1934 Packard Twelve Coupe RoadsterSOLD

RM Auctions - Vintage Motor Cars at Meadow Brook Hall, August 3-4, 2007

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Estimate: $350,000-$400,000 US

Offered Without Reserve

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $539,000

Model 1107. 160 hp, 445 cu. in., side-valve V12 engine with Stromberg downdraft carburetor featuring automatic cold-start, three-speed synchromesh transmission with reverse, shaft drive with hypoid rear axle and four wheel adjustable vacuum assisted brakes. Wheelbase: 142.5"

It has long been regarded as ironic that the greatest creations of the classic era came during the depths of the Depression. Although the company was in excellent financial health, Packard was deeply concerned about the devastating effect of the dire economic climate 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 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 inhouse 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 car 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.

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 V12 – 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 V12, introduced more than 15 years earlier.

The eleventh series is often considered to be the ultimate Packard Twelve. It was the last car 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, and matching headlights and fender lights. And the ’ 34 dash is a jeweled work of art, surrounded by rich burled walnut trim. Although many body styles were offered, the most rare and desirable is the striking rumble seat coupe roadster, of which less than twenty are known to have survived of the fifty originally produced.

The example offered here is one of the twenty surviving examples. While its early history is not known, it was acquired by RM Classic Cars Inc. in the early 1990s in largely original condition –including the original data plate which confirms the car as both a Twelve and a Coupe Roadster.

Dentist Ralph McCarty of Everett, WA purchased the car from RM, and immediately embarked on a top quality restoration. Over a ten year period, he completed the car, restoring it to a very high standard, before deciding to sell it to make space for one of his many other worthy projects.

RM repurchased the car from McCarty, later selling it to Marvin Tamaroff, where it quickly became a favorite car in the collection, owing to its exceptional smoothness, striking lines, and the high quality of its restoration. During its tenure in the Tamaroff collection, approximately $30,000 was spent on upgrades to the car to maintain its high point standing.

Today, this magnificent Packard remains in top condition. Its new black wall tires give it a sinister – and very period – look. Their large size hints at the power of the twelve cylinder engine under the hood, while the dark red tones of the paint and interior are both handsome and sporting.

A recent road test on a warm spring day proved delightful; the car starts immediately and runs, shifts, and handles beautifully. Comfortable and quiet at modern highway speeds, the steering is also light enough to make close quarters maneuvering enjoyable. Well equipped, this impressive Packard is fitted with desirable period options including dual sidemounted spares, twin driving lights, and a rear mounted rack for an accessory trunk.

The 1934 Packard Twelves are considered to be the most desirable prewar American Classics due to their extraordinary driving characteristics and striking design. In the world of such cars, some – like the Tamaroff Collection example offered here - stand out as being among the very best of the best.

Seldom does the opportunity to acquire a genuine original Packard Twelve Coupe Roadster present itself. Fewer still carry with them the provenance of one of the most important prewar American Classics collections of the period.

Reference Number 9167

as of 5/5/2007

Car 1934 Packard Twelve Coupe Roadster
VIN 902185 
Exterior / Interior Color      Dark Red /      Dark Red 
Configuration Left Hand Drive (LHD) 
Transmission Manual Shift 
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