Packard Deluxe Eight Sport Phaeton
During the era of coachbuilt automobiles, Packard was the undisputed leader, selling more cars than all other fine car brands combined. No other manufacturer since has enjoyed such a commanding lead.
Many consider the model 840 and 845 Deluxe Eights to represent the ultimate Packard from this period. Their long wheelbase (140 or 145 inches) provided the ultimate platform for the custom coachbuilders of the era to create what many consider to be their finest designs. For 1931, Packard moved the cowl ahead, creating more body space for increasingly luxurious coachbuilt creations.
It is interesting to note that the 840 was the only chassis on which the dual cowl phaeton was available; since the cowl had been moved, the body would no longer fit on the new 845 chassis. Notably, the 840 did incorporate the long sweeping fenders for which the 745 series was lauded.
The eighth series big eights represented the peak of development for Packard’s huge, silent and smooth inline engine. With nine main bearings, the engine was so well balanced that it would tick over silently at speeds slow enough to count the fan blades going by – while balancing a nickel on the head – a trick used by Packard salesmen of the time. It is also worth noting that the seventh and eighth series cars were fitted with four-speed transmissions, giving greater flexibility and improved performance. For modern driving, another eighth series innovation saw the vacuum tank fuel system replaced by a far more reliable mechanical pump.
Most Packards were production cars – well-built, luxurious, smooth and quiet. Even these were frighteningly expensive, selling for the price of a very nice house. Nonetheless, in the early 1930s, Packard remained America’s fine car leader, and there was no style more evocative of that position than the sport phaeton. A truly open car (no roll-up windows), the sport phaeton was intended to be chauffeur driven – hence the second windshield for the owner’s compartment. As an open car, it was only suited for fair weather use. Not many families, particularly as the Depression deepened, could afford the price of a Packard for occasional summertime use.
120 bhp, 385 cu. in. inline eight-cylinder side valve engine, four-speed manual transmission, Bijur automatic chassis lubrication, solid front axle with leaf springs, live rear axle with leaf springs and four-wheel mechanically-actuated drum brakes. Wheelbase: 140"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel