1933 PACKARD STANDARD EIGHT VICTORIA CABRIOLET
COACHWORK BY GRABER
Chassis No. 719I77
Engine No. 376978
Blue over French blue with tan canvas top and beige leather interior
Engine: L-head, straight eight, 319.2ci, 120bhp at 3,200rpm; Gearbox: three speed synchromesh; Suspension: leaf springs all around; Brakes: mechanical drums all around. Left hand drive.
In 1898 James Ward Packard, an electric lamp manufacturer from Warren, Ohio, bought his first motor car, a Winton. Dissatisfied with it, Packard decided to design and build his own car. By 1903, with a new factory in Detroit, Packard was rapidly becoming one of America's leading car manufacturers. The company's reputation was founded upon fine engineering and cars built to last. From its inception, the Packard Motor Car Company became one of the most well-regarded companies of the early twentieth century, and perhaps the greatest credit to its success was the nearly unmatched return client sales and devotion the company had so effectively nurtured.
Packard's continued success was due in part to the strength of their engine design. They were known for consistently refining and making improvements on their power plants. From the early four and six cylinder cars to the revolutionary twelve cylinder twin six, Packard's engines were well-crafted, designed and executed. The progression to the Standard and Super Eights was also in true Packard style and it was no wonder that the customers always returned. The eight cylinder engine that Packard had revealed in 1923 as a successor to the V12 provided the backbone of Packard's future production, lasting to the end of the 1930s. The design was a simple side valve (L-head) of the highest quality with a light alloy crankcase with the crankshaft running in nine Bearings, giving a smooth and effortless performance. In 1933 the Packard Standard Eight became known as simply the Eight. A dual downdraft carburetor, smaller flywheel, automatic choke and revised manifold helped boost the trademark Eight's horsepower to over 120. Wire wheels now became standard with discs and wood wheels becoming optional. There were seventeen different body styles available, all of which were effectively marketed to the American public who responded by spending nearly $20,000,000 on new 1933 Packards and, though not phenomenal, it was impressive that Packard was able to claim a profit during such trying economic times.
Carosserie Graber was founded in 1925 by Hermann Graber near Bern, Switzerland. His success was assured by a first place win in 1929 by a Graber bodied Panhard-Levassor at the St. Moritz Concours d'Elegance. He quickly became known for his conservative, elegant designs, especially on coupe and convertible bodies. Graber designed and built over 800 bodies on chassis from Alvis, Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Duesenberg, Lagonda, Packard, Rolls-Royce, Rover and others.
This rare Graber-bodied Packard was found by Franchi in London in 1972. He was advised by a friend to pass on it as it was "only" a straight Eight. However, the unusual details on the body immediately caught his attention and he knew it was something special.
Finished in an attractive two-tone blue combination, this car is distinguished by a bold use of brightwork. A chrome spear sweeps down the side from the radiator grill to the rear fender and large, chromed piano hinges support the doors at the rear edge. A pair of chrome strips mimics the traditional leather straps on the rounded trunk. The interior is clean, simple and comfortable, with elegant engine-turned instrument panel and dual glove boxes. An older restoration, it shows some evidence of wear and use but is quite presentable and certainly striking. It was a favored tour car of Franchi and with the sure, smooth performance of the Packard Eight and comfort of the Graber body, it's not surprising. Eva Franchi recalls, 'We used this car in many CCCA Caravans. It always started, and you never felt that it would not get you home. When you ride in the Packard, you forget that you're sitting in an antique car, because it felt so modern. I would often relax with my leg underneath me on the seat like you sit in a couch in a living room. Once, Sergio looked over at me and said "Honey, what are you doing? Your shoes - on the leather seats!". His sister used it as a wedding car. We had such wonderful times in that car.'