Grace Kelly’s Father’s Original, Unrestored Packard Is Sitting Outside Their Philadelphia Home. It was Last Driven in 1956.

The former home of the late Princess of Monaco and famous actress, Grace Kelly, is a stones-throw from where I attend college. Today, avoiding roadwork, I passed by their family home (now owned by her son, the prince of Monaco), only to see this:

I walked up the driveway seeing nobody in view, and took a few pictures of the covered vehicle. I was curious, but I didn’t want to be too nosy. Walking back to my car I thought to myself, “What would an actual journalist do?”

Still having no idea what an actual journalist would do, I walked back to the side of the house, to see a man in work clothes sawing a 2×4 in half with a reciprocating saw. I yelled to him;

“Do you know what that car out front is? Under the cover?”

He looked up, “What?”

“The car out front, under the cover! Do you know what it is?”

He put down the saw and walked a little closer.

“I think it’s a Studebaker.”

I thought for a moment. The Kelly family wouldn’t have owned a Studebaker.

“Is there somebody here who uh… Runs the place?”

The man informed me there was, but he didn’t know where this ‘man who runs the place’ had gone. He suggested I check around front, so I did.

Peering into a window, I saw this ‘man who runs the place’ eating lunch. He was very focused on his bowl of noodles, so I walked in front of a window and waved my arms around. He looked up, and I pointed to a side door. Thankfully, he came outside.

We shared introductions, and he informed me the car underneath was indeed not a Studebaker.

It was a Packard.

“Is it?” I responded, excited.

I asked If I could see it which, to my surprise, he said yes.

Ask the man who owns one

He peeled back the cover a little…

and then…

It was indeed a Packard–A 1930 726 sedan.

He informed me it was now owned by a friend of the Kelly family, however the car was originally driven by Grace Kelly’s father, John B. Kelly. Perhaps not coincidentally, John B. Kelly had built the Packard building in downtown Philadelphia a few decades earlier.

The building is now apartments, however the original Packard logo is still standing proud at the entrance.

I wondered when the car was last driven, as it appeared it had at least been reupholstered. That question was then answered for me by the car’s registration sticker.

This 1930 Packard 726, built in 1930, had been driven for 26 years. It has spent most of its life (64 years) parked.

So, what’s going on with it?

Apparently, this Kelly family friend isn’t sure what to do with it. Considering it’s been sitting since 1956, (John B. Kelly died in 1960), no one has known what to do with it for some time.

I contacted the Simeone Museum in Philly, an absolutely amazing collection of many pre-war and post-war racing cars, and they have yet to get back to me. I’m not sure how interested they would be, but I figured they were the right people to talk to.

After a little more chatting, I took a step back and looked at the car, and then the house. According to the sign out front, which I’ve read before, the residence was built in 1929. I looked back at the 1930 Packard, and then gazed upon both of them together. The house had recently been restored to it’s original state, and I felt like I was in a little time capsule.

Both of these things were brand new in 1930. I can’t properly describe the feeling, but I wondered what that must’ve been like.

I hope I’ll see that Packard back on the road some day.


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12 responses to “Grace Kelly’s Father’s Original, Unrestored Packard Is Sitting Outside Their Philadelphia Home. It was Last Driven in 1956.”

  1. Zentropy Avatar

    What a find! That’s pretty cool. Glad you had the initiative to investigate.

    1. Jay Williamson Avatar
      Jay Williamson

      Good job thanks for sharing

      1. Jay Williamson Avatar
        Jay Williamson

        I have 2 – 1960s Datsun 1600
        Roadsters 1 has new paint under covers also in driveway one I bought in Kilgore Nebraska
        For a donor

        1. Jay Williamson Avatar
          Jay Williamson

          I would sell for $15,000.00
          But both have to go

  2. 0A5599 Avatar

    Awesome discovery. If the museum doesn’t get back to you, it’s probably now on the radar of some Packard barn find hunters.

  3. longrooffan Avatar

    Now this is what I love about Hooniverse. Finding the interesting, odd and obscure and telling us all about it. Thanks Peter.

  4. outback_ute Avatar

    Hopefully it gets the restoration it needs. Here’s a slightly earlier model that led a different life after it’s first owner.

    1. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

      That was actually a common practice back in the day. Old luxury cars didn’t have much resale but they were well built and powerful so many were converted to tow trucks.

      1. outback_ute Avatar

        Yes I knew that, but don’t think many have survived

  5. Wayne Moyer Avatar
    Wayne Moyer

    I’ve got passed that Packard building, I don’t know how many times, and didn’t know the connection. So this is really cool. I’ve always known about Grace’s connection to the city but hadn’t seen the house either.
    As for the Simone collection they are racing related but they would definitely know who would want to bring it back.

  6. Lynn Berg Avatar
    Lynn Berg

    The AACA Museum in Hershey, PA might be a better contact–they have a strong interest in antique autos with local history.

  7. Lynn Berg Avatar
    Lynn Berg

    The AACA Museum in Hershey, PA might be a better contact–they have a strong interest in antique autos with local history.