By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier
The first Packard was built in 1899, and the American brand remained a popular, at times innovative, luxury model past World War II.
But the Detroit-built auto succumbed to slow sales and rising competition nearly 55 years ago, so seeing one today is uncommon at best.
And seeing two? Well that’s what car enthusiasts were treated to at the Lowcountry Shine and Swapp in its 21st year May 18 at the Coastal Carolina Flea Market in Ladson.
Allen “Gene” Reagin displayed a maroon 1949 Packard two-door and a gray 1951 coupe, two of the 59 vehicles shown at the open “anything on wheels” show.
“I don’t know what attracted me to Packards, but there’s always been a special affinity,” said Reagin, who also parked a 1930 Ford Model A — akin to the first car he drove as a 15-year-old.
The Packard’s looks are appealing. “Sloped hood, real sporty and all.” So is the smooth, new-car like ride, said Reagin, of Summerville.
He bought one of his Packards on eBay from Boise, Idaho. “The only thing other than changing the oil is new tires,” Reagin said.
The Packards were far from the only classy models at the show, sponsored by Lowcountry Mopars. The club is made up of owners of vintage Chrysler vehicles including Dodges, Plymouths and Jeeps.
“We had a good turnout,” said Betty Harris, an active club officer.
The numbers almost doubled toward the end of the show when Charleston Area Jeep Club members made a surprise visit. “We had over 50 Jeeps,” said Dan Larrabee, longtime Lowcountry Mopars supporter from Hanahan.
The Jeep club had a generous reason for its en masse show of support, making a large donation to the Shine and Swapp charity Camp Happy Days.
Car buffs at last Saturday’s show provided the event with “thumbs-up” reviews.
“This is a nice show,” Don Turpin said. One perk: “it’s free.”
Turpin displayed a baby blue 1954 Plymouth Savoy that he said is appearing in an upcoming move, Las Vegas. The comedy, set to come out late this year, stars Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline as four old friends who meet in Vegas at the wedding of the last one to get married.
The Plymouth is in the 1950s flashback scenes, he said, noting that the car was used in filming in Atlanta last fall.
While age 59, the model is in good condition and Turpin drives it frequently. “This is not a show car,” he said.
For more, visit the Lowcountry Mopars website at http://scmopar.atspace.com.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.