- Among the ultimate American designs of the Classic Era
- One of just four known survivors on the 745 Deluxe Eight chassis
- Well-preserved national award-winning restoration
- A Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
THE WATERHOUSE CONVERTIBLE VICTORIA
Few body styles so epitomize the Classic Era like the svelte and elegant Convertible Victoria, and no firm executed the style better than Waterhouse of Webster, Massachusetts. A boutique firm which produced scarcely 200-300 bodies in a five-year run, Waterhouse is credited with first appropriating the Convertible Victoria for the US from a design by the Belgian firm Vanden Plas. Each Waterhouse Convertible Victoria was frequently built over the frame rails, rather than atop them, allowing for an exceptionally low line; in a similar vein, the convertible top was engineered to fold flush into a ‘notch’ at the rear of the body. Built with the superior craftsmanship of a small shop, every example was one of the finest, most beautiful convertibles that money could buy, and their style was almost immediately copied by sundry competitors.
THE CARNIVAL MAN’S PACKARD
The car offered here is one of four extant Waterhouse Convertible Victorias built on the longest, most desirable 145 1/2-inch-wheelbase Packard 745 Deluxe Eight chassis. According to its firewall data plate, it was originally sold in Jersey City, New Jersey, on 2 July 1930.
The Packard’s earliest known owner was Carl Johnk of Hornick, Iowa, a longtime carnival worker who frequently located interesting automobiles during his travels. The recollections of his family are that the Packard was acquired in the early 1960s in South Dakota, and it was listed by Mr. Johnk with the Classic Car Club of America by 1964. Throughout his ownership, it had a sticker on the windshield granting access to a Chicago-area airport, indicating it had been in that area previously.
The McGowan Brothers of Branford, Connecticut, prolific traders in Full Classics, came to know of the car in the late 1970s. In addition to their automotive interests, the McGowans also fronted a folk band, Farquahr, and the Johnk family recalls an impromptu performance by the McGowans as part of their efforts to charm him out of the Packard. The concert was successful and the McGowans purchased the Waterhouse by 1980.
Two years later the car was sold by the McGowans to Phil Budrose of Gloucester, Massachusetts, who sent it to his favored restorer, Ray Belsito, in Waterhouse’s hometown of Webster. At the time the Packard remained substantially complete except for having had the paint stripped, as shown in photographs on file. Mr. Belsito undertook a full restoration of the car, in rather striking colors he has stated to have discovered under layers of later paint. During this work, Mr. Belsito copied the wood pattern and all of the unique Waterhouse hardware, allowing him to build a second convertible victoria in the style of Waterhouse, and which was completed in similar livery.
Finished with Woodlite headlamps and chromed disc wheels, the Packard was nearly complete when Mr. Budrose sold it in 1989 to Michael Calore of Exeter, Rhode Island. Mr. Calore exhibited the car at the 1992 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance; at the AACA National meet at Hershey in 1993, winning a First Junior; and at the CCCA New England Grand Classic of 1993, winning a Primary First Prize with a score of 99 points. Afterward Mr. Calore had the car’s frame, undercarriage, and hood doors painted, and the engine, transmission, rear axle, and brakes rebuilt, all by Jack Greenleaf of Oxford, Maine.
Many of Mr. Calore’s automobiles were sold in 1995, and the Waterhouse was soon purchased by noted Packard collector Ralph Marano, in whose ownership it achieved Senior status in AACA and CCCA judging, with a perfect 100-point score in the latter. It was also featured on the back cover of the Fall 1995 issue of The Classic Car. After four years in the Marano fleet, the Waterhouse was sold to Ray Catena, then passed in 2003 to Richard Mullin of Templeton, Massachusetts, who actually exhibited it in the den of his home!
Preserved in the present collection now for nearly a decade, this remains a truly striking automobile, and the fine quality of its design and workmanship is still clearly evident throughout. One of the best-known examples of an iconic style on its ultimate chassis, it would be a stunning addition to any Packard connoisseur’s stable.