Lot 390

1931 Packard DeLuxe Eight Convertible Coupe by LeBaron

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$165,000 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

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Chassis No.
189744
Engine No.
189773
Vehicle no.
845-89
Documents
US Title
  • One of three known survivors of a very rare semi-custom style
  • Stunning “disappearing top” design that became the prototype for the 1932–1934 production Packard Coupe Roadster
  • Formerly owned by renowned collectors Wayne Merriman and Gene Perkins
  • Featured in Hugo Pfau’s The Coach-Built Packard
  • Wheels, chrome and interior refurbished to concours quality; well sorted for reliable touring

Among Packard’s catalogued “semi-custom” offerings on the extended 145.5-inch-wheelbase Deluxe Eight chassis of the 1931 Eighth Series, the convertible coupe by LeBaron was among the most attractive and desirable. It boasted an aluminum body with steel fenders and hood. The distinctive lines included a wide beltline molding, a subtly curved rear deck and, most attractive of all, a convertible top that folded flush with the body for a clean aesthetic. So appealing was this “disappearing top” design that Packard would borrow it, almost verbatim, for the factory’s 1932–1934 production coupe roadster.

Only three LeBaron-bodied Deluxe Eight Convertible Coupes are believed to survive. This car’s vehicle number plate on the firewall identifies it as having been delivered on 10 February 1931, by the Earle C. Anthony Packard dealership in Oakland, California. Interestingly, a second, smaller original tag identifies it as a “Used Packard” delivered through the Chicago dealer on 14 March 1933, indicating that the car had moved to the Midwest relatively early in its life. The engine, frame, and steering box numbers are all very close together, indicating that all three units are original to the car.

This DeLuxe Eight is believed to have been acquired in the 1950s by the late, well-known enthusiast Wayne Merriman, for whom it was driven from California as an excellent original car. It was subsequently sold by Mr. Merriman in the early 1960s to past Classic Car Club of America President Gene Perkins, of Indiana. In a conversation with RM Sotheby’s, Mr. Perkins recounted having the car fully restored by a friend and keeping it for many years before trading it for a Dietrich Individual Custom. During Mr. Perkins’ ownership, the Packard was featured in Hugo Pfau’s important work The Coach-Built Packard.

In addition to the low-profile top distinctive of the model, another feature of this car believed to be unique is a full trunk rather than a rumble seat, which, along with the proper, fitted trunk rack, makes the car a superb, capacious, long-distance tourer. The earth tones of the body, a combination of creamy tan with russet brown moldings, flatter the subtle beauty of the car’s lines. Dual side-mounted spares with chromed covers and mirrors, dual Pilot Ray lights that turn with the front wheels, a chrome radiator stone guard, and the Packard Goddess of Speed radiator mascot complete the stunning package.

The car was serviced under previous ownership by the noted marque experts at Stone Barn Auto Restoration of Vienna, New Jersey and had both bumpers re-chromed. Upon acquiring the car in 2018, the current owner had the interior refinished in high-quality red leather and the woodgrain restored. Additionally, the wheels were chromed and new stainless-steel spokes installed by Dayton Wire Wheel.

Intent on fully enjoying this Packard as originally intended, from behind the wheel, the current owner has kept it in top running condition, taking care of every detail, from rebuilding the dash-mounted timepiece to replacing the carburetor with an updated Detroit Lubricator unit from marque expert Scott Henningsen to increase reliability and drivability (the rebuilt original unit is also included). While under the continuous care of Early American Auto Repair in Berryville, Virginia, the fuel tank is said to have been replaced with a new stainless-steel unit and a Gear Vendors overdrive system was installed, greatly improving highway cruising. The current owner has driven this Packard on CCCA tours throughout Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, racking up nearly 6,000 miles over four years—a testament to the fastidious and thorough care continually bestowed upon it.

Previously enjoyed by known Packard connoisseurs and carrying among the rarest bodies of its era—one that influenced future Packard factory designs—this sumptuous, and well-loved DeLuxe Eight is an ideal candidate for concours and touring events, thanks to its smooth and potent L-head engine, four-speed manual transmission with overdrive, extended wheelbase, and well-executed upgrades that make it an eminently reliable and well-sorted driver.