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 Packard 1607 Twelve photo

1938 Packard 1607 Twelve

Packard automobiles were among the most luxurious, most stylish, and highly competitive among the high-priced luxury American automobile segments, and was commonly referred to as being one of the 'Three Ps' of American motordom royalty, sharing this title with Peerless of Cleveland, Ohio, and Pierce-Arrow of Buffalo, New York. While rival Cadillac introduced a 314 cubic-inch V8 engine delivering 70 horsepower in 1915, considered to be the world's first mass-produced V8 engine, Packard introduced the 12-cylinder 'Twin Six.' Produced from 1915 to 1923, the 424.1 cubic-inch engine delivered nearly 90 horsepower at 2,600 RPM.

Cadillac's eight-cylinder line was joined by twelve- and sixteen-cylinders in the very late 1920s and early 1930s, further escalating the 'cylinder wars' that persisted throughout the industry. Packard's response revival of the Twin Six, introduced at the New York Auto Show in January of 1932 alongside the Light Eight. Both of these cars were intended to compete on two different fronts - the Light Eight was a lower-priced model intended to stimulate sales lost due to the Great Depression. The Twin Six was on the other side of the spectrum, catering to the elite in society, and were among the most expensive and exclusive vehicles in the industry. In 1933, it became known as the 'Twelve,' to align it with the rest of the Packard models.

The twelve-cylinder engine had cylinder blocks positioned at a 67-degree angle, built from cast-iron with aluminum alloy pistons, four main bearings, zero lash automatic valve silencers, and a Bendix-Stromberg EE-3 carburetor with an automatic choke. It had a bore of 3 7⁄16-inches and a stroke of 4-inches resulting in 445.5 cubic-inches of displacement. The engine was backed by a three-speed manual transmission with a single dry-plate clutch, floor-shift controls, and a one-piece driveshaft. Stopping power was provided by mechanical brakes on all four corners, and wheelbase sizes initially measured approximately 142- and 147-inches. Standard factory bodywork was applied to both wheelbase sizes, along with custom coachwork by several prominent coachbuilders including LeBaron and Deitrich.

A third wheelbase joined the Twelve in 1934, a shortened 135-inch platform of the Super Eight. The engine received aluminum heads and a slightly larger stroke for 1935, with displacement growing to 473.3 cubic-inches. Horsepower was now rated at 175 hp at 3,200 rpm while the higher compression version delivered 180 hp. The mechanical brakes and clutch were given vacuum assist and the gearbox was now fully synchronized. Wheelbase sizes now measured 132.5-, 139.25-, and 144.25-inches. For 1936, the shortest wheelbase chassis was no longer offered, and the radiator was angled by five more degrees. In 1937, hydraulic brakes became standard and the suicide doors were now conventionally hinged from the front. This was the Packard Twelve's most successful year of production with approximately 1,300 examples built.

1938 Packard Twelve
The Sixteenth Series 1938 Packard Twelves received the chassis of the Super Eight including a 127.4-inch, 134.4-, and 139.4-inch wheelbase platform. The Model 1606 received teh Super Eight's 127-inch wheelbase and the Model 1607 used the 134-inch wheelbase. The Model 1608 used the larger 139-inch version and included three factory body styles and three custom coachwork designs. The 473.3 cubic-inch twelve continued to develop 175 horsepower and used the three-speed selective synchromesh transmission.

Styling changes on the factory body styles were minimal, incorporating a rakish split vee'd windshield inspired by earlier Dietrich Individual Customs, a more formal, upright radiator, and higher front fenders 'wrapped' around the side-mounted spare wheels. Custom coachwork included an All-Weather Cabriolet and Touring Cabriolet by Brunn, and an All-Weather Cabriolet and All-Weather Town Car by Rollston. Factory bodies included a formal sedan, touring sedan, coupe, convertible coupe, sedan limousine, and convertible sedan.

The 1938 lineup was one of the most diverse lineups in its history, with models that included the Six (1600) powered by a 245 CID inline-6 with 100 hp, the Eight (1601, 1601D, and 1602) fitted with a 282 CID straight-8 with 120 hp (the One Twenty of the previous year was now the Packard Eight), and the Super Eight (1603, 1604, and 1605). The engine in the Super Eight displaced 320 cubic-inches and delivered 130 horsepower. The Packard six was built on a 122-inch platform, the Eight used either a 127- or 148-inch platform, and the Twelve and Super Eight used the 127, 134, and 139-inch wheelbases. Prices ranged from $975 to nearly $9,000.

Packard's most popular 1938 model was the Six with over 30,000 examples sold, followed by 22,624 of the Eight. The Super Eight had 2,478 sales while the Twelve remained the most exclusive with 566 examples built. 446 examples were built the following year, its final year of production. During its six-year production lifespan, Packard built 5,262 examples of its range-topping twelve-cylinder model.


by Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2021

Related Reading : Packard Twelve History

The Packard Twelve was produced from 1933 to 1939 with over 35,000 examples produced. It is considered by many to be one of the finest automobiles produced by Packard and one of the most significant creations of the classic car era. The long and flowing front hood hid a 445 cubic-inch side-valve twelve cylinder engine that was refined, powerful, smooth, and quiet. The engine was originally....
Continue Reading >>

1938 Vehicle Profiles

1938 Packard 1607 Twelve vehicle information

Coupe Roadster

Engine Num: A600374

For 1938 Packard introduced their new modern designs including enclosed coachwork. There were hydraulic brakes and an independent front suspension making these some of the more refined and sophisticated cars on the market. The V12 engine rested at a ....[continue reading]

1938 Packard 1607 Twelve vehicle information

Convertible Victoria
Coachwork: Dietrich

The Packard Twelve set the standard for refinement, class and distinction. This example is a 59,000 mile original Classic that was only repainted in 1995 in its original color of Chinese Red. It has had only four owners since new. Among the unusual f....[continue reading]

1938 Packard 1607 Twelve vehicle information

Convertible Victoria
Coachwork: Dietrich

While you could still order a Packard with custom coachwork, the Raymond Dietrich designed Convertible Victoria was the most expensive in-house production model offered. ....[continue reading]

1938 Packard 1607 Twelve vehicle information

Convertible Victoria
Coachwork: Dietrich

This V12 Victoria is one of only eleven produced in 1938, a year when Packard only manufactured 566 V-12 models. This model was the most expensive of the V12 models riding on a 134-inch wheelbase and sold new for $5,230. The vehicle weighs 5,345 poun....[continue reading]

1938 Packard 1607 Twelve vehicle information

Convertible Victoria
Coachwork: Dietrich

Chassis Num: A600378

The 1938 Packard Twelve was powered by an engine with a modified L configuration with valve stems almost horizontal and operated by a camshaft deep in the engine's head through roller rockers on hydraulically adjusted eccentrics. The result was an en....[continue reading]

1938 Packard 1607 Twelve vehicle information

Formal Sedan

The Twelve was introduced as Packard's entry to the super-luxury car market, and produced from 1933 to 1939. In 1938 they introduced their new modern designs including enclosed coachwork and many body changes, such as smoother, more rounded fenders a....[continue reading]

1938 Packard 1607 Twelve vehicle information

Convertible Coupe

By the late 1930's the Great Depression was hanging on but Packard, one of the leading manufacturers of luxury cars, was surviving and still setting standards in style and design. While many other luxury automobile makers had succumbed to the economi....[continue reading]

1938 Packard 1607 Twelve vehicle information

Club Sedan

The short wheelbase, V12-engined Packard Twelve Club Sedan was intended for the motoring enthusiast and is exceptionally rare. Only 27 were built by Packard in 1938 and fewer than a handful still exist. The Club Sedan is distinguished by the V-shaped....[continue reading]

Coupe Roadster
 
Convertible Victoria by Dietrich
 
Convertible Victoria by Dietrich
 
Convertible Victoria by Dietrich
 
Convertible Victoria by Dietrich
Chassis #: A600378 
Formal Sedan
 
Convertible Coupe
 
Club Sedan
 

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

$468-$4,100
1938 Packard 1607 Twelve
$6,700-$9,500
1938 Packard 1607 Twelve Price Range: $4,100 - $6,700

Other 1938 Packard Models

Twelve Sixteenth Series

Year
Production
Wheelbase
Engine
Prices
148.00 in.
8 cyl., 282.00 CID., 120.00hp
566
139.00 in., 139.38 in.
12 cyl., 473.00 CID., 175.00hp
$4,370 - $9,500
566
134.34 in.
12 cyl., 473.00 CID., 175.00hp
$4,100 - $6,700

Industry Production

#1#2#3Packard
1942Chevrolet (254,885)Ford (160,432)Plymouth (152,427)33,776
1941Chevrolet (1,008,976)Ford (691,455)Plymouth (522,080)72,855
1940Chevrolet (764,616)Ford (541,896)Plymouth (430,208)98,000
1939Chevrolet (577,278)Ford (487,031)Plymouth (423,850)46,405
1938Chevrolet (465,158)Ford (410,263)Plymouth (285,704)55,718
1937Chevrolet (815,375)Ford (765,933)Plymouth (566,128)122,593
1936Ford (930,778)Chevrolet (918,278)Plymouth (520,025)61,027
1935Ford (820,253)Chevrolet (548,215)Plymouth (350,884)31,956
1934Ford (563,921)Chevrolet (551,191)Plymouth (321,171)
1933Chevrolet (486,261)Ford (334,969)Plymouth (298,557)4,800

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