1930 Packard 734 Speedster

In 1930, Packard took a big leap outside of its traditional comfort zone of luxury and prestige with the introduction of the overtly sporty, driver-focused 734 Speedster. The 734 (7th series, 134” wheelbase) was based on a new, shortened and boxed version of the Standard Eight chassis, which was designed exclusively for this model. Built in Packard’s newly established in-house custom shop, each 734 received a hotter variant of the proven 385 cubic inch straight-eight engine. The engine was upgraded with a newly designed separate intake manifold, oversize updraught Detroit Lubricator carburetor, and a 45-degree mounted, finned exhaust manifold. A larger vacuum booster was added and the engine was mated to a model-specific four-speed gearbox. These additions could push the new 734 to 100mph, so it also featured upgraded brakes with large, finned drums. Contrary to popular belief, the “Speedster” name referred not to the body style, but to the sporting nature of the chassis. The 734 Speedster was actually available in five different custom-catalog body styles: A two-seat boat-tail runabout, four-seat runabout roadster with rumble seat, sport phaeton, Victoria coupe, or sedan. In spite of the exceptional performance and quality, Packard only sold approximately 113 examples of the 734. The marketing team was unsure of what to do with such a high-performance machine, given the majority of Packard clients preferred luxury and silent operation over outright speed. Today, the 734 is one of the most coveted of all Packards, with only a handful of genuine examples surviving, it is considered by many to be the Holy Grail motorcar of the America Classic Era.

We are very pleased to offer this magnificent 1930 Packard 734 Speedster Runabout, a fully researched and vetted example with outstanding history and a recent, concours-level restoration. Chassis number 184088, this fabulous machine was delivered new to a Mrs. Sealey from Portland, Oregon. The firewall data plate confirms this information with a stated delivery date of 7-7-30 by Service & Sales, Inc. Portland, Oregon. It isn’t known how long Mrs. Sealey retained her Packard, but it was acquired by William F. Harrah in 1960, and it became part of his famous, world-class collection of motor cars. Mr. Harrah retained this Packard for twenty-six years, this automobile a clear standout in a collection that spanned as many as 1,800 cars. Following its time with Harrah, the car went directly to another important collection, that of General William Lyon. General Lyon was a noted connoisseur of important Packards, and this car was one of the true flagships of his collection. While in his care, the Speedster was kept in exceptional mechanical order by his team of full time mechanics, and it is said that General Lyons enjoyed driving it immensely, calling it “a car for the true enthusiast”.

The Speedster left the Lyons Collection in 2011 and while in the hands of its next and most recent owner was treated to a careful, yet comprehensive restoration to the stunning livery you see it today. Since General Lyons’ ownership, it has been carefully inspected by Packard 734 experts and found to be highly correct, still equipped with the original body (No. 442-26), chassis (No. 184088), engine (No. 184095), and other major components. The beautiful maroon coachwork is accented with black feature lines, fenders and chassis. The presentation is exceptional as one would expect from a concours-ready example, with impeccable panel fit, paint finishes, and show-quality chrome plating. Six exquisite new chrome wire wheels were specially built for this car and fitted with blackwall tires to provide the signature sporting character. The top is trimmed in black Haartz canvas, atop a fully restored frame. Side curtains are also included, as is a clear plastic dust cover for the top. Gorgeous, virtually new black leather seats are in beautiful order; staggered in the cockpit to allow the driver room for more spirited driving. Bright red carpets are bound in black enhance the sporty nature of the cabin as well. All detailing and finish work is executed to the highest of standards, worthy of show on the world’s concours circuit.

Mechanically, this Packard is fully sorted and well-prepared, with performance to match its exceptional cosmetic quality. It would be equally at home on a tour as it would on the show circuit and is a delight to drive. Comprehensive inspections confirm that it retains the original engine, steering box, frame, and rear axle as well as the correct finned manifolds. The gearbox, a known weak point on these 1930 models, has been replaced with a visually identical four-speed unit from 1931 as it has inherently stronger internals than the earlier units. In fact, of the 19 known 1930 734 Speedsters, only 7 retain their original gearboxes, and this modification is widely accepted in the Packard community, particularly for any car that will be driven and enjoyed as intended. The only other non-original component found was the front axle, though it retains the correct Speedster finned drum brakes. Detailing on the chassis and engine is virtually faultless, as one would expect from a show-ready and lightly driven example.

Having had just three owners in 57 years, this is an incredibly rare opportunity to acquire one of just a handful of genuine, verified 734 Speedster Runabouts in existence. It is a stunning motorcar with remarkable history in the hands of world-famous collectors and a restoration that is beyond reproach. Widely considered to be the ultimate Packard, the 734 Speedster Runabout seamlessly combines high style, exquisite quality, and 100mph performance in a timeless, stunningly beautiful package.

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