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The couple set off from New York City in late November bound for Los Angeles, and were making their way down Interstate 10 to the east of the city when the car broke down.
''The engine started to misfire,'' Mr Marshall said.
''We pulled over and soon found the problem. A set of points in the distributor had closed as a result of the main distributor drive shaft becoming unstable.''
It took eight hours for a tow truck to reach them, he said.
The car was towed to Los Angeles and shipped back to New Zealand.
''It was a major disappointment to get so close .. . and not be able to glide up to Santa Monica Pier under our own steam,'' Mr Marshall said.
He hoped to find a replacement distributor soon, so the journey down to Wanaka could continue.
Upon arrival, it will join a group of 50 Packards at the Warbirds event in March.