Despite all efforts by the villains Tintin reached Syldavia. He had taken a lift in a LaSalle, in which Bianca Castafiore was travelling. However, he made an excuse and got off the car to escape her singing. While walking on foot to reach Klow, the capital of Syldavia, Tintin was arrested again and an attempt was made to assassinate him. He escaped again, forewarned about the impending assassination attempt by a friend. After Tintin reached Klow, he attempted to meet the King but was prevented and arrested again. While being transported to jail, the prison van met with an accident and Tintin escaped, but was hit by a car driven by the King himself. This car was a Packard Eight 1938 Opera Coupe.
The Packard Eight spent most of its life named as the Packard One-Twenty, it was only for the years 1938 and 1942 that is was called the Eight. This was a significant car for Packard because with this car, they entered the highly competitive mid-priced eight-cylinder car market in the USA. In fact, some of the Packard fans see this as the beginning of the end of Packard as they consider this a result of Packard losing its hold on the luxury car market. Actually, this was a result of the survival tactics employed by Packard during the Great Depression and its inability to develop a companion brand for cheaper cars due to lack of ability to develop a second manufacturing line.
These cars were offered as:-
- 4-door sedans.
- 4-door convertible sedans.
- 4-door touring sedan.
- 4-door limousine.
- Wood bodied station wagon.
- 2-door coupes.
- 2-door convertible coupes.
The car driven by King of Syldavia which we are discussing was the 2-door coupe. These cars were powered by a naturally aspirated inline eight cylinder 4,621 cc petrol engine. These engines were capable of producing 120 BHP at 3,800 rpm. This power was enough to push the 1,600 plus Kg car to a top speed of 137 km/h (85 mph). All parts of the engine were pressure lubricated. These engines drove the rear wheels through a three speed gear box which had synchromesh on 2nd and 3rd gears. The torque was transmitted using a Hotchkiss Drive. There was no transmission tunnel intruding into the car’s passenger space.
The Packard 8 introduced independent front suspension on Packard cars. Packard claimed that this Safe-T-Flex suspension helped in better maintenance of wheel alignment, permanent fixing of castor angle and better transmission of braking power to the car. The rear axle was suspended using semi-elliptic leaf springs.
Incidentally, it is widely believed that this car helped establish the indigenous luxury car market in Soviet Union. A Packard 8 was gifted by President Roosevelt, who himself was a Packard fan, to his wartime ally Josef Stalin. Stalin fell in love with this car. When Soviet Union decided to build cars for their ruling elite, they turned to Packard 180. The Zil ZIS 110 and 115 were built from 1946 to 1958 based on the Packard. They were available as four door sedans, convertibles and even ambulances. The ZIS 115 was armoured version of the ZIS 110 and was specially built for Josef Stalin.