Arizona | Lot 123
1933 Packard Eight Cabriolet by Graber
$160,000 - $180,000 USD
| Scottsdale, Arizona
22 January 2021
- Formerly owned by Sergio Franchi, popular American tenor and car collector
- Elegant Swiss custom coachwork on America’s finest chassis
- Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
- A veteran of many CARavans
The 136-inch wheelbase “Standard Eight” chassis presented here was bodied by Hermann Graber, who enjoyed a reputation as Switzerland’s finest coachbuilder for decades. Bodies for American chassis were a Graber specialty, with the most prominent being sumptuous cabriolets with thickly insulated, beautifully crafted cloth tops, to shut out the Swiss cold.
In many ways, Graber’s body on this Packard resembles a downsized version of a Mercedes-Benz 500 K of the period, as it has broad chrome beltline molding, sweeping fenders, and a blind-quarter top with landau irons, as well as an elegant rounded trunk. The interior is beautifully appointed, with finely tailored leather upholstery and armrests built into the door panels, so that, with the door closed, the feeling is of the driver and passenger sharing a luxurious love-seat. The doors and dashboard are beautifully capped in walnut, with the dashboard featuring the full accoutrement of instrumentation for the day, including a clock. The overall effect is of traditional Packard construction but with a distinct European touring flair.
The car on offer was discovered in London in 1972 by popular American tenor and automobile collector, Sergio Franchi. Mr. Franchi had become a favorite on American variety shows during the 1950s and 1960s, and he eventually built a recording career that took him to Las Vegas and all over the world. A man with a great appreciation of art and beauty, his passions offstage were sketching, watercolors, and especially collecting fine automobiles. He eventually built an enviable, eclectic collection at his Connecticut estate, including everything from Rolls-Royces to Mercedes-Benz to his personal favorite, Isotta-Fraschinis. Mr. Franchi fell in love with the Graber Packard’s lines and brought it home to the U.S.. The Packard was beautifully restored in its present two-tone blue livery by Ted Billing, of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, who was, at the time, very well respected for his quality work.
Many in the car hobby knew Mr. Franchi as a member of the Classic Car Club of America and a frequent participant in CARavans. Mr. Franchi and his wife Eva enjoyed the Graber on numerous tours, a testament to its reliability, all around comfort, and modern feel. They enjoyed this beautiful Packard on the road until Mr. Franchi’s untimely passing in 1991. The car was later acquired by John O’Quinn from the Franchi Estate, remaining in his respected collection for a number of years.
The Packard is equipped with numerous period features including covered dual side-mounted spares, Trippe driving lamps, dual horns, and chrome trim strips that descend over the trunk and provide a wonderful accent to the car’s beltline. It rides on whitewall tires mounted on color-matched wire wheels with factory hub caps. In late October of 2020, Manny Dragone of Dragone Classic Motor Cars oversaw the replacement of the cylinder head. It is secured to the block by new chrome acorn nuts. In early December of 2020, the car was the recipient of a thorough cosmetic refurbishment overseen by Pat Craig of Stockton, California; including a fully polished exterior, paint correction, respray of the rear inner fenders, as well as an exhaustive cleansing of the undercarriage and engine bay, resulting in the state of its wonderful exterior. This detail work also included the replacement of the car’s rear exhaust section from the muffler to the tailpipe.
With its breathtaking coachwork by Graber, this CCCA Full Classic is sure to turn draw as much attention today as it did in 1933.