On July 1, 1927, Packard introduced its new-for-1928 line. It would prove to be a time of transition for Packard, who found themselves competing against their traditional rival Cadillac, but also against GM’s new mid-price companion brand, LaSalle. The excellent six-cylinder model served as Packard’s entry-level model for most of the 1920s, with the eights and twelves reserved for exclusive, high-end models. But General Motors took a hard shot at Packard by offering their entry-level LaSalle with a Cadillac-based 90-degree V8 engine.
With LaSalle taking some of the shine off Packard’s tried-and-true six, they needed a new plan of attack. Fighting fire with fire, as it were, Packard split the 1928 4th Series eight-cylinder line into the Custom Eight and Standard Eight, with the Standard aimed squarely at wrenching back sales from LaSalle. The plan worked quite well, as sales of eights nearly doubled from the previous year. A casualty of the Standard Eight’s success was the Single Six, which entered its final year of production for 1928. Denoted as the Fifth Series, the six-cylinder range was available with a wheelbase of either 126-inches or 133-inches. These were owner-driver cars, built to a standard of quality synonymous with Packard in the 1920s, and offered in a range of stylish body options that suited everyone from families or young sportsmen. Despite the Six being on the chopping block, it provided a solid foundation and led Packard to another record production year. Of the 41,750 Fifth Series cars produced, the venerable 526 accounted for more than two-thirds of sales.
The 1928 Packard 526 on offer here is a handsome 5-passenger sedan that received a very high-quality, body-off restoration in the 1990s and has since been maintained in superb condition in the care of the same family. Photos of the car before the project reveal it started as an honest example needing some love, but otherwise complete. Documents and some photographs show the extensive nature of the project, performed by Autos of Yesteryear in Rolla, Missouri, including structural woodwork repair, a full interior re-trim, and more. With the body off of the chassis, restorers stripped and refinished the frame in gloss black, and carefully refurbished the mechanical components before installation. The body is superb, with excellent paintwork atop straight and well-aligned panels. Period appropriate colors suit the understated and elegant factory coachwork, which features a rear-mounted spare wheel to maintain a clean, uninterrupted flow of the fenders. Painted steel disc wheels tie together with the contrasting-color window surrounds, and red pinstripes complement those on the body. The brightwork is in excellent condition all around, including the bumpers, drum headlamps, and radiator shell. Accessories include a Moto-Meter, radiator stone guard, fan-style exhaust deflector, and cast Packard-script running board boot scrapers.
The interior is equally as impressive as the body and paint, with taupe fabric upholstery used on the seats and door cards showing in exceptional condition. This restoration was well-researched and carefully executed, reflected by the quality materials and detailing of the passenger compartment. Rear passengers enjoy a roomy bench seat, and period-correct roller blinds on the rearmost windows offer up shade and privacy. Carpets and headlining are in superb condition, as are the refurbished original instruments and switchgear. Some of the interior brightwork, including doorknobs, window winders, and pull handles show a moderate degree of patina in the finish.
Packard’s 288 cubic-inch inline-six shared the same underlying architecture and high levels of refinement with the big L-head eight. With 80 horsepower output, it propels the lightweight 526 along handily. The engine of this car is detailed correctly in Packard green engine paint with a high-quality black finish on the accessories and fittings. Done with both show and touring in mind, the engine remains in superb cosmetic condition, showing moderate signs of use since the restoration. Similarly, the chassis and suspension components present in excellent condition, belying the age of the restoration.
Early six-cylinder Packards such as this enjoy Full Classic status with the Classic Car Club of America and are eligible for their CARavan tours and related events. This cheerful and attractive 526 sedan would be a marvelous foray into the world of classic touring, thanks to its approachable size and exceptional value. We rarely encounter Packard sixes restored with such care and attention to detail, yet thanks to the passion and dedication of the previous owner, we have this lovely example to enjoy and remind us what a superb motorcar the 526 was in its day. Despite the time passed since the restoration, it remains in excellent condition and is suitable for regular enjoyment on family outings, club events, or regional concours.
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