1931 Packard Deluxe Eight Convertible Coupe by LeBaron
- One of three known survivors of a very rare semi-custom style
- The prototype for the production 1932–1934 Packard Coupe Roadster
- Formerly owned by renowned collectors Wayne Merriman and Gene Perkins
- Featured in Hugo Pfau’s The Coach-Built Packard
- A highly important design in Packard history
Among Packard’s catalogued “semi-custom” offerings on the 145-inch-wheelbase Deluxe Eight chassis of 1931’s Eighth Series, the convertible coupe by LeBaron stood proud as among the most attractive and desirable. It boasted distinctive lines, including a wide beltline molding, attractively sloping doors, a subtly curved rear deck, and—most attractive of all—a convertible top that folded flush with the body, for a clean smooth line all the way through the car. So attractive was this design that its lines would be borrowed by Packard, almost verbatim, for the factory’s production coupe roadster body of 1932–1934.
Only three LeBaron-bodied Deluxe Eight Convertible Coupes survive today. The car offered here is the only one of the trio not held in a long-term private collection, making its offering here an opportunity not to be taken lightly. Importantly, 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 this particular car.
The car is believed to have been acquired in the 1950s by the late, well-known enthusiast Wayne Merriman, for whom it was brought from California, driven under its own power as an excellent original car that, nowadays, would not have been restored. 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 recent 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, a feature of this car—believed unique—is a full trunk rather than a rumble seat, which, along with the proper fitted trunk and rack, would make the car a superb, capacious long-distance tourer. Thanks to the brightness of the painted red wire wheels, the earth tones of the body, a combination of creamy tan with russet brown moldings, show to their best effect and flatter the subtlety 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 has been recently serviced by the noted New Jersey firm of Stone Barn Auto Restoration and has had both bumpers re-chromed.
Enjoyed by known Packard connoisseurs and carrying one of the rarest bodies of its era—one that influenced future Packard factory designs—this is a sumptuous Deluxe Eight.