Chassis Num: 193514
Sold for $1,100,000 at 2006 Gooding & Company
Sold for $946,000 at 2011 RM Sothebys
Sold for $1,045,000 at 2015 RM Sothebys
In Warren, Ohio, the Packard Motor Car Company would be formed by James Packard, his brother William and a partner George Lewis Weiss. The company had started as the result of a challenge. And like everything in life, timing was everything.
Apparently Packard wasn't too thrilled with the Winton he had just purchased. He had written a letter complaining about certain aspects of the car, which would earn a sharp reply challenging Packard to try and build a better car. And so he would take up the challenge and do so.
Initially called the Ohio Automobile Company, Packard began producing cars that were better than the Winton. Very quickly the name became synonymous with quality and innovation. Some of those innovations included such items taken for granted today. They included the modern steering wheel and the first production 12-cylinder engine.
Packard's penchant for quality would lead the company to focus on designing and building cars not for the common man, but for only those that could truly afford such comforts. This quality would end up catching the eye of one of Detroit's wealthiest families. Henry Bourne Joy would purchase a Packard and would rave about its reliability and appointments. He would end up putting together a group to finance the company, at which time it would move to Detroit.
Backed by such an infusion of capital, the company could really afford to begin designing and producing some truly luxurious cars. Very quickly, Packard would form the third-'P' in American automotive royalty. Though considered right alongside Pierce-Arrow and Peerless, Packard would end up the number one designer and producer of luxury automobiles. Such a position at the top of the luxury car list was the result of the guiding and leading of General Manager Alvan Macauley.
America was booming during even up into 1928. The country was doing well, its people were doing well, and Packard was doing even better. Riding the boom, Packard would enjoy a gross income of almost $22,000,000 in 1928. Such wealth and profit enabled Macauley to run things on his own time table. By the time the company had introduced its fourth series, Packard, and Macauley, were doing things almost as they pleased. But they would soon realize that the free days were quickly passing into history.
The stock market crash would cause Packard, not to change direction, but try and fight its way out of it. The company would make some designs that were even more incredible than what people had come to know and appreciate them for. Of course the company had more money on hand than some of its other luxury manufacturer competitors. The idea at Packard was to mask the pain, or, as the title of the song would say, 'Put on a happy face'. Packard would put on an opulent face and would try and ignore the hemorrhaging happening. Some would go with the company and would purchase their new eight series.
But as the years rolled into the 1930s decade, the stock market crash would turn into an all-out depression. Much of America was out of work. Many of Packard's competitors had already closed its manufacturing facilities. And yet, Macauley continued to lead the company down the road of elegance and luxury. Unfortunately, by the time Macauley would introduce the ninth series, even those that had more than enough money were having a hard time parting with it. On top of it all, Packard's great reputation for quality was also hurting sales. Since people didn't want to part with their ever-evaporating money they would cling to what they had. If people already had a Packard they would not need another car as it would carry on with little incident time after time.
Never wanting to give up, Packard would forge ahead, but would end up making some necessary changes in order to survive. Many facilities would be consolidated. Other facilities would be abandoned altogether. One important relationship would remain; that with the coachbuilder Dietrich, Inc.
Macauley would provide the new ninth series with a variety of engines, wheelbases and coach designs. Everyone of these models would have the usual Packard quality that would provide a quiet ride and very elaborate appointments. However, none of these various offerings would match the quality of design and elegance of its Individual Custom.
Although Ray Dietrich had left his own company in the early 1930s, his services would be retained by Packard. Dietrich's personal touch in coach-building may have been a slow process but would end up being an absolute masterpiece when finished.
One of those Dietrich designed masterpieces would arrive in Monterey, California for the RM Auctions in August of 2011. Chassis number 193514 could only be described as rare and exotic. The 1932 Packard 904 Individual Custom Dietrich Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton that would go up for sale would be one of only two known Dietrich body-styles to have ever been placed on a 904 frame. And it is believed to be just one of only twelve Dietrich Sport Phaetons to have ever been built between 1932 and 1933.
The car sit idle for years in a hangar until it was purchased by Mr. Otis Chandler. The car had some damage to it but was still in its original condition. The intended restoration would never be finished and ownership of the car would shift to Ralph Englestad of the Imperial Palace. A restoration of the car would begin immediately. At the end of the restoration, the resulting product would be a striking Packard 904.
Its interior would be finished with Dark Blue leather upholstery and Light Grey carpeting. Its outer finish would be a striking Dark Blue with a Tan cloth top. The chrome wire wheels, headlights, bumper and grille would sparkle like diamonds against the Dark Blue finish of the car. Every aspect of the car would whisper prosperity. Of course to the common man the only word that would be coming to mind seeing such a car would be the word 'poverty'.
Sporting a strong 120 bhp 385 cu. in. 8-cylinder engine, the 904 Individual Custom would offer its passengers nothing but comfort and pleasure resting on the thick Dark Blue leather seats. Nothing was overlooked in a Packard; no opportunity lost. And in this 904, even small wood trim around the instruments and sides only help to set the mood. But this Phaeton also comes with a surprise. The rear window has two arched side windows that can either be easily attached to its sides, or, the whole thing can be easily stored in such a way that it is all hidden from view.
After completing of the restoration, the beautiful Dietrich Sport Phaeton would end up being purchased by General Lyon in 1998 and would become part of the incredible Lyon display. As part of the incredible Lyon Collection, this 1932 Packard 904 Individual Custom would fittingly represent the quintessential quality, taste and delight of a luxurious Packard that so many had come to expect and enjoy. Offered for sale after a dozen years with the Lyon Collection, the car was expected to receive anywhere from $1,000,000 to $1,400,000 at auction. At auction, the lot was sold for the sum of $946,000, including buyer's premium.Sources:
'Featured Lots: Lot No. 233: 1932 Packard 904 Individual Custom Dietrich Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton', (http://www.rmauctions.com/featurecars.cfm?SaleCode=MO11&CarID=r243&fc=0#). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/featurecars.cfm?SaleCode=MO11&CarID=r243&fc=0#. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Packard', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 August 2011, 09:10 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Packard&oldid=444773748 accessed 17 August 2011
Vaughan, Daniel. '1932 Packard Model 904 DeLuxe Eight new, pictures and information', (http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z12076/Packard-Model-904-DeLuxe-Eight.aspx). Conceptcarz.com: From Concept to Production. http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z12076/Packard-Model-904-DeLuxe-Eight.aspx. Retrieved 17 August 2011.By Jeremy McMullen