Monterey, Jet Center
16 August 2007
This lot is offered without a reserve
1936 PACKARD V12 SPEEDSTER
Engine No. 904080
Engine: modified L-head, V12, 473.3ci., 175bhp at 3,200rpm; Gearbox: three-speed manual; Suspension: front and rear semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: vacuum assisted hydraulic drums all round. Left hand drive.
Packard's love affair with the twelve cylinder unit began with the first twelve cylinder production engine of its kind in 1915. It is reputed that it was inspired by the Sunbeam V-12 race car as seen on the American board tracks. It is also interesting to note that in his book The Enzo Ferrari Memoirs (1963) Ferrari comments that he had seen the Packard V-12 engines of the high ranking American officers. The sound of these engines acted as a challenge and spur to me. The Packard twelve cylinder is the ancestor of all the Ferrari engines still winning races today. The V-12, which is sometimes called the Twin Six, was available from its introduction in 1915 until 1923.
The new Packard Twelve was announced by the news service at 12 o'clock noon on Saturday, January 9, 1932. This was not the same engine of the past, but an all new unit with larger displacement. It was a medium revving engine for use with a three speed gearbox in a luxury car that could out-perform its competition. During the Thirties Packard retained their premier position as leader of the American car market. Their V-12 series was used to combat the Lincoln V-12 and the Cadillac V-16 although the senior cars contributed little to Packard's financial strength. In 1934 when America was beginning to re-establish her economy after the 1929 Wall Street crash, Packard decided their future was in building a smaller eight cylinder, a junior that would be cheaper and yet would retain all of the recognizable characteristics of previous models. The wheelbase was set at 120in. thus the model was called the 120. The unprecedented success and profit produced from the 120 enabled Packard to continue its purpose in leading the world in the manufacture of a luxury car as close to perfect as possible.
Despite all the marketing ploys used to advertise the new 1936 cars, mechanically very little had changed from the 1935 model. The 1936 Series Fourteen cars featured a Delco-Remy ignition system. Physically the trademark radiator was sloped another five degrees, while the front fenders were modified accordingly and chrome strips were added to the head lights. The low production run of these V-12s, just 682 of all body styles, make these cars even more desirable today.
This stunning Packard is understood to have been created in the 1980s using 1936 Twelve running gear and combining it with bodywork matched to the 1920s style Auburn Boattail Speedsters. Enhanced with teardrop style fenders front and rear and flamboyant black and turquoise livery, the complete result is a huge success, a breathtaking Art Deco themed sports car, and real head turner. It is no doubt these characteristics that stood out when acquired for the present collection ownership nearly 20 years ago.
One of the visual trophy pieces in this group and a perfect foil to the 852 Auburn, through limited and careful use the somewhat older restoration completed at the time of its creation has worn very well and the car presents beautifully today.
Mechanically, as with other cars in the collection Christie's has undertaken basic work on the car and can record it to be running at time of cataloguing, however the sensible precaution of a thorough re-commissioning prior to proper use is advised.
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This lot is offered without reserve.
Specialist Victoria Tudor explains how these paintings reflect a unique period of cultural exchange between East and West
The artist entertains us in his vast Hudson Valley studio, reflecting on works in progress as well as others from his own collection being offered at Christie’s