When you think of the enormous progress China has made in recent years, it may be hard to imagine that nearly one hundred years ago it was a nation in upheaval. Warlords vied for power in many regions and there was not much that could be done to quell the chaos. One such, Zhang Zuolin (also Chang Tso-Lin or Tsan Tso-Lin) , dominated Manchuria between 1916 and 1928 and felt it necessary to commission this unique armor-plated 1921 Packard to protect himself as he traveled through his territory. He chose the prestigious New York City coach builder Brooks-Ostruk for the task.
When faced with layoffs in 1917 at A.T. Demarest and J.M. Quinby & Company respectively, Emerson Brooks and Paul Ostruk chose to set up a shop of their own. It was a tiny facility when compared to their competitors that allowed them to produce only a handful of bodies simultaneously, but each was a full custom mounted on the finest chassis’ available. Mr. Zhang paid a high price for his security. At a whopping $35,000, it was the most expensive custom body made in America at the time. All photos courtesy of the AACA Library and Research Center.