1938 Packard Twelve Coupe RoadsterSOLD
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Estimate: $275,000-$350,000 US

Sold: $286,000

Model 1608. 175bhp, 473 cu. in. V12 engine, three-speed manual transmission, single-plate clutch, independent front suspension, rear longitudinal leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 139"

The Packard Twelve of the 1930s was the company’s second series of V12 engines. The first, called the Twin Six, entered production in 1916 and was built in quantities of 4,000 or so annually until the post-WWI depression reduced demand to uneconomical levels. Production of the Twin Six ended in 1923. Escalating multi-cylinder offerings from Cadillac, Lincoln and other luxury marques again induced Packard to introduce a V12 in 1932. Called the Twin Six at introduction, its nomenclature was simplified in 1933 to Twelve. Packard’s Twelves were exclusive and expensive motor cars whether fitted with catalog or custom bodies. Although it shared many chassis features with the Super Eight, each Twelve was essentially custom-built and their engines were refined, powerful and smooth-running. A ¼-inch longer stroke in 1935 brought displacement to 473 cubic inches. Along with aluminum cylinder heads this increased the Twelve’s power to an advertised 175 horsepower. The Twelves, even with elaborate and heavy coachwork, were strong performers, suggesting more than a little conservatism on Packard’s part in describing the engine’s power.

The example offered here is an outstanding original automobile, solid and rust-free prior to restoration. The car was owned for several years by a prominent Michigan real estate developer who commissioned RM Auto Restoration to conduct a comprehensive restoration. After careful examination, it was determined that a body-off restoration was not required, and in fact, might run the risk of losing the car’s superb chassis dynamics. A thorough cosmetic restoration, combined with careful examination of the chassis and engine, it was decided, would preserve the car’s wonderful original driving characteristics while returning its appearance to the same – or better – quality it must have had when new. Most collectors agree that these late Twelves are by far the smoothest-driving Packards, in part because they utilize fully independent front suspension and hydraulic brakes.

The paint was stripped completely, at which point it was confirmed that the sheet metal was near perfect, requiring very little bodywork. Nonetheless, the body was given three coats of prime, with extensive block sanding between each coat. The finish coat was wet sanded and buffed to perfection. The interior was flawlessly trimmed by the professionals at RM, in an authentic shade of tan leather.

Mechanically there was very little required as the car was in excellent condition. A full servicing was carried out with careful attention to valve train operation and adjustment. The manifold was re-porcelainized and the engine was fitted with correct spark plugs and wires as well as new hoses and clamps to the correct period specification. The brakes and hydraulic system were serviced, the dashboard gauges were restored with new faces and glass and the car’s complete wiring system was checked and renewed where necessary for reliable operation.

The previous owner purchased the Packard about two years ago, and carefully maintained it thereafter. After careful examination, this demanding enthusiast decided that the undercarriage, while clean and well maintained, was not up to his standards cosmetically. Consequently, he arranged for a restorer to carefully clean, mask, and paint the undercarriage in order to detail it to his standards.

Today, the car is well-equipped, with whitewall tires, dual side-mounted spares with proper Packard metal covers and rearview mirrors. In addition, a pair of period correct Trippe lights have been fitted, along with a Cormorant hood ornament.

An automobile of uncompromising quality, the twelve-cylinder Packard is, even today, a car of such rarity, historical significance, elegance and luxurious performance that it stands head and shoulders above its contemporaries. Part of the joy of collecting the great classics is the tales they tell of one of the greatest eras of American capitalism and the opportunities they give us to appreciate the life and times of those who could afford the very best.

Reference Number 37586

as of 1/22/2009

Car 1938 Packard Twelve Coupe Roadster
VIN A600534 
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