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Zhang Zuolin and His Peasant Proof Packard


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.

  • Zue2      Zue3      Zue4
  • The ornate door panels and upholstery contrast with the dual gun ports

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.


3 responses to “Zhang Zuolin and His Peasant Proof Packard

  1. The chassis appears to be a Twin six 3-35 third series of standard length at 136 inches, assuming the Disteel wheels are shod with 35×5 tires. The interior fitting all seem to differ from Packard’s standard offerings, while the twin rear spares were a Packard option. The radiator seems to have been increased in height above standard – several specialist coach builders did this to achieve a more imposing presence such as Graff in Chicago. The running boards and splashers came with the chassis as supplied and appear to have been retained or maybe slightly modified, but the fenders are not standard Packard. The Westinghouse air springs would have helped comfortable progress assuming Manchuria’s roads were no better than America’s at the time. However if not maintained by ensuring they were kept pumped up with air, main leaf breakage would have been a hazard because in fitting them the regular Gabriels were routinely discarded.

  2. Standard fare at Chinese restaurants – here on the West Coast anyway – is General Tso’s Chicken, named for him ( like Chicken Tetrazzini, named for the c. 1900 opera star Luisa Tetrazzini – she obviously ate a bit too much of it, became grossly obese in her later years )

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