10-11 October 2013

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Lot 133

1938 Packard Super Eight Convertible Coupe

  • Engine no. A501613
  • Vehicle no. 1119-2035

Sold for $176,000

Series 1604. 130 bhp, 320 cu. in. L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed synchromesh manual transmission, coil-spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 134 in.

  • One of eight known survivors
  • Reportedly originally owned by Paul “The Waiter” Ricca
  • Rare “Group A” options
  • Award-winning restoration, with incredible attention to authenticity

By 1938, Packard’s “junior” Six and One-Twenty lines accounted for the bulk of the company’s sales, but a full array of “senior” eight-cylinder cars continued to be offered in the large and powerful Super Eight series. Most prominent among them was Packard’s final 2/4-passenger convertible coupe, which featured the company’s last full-fledged rumble seat. This sporty body style, combined with a chassis that, for the second year, featured independent front suspension and hydraulic brakes, resulted in one of the best “driver’s Packards” of the decade.

Packard historians believe that only 71 Super Eight Convertible Coupes were produced in 1938, and all of them were on the 134-inch wheelbase Series 1604 chassis. Of those, eight survivors are known worldwide.

The car shown here is equipped with the so-called “Group A” of options, which includes a deluxe heater, a deluxe radio (with the rumble seat having its own speaker), dual side-mounts with mirrors, a luggage rack with a metal trunk, and wheel trim rings, making this Convertible Coupe “fully loaded” by 1938 Packard standards. This was in addition to the standard features of the 16th series senior Packards, which included an ivory deluxe steering wheel, a built-in dual defroster, and a four-position parking light system.

Befitting such opulence, the Packard was originally delivered through E.J. Lewis Motor Sales, of Chicago, and reportedly sent to Paul “The Waiter” Ricca. Ricca fled Italy to the United States, and he was rescued from a life as a waiter, hence his nickname, by Al Capone. Following Capone’s 1932 imprisonment for tax evasion, Ricca became the de facto head of the Chicago “outfit” and ruled for 40 years. By all accounts, he was the embodiment of the stereotypical American gangster; thus, he would have looked right at home cruising the streets of Depression-era Chicago behind the wheel of this flamboyant, expensive Packard.

The current owner has enjoyed the car for over a decade, and in his care, he chose to have it restored to original condition. Mechanical components, including the engine, chassis, and suspension, were beautifully restored by Brian Joseph’s well-respected Classic & Exotic Service, of Troy, Michigan, while the eye-catching, factory-correct Chinese Red paint and tan leather upholstery were beautifully applied by well-known craftsmen Bill Auerbach, of Middleton, Michigan.

To ensure accuracy of all components, extensive research was performed, with visits to the Detroit Public Library’s National Automotive History Collection, the National Packard Museum, and to the unrestored 1938 Packard in the ACD Automobile Museum. The late Bob Turnquist, known as “Mr. Packard,” also gave considerable input to the restoration. Attention was paid to the smallest of details, including finding correct Phillips head chrome screws for the inside of the windshield framing and the correct sew patterns for the seats and door panels. The level of accuracy and detail to be found in this automobile is likely unmatched by any other contemporary eight-cylinder Packard.

Befitting the outstanding quality of the work, the Packard was quite successful when introduced to Classic Car Club of America competition, and it has won virtually all awards for which it is eligible, including the Premier Award with 100 points at the Michigan Grand Classic in Dearborn in 2006. It has been recognized with awards at the Meadow Brook, Glenmoor, Bay Harbor, and Willistead concours, and it was the cover feature of the November/December 2007 issue of Torque.

Having been carefully maintained and cared for in the owner’s collection, this super Super Eight, with fewer than 700 miles since restoration, is still ready to be shown and enjoyed on the field by its new owner, as it is, in all likelihood, the finest of this model that survives today.

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