Packard Model 833 Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton

The image of a nation in the grip of a Great Depression was not evident on the floor of the 1931 New York City Auto Show, as the aisles overflowed with large, powerful and expensive automobiles. Packard’s new Eighth Series was introduced on August 14, 1930 and included the large Deluxe 845 and 840 series, the Standard Eight 826 and 833 and a new in-house Custom Eight short wheelbase range.

Wheel diameters of all series were reduced to 19 inches, and engines received a boost in horsepower, increasing to 100 and 120 hp, depending on the model. Despite improvements, the offering of time-payment plans and generous trade-in allowances, calendar year production shrank to 12,922 units, the lowest Packard production since 1921. However, a medium-priced Packard model would not be introduced until 1932.

On May 27, 1931, 17-year-old Jonas Homer Edwards traveled from his home in Lewiston, Maine to Boston to pick up his birthday present. It wasn’t a blue serge suit or even a gold watch. Instead, his father surprised him with a brand new car. And not just any car but this magnificent Packard 833 Dual-Cowl Sport Phaeton!

Young Edwards drove his Packard sparingly for 42 years but never in the rain, storing it properly on blocks in the family’s garages from the fall to the spring of each year. In 1973 he passed it to a friend with just over 25,000 miles registered on the odometer. In 1978 Edwards’ friend sold it to Larry Bailey of Buford, Georgia, who entered it in that year’s Glidden Tour where this Sport Phaeton was awarded the trophy for “Best Unrestored Car” out of the 320 cars in the Tour. The November 1978 issue of Car Collector Magazine told the story of “The Birthday Packard,” featuring 20 photos including the original Owner’s Manual, a never returned Buyer’s Questionnaire (with a two-cent stamped envelope) and the tools and equipment packing list.

By the mid-1990s this Packard belonged to Bruce Male of Swampscott, Maine who displayed it in various east coast shows before selling it to the present owner. When an invitation to show the car in the Pre-War Preservation Class at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance was received, it was entrusted to RM Auto Restoration for a total mechanical check-over and sympathetic refurbishment. Now 78 years old, the Phaeton still retained all of its original exterior and interior, but extended storage periods meant that the cooling, braking, fuel and clutch systems required attention. Today, every aspect—switches, lamps, accessories and even the hydrostatic fuel level gauge—operates perfectly. As a result, the Birthday Packard enjoyed a trouble-free 100 mile run in the Tour d’Elegance which precedes the Concours held on Sunday.

“On the morning of Sunday, August 16th two teams of judges inspected our Birthday Packard,” related the current owner. “We didn’t expect to win anything—we thought we had already won, just by being invited to the world’s best concours! Various judges kept returning to the car to re-examine minute details and another entrant told us this meant that our Packard was being considered for an award. No one tells you what you have won until you drive up on the presentation ramp, so we were totally thrilled to receive not one, but two big trophies,” he continued. “Our Packard won a red ribbon in the Pre-War Preservation Class, but the biggest surprise was the F.I.V.A. Trophy which the Federation Internationale des Vehicules Anciens only awards to a single automobile in the Preservation Class. According to the official description the F.I.V.A. Award goes to ‘The Best Preserved and regularly driven Pre-war car.’”

This is an excellent opportunity to acquire what is likely the most original surviving Classic Packard. Registering just over 29,000 miles, this 1931 motor car still proudly wears its factory paintwork, striping, “JHE” door monograms, leather interior, canvas top, as-new original side curtains and a mint original trunk with fitted luggage and all of its tags and keys. The Pebble Beach Concours class trophy and ribbons will be included with the sale of the Birthday Packard for its next protective caretaker.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2012 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.

100 bhp, 319 cu. in. inline eight-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, solid front and rear axles with longitudinal leaf springs. Wheelbase: 134.5"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel

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