Packard Model 38 Touring

Packard’s first six, a massive 525 cubic inch T-head, debuted in April 1911. Designated Model 48 for its rated horsepower, it developed a full 74 bhp at 1,720 rpm, and Packard advertised that it would reach “60 miles per hour in 30 seconds from a standing start.” A Bosch dual ignition system was used, along with Packard’s unique float-feed carburetor with automatic mixture control. Prices started at $5,000 and ranged upward to $6,550. Thirteen body styles were offered on wheelbases from 121.5 to 139 inches. The new car immediately became popular, with nearly 1,350 sold in the first year of production and a lengthy list of anxious customers awaiting delivery.

In December 1912, a smaller six, the Model 38, was introduced. An L-head design with cylinders cast in pairs, it displaced 415 cubic inches, had seven main bearings and developed 60 bhp. The Model 38 was the first Packard car to have left-hand drive and electric starting, the latter from a Delco starter-generator of the type developed by Charles Kettering. A notable feature of the electrical system was a control unit attached to the steering column. The brainchild of chief engineer Jesse Vincent, who would later design the Twin Six and Liberty aircraft engines, the unit had switches for the ignition, lights and horn, an ignition lock and mixture control for the carburetor. This placed most controls within easy reach of the driver, leaving the instrument panel free for instruments alone, save for a carburetor primer needed for starting.

Selling at $4,050 to $5,400, it was about $1,000 cheaper than the larger car and a few hundred less expensive than the comparable models of Peerless and Pierce-Arrow. There were 13 body styles, most of them on a 134-inch wheelbase, although Phaeton and Brougham styles used a 138-inch chassis and the runabout and two coupe styles a short, 115.5-inch frame. The Touring car was the sole open style to use the intermediate wheelbase and was the most popular Model 38 body type. The other intermediate cars were Limousines, Landaulets and a new open-drive “Cabette.” More than 1,600 Model 38s, latterly called “1-38” or “1338,” were built in 1913 and nearly 700 “2-38s” the following year. So successful were the two six-cylinder models that Packard dropped fours entirely.

60 bhp, 415 cu. in. L-head six-cylinder engine, rear-mounted three-speed transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, two-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 134"

Source: RM Auctions

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