Packard Twelve Sport Phaeton
Like many prestige automakers, Packard Motor Car Company maintained a line of “catalog customs” for clients who preferred a distinctive automobile but did not wish to have a body designed and built especially for them. From 1926, a range of bodies from bespoke builders such as Judkins, Fleetwood, Derham and Holbrook appeared in a special catalog, from which customers could choose the specific features and trim details to suit their desires. Make no mistake – these were astonishingly expensive automobiles, sharing little more than chassis and driveline parts with their production counterparts.
The onset of the Depression was hard on both Packard and Dietrich. Orders for cars, and hence custom bodies, bespoke or catalog, dropped off markedly. Still, the two companies mounted a significant survival effort. For 1932, Packard pulled out the stops at both ends of the catalog. There was a new, smaller and lighter entry-level car, the Model 900 Light Eight. The show-stopper, however, was a new Twin Six model. The car’s massive V-12 engine was a legacy from a stillborn front-wheel drive project, the chassis a derivation of the Deluxe Eight. Introduced in January 1932, it was priced from $3,790 to $7,950, directly countering Cadillac which, nearly two years earlier, had startled the world with not just a V-12 but also a V-16. Offered, like the Deluxe Eight, in two wheelbases, the Twin Six likewise had a line of Individual Custom bodies, the preponderance of them by Dietrich. Particularly attractive was the Sport Phaeton, body style 2069, with a gently-contoured sloping rear deck. There was a small integral enclosed luggage compartment as well as an external trunk rack and a unique wind-down windshield, complete with windwings, for the rear passengers. It was the only Dietrich Individual Custom body on which all four doors hinged at the front.
The Twin Six Packard was only a modest success. By year’s end, just 549 had been built. For 1933, the company retrenched a bit. The Standard Eight and Deluxe Eight were renamed Eight and Super Eight, respectively. The V-12 returned, called simply the Packard Twelve. Individual Customs were now the province only of the Model 1006 148" long-wheelbase Twelve. There were engineering improvements, a new cruciform chassis frame, angle-set hypoid differential, three-position headlamps and new carburetors. The Twelve was mechanically the same as its Twin Six predecessor but with a new single-plate clutch. Production of this Tenth Series lineup, however, was abbreviated, as Packard shortened the model year to concentrate on improvements for 1934. Production of ’33s ended in August with but 520 Twelves built. Exact figures by body style are elusive, but Individual Custom styles typically ran only to single digits. It has been written that just three of the handsome Style 3069 Sport Phaetons were produced, by some accounts as show cars. The car being offered here, then, is one of a select few.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in March of 2010 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida and in January of 2011 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.
160 bhp, 445.5 cu. in. modified L-head V-12 engine with double downdraft Stromberg carburetors, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 147".
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel and Simon Clay