Antique Car Whirligig

For my second whirligig, I wanted to make a gift for my dad for Fathers Day.  Now I’ll admit, it’s not quite the scale or grander of the light house I built my mom for Mothers Day a few years back, but my dad owns a 1928 Packard that he REALLY enjoys taking to car shows and such, so that was the perfect vehicle to model in this whirligig.

A 1928 Packard that is the inspiration of my antique car whirligig weathervane
My mom and dad posing in front of their 1928 Packard. This is the inspiration behind the antique car whirligig weathervane I made. My dad takes this car to car shows, explains the history of the vehicle, the features of this car, how vehicles have changed over the years, etc. It’s only fitting to create a model version of one of his favorite toys for him to enjoy.

If you are interested in the car itself, here is a video of my dad explaining the car.  I find it quite interesting how much we take for granted in vehicles these days.  There are a lot of standard luxuries that weren’t always there – you know, things like heat…

There aren’t too many pieces of a vehicle that are designed to catch wind head on and spin.  For that reason, many people build more of a scene for a car whirligig with a full propeller on the front and a man crank-starting the car.  These are highly mechanical whirligigs, but wasn’t the appropriate option in my case.  The biggest reason being that the 1928 Packard I’m modeling this after doesn’t have a crank start.

My intention was to put angled fins into the wheels which would allow them to catch some wind.  I did pursue this option, but with how small the tires are this became a very difficult task, and given that they wouldn’t catch much wind anyway, this idea was abandoned.  Also, the real tires on the Packard have a solid metal hub.

All that said, this whirligig has turned into more of a weathervane.  So it will still catch wind, attention of those passing by, and made my dad very happy.  So this has certainly accomplished the goals it was intended for.

A rough cut antique car whirligig
The rough shape of the car has been cut out. A scroll saw made quick work of the body of the car, and a double hole saw configuration made some great tire rims. Notice the piece of tin at the top of this picture – that will become the fender for the car as well.
Nearing completion on the Packard antique car whirligig
The antique Packard car whirligig is nearing completion. I added a fender to the bottom of the car for some added realism. The hub and rims of the tires have been added, and it’s all painted up and ready to go. Next steps are to attach the wheels to the body and mount this weathervane style whirligig!
Antique Packard whirligig all done
I had to ‘test’ the whirligig, so this is it sitting in my back yard after final assembly and a clear coat for weatherproofing.
Many small details go into a whirligig to make it model it's real life counterpart
While it’s a pretty simplistic model, some of the key features of the car have been highlighted. The fender is a critical piece to the realism and design, the solid rim wheels with white-walls, the two tone paint job, the trunk on the back, etc.
Wheels mounted on the antique Packard car whirligig
To mount the wheels on the Packard whirligig, I bent a brass rod that then got mounted to the underside of the vehicle. The wheels do spin, though they may not catch too much wind given their shape and design. But it makes it fun to walk by and spin the wheels every once in a while.
Dad receiving his fathers day present
Dad was pretty happy with his present and impressed by the handywork.
My dad 'parked' his Packard whirligig in the front yard.
My Dad wanted his Packard whirligig out in front of the house where he can see it easily from the couch in the living room. I think it looks nice there – he picked a better spot for it than I would have!


Random note: if you saw the carved bear on the porch in the last picture (I’m not sure how you missed it if you didn’t….  But if you did I can wait – feel free to go back and take a look quick), that was carved by my brother.  Feel free to check out his website where he features his wood carving creations and knife making adventures.