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.

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

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

David Swig

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. He is a life-long automobile enthusiast and ... read more

Don Rose

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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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 Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

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Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Jonathan Sierakowski

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Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... 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 hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... 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, where he was based out ... 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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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more