10-11 October 2013
1934 Packard Eight Convertible Victoria
To be auctioned on Thursday, October 10, 2013
Sold for $198,000
- Engine no. 376305
- Vehicle no. 727-42
- Best of Show at the 1975 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
- Believed to have been purchased new by actress Marie Dressler
- Formerly part of the Milhous Collection
- One of the most awarded “Junior Eight” Packards in the world
Packard, the preeminent American luxury car marque, introduced its new 11th series cars on August 21, 1933, but they were considered 1934 cars, and they remained in production through the following August, when the 12th series cars of 1935 were launched. Each of the three models, the Eight, Super Eight, and Twelve, were available in three wheelbases; an ambitious total of 41 different combinations of engines, wheelbases, and body styles; and 17 “catalog customs” bodied by coachbuilders LeBaron and Dietrich. Considered among the most beautiful today are the Dietrich-designed five-passenger convertible victorias, the body style offered here, which was available in all three series.
New fender contours graced the 11th series, with the fronts curving downward nearly to the front bumper, and they were heavier than previous ones. Other changes were more subtle, such as the hood door handles, radiator caps, running boards, better upholstery, and a fuel filler that was integrated into the left tail lamp. In the engine compartment, there was a new oil cooler and an oil filter was installed.
The company was now placing much emphasis on ride control and silencing. Advertising boasted that Packard Twelve owners could “drive a thousand miles a day without fatigue.” Packard’s share of the luxury market climbed to more than 40 percent in 1934.
This Series 1101 Convertible Victoria was delivered by W.H. Collins Inc., the Hollywood dealer, on November 18, 1933, and it is still beautifully presented today. Although it is undocumented, it has long been understood that this car was owned new by Academy Award-winning, Canadian-American actress Marie Dressler. Dressler appeared in more than 40 pictures, including Tugboat Annie (1933), but, unfortunately, she passed away in the summer of 1934 after a brief battle with cancer, making her ownership of the car very brief. The Packard was then believed to have been inherited by her maid of 20 years, Mamie Cox, and her husband, Jerry, the family butler. It is known that Dressler was very generous with the couple, leaving them a sizable inheritance, including cash, with which the Coxes opened the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Savannah, Georgia.
The Packard was acquired by the noted Milhous Collection in the early 1970s, and it spent over three decades amongst that outstanding assembly of automobiles. Following its restoration in the mid-1970s, it was presented at Pebble Beach in 1975, which had been founded as a concours d’elegance event in 1950 and has risen to become the most prominent event of its kind in the world. Without exaggeration, Best of Show at this prestigious event may be considered the most desirable such award in the world. This Packard received this award while in the Milhous Collection in 1975, joining an elite group of winners that have been owned by such enthusiasts as J.B. Nethercutt, Otis Chandler, William Harrah, and Phil Hill, among others.
The car has also earned a Classic Car Club of America National First. It has been painted Butterscotch with brown moldings and is tastefully pinstriped in orange. Despite the age of the restoration, the car presents very well, and all body contours are excellent. The paint exhibits a good shine, and the tan canvas top is unmarred. Quite simply, the car looks like it was restored within the last three years. Its appearance is, in a word, stunning. In all, the Milhous Collection confirmed seven total Best of Show awards in eight concours and car show appearances.
The interior is upholstered in brown leather and is in very good condition, with the exception of slight abrasions to the driver’s seat. The floor has brown carpet, with some scuffing at the driver’s heel pad, and the dashboard has excellent wood, nicely-restored instruments, and an Earle C. Anthony service medallion. The wood door moldings are particularly fine, and the odometer shows some 63,500 miles.
The engine compartment is very clean and nicely presented. A Packard Purolator oil filter is fitted, and the car has central lubrication. Brightwork is all excellent, with additional features including Trippe driving lights, a rear-mounted accessory trunk with fitted luggage, in addition to the integrated luggage compartment, and California black plate registration tags.
The convertible victoria, long a Packard favorite, has earned the distinction of being one of the most attractive open models ever built by Packard. This is a particularly nice example, and it is all the more desirable thanks to its Best of Show Award at Pebble Beach in 1975, which confirms the attention to detail and correctness of the restoration, as well as the car’s exceptionally elegant design. The design is so elegant, in fact, that its most recent owner displayed it in the living room of a prominent Florida home.
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