Packard Twelve Convertible Sedan

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. A conservative car with finely tailored lines, it had elegant appointments, a refined chassis and a whisper-quiet, twelve-cylinder engine.

In a sense, Packard’s Twelve was never meant to be. In fact, the car’s history goes back to the Cord L-29 and the great Miller-engined front drive racecars. 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 V-12 – compared with Packard’s venerable inline eight – allowed more flexibility in packaging the front-drive chassis.

Extensive testing revealed weaknesses in the front-drive chassis’s 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 models of the classic era: install the new twelve-cylinder engine in Packard’s proven Deluxe Eight chassis. The result was christened the Twin Six, in honor of Packard’s first V-12, introduced more than 15 years earlier.

By 1933, the name had been changed to the Packard Twelve to more clearly convey the power behind the new car. It and the 11th series were the last cars with flowing fenders and classic lines, before the advent of the streamlined look. The front ensemble is truly beautiful, with a graceful vee-shaped radiator and matching headlights and fender lights. And the dash is a work of art, looking more like a jeweler’s display case than an instrument panel.

Convertible sedans were both expensive and popular, as they combined the security and comfort of a closed car with the ability to fully lower the top and windows and enjoy a true open car. Convertible sedans were also the only open style suitable for formal use when fitted (as in this case) with a fully retractable division window. The result was a chauffeur-driven formal car with division window when the top was up and a sporty owner-driven open car when it was lowered.

Part of the RM Auctions event in Florida in March, 2011; in Arizona in January, 2012 and in Arizona in January, 2013.

160 bhp, 445 cu. in. side valve V-12 engine with Stromberg downdraft carburetion featuring automatic cold start, three-speed synchromesh transmission, shaft drive with hypoid rear axle, and four-wheel adjustable vacuum-assisted drum brakes. Wheelbase: 142"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel and Pawel Litwinski

Gallery: Packard Twelve Convertible Sedan