included for viewers who crave more information.

Producer Richard Luckin autographed copies of
the DVD special when it debuted at Opus II in
Warren. Ohio, in July. The program is bring
scheduled for airing on PBS.

PBS officials at WJCT in Jacksonville, Florida, have been pleased with the quality of the production. As the presenting station, WJCT is making contacts with PBS affiliates to fit it into their schedules later this year.

Says Luckin, “I've produced over a dozen programs that have aired on 140 PBS stations nationwide about famous American passenger trains plus several programs for the U.S. Air Force. However, I thought it was time I did something other than trains. Packard was the natural choice.”

He says more than 50 Packards were filmed in 10 locations over two years. He strove to balance high-dollar Seniors with Junior models. Coverage begins with the launch of Packard automobiles in Warren, Ohio, to the growth of the Packard dream in Detroit. Trucks, classics, special models of cars, defense production, the Proving Grounds, company luminaries, dream cars, and final models all draw attention on the screen.

“I felt we needed to something more than just a program with lots of visuals but offering some content as well. My major objective was to showcase one of America's greatest cars plus create an awareness with the general public. I would image that most people other than car collectors don't know what a Packard is or was, so producing a PBS program will get the story out in an entertaining way.”

Luckin adds that the project was self funded “because it needed to be produced.”

Contact your local PBS station to find out when “Packard: An American Classic Car” will be aired. For DVD information, contact Richard Luckin at Cost for the DVD is $24.95 + $4 shipping & handling.

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