For many enthusiasts, Packard’s magnificent 11th series represents the pinnacle of the marque, and in many ways, the zenith of the Classic Era of American automobiles. The 11th series is considered to be the final Packard model before streamlining made its mark on design language, and the car’s beautiful full-figured styling captures the essence of pre-war grandeur like few other cars. Packard generally took a conservative approach to style, while still managing to express a sense of quality and occasion that few other automakers could match.
The basic styling features skirted, full-figured fenders and V-shaped radiator, echoed by V-shape headlamp lenses and a subtly raked windscreen. The design varied slightly from the Tenth Series, but the results were dramatic as they gave the new car a low and purposeful appearance. The tradition of catalog and custom-catalog bodies remained, which ranged from formal limousines to a sporty and evocative speedster. Dietrich’s fabulous Convertible Victoria, style number 747, stood as one of the most prestigious and expensive bodies available. Preferred by owner-drivers, the Victoria could be closed in inclement weather, or the top could be lowered into a well behind the doors for a sleek open look when the sun came out.
Despite the deepening economic depression, Packard continued to offer the flagship twelve-cylinder, now renamed from “Twin Six” to simply “Twelve”; a name which Packard felt better conveyed the power and prestige of the model. Sales of the Twelve peaked at just 960 units for the year. Thanks to the efforts of influential Hollywood dealer Earle C. Anthony, all new 1934 Packards were engineered to receive a radio. As Beverly Rae Kimes said in her seminal book on Packard history, “At sixty, at seventy, or even a healthy eighty plus, the owner of one of the new Eleventh Series Packards could, if he wished, hear something besides the sound of his watch.” The style and occasion of the 1934 Packard are virtually unmatched by its contemporaries, and to this day, few cars capture the glamour of the 1930s quite like the marvelous 11th series.
One of the most desirable of all pre-war Packards, this 1934 1107 Dietrich Convertible Victoria is a fabulous example, fresh from a high-quality cosmetic restoration and mechanical refurbishment. Presented in a beautiful shade of metallic gunmetal gray, this is a finely detailed and breathtaking example of Packard’s pre-war tour de force. The subject of a recent bare-metal respray, the paint is finished to a high standard, and the extensive chrome trim was recently polished or re-plated as needed. Darker shades such as this suit the shape particularly well, and with the maroon chassis and medium gray fabric soft top, the effect is quite striking. Accessories include dual side-mount spare wheels with painted steel covers, chrome trumpet horns and the Goddess of Speed mascot, generally reserved for the most sporting Packard models. The fluid-filled, weighted bumpers (which acted to reduce vibration on rough roads) are rebuilt and carefully detailed. In addition to the paintwork, some of the structural woodwork was replaced where necessary, while the rest of the structure was thoroughly inspected.
The interior is finely preserved from a previous restoration, trimmed in dark red leather upholstery with matching carpets and panels. Front seats and rear seats are comfortable and roomy, and they show virtually no signs of use, remaining inviting and entirely up to the standards of the exterior cosmetics. During the recent restoration, the wood interior was removed and carefully refinished. The lovely painted woodgrain dash houses correct original instruments, and as this is a top-line model, there is an original factory radio centrally mounted in the fascia.
Packard’s magnificent 445.5 cubic inch V12 is arguably one of the greatest engines of the era. This example benefits from extensive servicing to ensure it delivers its 160 horsepower reliably and with the near-silence expected of a Packard Twelve. Recent work includes resurfaced heads installed using proper multi-layer head gaskets, top-end reseal, and a refurbished cooling system to include a new water pump and re-cored radiator. Also, the carburetor, fuel pump, and starter are freshly rebuilt and the fuel system cleaned and flushed. Detailing is to a high standard, with excellent chrome hardware and the heads, water pump and other items receiving a fresh coat of correct Packard Green paint, to bring the mechanical presentation up to near-concours levels.
Of the 435 1107s built in 1934, just a handful of cars left the Packard factory with the fabulous and stylish Convertible Victoria coachwork. Combined with the already gorgeous design of the base 11th series Packard, it is among the most important and desirable pre-war American automobiles; an essential addition to any collection of Full Classics. With fresh cosmetics and exquisite detailing, this fantastic Packard is ready for duty on the concours lawn, yet it is also sorted and dialed-in for enjoyment on tours and events.