10-11 March 2017
A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith
1939 Packard One Twenty Convertible Victoria by Darrin
- Vehicle no. 1701-2098
$225,000 - $300,000
To be auctioned on Friday, March 10, 2017
- One of about 30 original “Hollywood” Darrins; one of eight built in 1939
- A unique, one-off example with 1940-style rear fenders as from new
- Known ownership history for over 60 years
- Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
Following his days as a coachbuilder in Paris, the erudite, polo-playing Howard “Dutch” Darrin settled in Hollywood, California, and immediately established himself as the purveyor of custom coachwork to the stars. His first commission, a Ford roadster, was followed by a two-passenger roadster built on a 1937 Packard One Twenty chassis for actor Dick Powell. Powell’s car drew plenty of attention and evolved into a four-passenger design with the same long hood, short rear deck, vee’d windshield, and “dipped” doors. Examples were built for several Hollywood stars, most prominently Clark Gable, Gene Krupa, and Preston Foster. This drew the attention of Packard, which eventually acquired rights to the design and built the “Convertible Victoria by Darrin,” in small numbers, as part of its own catalogued offerings, between 1940 and 1942.
It is the pre-1940 models, the so-called “Hollywood Darrins,” each of which was handmade on Sunset Boulevard and each of which could genuinely be called unique, that are the most scarce and desirable today. The exact number that were built is not known, but historians place it at around 30, of which about eight or nine were made in 1939 on both One Twenty and the larger Super Eight chassis.
The car offered here, One Twenty number 1701-2098, has had its history traced by Darrin historian Don Figone, who notes that it is the only known 1939 “Hollywood” car with 1940-style rear fenders, a unique feature which it has had since new. He traced the car’s continuous history back to 1955, when it was owned by longtime Texas Packard collector James Tagliabue. Mr. Tagliabue owned the Darrin until 1965, when it was sold to Ken Duke. Subsequent owners were Lubbock, Texas, Packard dealer, Wendell Hawkins, and early collector J.J. Thompson of Florida, who in 1981 sold the car to the Imperial Palace Auto Collections of Las Vegas. It remained on exhibit at the Imperial Palace for many years, then was acquired by Mel Weiner of California.
In the early 21st century, a complete restoration of the Darrin was undertaken by a new owner at Aldrich Restoration Specialists of Clayton, Ohio, complete photographic documentation of which is on file and included with the car today. Finished in a variation on the classic Packard Cream, with a red leather interior, it was judged 2nd in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2007. It almost immediately thereafter joined a prominent Western collection, where it remained for several years, before eventually coming to find a new home in Orin Smith’s stable. The car remains very attractive overall, with signs only of regular driving enjoyment and use, such as light creasing and stretching to the seats, and minor chips and polish marks on the finish, and is very clean and solid, inside, outside, and underneath. The odometer recorded 43,294 miles at the time of cataloguing.
An authentic “Hollywood” Darrin and one of the few to have come to market in recent years, this car would be a landmark addition to any museum collection of Full Classics, representing the Packard that elegantly conquered the hearts and minds of Glitter Gulch.
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