Mudgee's legendary Packard ambulance
The Mudgee Historical Society Inc has long been in possession of a significant historic Mudgee district vehicle - a 1935 straight 8 Packard. This car was one of a pair acquired new by prominent Cassilis district grazier Frederick McMaster who was later knighted for his services to the pastoral industry and his philanthropy to science. The number plates "NSW 21" and "NSW 22" featured on the cars; those number plates remain with McMaster family connections in the district. After World War Two Sir Frederick donated one vehicle to the Mudgee Ambulance Service and the rear of the vehicle was modified to transport patients; modifications involved removing the rear seat and installing a false floor, and the insertion of double doors at the rear. The vehicle remained in use as an ambulance until the mid 1960s.
Sadly the Packard has long had a cracked head and someone unfortunately souvenired the Packard figure from atop the radiator. Although its appearance is now looking somewhat neglected it is otherwise fairly intact. In its original condition it was a top-of-the-range model with two fold-down seats in the back which are still in situ.Thanks to the generosity of Mudgee businessman Dick Hooper, a replacement head has been recently sourced, and Mathew Rattray of Hill End, who has a similar model Packard (see the following article), has generously donated a head gasket. Many thanks to Dick and Mathew. Although a full restoration of the Packard is well beyond the resources of the Mudgee Historical Society Inc, it is hoped that some restoration and conservation work will occur. The Packard attracts a lot of interest from visitors and locals alike.