The first eight-cylinder Packard was introduced in 1924, replacing the 12-cylinder “Twin Six” that had simply become too expensive to build in the wake of the post-WWI recession. The excellent new straight-eight engine featured nine main bearings and was available only on the longer 136-inch and 143-inch wheelbase chassis. Ongoing engineering developments included a larger bore, aluminum pistons, revised combustion chambers and manifolds; together, these changes provided increased horsepower and performance over the course of a number of years – or Series, as Packard preferred to refer to model changes – and it was the venerable Packard Eight that carried the marque into post-war production. Beginning in 1928, eight-cylinder Packards were offered in either Standard and Custom models, with different engine displacement and differing levels of trim. The Custom Eight provided a 384.8 cubic inch engine and was available only in the longer 143-inch wheelbase chassis. By 1931 the 120 hp Eighth Series eight-cylinder engine was offered in two chassis that had grown to 140.5-inches and 145.5-inches, although the longer chassis was exclusively for seven passenger body styles. The ‘Individual Custom’ line, as it was now called, offered a choice of two Dietrich body styles or seven styles identified as “Custom Made by Packard” on the 140.5-inch chassis, realizing Packard’s ambition to build Individual Custom bodies in-house.
This rare and desirable Eighth Series Packard Custom Eight is distinguished by its very low production Dual Windshield Phaeton body constructed in Packard’s own East Grand Boulevard workshops. The designation refers to the traditional open Phaeton body with a second windshield separating the front and rear seating compartments and providing added comfort in the rear seat. This differs from the better-known Dual Cowl Phaeton body style that utilized cumbersome bodywork – a second cowl – between the two seating areas that would be raised or lowered on hinges each time occupants entered or departed from the rear seat.
A quality older restoration, this particular 1931 Packard Custom Eight is distinctive and presents well. The body is finished in light grey with a contrasting dark grey body molding and fenders, offset by red coach lines and red painted optional wire wheels. The interior is finished in red leather and the car is fitted with a tan cloth top. The paint is a bit tired and has several minor imperfections, the seats show some wear and use, but it all just adds to the character. Special equipment includes dual sidemount spare tires, wind wings, dual spotlights, stainless steel stone guard, a trunk rack mounted at the rear of the car, ‘Goddess of Speed’ radiator ornament and the car has been equipped with turn signals to use it in today’s world. A veteran tour car, the car runs and drives very well. The big straight eight starts easily, and the car is well sorted for touring.
This wonderful Packard represents a very attractive opportunity to enjoy a CCCA Full Classic™ automobile with all the pride, confidence and support that comes with Packard ownership.
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