1939 PACKARD TWELVE SERIES 1708 SEVEN PASSENGER LIMOUSINE
Chassis No. 1235-1208
Engine No. B602346
Black with beige cloth rear compartment, black leather driver's compartment and a black leather roof
Engine: Modified L-head, V-12, 473.3ci., 175bhp at 3,200rpm; Gearbox: three-speed column shift manual with reverse; Suspension: independent front with rear leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel vacuum assisted hydraulic drums. Left hand drive.
The swan song of the twelve cylinder Packard was the 1939 Model 1708 motor car, truly Packard's last great coachbuilt car powered by its two decade old massive powerplant. Trying economic times had forced the Packard Motor Car Company to rethink its overall marketing strategy, production line and future as an automotive force. Since the introduction of the Twin Six in 1916 Packard engineers, under the watchful eye of top executive Colonel Jesse Vincent, continually sought out ways to further improve one of its greatest achievements. From a styling point of view, Packard had long been at the forefront of innovation, however, the automotive industry became a tougher and tougher market as the 1930s drew to a close. The onset of WWII had created a political, economic and social climate that shifted its attention off of the luxury items of life and onto the necessities. Many of the grandest of automobile companies had long since disappeared and several more would follow shortly. Packard had cleverly moved into other areas of the market, developing a lower priced line that utilized smaller, more mundane powerplants, yet retaining the physical attributes of the stately motor cars of East Grand Boulevard.
The Seventeenth Series included seven distinctively different models to choose from. Options ranged from the subtle and affordable six cylinder Model 1700, which was offered in six different body styles all on a short wheelbase of 122 inches, to the grandiose and somewhat unnoticed Model 1708 motor cars. These custom examples were built on a formidable 139 inch chassis and came with a choice of six different body styles. Colors were fairly standard, however, the amenities included were highly indicative of such a quality luxury car. The Twelve Series 1708 would be the last of the grand coachbuilt Packards. Though a few lightly coachbuilt cars were made, none were equipped with the Twelve and accordingly they lacked the natural greatness that the notorious Packard powerplant had truly signified, including wealth and class during hard economic times. Similar to the clients that ordered these fantastic motor cars, the Twelve was a model line that had endured the hardest of times and seemingly always found a way to survive on its merits. It is indeed, one of the most significant engines ever designed and, by 1939, it had been essentially perfected.
Purchased from Mr. Robert Castignetti in 1977, this very rare Packard Twelve has remained in the Browning Collection as a testament to the end of the true coachbuilt era. This rare example is a well executed older restoration that has mellowed cosmetically with time. We understand that while in the ownership of Mr. Browning, this Packard's interior was completely re-trimmed and both the driver's and passenger compartments received special attention in the execution of a correct restoration. The instrumentation appears correct, both passenger and driver's compartments are fitted with roll-up windows, there are sidemount covers with dual mirrors along with a rear trunk rack, yellow fog lamps and modern turn signals. Overall this is a presentable example of the Seventeenth Series Twelve and, aside from the expected stress area cracks and chips in the paint, it has held up nicely since its older restoration.