In many ways, Packard’s 14th series marked a significant turning point for the company. Introduced in 1936 to replace the 12th series (there was no 13th series for superstitious reasons), the model itself was very much evolutionary. But it marked the end of the line for many signature Packard features such as the 17” wire wheels, ride control shocks, Bijur chassis lubrication and most notably, it was the final year for the legendary 385 cubic inch straight eight engine before the 320 cubic inch unit replaced it. As before, three distinct model lines were available; the Eight, Super Eight and Twelve. All were available in a tremendous variety of body styles and configurations. The Super Eight was the top eight cylinder model and it shared some key features and options from the Twelve, such as the special fluid-filled counter-weight bumpers that smoothed the ride on rough roads. Streamlining was beginning to take hold in American design language, and the styling for the 14th series was tweaked with the radiator tilted back a further 5 degrees, and full, curvaceous fenders wearing bullet headlamps. Just a few short years later, the headlamps would be enveloped within the fenders and the classic era of Packard styling would come to a close. 1936 models remain very collectible for their “last of the line” appeal and beautiful classic-era style.
This 1936 Packard Super Eight Coupe Roadster (model 1404, body style 959) is a rare example from the fourteenth series. Fewer than 1,500 Super Eights were built in 1936, and they remain very desirable among Packard enthusiasts. This is a complete and inherently sound example that shows lots of history with the noted Packard experts Hill & Vaughan from the early 1990s. The cosmetic condition is somewhat tired, with thin and checked paint over average-to-good quality panels. The body however, is generally sound and panel fit is good, and it doesn’t show signs of severe corrosion or physical damage. Chrome trim is complete and intact, with the optional counterweighted Twelve bumpers and fully plated grill shell appearing quite straight, however the plating is heavily corroded and peeling or pitted in most areas. Dual sidemount spare tires are topped with chrome covers and Packard mirrors, in similar condition. The dual bullet tail lights are in good condition, and some of the minor chrome trim is still serviceable. It wears several original accessories such as a Cormorant mascot, dual spot lights, and a pair of Trippe Light driving lamps, running board lamps, Super Eight luggage rack and the aforementioned weighted bumpers. The car rides on painted wire wheels which appear in fair condition, wearing good quality wide-whitewall tires. The underbody shows some surface corrosion and plenty of signs of use, though as with the body, the chassis appears generally sound.
Inside, the mocha brown leather upholstery is in good condition, showing some use but in rather good order with correct patterns and nice quality fit. A woodgrain painted dash is quite attractive, as are the original instruments and switchgear. This car is equipped with an optional radio as well as a lovely woodgrain pattern steering wheel. The door caps are wood veneer, and while they look generally good, the finish is peeling in areas. Overall, the interior is very much serviceable as-is and rather attractive and functional despite its age. Rumble seat upholstery is also quite good, appearing to have seen little use or sun exposure over the years. The convertible top is trimmed in tan canvas and appears in very good condition, showing no rips, tears or excessive wear.
In mechanical terms, this Packard Super Eight is in good order. It runs and drives well, and with minimal effort could be turned into a usable, albeit heavily patinated example. Extensive History at Hill & Vaughn shows the car was very well cared-for in mechanical terms, receiving an engine overhaul in 1993 as well as numerous other mechanical service items. Today, the engine appears in good condition; the legendary 385 cubic inch inline eight presenting in sound order. While this Packard Super Eight certainly has its needs, it can still very much be used and enjoyed as-is with little fettling. Alternately, given the mechanical upkeep it has received over the years and the generally sound foundation, it would make for a very approachable restoration. Regardless of your direction, this is a fine opportunity to acquire a rare, genuine, CCCA-approved Full Classic Packard 1404 Super Eight at a reasonable cost of entry.