Packard 840 Deluxe Eight Sport Phaeton
In 1931, when most American fine car manufacturers began to introduce a number of less expensive models to fight the lingering effects of the Great Depression, Packard did the exact opposite. The company wanted to reinforce its position in the luxury car market and resolutely believed that the superior financial strength and innate good taste of its wealthy and discerning customer base would prevail. Accordingly, less expensive models were discontinued, while upscale and custom models took center stage. As a result, Packard’s Eighth Series lineup consisted of just two different model designations – the 826 and 833 Standard Eight, topped by the 840 and 845 DeLuxe Eight.
Packard made several enhancements to the DeLuxe models for 1931, including a Stewart-Warner fuel pump that replaced the prior vacuum tank, along with automatic Bijur chassis lubrication. Engine output increased substantially to 120 brake horsepower thanks to improved valves and manifolds that were taken directly from the defunct Speedster. As their name suggested, the DeLuxe variants offered a larger engine with more horsepower, a longer wheelbase, and improved trim and fittings over the Standard Eight models, accounting for a substantial $1,000 price difference with most models.
However, Packard’s strategy actually worked against the company’s financial health, as there proved to be little hope that the widening Depression would subside quickly. As a result, only 626 examples of the spectacular DeLuxe Eight were ultimately built in 1931. Of those, the commanding Phaetons remain among the most desirable models today, recalling the elegance and grandeur of the classic era when only the wealthiest individuals were capable of purchasing these fully open automobiles, which were truly useful only during the fairest of weather conditions.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2010 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.
120 bhp, L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 140.5"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel