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Meet “Miss Nantahala” and the Smokey Mountain Tour Company Packards

Last week photos of a Smokey Mountain Tour Company six-wheel Packard sightseeing car were featured here, and Steve Bryson a member of a group collecting images and the history the tour line commented:

“Smoky Mountain Tours Company operated in Asheville, NC, from the early 1930’s until 1970. Until the late Forties they used Packard roll top coaches exclusively. My father worked for them from the late 1940’s until they closed their doors in 1970. We have a group documenting the history of the company to be turned over to our local library, so the history of this great company will not be lost.”

The group has a Facebook page where they are sharing photographs and information about the Packards the Company used and the Flxible “Clipper” sight-seeing buses that replaced them. At the Smoky Mountain Tours Company Facebook page you can view many other images and learn more about the Company. You can view the earlier cover here at Exceptional Images of a Three-Axle-Six-Wheel Packard Tour Car.

  • The lead image shows #21 “Miss Nantahala” built on a 1933 Packard Super Eight chassis. The ten-passenger coach is parked in front of the Company’s office in Asheville, North Carolina.

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  • Ten Smoky Mountain Tours Company Packards parked in front of the Company office circa 1938.

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  • 1939 Packard V-12 seventeen passenger six-wheel roll top coach, and below the fleet during World War II parked near the Company garage

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16 responses to “Meet “Miss Nantahala” and the Smokey Mountain Tour Company Packards

  1. So, did someone ever figure out who made these behemoths? I suggested they came from Freeport, as the letter on the Packard forum said the boss picked it up himself in 1941 ( although it didn’t actually say it was the 3 axle, but it did say ” the big bus drew a large crowd, including several plant officials to see it”. Apparently, nobody saw my comment. They still look “photoshop” units to me. And the bottom photo, if you look above the buses to the left, is a rare glimpse of Sasquatch.

  2. Miss Nantahala’s sidemounted spare appears to be bald with hints of cord showing. Hope they didn’t have too many flats on the Blue Ridge Pkwy.

  3. The pictured Packard tour bus is almost streamlined with its dovetail trunk. Very handsome Note the tip of the front bumper with a canister looking object that might be a bumper guard. As I recall, this one of two counter balance weights on the bumper designed to act as vibration counter weights for a defective front end design that resulted in a serious front end shake. I see it appearing on only one other shown Packard, so it must have been a temporary fix. Maybe somebody knows more about this.

    • All of the big Packard of that era had those weights on the bumper. The junior models came out in 1935 and the lack of bumper weights is one way of telling them apart in old pictures. I think the senior models only lost the bumper weights when they went to independent front suspension, in 1937(?).

  4. Thanks everyone for your interest in these magnificent beasts! As far as all my Packard experts can tell. the only two Packards that came from Henney were #25 and #26. #25 was the 1941 Super 8 160 10 passenger auctioned off last fall in Auburn Ind. #26 was a 1940 Super 8 160 10 passenger. Nobody who has seen any of the rest of our pictures thinks the twin rear axles coaches were built by Henney. We all are trying to find out who built these vehicles. Thats one of the purposes of the Facebook page, the article in the Packard Cormorant and hopefully in a new book I am working on getting published. We ALL would love to know the answer! If you have any leads please let us know. And yes my father Bob Bryson drove these things and said they were very physically demanding to drive. The transmissions were the weak spot carrying the extra weight of the stretch and the additional passenger load (up to 17 passengers).

  5. Another fascinating string leading to a deep and interesting story; I look forward to learning more.
    And the company HQ was in a striking building as well. Asheville was one of few small cities within reach of available transport for Appalachian citizens prior to the second half of the 20th century. The town is now bustling with new-agers, start-up businesses, and such. Curious if the HQ survived. Time for another trip.

    • Smoky Mountain Tours had their office in the Grove Arcade Building from early 1930’s until the building was taken over by the US government in 1942. They were given less than a month’s notice to evict. The buses had been parked by order of The Office of Defense Transportation August 29,1942. For the duration of the war the SMT offices and garage were at 2 Valley St. with resumption of sightseeing trips in August of 1945 the office eventually moved into the lower lobby of the George Vanderbilt Hotel on Haywood St in 1946 where they remained until the beginning of the 1967 when the offices were moved to the Battery Park Hotel where they remained until the end of 1970 when SMT shut its doors forever!

      • In later years ( after 1941) SMT changed ownership and the fleet gradually changed to glass top sightseer buses. Five of these where Flxible buses. I own SMT bus # 101 that was a 1949 Flx. We have knowledge and information on 3 other Flx buses that where owned by SMT. Steve Bryson and i continue to search the Western NC/ East TN area for any vehicles that where owned by SMT. At this time we have no leads on any other SMT Packard’s other than #25, the 1941 Packard Henney that sold at the Auburn auction. I can also assure you these photos of the 3 axle Packard’s are not photo-shopped. We have members who personally remember the vehicles as well as many photos from multiple sources. We continue our quest for more info and photos of this Company and their unique vehicles.
        Jerry Ashley- West Jefferson NC

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