Amelia Island

The Ritz-Carlton
14 March 2015
Lot 203

1934 Packard Twelve Five-Passenger Coupe

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$170,500 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida

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Engine No.
902102
Vehicle no.
737-22
  • One of only about six known survivors in this style
  • Believed to have been originally owned by “Boss Tom” Pendergast
  • A CCCA National award winner
  • Wonderfully authentic, including its original firewall tag
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Series 1107. 160 bhp, 445.5 cu. in. side-valve V-12 engine, three-speed synchromesh manual transmission, front and rear semi-elliptic leaf-spring suspension, and four-wheel power-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 142.5 in.

Addendum: Please note that contrary to the printed catalogue the engine number is 902102.

Packard discontinued its first V-12, the massive Twin Six, after 1923 and replaced it with the smaller Single Eight, which outperformed the original. However, after Cadillac brought out a V-16 in 1930 and then a V-12, Packard was drawn back into the cylinder race. The response was a new Twin Six, one with no resemblance to the old. At 445.5 cubic inches, it was larger than its predecessor, and with a 67-degree vee, it was also wider. Most importantly, it vastly outperformed the old Twin Six, with 160 horsepower to the old engine’s 90. When introduced in January 1932, an amazing 22 body styles were offered, with prices from $3,745 to $7,950, but fewer than 550 V-12 cars were sold during the model year.

For the shortened Tenth Series (in effect, the 1933 models), the line was rechristened “Packard Twelve,” and while the marketing was just as ambitious, the results were nearly the same as the previous year, with 540 cars built. Finally the market improved in 1934, and this, along with the longer Eleventh Series, resulted in sales that nearly doubled.

The handsome Five-Passenger Coupe offered here is listed among the authentic survivors of this style in Edward Blend’s landmark tome, The Magnificent Packard Twelve of Nineteen Thirty-Four. At the time it was mentioned in the book, the car was owned by Don McCallum, of Indiana. Interestingly, Mr. Blend makes an unattributed claim that the Packard was originally owned by Tom Pendergast, the famous and wealthy Kansas City political boss who virtually controlled the city in the 1930s. The original firewall tag for the car does, indeed, indicate that it was sold new in Kansas City by the Reid-Ward Motor Company.

The car is beautifully preserved in Packard Blue, with a charming and extremely comfortable blue cloth interior, and it is being offered today from the prominent collection of a late enthusiast on the East Coast. It is a former Classic Car Club of America First Prize winner, and it is equipped with metal artillery wheels, dual side-mounted spares with hard metal covers, dual driving lights, dual horns, and Packard’s Goddess of Speed hood ornament. As noted by an RM Auctions specialist, “The car has been maintained by Tony Barton, one of the best in the business, and it is bulletproof mechanically; it can start, stop, and run down the road like no other.”

This car has intriguing history and is most certainly a very handsome and elegant Classic Packard.