Sold for $55,000 at 2016 RM Sothebys
Packards twelve cylinder cars were originally known as the 'Twin Six'. It was a 60-degree V12, with two blocks of six cylinder set on an aluminum crankcase. It was designed by chief engineer Jesse Vincent, and gave the engine a displacement size of 424 cubic-inches. For 1916, this was the sole engine offered by Packard. Packard offered two wheelbase sizes, one that measured 125-inches and the other was larger, at 135-icnhes. Of course, a myriad of bodystyles were available, ranging from $3,050 to $5,150. This combination was well received by buyers, and sales reflected. Packard outsold its nearest luxury competitor (Pierce-Arrow), by four-to-one in its introduction year.
In the early 1920s, Packard offered a slightly less expensive version of the Twin Six. It was referred to as Single Six, Light Six or Series 116. It was an economical version and had a lower cost of manufacture.
For 1924, Packard replaced their Twin Six with a straight eight. This nine-main bearing unit was called the Single Eight. This Packard would serve the company for the next thirty years. Instead of using two fours mated end-to-end, it was one four in the middle of another, all cast en block. This resulted in a then-unusual firing order, but much reduced vibration. Crankshaft throws at the ends were at 90 degrees to those in the middle. Lighter by 350 pounds than the Twin Six, it developed ten percent greater horsepower and 20 percent better economy.
Another new feature to the mid-1920s Packards was the use of four-wheel brakes. Again, the public responded with sales exceeding 8,000, better than any Twin Six since 1917.
As the Great Depression came into sight, it immediately became clear that the luxury car market would suffer as the pool of potential buyers quickly dwindled.
On August 21 of 1933, Packard introduced its new Eleventh Series cars. They would remain in production through the following August when the Twelfth Series, 1935 cars were launched. The three models (Eight, Super Eight, and Twelve) were available in three wheelbases. In total, there were 41 different combinations of engines, wheelbases and body styles. To add to the diversity, there were 17 'catalog customs' bodied by coachbuilders LeBaron and Dietrich.
The Eleventh Series cars were given new fender contours that curved downwards nearly to the front bumper. Other changes included new radiator caps, hood door handles, better upholstery, and a fuel filler integrated into the left tail lamp. Mechanical changes included a new oil cooler and an oil filter.
As the Great Depression continued to progress, it became common to see vans and service cars on chassis such as Pierce-Arrow, Cadillac and Packard. In addition to their reliability and robustness, they could cruise at highway speeds achievable by few commercial trucks of the day.
This particular example began life as a Packard Super Eight LeBaron All Weather Town Car. It was delivered from the factory Park Avenue dealership in New York City on Christmas Eve 1933. Its ownership history is largely unknown, but at some point one of its owners took it to Peter McAvoy & Son, a commercial auto body builder in New Rochelle, New York.
Born in Ireland around 1860, McAvoy immigrated to the United States in 1881. By 1910, the census listed him as the proprietor of a wagon factory. By the 1920s, the census listed his occupation as 'carriage builder.' His son James later joined the business and became the president of Peter McAvoy & Son after his father's death in 1929. The company survived until at least 1955, by which time James' son John had become vice president.
The McAvoys cut the LeBaron body off just aft of the division partition, and constructed a high-quality wood body in its place. It has two fuel tanks which allows it extended range between fill-ups.
Around 1948, it was put into storage. In 1984, it was advertised for sale in Cars & Parts magazine, the sole contact given as an apartment address in Bronxville, New York. Prior to the current owner's acquisition in 2012, it passed through at least two further owners.
This unrestored vehicle has sliding glass rear windows, large roof vents, tether rings around the body, and no rear seating. The exhaust exits over the roof. It is believed that its purpose may have been to transport hunting dogs.
Currently, there are just two automobiles known to have been converted to wood bodies by Peter McAvoy & Son, and this is the only one believed to survive. The other is a 1939 Studebaker.By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2016
The Packard Motor Company relied on making luxurious cars that were highly refined, fitted with luxurious coachwork, and powered by proven engineering. This belief had placed them among the elite in the auto industry during the early 1900s. As the world entered the Great Depression, the Packard Company was one of the few that managed to survive. In fact, they outsold all of their competitors combined. They had entered the Depression in excellent financial health and they emerged with strong financial footing. But the post depression era had them worried, as the number of potential buyers had dwindled as fortunes were lost. Production had dropped nearly half each year when compared with the previous, from 1929 to 1933. In response to the decline, Packard continued to make improvements each year.
In 1932, Packard introduced their Ninth Series. It featured many improvements which helped segregate it from other automakers in the industry. Improvements included a revised steering geometry which made steering smooth and easy. Braking was equally as easy thanks to the new driver adjustable power assisted braking system. The shifting action and clutch were improved making driving a very enjoyable activity. The drivers workload was eased even further with the spark advance and automatic choke.
By making these changes they attracted a growing segment of buyers and drivers - woman.
The 1933 Packard's were called the Tenth Series cars as the company still refused to adopt the convention of the model year system which called for new cars to be introduced in September or October to coincide with the auto show schedules. The following year, the reluctantly joined with other manufacturers which resulted in a shorted run for the tenth series, lasting just seven months. The new Packard model line was introduced in the fall. Because of the seven month production lifespan of the Tenth Series, very few were produced making them very rare in modern times.
The Tenth Series were given a new X-braced frames, dual coil ignition, and downdraft carburetors. The styling was updated with skirted fenders and a 'V'-shaped radiator shell. The interior featured upgraded trim and a new aircraft inspired dash.
Packard continued to offer three chassis, the Eight, Super Eight, and the Twelve. The Super Eight and Twelve both rested on a wheelbase that measured 142-inches and had a hood that was nearly six-inches longer than the Eight. The fenders were longer as well.
The bodies on the Twelve's and Super Eight were interchangeable, with the Super Eight featuring an eight-cylinder engine while the Twelve featured a twelve cylinder engine. During this time, Packard also produced the Eight, which had a smaller wheelbase size and the eight-cylinder engine. The Super Eight and Twelve differed by interior appointments and engine size. The bodies were constructed of wood and steel.
In 1936 Packard was producing their Fourteenth Series as the number thirteen had been skipped. It is believed that thirteen was not used due to superstitious reasons. The Fourteenth Series was the last year for Bijur lubrication, ride control, a semi-elliptic suspension, mechanical brakes, heavy vibration dampening bumpers and the 384.4 cubic inch straight eight engine. It was also the last year for the option of wire or wood wheels.
In 1936 the fourteenth series received a new radiator which was installed at a five-degree angle. The Super 8 had a new sloped grille with chrome vertical bars which gave the vehicle a unique look and served as thermostatically controlled shutters which opened or closed based on engine heat. The headlight trim, fender styling, and hood vents saw minor changes. A new Delco-Remy ignition system was the new updates for 1936 under the bonnet.
For 1936 there were a total of 1,492 Super Eights constructed.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008