St. John's

27 July 2013

Previous Next

Lot 144

1932 Packard Individual Custom Eight Convertible Victoria by Dietrich

  • Chassis no. 194181
  • Engine no. 194200
  • Body no. 5468
  • Vehicle no. 904-95

Sold for $374,000

Model 904. 135 bhp, 384.8 cu. in. L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 147.5 in

  • Iconic Dietrich Convertible Victoria
  • Award-winning restoration by Mark Clayton
  • Offered from the Estate of John O’Quinn

Packard’s 1932 line comprised a curious mix. At the bottom was a new lower-priced car, the Model 900 Light Eight. Not much smaller than other Packards, in fact only two inches shorter than a Standard Eight, it was indeed lighter, tipping the scales at 3,930 to 4,115 pounds, compared to the larger car’s 4,317 to 4,735. More importantly, it sold for $1,750 to $1,795, a good $700 less than comparable Standard Eight body styles. Of distinctive appearance, with a unique “shovel nose” radiator grille, it looks attractive even today, but sales were disappointing, with fewer than 7,000 built before production was discontinued at the end of the year. More of a problem than its lackluster popularity was the car’s cost to build. Packard quality had not been skimped on, and $1,750 left scant room for profit, too little to have been made up on volume, even if sales had miraculously improved.

At the upper end, the company brought back the Twin Six but with a wholly new engine designed by Cornelius Van Ranst, whose credits included the Cord L-29. With a narrow, 67-degree vee, it was of unusual configuration, with nearly horizontal valves actuated by hydraulic tappets. The combustion chamber was partially in the block, giving rise to the description “modified L-head.” Displacing 445.5 cubic inches, it developed 160 brake horsepower at 3,200 rpm. The engine was installed in the chassis of the Deluxe Eight, where it was offered with no fewer than 21 body styles and priced from $3,745 to $7,950. Six of these were the work of Dietrich Inc.

Dietrich Inc. was founded in Detroit in 1925. Raymond Dietrich came from Brewster & Co., where he had been an apprentice draftsman. There, he prospered, met Tom Hibbard, and teamed with him in the venture that became LeBaron. After Hibbard left for Paris, and left his partnership with Dutch Darrin, Dietrich was lured to Detroit by Murray Corporation of America’s president, Allen Shelden, acting on the influence of Edsel Ford. When offered 50 percent of a new firm, to be named eponymously, Dietrich sold his LeBaron stake and relocated. Initially working mostly on Lincolns, Dietrich Inc. did some bodies for several Packard agents, which led to a series of three custom show cars that manager Jack Parvis took on a nationwide tour in 1926. At tour’s end, he had 150 orders, which came to the notice of Packard President Alvan Macauley, who ordered 175 more for the company. Thus began a long association of Dietrich with Packard, resulting in hundreds of custom and semi-custom bodies for the marque. Dietrich Inc. became the largest American supplier of non-production bodies in the country; examples won gold awards at Paris and Monte Carlo, and his designs became the talk of the Salon circuit.

What is often forgotten is that Packard’s same Dietrich Individual Custom bodies could be ordered with the Deluxe Eight engine, for $700 less, model for model, where they were called “Individual Custom Eights.” This car is one of those customs, a Style 2072 Convertible Victoria. In contrast to Packard’s own bodies, which generally had switched to forward-hinged front doors, the Dietrich Customs all held to “suicide” doors, hinged from the rear.

The convertible victoria style is particularly associated with Packard. A close-coupled, four-seat convertible with blind rear quarters, the convertible victoria makes up in coziness what it lacks in driver visibility. The late Hugo Pfau, himself a veteran of the coachbuilding industry, illustrates a number of examples in his book, The Coachbuilt Packard. Examples were produced over the years by Hibbard and Darrin, Graber, Waterhouse, and Packard’s own production lines, where they were sourced from Murray. Dietrich’s design is generally acknowledged as the most graceful; in fact, the Murray-built bodies are virtual copies, differing only in detail but built in much greater numbers.

This car’s original cowl plate indicates it was delivered new on September 30, 1931, by LeBoutillier & Dolan, the Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, dealer. When purchased by Gene Rouse in the mid-1970s, it had been much modified; the body was sectioned about two inches, with other metal reconfigured to suit, and a number of inappropriate parts were installed. Subsequent owner Jackson Brooks dismantled the car while considering the best way to proceed with a restoration. The matching original engine, number 194200, and chassis, number 194181, were sold to an Oklahoma collector at a point when Brooks was considering transferring the body to a V-12 chassis, which would’ve been allowed by the CCCA rules of the day, but they were ultimately properly reunited with the Dietrich body, number 5468.

The partially restored engine, chassis, and body were turned over to Colorado restorer Mark Clayton. His meticulous work was capped off with the original Packard data plate, vehicle number 904-95. On its first outing, a CCCA national meet in Dallas, it scored 100 points and earned First Junior honors, followed soon by First Senior at Albuquerque, and the car was further honored with a CCCA Senior, medallion number 20075. After a short succession of owners, the car passed to John O’Quinn, from whose estate it is now offered.

Very handsome in deep maroon, it has tan leather upholstery and a tan canvas top. Despite the fact that the restoration is now more than a decade old, it presents very well, with virtually no signs of use or wear. Convertible victorias are among the most prized of Full Classic Packards, with the Dietrich-built cars most of all. This car, with its remarkable rebirth, is in a class of its own.

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

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

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

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
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

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

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

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

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

+1 954 566 2209
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

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

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

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

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

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

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

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

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

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
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

+1 519 352 4575
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

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
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

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
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

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

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

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

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

+31 653 84 19 60
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