1930 Packard 745 Waterhouse Victoria

In the late 1920s, Packard was riding high on a wave of record sales and profits. With little indication of the trouble to come for the luxury car market as a whole, the company forged ahead with their latest model, the Seventh Series, introduced in August 1929. The range consisted of the 726 and 733 Standard Eight, followed by the uncharacteristically sporty 734 Speedster, then the 740 Custom Eight, and finally the superb flagship 745 Deluxe Eight. Per their usual practice, Packard offered a dizzying variety of coachwork options from their in-house body shop and independent coachbuilders. LeBaron, Brewster, Rollston, and Dietrich were the most prolific suppliers, however smaller boutique shops like Brunn, Judkins, and Willoughby also had their opportunity to grace Packard’s outstanding 7th Series with their finest work.

Waterhouse Company of Webster, Massachusetts, was a relative newcomer to the coachbuilding scene, founded by Charles Waterhouse at the end of 1928. Despite the firm’s small size, they quickly made a name for themselves, attracting prestigious customers. Waterhouse started on a high note, scoring DuPont Motors as their first client. Waterhouse created several distinctive and elegant designs, but the Convertible Victoria is widely regarded as their signature style. By exclusively using long-wheelbase chassis, designers had ample space for the broad, blind-quarter top to disappear entirely below the beltline, which afforded elegant, superbly balanced proportions. Waterhouse bodies were highly exclusive, exquisitely crafted, and fabulously expensive. Sadly, the Great Depression claimed Waterhouse in 1933, just five short years since its inception. In the end, Waterhouse created only 296 bodies in their Webster, Mass workshop, and estimates suggest a mere 24 cars survive to this day.

This breathtaking Packard 745 Deluxe Eight spectacularly highlights Waterhouse’s signature Convertible Victoria design, and is one of only five examples of the type paired with the flagship Packard 745 chassis. Noted classic-era restorer and collector Ray Belsito of Massachusetts discovered the body and chassis when he acquired a large collection of cars and parts from one of his local clients. Included in the assemblage was a significant number of genuine Waterhouse parts, which Ray used to rebuild the body. While not originally equipped with a Waterhouse body, this Packard 745 chassis proved the ideal platform to showcase the spectacular coachwork. Ray restored this car for himself, meticulously working in his spare time over a span of more than twenty years. The most recent owner was a friend and part-time employee of Ray’s, and was just 15 years old when he first encountered the beautiful Packard in the back corner of Ray’s workshop. He fell in love with its gorgeous lines, and after years of watching it slowly materialize, eventually convinced Belsito to part with it, enlisting his mentor’s talents to complete the project. After years of effort, the results are nothing short of spectacular. Since rolling out of Ray’s shop, it has received the blessing of Larry Waterhouse, a descendent of company founder Charles, who included it in his registry of known Waterhouse cars.

Fully restored from stem to stern, the bold and distinctive livery is what first catches your gaze. Mr. Belsito was particularly proud of his collection of original paint color swatches, and he scoured his archives for the inspiration for this unique and stunning combination. Naturally, the paintwork is finished to concours-quality standards, with superb panel fit and exquisite chrome trim. Numerous period-correct accessories include dual side-mount spare wheels, Packard “Adonis” mascot, radiator stone guard, twin Pilot Ray driving lamps, chrome disc wheels, and a windscreen sun visor. The accessories and colors impart this Packard with an undeniable presence yet do not overpower the exquisitely proportioned Waterhouse design.

The interior is swathed in lovely dark green leather, complementing the green body side panels. Like the exterior, the upholstery and trim are meticulously restored using the finest quality materials. Matching leather features on the door panels, which are topped with finely restored wood caps. Carpets, plated hardware, instruments, controls, and switches are all in superb order. The top is covered in a subtle salt-and-pepper pattern tan canvas, repeating on the side mount covers.

Packard’s legendary 384.8 cubic-inch inline eight got a few updates for the Seventh Series, including a new Detroit Lubricator updraft carburetor, and was rated for a healthy 106 horsepower. In this car, the big eight is presented in the proper shade of Packard green with black enamel fittings and accessories. Some light patina from occasional use is apparent in the “bake-off” of the porcelain-coated manifolds. Aside from that, it is beautifully and authentically detailed and, requiring only minor attention to return it to top-level concours condition.

Since completing the restoration, the most recent owner enjoyed this Packard sparingly on the road and occasionally in shows on the East Coast. On the rare occasions he showed the car, it regularly brought home the hardware. At the 2013 Boston Cup, it earned top honors in a special “Made in Massachusetts” class, and was later invited by Hemmings Motor News for their concours at the Saratoga Auto Museum. As offered here, this striking and eminently desirable Waterhouse-bodied Packard would be a welcome addition to any collection and is sure to garner plenty of admiration at prestigious concours events worldwide.


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