St. John's

27 July 2013

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Lot 130

1932 Packard Twin Six Sport Phaeton

  • Chassis no. 900363
  • Engine no. 900348
  • Body no. 581
  • Vehicle no. 581-15

Sold for $330,000

Series 905. 160 bhp, 445.5 cu. in. modified L-head V-12 engine, single Stromberg dual downdraft carburetor, three-speed manual transmission, semi-elliptic front and rear leaf spring suspension with live axles, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 142.5 in.

  • Formerly the property of John McMullen
  • Restored by Fran Roxas
  • Former Pebble Beach Concours Best in Class and Most Elegant Open Car winner
  • Presented still in excellent, show-ready condition

Packard thumbed its nose at the Great Depression in 1932, unveiling its new Ninth Series, an expanded line of luxurious, beautifully engineered cars, crowned by the Twin Six. This new “ultimate Packard” boasted a 445.5-cubic inch V-12, producing 160 horsepower at 3,200 rpm. 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.” A Stromberg dual downdraft carburetor fed fuel supplied by a Stewart-Warner pump. Shifted by a three-speed manual transmission, Packard claimed a top speed for its new star “in excess of 85 mph,” with the actual figure reportedly closer to 100 mph for all body styles. There were 21 in all, divided between two lines, of which the 905 boasted a 142-inch wheelbase chassis and included the sportier styles.

Given its superb quality and outstanding performance, the Twin Six was a riotous bargain for the luxury car buyer, with its prices only $100 to $150 above those of the Deluxe Eight. As with the Auburn V-12 of the same era, buyers were apparently put at unease by such a low price for a “fine car,” and sales of the model in its introductory season were mediocre: a reported 549 cars. Sales improved somewhat when prices were raised $500 the following year, and the Packard V-12 would remain on offer through 1939, although the Twin Six name was retired in favor of the Twelve after 1932.

The dual-cowl Sport Phaeton offered here is an original, numbers-matching 905 Twin Six chassis with a correct, original, and very solid sport phaeton body. Unusual for a senior Packard of this era, the car does not have side-mounted spares, but instead, it is carrying a single tire at the rear, in place of the customary close-mounted luggage rack and trunk. The result is an appearance of added length and lowness, exaggerating the beauty of the design.

The car was acquired in 1992 by respected collector John McMullen, from its owner of over a decade, well-known enthusiast Frank McGowan. Frank’s brother Bobby recently reaffirmed to RM that when his brother purchased the car in the late 1970s or early ’80s, it was a very solid and complete vehicle that ran and drove well, requiring only a repaint. Nonetheless, Mr. McMullen sent the car to Chicago-area craftsman Fran Roxas for a complete restoration; Mr. Roxas later recalled the body’s exceptional condition, stating that “we didn’t have to replace a single piece of wood,” and noting that even the usual expected repairs to the bodywork were all minor.

The car was finished in the correct 1932 color of Aztec Olive, with professionally applied light green double pinstriping, an interior upholstered in light tan leather, and a tan canvas top and matching tire cover for the spare, both of which are tailored to fit. The interior is flawless, and the wood grain dashboard and instruments are in excellent condition, as is the wood grain door trim. The car is fitted with double whitewall tires, a Pilot Ray center-mounted driving light, and dual spotlights. The engine was painted in correct Packard Green, and the drivetrain, engine compartment, and undercarriage are all meticulously detailed.

The car received its First in Class honors at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1993, as well as the Most Elegant Car honors. It was judged at 100 points in a Classic Car Club of America competition, successively earning its Junior, Senior, and Premiere awards. It achieved First in Class at Meadow Brook Hall, Eyes on Design, and the Willistead Concours in Windsor, Ontario, and it received a Premiere Award at Hickory Corners in 2002. Acquired from Mr. McMullen several years ago by its present owner, a prominent collector in the American Southwest, it has continued to be carefully maintained in beautiful overall condition, and it presents today as well as it did during its show years.

This special Sport Phaeton, on the ultimate chassis, from one of the finest Classic years of Packard, remains a spectacular example, as it has been restored by known craftsmen to award-winning condition and has been treasured ever since by respected enthusiasts.

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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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

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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

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Gord Duff

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Michael Squire

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Mike Fairbairn

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

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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 lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more