1938 Packard Twelve Coupe Roadster

Introduced in September 1937, Packard’s sixteenth series marked the penultimate year for the legendary flagship Twelve. Since its revival in 1932 as the Twin Six, buyers instantly recognized Packard’s twelve-cylinder model range as one of the finest luxury motorcars in America. Through numerous design improvements, the mighty L-head V-12 developed an impressive 175 horsepower by the late ‘30s and sat in a precisely engineered chassis with exceptionally refined handling and ride characteristics. The Sixteenth series saw the marriage of the V-12 engine with Packard’s new independent front suspension, which further improved the already excellent road manners. As usual, many bodies were available, including standard offerings and “custom catalog” styles from Brunn and Rollston. All shared the same handsome, streamlined front-end styling, with bulled headlamps flanking the proud Packard grille, which was steeply raked with a pronounced V-shape. Unfortunately, the lingering effects of the Great Depression dampened sales of custom-built luxury cars, and sales lagged dramatically. Packard produced only 566 Twelves for the 16th series, and with fears of war brewing, the pride of Packard would not survive past 1939. This splendid 1938 Packard Twelve features the stylish and sporting factory-built Convertible Coupe body, style number 1139 in the catalog. This Model 1607 rides on the 134 3/8-inch wheelbase chassis with independent, coil-sprung front suspension. It is handsomely presented in black over dark red upholstery and benefits from a well-maintained older restoration. It is understood that Dick Nary of Detroit, Michigan had the car restored in the 1990s while it was part of his collection, and the Classic Car Club of America National First Prize award on the cowl attests to the quality of the work. After the most recent owner acquired this car in 2008, he ensured it was consistently and expertly maintained to a high level by a well-known Classic Era specialist. It presents today in excellent condition, with the gently mellowed restoration encouraging regular driving enjoyment. The coachwork is in fine order, with consistent panel alignment and glossy, attractive paintwork. A few minor imperfections are noted on close inspection, such as a spot or two of thin paint, yet none of these detract from the car’s appealing character. Brightwork is similarly excellent, and period-correct accessories include dual side mount spare wheels with body-color metal covers, dual Senior Trippe Lights, a factory trunk rack, and a Cormorant mascot. The cabin is trimmed in beautiful burgundy-red leather and is faithfully detailed in the factory-correct patterns and oval buttons on the driver’s seat and matching rumble seat. The leather upholstery is excellent, displaying a particularly appealing, lightly broken-in character. Equipment includes a factory radio, ivory-colored banjo steering wheel, and a factory heater. Roll-up glass side windows and a snug-fitting tan canvas top ensure excellent weather protection on less-than-ideal days. Packard’s sublime twelve-cylinder L-head engine is one of the all-time greats in American motoring. Powerful yet turbine-smooth, it is a benchmark of 30s-era quality and prestige. Beneath the hood of this car, the ‘twelve is well-detailed in the correct shade of Packard green and dressed with excellent chrome hardware and gloss-black ancillaries. Some of the enamel has baked off the exhaust manifolds - a common occurrence on cars that see regular road use. Recent test drives have proven this to be a superb driver’s car, with excellent road manners and predictable handling thanks to the independent front end. The engine is smooth and quiet, sending 175 horsepower through a 3-speed manual gearbox that operates with clean, positive shifts. The restorers added an overdrive unit in-line with the gearbox for more efficient high-speed cruising, ensuring the big twelve is unstressed on long trips. Of the 566 Sixteenth Series Twelves produced, only a tiny fraction of those were convertible coupes, and the handful of survivors rank among the most sought-after of all eight- and twelve-cylinder Packards of the period. Thanks to years of attentive care and enthusiastic use, this lovely example is prime for driving pleasure in a wide range of rallies and tours and will undoubtedly be a cherished part of its next caretaker’s collection for years to come. Offers welcome and trades considered

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