Amelia Island

10 March 2012

Lot 159

1934 Packard Twelve Convertible Victoria by Dietrich, Inc.

To be auctioned on Saturday, March 10, 2012

High Bid of $2,200,000

  • Chassis no. 1108-15
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Eleventh Series. Model 1108, Style 4072. 160 bhp, 445.5 cu. in. modified L-head V-12 engine, three-speed selective synchromesh manual transmission, vacuum-assisted clutch, shaft drive with hypoid rear axle, front and rear leaf-spring suspension, and four-wheel, vacuum-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 147"

• One of three known examples remaining today
• The ultimate classic Packard; capable of extended touring
• Best in Class winner, 2011 Concours d’Elegance of America
• Excellent provenance including noted collectors

Some of the greatest creations of the Classic Era arrived at the very trough of the Great Depression. Nonetheless, Packard was in excellent financial health and redoubled its efforts to dominate America’s fine-car market, meeting the competitive threat from Cadillac and Lincoln head-on with the all-new, 12-cylinder Twin Six and a range of spectacular custom bodies by LeBaron and Dietrich, Inc.

Packard’s new Twelve was, in many ways, the signature car of the classic era. However, it was in a sense never meant to be. In fact, the car’s history goes back to the Cord L-29 and the great Miller front-drive racing cars. Packard management became intrigued with the idea of front drive and commissioned the construction of a prototype. The decision was made to develop a 12-cylinder engine for this new car, as the shorter length of a V-12, compared with Packard’s inline eight, allowed more flexibility in packaging the new front-drive chassis.

Extensive testing revealed weaknesses in the front-drive chassis design, and the anticipated development costs soared. Meanwhile, Cadillac ignited the multi-cylinder race with their new 16- and 12-cylinder models, and Packard dealers acutely felt the pressure. The solution, born of necessity, was to install the new 12-cylinder engine in Packard’s proven Deluxe Eight chassis. The result was christened the Twin Six, in honor of Packard’s first V-12 design, which debuted more than 15 years earlier.

By 1933, the name was changed to the Packard Twelve to clearly convey the power behind the new car. It and the Eleventh Series were the last cars with flowing fenders and classic lines, before the advent of the more highly streamlined look. The front ensemble is truly beautiful, with a graceful vee-shaped radiator shell and matching headlights and fender lights. The dash itself is a work of art, looking more like a jeweler’s display than an instrument panel.

One of the most respected designers of the classic era, Ray Dietrich was also one of the most influential. After stints at Brewster and LeBaron, he formed Dietrich, Inc., where his smart and elegant designs attracted the attention of Packard management. Soon, Packard became one of Dietrich’s best customers. Lacking an in-house styling department, Packard incorporated Dietrich design cues into its later production cars. In fact, after 1933, all open Packards built carried Dietrich body tags. Nevertheless, Dietrich still built a few custom bodies for the senior Packards, and these special cars have come to epitomize the ultimate in Classic Era styling.

The Convertible Victoria is in many respects the most desirable of the Packard custom Dietrichs. Its blind quarters give it an unsurpassed elegance, and unlike the convertible coupe, the car provides far more versatility with luxurious accommodations for up to four. Although the style was offered from 1932 through 1934, the 1934 models have proven to be the most desirable today. They are unique in many respects, offering special “wind-split” trim, a redesigned dash intended to accommodate an optional built-in radio and several chassis enhancements. The body changes, however, make the 1934s so desirable.

The hood was extended back over the cowl to the base of the windshield in an unbroken line from the radiator to the main body, lending a much longer hood than that of the earlier cars. The vent doors were beautifully curved, as were the leading edges of the doors. The combination was, and remains, quite striking, and as a result the 1934 models command substantial premiums today. Although exact numbers are not known, it is believed that as few as three and as many as four or five Style 4072 Dietrich Convertible Victorias may have been built on the Packard Twelve Model 1008 chassis, priced at a commanding $6,080 new. Only three examples are known to exist today.

This handsome and well-known example benefits from the care of several notable collectors over the years. In 1948 it was purchased in Maryland by Robert Wellcome of Westchester, New York, who recalled that he had acquired the car from a local bookmaker, who had purchased the car from a local dentist.

The dentist had bought the car for his daughter but found it too big for her to handle. At that time, he was told that the car was originally sold in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. Mr. Wellcome said what impressed him most was how the seller reached into the car and touched the starter button, and it fired on the first turn. Mr. Wellcome kept the car for nine years and reluctantly sold it to Packard collector Ted Fuller. Mr. Fuller kept the car for 16 years before selling it to Frank McGowan on August 29, 1973. During the early 2000s, Mr. McGowan remembered the car’s excellent condition. Finished in black with a black leather interior, the car was original for the most part, and he recalled that the body was exceptionally solid with no rust at all.

Before long, Mr. McGowan sold the car to John Wheatley, a longtime Packard enthusiast who was one of the first to recognize the desirability of the custom Dietrich cars. He restored the car during the late-1970s or early 1980s and later passed it on to noted Texas collector Jerry J. Moore in 1984.

The car remained in Mr. Moore’s vast collection until 1996, when it was acquired by noted collector Dr. Joseph Murphy. During this period, the Convertible Victoria was featured on Pages 55 and 56 of Packard by Dennis Adler, which was published in 1998 and again in 2004.

In 1998, the Packard joined the renowned Otis Chandler Collection in Oxnard, California, where it remained on display for four years before Dave Kane of Bernardsville, New Jersey acquired it in 2002. Mr. Kane recently confirmed that when he and Rich Fass of Stone Barn Restorations had examined the car in detail, the Dietrich body was indeed original to the car, and both its wooden framing and the body’s overall integrity were particularly impressive. Noted collectors Joseph Cassini III and Margie Cassini acquired the Convertible Victoria during the summer of 2004, and under them, a new navy blue convertible top was fitted by RM Auto Restoration. In 2006, the current owner acquired the car and fitted a set of chrome wheels and new wide whitewall tires and also commissioned the rewiring of the electrical system.

The excellent driving dynamics of the car were once again confirmed during a long-distance tour from Seattle, Washington to Pebble Beach—a journey which was anticipated to be 1,500 miles but grew to some 1,700 miles as a result of highway detours around forest fires sweeping parts of Oregon. On its return to the show field at the 2011 Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s, the Dietrich Convertible Victoria was awarded Best in Class, Classic Era Open 1934-1942.

Today, despite the age of the restoration, the car remains in wonderful overall condition, reflecting the excellent care it has received over the years. Reluctantly, the current owner is now selling the car to reduce the size and complexity of his private collection. In addition to its excellent color combination and the aforementioned navy blue convertible top, the Twelve is handsomely complemented by such desirable period features as dual side-mounted spare tires with covers and accessory mirrors, the aforementioned chrome wire wheels with whitewall tires and twin Pilot Ray driving lights.

In the world of American Classics, some cars stand out as being among the very best of the best; this is just such a car. Its lines are without fault, and its still-wonderful present condition permits it to be shown or driven. As one of three known examples, and especially with its Dietrich Convertible Victoria body and majestic long-wheelbase chassis, it may very well represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for collectors of the finest, rarest and most inspired automotive masterpieces of the Classic Era.

Please note this vehicle is titled by its engine number.

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 Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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United Kingdom

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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California, USA

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

Annette Abaci

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Germany

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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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
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

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

Don Rose

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United States

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

Donnie Gould

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Florida, USA

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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Ontario, Canada

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

Ian Kelleher

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New York, United States

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 Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

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United Kingdom

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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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

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

Peter Giddings

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+1 925 831 2048
California, United States

A life-long car enthusiast, Peter joined RM’s California office with over half a century of experience in the automotive and rac... read more

Peter Blond

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United Kingdom

Peter Blond joined the RM Europe team in 2013 after being immersed in the collector car industry for more than 60 years. An... 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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California, USA

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

Vinnie Mandzak

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California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more

Jeff Whiteside

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Ontario, Canada

Jeff Whiteside joined RM Auctions as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer following almost three decades in a diverse r... read more