Packard Twelve 5-Passenger Phaeton

Packard’s Twelve was, in many ways, the signature car of the Classic Era; it was the top of the line offering from America’s leading manufacturer of fine cars. In a sense, however, it was never meant to be. In fact, its history is directly related to the Cord L-29 and the great Miller-engined front drive race cars. Packard’s management was intrigued with the idea of front drive, and commissioned the construction of a prototype. A decision was made to develop a twelve cylinder engine for this new car, as the shorter length of a V12 – compared with Packard’s inline eight – allowed more flexibility in packaging the front drive chassis.

Extensive testing revealed weaknesses in the front drive chassis’ design, and anticipated development costs soared. Meanwhile, Cadillac had ignited the multi-cylinder race with their exquisite new sixteen- and twelve-cylinder models, and Packard’s dealerships were feeling the pressure. The solution, born of necessity, created one of the defining cars of the Classic Era: install the new twelve-cylinder engine in Packard’s proven Deluxe Eight chassis. The result was christened the Twin Six.

By 1933, the name had been changed to the Packard Twelve to more clearly convey the power behind the new car. Further refinements in the short tenth series (1933) production run led to the eleventh series, the car most often considered to be the ultimate Twelve. It was the last car with the classic lines before the advent of the streamlined look. The front ensemble is beautiful, with a graceful vee-shaped radiator and matching headlights and fender lights.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in March of 2009 at the The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida and in August of 2011 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.

160hp, 445 cu. in. side valve V12 engine, three-speed synchromesh transmission, Bijur chassis lubrication, front suspension via semi-elliptical leaf springs and beam axle, rear suspension via semi-elliptical leaf springs and live axle, and four-wheel adjustable vacuum-assisted brakes. Wheelbase: 142".

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel