Offered from A Private Collection
$2,250,000 - $3,000,000 USD | Not Sold
| Amelia Island, Florida
- The 1934 New York Auto Show car
- The first of four; the sole example fitted with design study updates by Packard’s own in-house custom coachwork department
- Photographed on the Packard factory turntable in both 1934 and 1935
- An extremely important streamlined design; “the American Autobahnkurier”
- Seldom exhibited in recent years; eligible for numerous concours events
- A Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
The 1934 Packard was the ultimate design statement of the marque’s golden era, and none spoke more loudly than the scarce variations designed by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky and built by LeBaron. These cars featured the latest in aerodynamics, including sensuously rounded pontoon fenders, curved running boards nearly blended into the body, and tapered tails. At a time when many designs were gradually adapting streamlined styling over a period of years, the LeBaron Packards jumped in head-on and with both feet, with scarcely a straight edge to be found.
Two of these styles, the runabout speedster and the sport coupe, were built on a unique twelve-cylinder chassis, the 1106, with a shortened 136-inch-wheelbase frame based on the Standard Eight model. It was the sport coupe that’s styling was truly groundbreaking, with a dramatic fastback roofline that followed Cadillac’s Aerodynamic Coupe show car of 1933, and it entered the market virtually concurrently with the Mercedes-Benz 500 K Autobahnkurier of remarkably similar line. Both represented the utter height of streamlining on opposite sides of the Atlantic, and they were as remarkable to behold then as the most advanced supercars are today.
THE UNIQUE SPORT COUPE 1106-4
This car originally bore Vehicle Number plate 1106-4; it was the first of the Sport Coupes by LeBaron and only the fourth custom 1106 to be built for 1934. According to research by noted Packard historian Edward J. Blend, this car was actually produced in 1933, and thus employed a Standard Eight chassis from that year. In his significant work, The Magnificent Packard Twelve of Nineteen Thirty-Four, first published in 1972, Blend records the frame number of the car as 750795, which is the one still under the car to this day.
It was photographed when new on the famous studio “turntable” at the Packard factory and significantly, these original factory photographs which reside in the Michigan State University collection are inscribed “engine no. 901-601,” which was both the very first Eleventh Series Twelve engine built and that which still powers this important Packard today. The same photos also identify this car as having been the 1934 New York Auto Show car. A corresponding photo on file from the Detroit Public Library actually depicts the Packard display from this auto show and includes the LeBaron Sport Coupe, along with several other Individual Custom Packards.
Following its auto show display, 1106-4 was returned to the Packard factory. It was updated by their in-house custom coachbuilding shop with the Twelfth Series’ new front end sheet metal, including a more angular grille and head lamps, as well as a leather-covered padded roof that obscured the rear quarter windows. It was then returned to the turntable and photographed again; these photos, also in the MSU collection, are also labeled with engine number 901-601, indicating that the show car and that modified by the factory were one and the same. This history is also further affirmed by the significant recent discovery of the original Special Order tag under the passenger seat frame, which lists the customer as Packard, and includes the Special Order number as well as the date 2-21-35, and which is now preserved in the car’s history file.
In his book, Blend indicates that the car was originally owned by “a Mr. Braeburn, Pittsburgh industrialist...and kept at the Morrowfield Apartment garage in Pittsburgh’s Oakland district.” It was rumored to have been titled as a 1939, in keeping with Pennsylvania’s then-practice of titling a car by the year that it entered the state; thus it is likely that the Packard had remained with its builders for a full five years before Mr. Braeburn took delivery. Mr. Blend notes that the current owner as of the 1972 publication of his book was James Tagliabue of Houston, Texas, who had acquired it in 1949.
Indeed, Mr. Tagliabue had written in to Antique Automobile magazine in 1969 regarding the Packard, confirming, “I purchased my car from the second owner in 1949 in Houston. The car was originally owned by a Pennsylvania steel magnate whose monogram is lettered in silver on the shift lever knob. The car is painted gun-metal gray with a black leather padded top. The interior upholstery is of Russian pony hide red leather with Burgundy carpet. My car has been in storage since 1951...The car is original and unrestored.” Interestingly, in correspondence that same year with well-known enthusiast, Judge John North II, Mr. Tagliabue noted that he was the second owner, indicating he may have acquired it directly from Mr. Braeburn.
The car was eventually acquired from Mr. Tagliabue in the early 1980s by Jerry J. Moore of Houston; the late enthusiast Robert K. “Rocky” Voss, discussing the car in 2007, noted a conversation with Mr. Moore in which the collector described looking for such a car for years, “and it was about a mile from my museum.” It was restored in Mr. Moore’s ownership by Steve Gunder of Topeka, Kansas, at the time one of the best-known and respected restorers in the United States, and was shown over the years at numerous concours d’elegance. It also earned an AACA National First Prize in 1983, and a CCCA National First Prize, shown by restorer Gunder.
Following Mr. Moore’s ownership, the Packard was sold into the revered collection of Arturo Keller, with whom it remained for many years. Mr. Keller eventually traded the car to David Kane of New Jersey for another Packard with which he was enamored; it then passed to well-known enthusiast Carmine Zeccardi and finally to the famed Andrews Collection of Texas, from which the present owner acquired it in 2015.
While its presentation is still mellowed, the Packard remains very attractive, and is resplendent with many Art Deco details. Having had only a single restoration and now having more of its history and original livery affirmed, this is truly one of the most stunning of all Packards and a competitive entrant for display at concours d’elegance. Significantly, it has not appeared at Pebble Beach since 1988.
Regarded by the factory themselves as a vision of tomorrow, this remarkable Packard is today offered in the same spirit, with remarkable potential for what can be—or for experiencing a once-otherworldly machine on the American road, wind passing smoothly and softly across its abundant curves.