Lot 155

Arizona 2013

1938 Packard Twelve Convertible Sedan


$132,000 USD | Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona



Engine No.
Chassis No.

Model 1608. 175 bhp, 473 cu. in. V-12 engine, three-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, solid axle rear suspension with longitudinal leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 139 in.

• Offered from the Estate of John O’Quinn

• Packard’s ultimate Classic Era luxury car

• Well-documented restoration

• One of only five known survivors

It is incredible to consider the rapid development of the motor car in the United States, from the one-cylinder buggies of the late-1800s to the multi-cylinder conveyances of the 1930s. The original Packard Twin Six was introduced for 1916 and became extremely popular with motorists of means. A decade after its discontinuation in 1922, the new Twin Six was introduced. Shortly after, the name was dropped in favor of the “Twelve,” in order to signify the substantive styling and engineering refinements embodied in the new model. Although the Twelve displaced an additional 49 cubic inches, or 12% more than the Twin Six, the horsepower output was almost doubled from 90 to 175, and it was a completely modern engine in a completely modern automobile.

The Twelve would remain Packard’s prestige leader through the end of the 1930s, along the way gradually adopting more streamlined styling with full pontoon fenders and bullet-like headlights. It continued to boldly remind drivers of other cars that they need only “ask the man who owns one” to learn why the Detroit automaker remained the choice of America’s most prominent citizens.

The luxurious convertible sedan offered here, a 17th series car from 1938, is reportedly one of fewer than 30 built and is one of five known survivors. Its history has been traced to Russell Nairn, who reportedly bought the car after many years as a tour car for its earlier owner. Nairn later sold the Packard to Thomas Lehmann, of Germany. Lehmann began the restoration with a shop in Wisconsin, selling the car to a collector in Iowa while work was underway. The body-off restoration, which is documented by many dozens of photographs as part of a vast quantity of paperwork on the car that will be supplied to the new owner, was finally completed after many years in April 2004. The car then traded hands again and was shown several times regionally.

Little-changed since its acquisition by the late John O’Quinn in the fall of 2006, the Packard Twelve presents well in black, with a corrected buttoned red leather interior and contrasting ivory steering wheel, shielded by a black Haartz cloth top. It is every bit the image of the late Classic Era Packard—large, black, imposing, and impressive—but it is able to be converted within a few minutes to a rakish open tourer for summer day driving.