What you’re looking at is a lifted 1949 Packard… sort of. It’s a collaborative effort by Michael Brandt & Chuck Faught. Also known as the ‘Rescue Pig’. The body of the Packard is resting on a shortened Dodge 2500 chassis, and is powered by a 454 big block. 

2500 chassis

This 49 Packard also features a pretty neat party trick:

The rear of the Packard opens up & folds down to reveal a slide-out welding rig that actually gets used. You can see the air hoses and extra bits attached to the roof rack. Every bit of it is functional.

on board welder

When I pulled up to the front gate of Michael’s shop…

There it was, sitting outside, towering over everything else on the lot. Once we got the Packard loaded onto the trailer, Michael told me we were going to meet up with a buddy of his with a Deuce and a Half. No other context was provided.

1949 Packard

When we pulled up at the gas station, no one could believe what they were looking at.

People dropped what they were doing to come over & see what was towering above all the pumps. Then – Michael’s friend rolled up. Headed across the parking lot was a man known as Phillbilly in his gargantuan Deuce and a Half ex-military truck. This was no ordinary Deuce though, this one was sporting quite possibly the absolute largest set of tires I had ever seen on a road-going vehicle. 53 inches in diameter! There was a gentleman pumping gas in his new Wrangler Rubicon on 33” tires that came to talk to us about the cars. I seen a Jeep look so small in my entire life lol.

Once we had both fueled up, we headed up the mountain to a place called Big Fork… 

The minute we showed up to the trailhead, people started to flock around the Packard trying to figure out what they were looking at. The 454 roared to life, and everyone’s jaws dropped as they heard the chopping of the exhaust from the custom side pipes. We were then introduced to several members of our local off-road group that happened to be riding out the same time we were. So we decided to stick with them for our journey.

lifted rat rod

 

Our first destination was absolutely breathtaking…

An overlook that towered above the Tennessee Valley where you could see nothing but rolling hills in the distance. At this overlook, there was an easy-to-reach cliff side that was being occupied by a group of Jeepers. So instead of waiting for them to move, Michael opted to pull his 49 Packard onto what seemed like a very precariously-placed rock off to the side. Onlookers joked with him as he backed onto the rock saying, “Hey, don’t fall off to your right – we can’t get you out from there!”

Packard hot rod

And right they were…

As to his right was a sheer 150-foot drop to a very certain end. Whereas on the left, there was a split in the rock just wide enough to get really stuck in. After I grabbed as many photos as I was comfortable with, Michael proceeded to pull the Packard back towards safety. But – his tires kept grabbing the rock in front of him, thus pushing the Packard closer & closer to the cliff.

scenic overlook

Phillbilly to the rescue!

Phil pulled the gargantuan Deuce up to the front of the Packard to winch him out… using some of the thickest chain you could imagine. Shortly after the Packard was hooked, Phil pulled Michael off the rock without hesitation.

lifted offroad trucks

Then we were off to hit some actual trails…

I had to find a ride to shoot photos from, and the Deuce was not a viable option. I met a couple of Jeepers that were happy to let me ride in their Jeep for the remainder of our journey. Huge shoutout to Jack & Jackson for the hospitality! Once I got situated, we headed towards a mud bowl & playground down another trail. Every chance we got, we were stopping for photos, which Jack had a great eye for, making my job much easier. After a couple of tricky/tight spots, we drove down into the playground where there were trials courses, hill climbs, and a huge mud bowl. Phil made it down first, and naturally began to do donuts in the mud bowl. As a small crowd began to gather. Michael pulled the Packard up a 25 degree rock climb area and parked it. Again, no one could believe what they were seeing… it was one of the wildest things to witness.

40s Packard

After Phil was done in the mud pit…

He said goodbye and headed home. Michael, not to be outdone, decided to take the Packard through the mud bowl for some donuts & skids. It was definitely one of the coolest things I’d ever witnessed. Mud was being slung 30-40 feet in every direction, and the exhausts were steaming from the heat generated. We were all absolutely splattered; it was great.

muddin

We headed back to the trailhead to load up the Packard & get back to the shop…

On the way, we encountered a massive pool of water off the side of the main trail which provided us with a bath, and some incredible additional shots. Back at the trailhead, we said goodbye to everyone and exchanged info for future excursions in the area.

splashing through puddle

That’s what makes the off-road community so good…

You can be complete strangers at the beginning of the day. And by the end, you know everyone by name & are cutting up with them… sharing life stories and experiences. I can’t wait until we can do it all over again.

Text & Photos by Ben Battles

49 Packard

merica

 

gram light wheels