Hershey

10 - 11 October 2013

Lot 233

1933 Packard Eight Cabriolet by Graber

To be auctioned on Friday, October 11, 2013

Sold for $231,000

  • Engine no. 376978
  • Vehicle no. 719-177


120 bhp, 320 cu. in. L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front and rear axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 136 in.

  • Offered from the Estate of John O’Quinn
  • Swiss custom coachwork on America’s finest chassis
  • Formerly owned by Sergio Franchi
  • A veteran of many CCCA CARavans


The universal acclaim and prestige that Packard Motor Car Company enjoyed in its heyday is impossible to grasp today. Few American automakers have been able to enjoy broad success overseas with the same models offered to their U.S. customers. Packard did, and for decades, they enjoyed a booming export business with a network of dealers in European capitals.

As with many American luxury chassis, Packards were infrequently imported to Europe as whole, finished cars, as taxes made the cost prohibitive. It was less expensive for a continental customer to purchase a bare rolling chassis and then, once the “mechanical parts” had arrived overseas, have custom coachwork fitted by a local coachbuilder of their choice.

The 136-inch wheelbase “Standard Eight” chassis presented here was bodied by Hermann Graber, who enjoyed a reputation as Switzerland’s finest coachbuilder for decades. Bodies for American chassis were a Graber specialty, with the most prominent being sumptuous cabriolets with thickly insulated, beautifully crafted cloth tops, to shut out the Swiss cold.

In many ways, Graber’s body on this Packard resembles a downsized version of a Mercedes-Benz 500 K of the period, as it has broad chrome beltline molding, sweeping fenders, and a blind-quarter top with landau irons, as well as an elegant rounded trunk. The interior is beautifully appointed, with finely tailored leather upholstery and armrests built into the door panels, so that, with the door closed, the feeling is of the driver and passenger sharing a luxurious love seat. The doors and dashboard are beautifully capped in walnut. The overall effect is of traditional Packard construction but with a distinct European touring flair.

This car was discovered in London in 1972 by American tenor Sergio Franchi. Franchi had become a favorite on American variety shows during the 1950s and 1960s, and he eventually built a recording career that took him to Las Vegas and all over the world. A man with a great appreciation of art and beauty, his passions offstage were sketching, watercolors, and especially collecting fine automobiles. He eventually built an enviable, eclectic collection at his Connecticut estate, including everything from Rolls-Royces to Mercedes-Benz to his personal favorite, Isotta-Fraschinis. Many in the car hobby knew him as a member of the Classic Car Club of America and as a frequent participant in CARavans.

Franchi loved the Packard’s lines and brought it home to the United States with him. A photograph on file clearly shows the car’s complete and solid condition upon its arrival stateside. The Packard was beautifully restored in its present two-tone blue livery by Ted Billing, of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, who was, at the time, very well-respected for his quality work.

As it felt very modern for its time, and was very reliable, the Graber-bodied Eight became a favorite CARavan car for Sergio and Eva Franchi, and it was enjoyed on the road until Mr. Franchi’s untimely passing in 1991. “We used this car in many CCCA CARavans,” Mrs. Franchi recalled later. “When you ride in the Packard, you forget that you’re sitting in an antique car, because it felt so modern. We had such wonderful times in that car.”

Acquired by John O’Quinn from the Franchi Estate, the Packard continues to wear its original restoration, with such wonderful touches as dual side-mounted spares and chrome trim strips that descend over the trunk and accent the beltline treatment. The wire wheels are painted the period-correct body color, and the car is fitted with dual fog lamps and dual horns, ideal for the touring purposes for which it has so long been enjoyed.

The Graber Cabriolet would be an ideal basis for a fresh restoration, with the purpose of making it a concours competitor, like so many European-bodied Packards of its time. However, it could also, perhaps most aptly, be returned to the road, where it could be enjoyed in the manner of its famous and passionate long-time owner.

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

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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

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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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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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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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United Kingdom

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

Rob Myers

+1 519 352 4575
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