Sebastian S. Kresge, the dime-store king, bought a Packard One Twenty station wagon in 1940. The eight-cylinder One Twenty was the workhorse of the Packard sales line-up from 1935 to 1940. As Packard’s luxury line lost ground to Cadillac in the mid thirties, and both lost ground to changing times, Packard opened up a new market, producing the One Twenty. It may have compromised the prestige of the name “Packard”, but it also kept it alive and prosperous. Originally, the One Twenty was named for its wheelbase, 120 inches. The eight-cylinder engine produced 110bhp, and it had a top speed of about 85 mph. By 1940, the wheelbase was changed to 127 inches, but that year the horsepower was rated at 120, which was certainly fitting. Packard had flirted with the station wagon style on its junior cars in the middle of 1937, but production was crowded enough during the boom year, and the style was dropped. It was resurrected in 1940, when Packard had greater need to cater to market niches. Before the war, station wagons were a symbol of country life. They were rugged and inexpensive, but nonetheless they suggested relaxed wealth. But by the 1950’s, station wagons lost their panache and became the most middle-class of conveyances. One indication of this is the use of metal bodywork. When Kresge bought his Packard station sedan, “woodies” were made of wood: mahogany and ash, with oak trim in the interior. The company recommended that the paneling be sanded and freshly varnished once a year. This was considered a job for a servant. SS. Kresge bought his One Twenty station wagon to use on his 26-acre farm in Mountainhome, Pennsylvania, in the Pocono Mountains, not far from his birthplace. In 1953, Kresge donated the funds needed to build Kresge Hall at Harvard University’s School of Business. At the dedication ceremony, he was asked to speak. He approached the lectern and advised the students, “I never made a dime talking.” That was his whole speech. In the ‘50s, when Kresge’s five-and-dime stores evolved into the K-Mart empire, Kresge oversaw the change. He didn’t retire as chairman of the board until he was 98 years old. Kresge died in 1966 at the age of 99. His third wife, Clara Kresge sold the station wagon in 1974. At that time, it had 57,000 miles on the odometer. Stahls Automotive Foundation acquired the vehicle in 2000.
There were 28,138 vehicles built on the Packard 120 chassis, less than 100 of them were given the station wagon body and of that amount it is believed that fewer than 25 have survived today. Many of the “woodies” had rotted out.