Packard Twelve Convertible Coupe
It has long been regarded as ironic that the greatest creations of the classic era came during the depths of the Depression, with one out of three people in America unemployed. Although the company was in excellent financial health, Packard was deeply concerned about the devastating effect of the Depression on sales in the fine car segment. Packard’s response was to redouble its efforts, meeting the threat from Cadillac and Lincoln head on with the new Twin Six chassis and a range of spectacular custom bodies.
One of the most respected designers of the classic era, Ray Dietrich was also one of the most influential. After stints at Brewster and LeBaron, he formed Dietrich Inc., where his smart and elegant designs attracted the attention of Packard management, and as a result, Packard became one of Dietrich’s best customers. Lacking an in-house styling department, Packard incorporated Dietrich design cues in its production cars, and in fact, after 1933, all open Packards carried Dietrich body tags.
Packard’s Twelve was, in many ways, the signature of the classic era; it was the top of the line offering from America’s leading manufacturer of fine cars. It was the Brooks Brother’s suit of the time: a conservative car with finely tailored lines, elegant appointments, a refined chassis, and a whisper-quiet, twelve-cylinder engine.
Collectors today revere the 1932 through 1934 models for their clean lines, substantial chassis improvements, and modern looks. Of these, the tenth and eleventh series cars are often considered to be the ultimate classic era Packards. They were the last cars with the classic swept fender lines, before the advent of the streamlined look. The front ensemble is truly beautiful, with a graceful vee-shaped radiator with matching headlights and fender lights. The dash is a jeweled work of art, surrounded by rich burled trim. Many innovations were introduced for the tenth series cars, including a new, more rigid X-braced frame and driver adjustable power brakes.
Although many body styles were offered, the rarest and most desirable is the striking rumble seat coupe roadster, of which less than twenty are known to have survived of the fifty or so originally produced. Based on the body numbers stamped into the original wood of the body, this was the 51st convertible coupe produced in 1933, making this among the last, if not the last, example built.
Part of the RM Auctions event in Michigan in July, 2012 and for the Hershey event in October, 2012.
160 hp, 445 cu. in. side-valve V-12 engine, three speed synchromesh transmission, hypoid live rear axle, beam front axle with four wheel longitudinal leaf springs, and four wheel adjustable vacuum assisted brakes. Wheelbase: 147"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel and DCPG Photography