In 1931 the Great Depression's grip on America and its burgeoning automobile industry tightened into a stranglehold. Packard still stood at the top of the luxury market but its future, like that of its competitors both domestic and foreign, was tenuous. Despite Packard's success in providing high quality chassis for custom coachbuilders Alvan Macauley advocated bringing custom coachbuilding in-house and 1931 was the year his plan was implemented. Development of the lower-priced Light Eight was rushed ahead while its polar opposite, the new Twin Six V12, aimed at the pinnacle of Packard clients, those captains of industry and finance whose assets were sufficiently vast to be immune even to the depredations of the Depression. Both, however, would debut as Ninth Series 1932 models, announced on June 23, 1931. The 1931 production year for the Eighth Series Packards was opportunistically truncated as only Packard, which still insisted on designating its variations in series rather than model years, could do. Packard's 1931 may have had only ten months, but the automobiles built during this difficult period were exceptional. The Eighth Series Packards adopted the performance modifications of 1930's legendary Packard 734 -- an 8:1 compression ratio cylinder head, better breathing through larger intake and exhaust manifolds and a dual throat Detroit Lubricator updraft carburetor and a performance rear axle ratio -- across the board giving the DeLuxe Eight's strong and quiet nine main bearing 385 cubic inch engine 120 horsepower. Packard's big eight was then, and remains today, the paradigm for quiet, luxurious, unobtrusive power, more than adequate to propel even the day's heaviest and most lavishly appointed formal coachwork. When fitted with the more sporting and lightweight open bodies such as this Raymond Dietrich-designed dual cowl Sport Phaeton, Eighth Series Packards powered by the 120hp DeLuxe Eight engine with standard 4-speed transmission are capable of cruising comfortably in today's traffic. Superbly designed by Ray Dietrich, this Sport Phaeton is an older restoration that has recently been freshened. Presented in red with dark red fenders, beltline accent and wire wheels, it has tan leather upholstery, a beige cloth top, top boot and a full set of matching side curtains. Accessories appropriate to its wonderful style and quality include wide whitewall tires, chrome lock rings, a stainless steel radiator stoneguard, Packard 'donut-chaser' radiate cap mascot, Packard driving lights, a hinged dual cowl with windshield to protect the rear seat passengers, dual sidemounts with strap-on mirrors, cloth covered luggage trunk, front wind wings and a driver's spotlight. Significantly, the body center post has vent doors, a feature widely seen on Packard dual cowl Sport Phaetons. The restoration is older, solid, sound and highly presentable and has recently been freshened and comprehensively detailed. One of the most attractive cars of the classic era and benefiting from the Packard 734-derived performance improvements and 120 horsepower, this is an elegant, charismatic example of Packard quality, design and performance.
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