As the world’s economy began to falter going into the 1930s, some American luxury automobile manufacturers turned to lower-cost models to shore up their bottom line. Cadillac was among the first to enter the mid-priced field with the LaSalle in 1927, yet over at rival Packard, company management was at loggerheads about the prospect of offering an entry-level model. The board of directors worried about cheapening the prominent Packard name or alienating their most loyal, high-end customers who valued the company’s exclusivity. At the same time, dealers demanded more product to sell to a broader audience. The rollout of the mid-priced “Shovelnose” 900 in 1932 revealed just how uneasy the relationship between the board and dealers was, and within a single model year, the 900 got shelved.
Despite all the problems surrounding the contentious junior line, Packard remained committed as ever to serving their traditional clients, with a range of flagship models that were as spectacular as ever. In 1932, Packard responded to Cadillac’s opening salvo in the multi-cylinder war with the revival of their famous Twin-Six after a nine-year absence. Packard engineered an exquisite 67-degree L-head V12 capable of 160 horsepower and 322 lb/ft of torque. While not as technically advanced as the overhead-valve Cadillac Sixteen, the Packard Twin Six offered comparable power with exceptional refinement and reliability. Accommodating the V12 engine was a new X-braced chassis with four-wheel vacuum-assisted braking, a synchronized gearbox, and Packard’s meticulously engineered steering and suspension.
Few would argue that the Packard Twin Six’s standing as one of the finest production cars available in its day. Prices ranged from $3,650 to more than $7,000 for long-wheelbase models with Packard’s Individual Custom coachwork. Perhaps as a sign of the economic times ahead, just 549 buyers laid out the cash necessary to purchase a Twin-Six, and today, as when new, it stands among the most desirable automobiles of the Classic Era, prized for their exquisite style and exceptional performance.
This 1932 Series 905 Twin Six Coupe Roadster is a beautifully restored example of Packard’s twelve-cylinder flagship, recently out of forty years of continuous ownership by a noted collector and enthusiast. Records show that when the previous owner acquired this car, it wore original five-passenger sedan coachwork. Concurrently, he also owned an original and unrestored 8-cylinder 903 with factory-original Coupe Roadster coachwork. When the time came to restore the cars, he carefully removed the respective bodies from the firewall back and exchanged them between the two vehicles. He noted that the Coupe Roadster body’s mounting points aligned perfectly with those on the 142-inch wheelbase Twin Six chassis, and no modifications were necessary. Because of the ease of interchangeability between bodies, marque historians believe that Packard dealers of the period employed these very same techniques to meet customer demands for particular body and chassis combinations. The result of this project is an all Packard-made Twin Six Coupe Roadster, widely regarded as the holy grail of the early twelve-cylinder production models.
A well-documented and thoroughly-researched restoration followed, with technical input from numerous marque experts to ensure its authenticity. In 2008, the Classic Car Club of America awarded this car Full Classic status, and it is therefore eligible for their fantastic CARavan Tours and related events. Since the restoration, the 905 has been used sparingly and presents today in exceptional condition, finished in a striking dark brown livery with matching wire wheels and whitewall tires. Period-correct accessories include dual covered side-mount spares, twin chrome trumpet horns, dual driving lamps, Goddess of Speed mascot, spot lamp, and a trunk rack. Gorgeous tobacco brown leather adorns the seats and interior panels, which, combined with the brown canvas top, offers a lovely complement to the exterior paintwork. Interior woodwork is gorgeous, and the instruments, controls, and switchgear are beautifully restored. Still feeling quite fresh and crisp, the elegant and sporty Packard displays only minimal signs of use, with a commanding road presence in its restrained yet handsome color scheme.
Beneath the lengthy hood sits Packard’s legendary 445.5 cubic-inch L-head V12, mated to a three-speed manual gearbox with synchromesh. With 160 horsepower on tap, the V12 engine delivered outstanding performance with virtually unrivaled levels of refinement. Features of the 142-inch wheelbase chassis include adjustable ride control, and powerful, vacuum-assisted Bendix brakes. Packards of this era offer a sublime driving experience, thanks to the exceptionally well-engineered chassis. The accompanying history file includes photographs documenting the restoration of the underpinnings and body, along with period service information. The sale of this car presents a rare opportunity to acquire a genuine Packard Twin Six with highly desirable sporting coachwork and recent, high-quality restoration. This marvelous automobile is equally at home on the show field as it is on the road, and is sure to find a place of distinction in virtually any collection.
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