1941 Packard One-Eighty Custom Formal Sedan by Rollson

$100,000 - $150,000

RM | Auctions - HERSHEY 10 - 11 OCTOBER 2019

Vehicle No.
  • The only example produced in 1941
  • Formerly owned by the Rockefeller estate
  • Extensively restored and beautifully presented
  • Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
  • CCCA Senior winner

Even today, the legendary name of Packard is synonymous with pre-war luxury. By 1941 Packard’s exceptional collaborations with independent coachbuilders were beginning to come to an end, with demand falling off as highly luxurious factory-built automobiles became more readily available. The remaining few examples, including the superb automobile offered here, are consequently among the lowest production and most desirable offerings from the years immediately preceding World War II.

The stunning 1941 Packard One-Eighty Custom Formal Sedan offered here is said to have been ordered new for Alta Prentice, the favorite daughter of business magnate John D. Rockefeller by her husband, Ezra Parmalee Prentice. Mr. Prentice is said to have been fascinated with luxury automobiles. In fact, in their later years he ordered two new coachbuilt automobiles every year. For the 1941 model year, he ordered a custom convertible sedan on a limousine chassis for himself and a 1432 Custom formal sedan on the Packard 1907 chassis for Alta. The car offered here is that stately example of fine Rollson coachwork.

Rollson Inc. of New York, established by the leaders of the similarly named but by then defunct Rollston, was a well-known coachbuilder who became recognized for low-production, high-quality custom bodies. Alta’s 1907, equipped with custom coachwork in the 1432 body style, was the only one ordered for 1941 and bears the 2001 serial number, the starting number for that series. Given the end of the legendary Packard Twelve in 1939, the 138-inch-wheelbase car is powered by a 356-cubic-inch, 160-horsepower version of the standard Packard straight-eight motor, making it at least as powerful and significantly more reliable than the vaunted Twelve.

Alta must have loved the car, as she had it monogrammed with her initials on the right rear passenger door and kept it on the estate until her passing in 1962. In 1964, Winthrop Rockefeller, grandson of John D., formed the Museum of Automobiles in Arkansas and included several of the cars on the Rockefeller estates. When Winthrop died in 1973, the museum was given to the State of Arkansas, and a number of cars were sold to the world-famous Harrah Collection. The Rockefeller Packards, including this car, went there and were part of the collection that was sold to Holiday Inn in the mid-1980s.

From that time until 2010, when the current owner bought Alta’s Packard, previous owners are not known. The car went through an extensive frame-on restoration during the 2000s and ended up in New Zealand in an airplane-and-auto museum that specializes in Packards. Now, having returned to the United States, it is offered here for the first time since the storied Harrah sales. The Packard continues to present very nicely throughout, with its brilliant emerald-green paint, superb panel fit, and an excellent vinyl top. The interior is equally impressive, with supple green leather up front and tan cloth upholstery in the rear, along with excellent-quality fine wood trim on the doors and dash.

This unique coachbuilt Packard Custom formal sedan is sure to make a splash at any CCCA, Packard Club, or concours event in the country after appropriate preparation.

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