In 1932, while facing America’s worsening economic depression, luxury car builders seemingly put their heads down and produce ever more luxurious machines at the top of their ranges. But companies like Packard knew they needed large reserves of cash if they were to survive the next few years. One of the strategies employed by Packard to deal with the Great Depression was to consolidate as much of its body construction and trimmings as possible in its own facilities, filling the space that was becoming under-used as production dropped. Factory bodies became ever more popular with buyers, but custom coachbuilding was still far from dead, and Packard was particularly keen on maintaining a strong relationship with Murray Corporation’s affiliate, Dietrich Inc.
Raymond Dietrich’s reputation was beyond reproach among stylists of the late 1920s and early 1930s, and his designs provided welcome new ideas and concepts for Packard’s own coachwork. With the 9th series, Dietrich performed some of his best work; beautiful, elegant machines that made the best of Packard’s fabulous new chassis that was larger, more powerful and faster than any standard model that preceded it. In particular, the “Individual Custom by Dietrich” bodies, which were custom tailored for the flagship senior Packard Chassis (9th, 10th and 11th series) truly reflected the masterful talent of Dietrich. Though they could be purchased directly from a Packard dealer, they were hugely expensive, representing the most costly models available aside from true one-off custom coachwork. Each body was custom-tailored to the buyer’s wishes and in many ways they were the last truly custom Dietrich bodies, as later production cars wearing the Dietrich name simply borrowed styling cues from earlier Individual Customs. Even after Dietrich’s ouster from the firm that bore his name, his influence was felt on Packard’s design catalog for many years to come, and Dietrich-bodied Packards continue to draw attention from collectors and enthusiasts for their impeccable, breathtaking style.
Our gorgeous featured Packard is a 1932 Eight Deluxe 904 wearing rare and desirable Individual Custom Sport Phaeton coachwork by Dietrich. This fabulous car was sold new on August 18th 1932 by Douglas M. Longyear, Inc., also known as Hollywood Motors, a Packard dealer located just down the road from the Gruman Chinese Theater. It has been fully restored to concours standards in its fabulous original color scheme of Moss Agate Grey on the body and chassis, with Aztec Olivine Brown feature lines and off-white coach stripes. Fine details include body colored louvers in the radiator grille, and body colored wheel rims contrasting chrome hubs and spokes. The car rides on a set of brand new blackwall tires for an effect that is understated yet quite striking, perfectly suited to Ray Dietrich’s fabulous and sporty styling. As these cars were built to suit for the buyer, it is clear the original owner had quite fine taste.
The presentation is fabulous, the car having been treated to a recent full restoration to very high standards of quality. Paintwork, body fitment and detailing are exquisite as one would expect from a concours quality restoration. Chrome plating is beautiful and the body is adorned with a Goddess of Speed mascot, dual sidemount spare wheels with body colored covers, chrome counterweighted bumpers, and an original luggage rack in the rear. The Sport Phaeton body style gives the car a long, low slung and sporting appearance, with its laid-back split windscreen and gracefully sweeping fenders. Rear passengers are kept comfortable thanks to a separate central windscreen with unique, half-moon wind-wings that fold outward. For the full open-air effect, the rear screen can be fully retracted into the back of the front seat.
The lush and luxurious cabin is trimmed in light mocha-colored leather front and rear. The seats and carpets appear absolutely fresh with no apparent wear and extremely high quality presentation. Beautiful door panels are covered in matching leather and properly detailed, capped with gorgeous wood trim. The dash houses a beautiful array of factory instruments and controls, all finished to a high standard.
As one should expect from such an impeccably prepared Senior Packard of this era, the car is mechanically robust and has been enjoyed for many thousands of miles on tours and events through the years. It remains in fabulous order, with a properly detailed inline-eight cylinder engine and a clean and tidy chassis. The most recent owners have treated the car to a thorough freshening, and it has appeared at events such as the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. This fabulous Individual Custom Dietrich is presented in attractive colors, is a joy to drive and is virtually concours ready. This is a marvelous opportunity to acquire one of the most stylish and desirable Packards of the Classic Era, fresh from long-term stewardship in a large and important collection.