19-20 August 2011

Lyon Family Collection

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Lot 224

1930 Packard 734 Speedster Boattail Runabout

  • Chassis no. 184089
  • Engine no. 184095
  • Body no. 442-26

Sold for $506,000

145 hp 384 cu. in. L-head eight with Detroit Lubricator dual-throat carburetor and high-compression head, four-speed manual transmission, front and rear semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel mechanical brakes with finned drums. Wheelbase: 134.5"

- Offered from the Lyon Family Collection; Ex-Harrah Collection
- An authentic, original 734 Boattail Runabout
- One of the limited few authentic Speedster Boattail Runabouts known to exist
- Only two owners in the last half-century

One of the motor cars on the short list of any serious collector is the 1930 Packard 734 Runabout. Since its inception, Packard built its reputation for manufacturing a superior automobile which employed the finest craftsmanship and engineering available at the time. Like most manufacturers, Packard participated in racing, but aside from its earliest days when it offered street versions of its racing cars, the models available to the general public were generally more reserved. That is, until, the introduction of the 626 Speedster in 1929 and the 734 Speedster the following year.

Vice President of Engineering and father of the Twin Six Colonel Jesse Vincent convinced the management of Packard that the firm needed to shrug off some of its reputation of restrained elegance and attempt to tap the performance market being courted by the Cadillac V-16. The top brass approved the initiative, and Vincent quickly went to work employing every ounce of his engineering might to squeeze horsepower out of the venerable Packard eight.

The backbone of the 734 was the Standard Eight 733 chassis which was boxed for rigidity. The engine was modified extensively with the use of a Detroit Lubricator dual-throat carburetor in addition to alteration of the inlet and exhaust ports from squared port on a vertical plane to a more practical hemispherical port set at a 45-degree angle. This maximized the larger manifold openings and separated the exhaust and inlet manifolds, resulting in a larger capacity, better flowing exhaust system. Of course, exhaust vented even more freely when the foot-operated cut-out was engaged. Buyers of the 734 were offered, at no additional cost, a higher compression head with a compression ratio of 6:1 which produced 145 horsepower. It is difficult to imagine any 734 buyer not opting for this free performance upgrade. In fact, RM specialists have verified that chassis 184088 is still equipped with the high compression head. The exhaust manifold was finned, as were the special forged iron brake drums which allowed for a two-inch wide braking surface. Rear-end gears could be chosen in 4.11:1 or 4.27:1 ratios for a top speed of over 100 miles per hour in top gear.

In a world full of gimmicks, it is ironic to consider that the 734 was made of pure substance and that almost no marketing, except for a single eight-page brochure, was used to inform potential buyers. It is quite possible Packard knew they had a “halo car” before the term was invented and intended to generate an air of exclusivity by quietly offering it to clients “in the know.” Another plausible explanation is that the management, understanding their reputation as a purveyor of proper motor cars for high society, was afraid of alienating its shrunken pool of elite clientele with the brash new model.

Packard offered the 734 Speedster with five different body styles. The Rumbleseat Runabout, Phaeton and Boattail Runabout were priced at $5,200, while the Victoria and Sedan were an even $6,000. The passenger seat is set back from the driver’s seat, indicative that the operator may need a little extra elbow room for spirited driving. Surely due to a lack of marketing rather than the considerable price, production was only 113 units for all body styles. Early collectors recognized the 734 as superlative in the 1940s, and Smith Hempstone Oliver created the 734 registry in the 1950s.

This example, chassis 184088, was delivered new to a Mrs. Sealey from Portland, Oregon. The original firewall data plate confirms this original delivery with a stated delivery date of 7-7-30 by Service & Sales, Inc. Portland, Oregon. The car was acquired by William Harrah in 1960, and it became part of his famous, world-class collection of motor cars. The car’s file does include memos regarding the proper tuning of the engine which imply that Mr. Harrah was personally involved with getting the car sorted. For a man who had as many as 1,800 cars, the personal attention given this car says a lot about its stature within his collection. RM has verified that the complete restoration file is intact at the National Automobile Museum library, which maintains all of the Harrah library holdings, and that copies of all documentation can be made available by the library.

Since General Lyon’s 1986 acquisition of this 1930 Packard 734 Speedster, it has been exceptionally well maintained by two full-time mechanics in the Lyon Collection. In fact, the General has always regarded this example as a car for the true enthusiast and has enjoyed driving it immensely. It is finished in a period-correct color scheme of Salmon with Chocolate Brown belt moldings, fenders and underside, which is uncommon today and exceptionally pleasing. The interior is finished with Light Brown leather with Burnt Orange carpeting and a Tan Haartz cloth top. Additional equipment includes chrome wire wheels wearing sharp blackwall tires, dual side-mounted spare tires, radiator stone guard, wind wings and a "Daphne at the Well" radiator mascot. With sleek styling, rarity and performance, this 1930 Packard 734 Speedster Boattail Runabout will be the proud acquisition of the most discerning collector. Authentic examples become available only once or twice a decade, therefore we suggest careful consideration prior to its arrival on the block.


Please note this vehicle is titled by its Engine Number 184095 .

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo

Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Sotheby's in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in Histo... read more

Alex Classick

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Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby's in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born ... read more

Annette Abaci

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With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Barney Ruprecht graduated from Boston University in 2013 with a degree in Hospitality Administration. In ... read more

Dan Warrener

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Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a car specialist in May 2015. He is a lifelong automobile enthusiast and g... read more

Don Rose

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Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord joined RM Sotheby's in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and re... read more

Ian Kelleher

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Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Sotheby's in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in ... read more

Jonathan Sierakowski

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Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a restoration shop as a teenag... read more

Max Girardo

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Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby's, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Gra... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his ho... read more

Peter Wallman

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United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

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Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a car specialist. A... read more