The year 1904 was a time of big changes at Packard. First off the company had moved into its new modern Albert Kahn designed, reinforced concrete building on East Grand Blvd. in Detroit. The company also came out with the very up to date Model L in the “Voiture Legere” style of light weight automobile that was that was popular in Europe at the time.
The photo above shows Schmidt and Eddie Roberts posing with the car that set the new “1000 Mile Record” which is detailed below at the bottom left. This was in fact the second attempt at this record, as the first attempt ended in disaster, not to be blamed on the Packard. After midnight on the first try with 223 miles already covered, three of the cars four lamps went out and the driver Jack Boyd and crashed into the guard rail. Charles Schmidt was throw from and run over by the car and suffered from the breaking of two ribs. A month and a half later the car was repaired and in the second attempt Charles Schmidt, Eddie Roberts and Sidney Waldon were able to set the mark.
The new car was a success and introduced the new “European Style” radiator to Packard, with a yoke shaped top and their uniquely styled cusps were added at the top corners at some point during the year. Both became company trademarks which served the firm well for over fifty years.
Tom Fetch who piloted a Packard in the 1903 Cross country trip with “Old Pacific”, drove a Model L on the American Automobile Association Tour, which covered 1218 miles across five states in seventeen days. The tour started in New York City and ended in St. Louis. Fetch’s car was one of only ten that successfully completed the entire tour, which demonstrated the endurance of the new machine. Photos from the Rod Blood Collection courtesy of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum.