Big Purple: 1937 Packard Super Eight Touring

David FrankBy David Frank

This Packard is from a time of hand-built luxury. The age of automotive elegance pretty much ended, though, with the “Great Depression”. Most of the great names including Cord, Stutz, Duesenberg, and Pierce-Arrow failed and were gone by 1940. Without the resources of a large company like GM or Ford, it was difficult to survive. Packard introduced more affordable cars, the “Junior” line. They were built in a separate factory and outsold the “Senior” models by 10 to one. After the depression, Packard was the only independent builder that remained. This Packard is listed here on eBay in Strongsville, Ohio. The Super Eight has many elements of the top of the line “Sixteen”  but with an eight-cylinder engine. Bidding is over $16,000 at this time and the reserve has been met.

It appears to have been restored at some time in the past and repainted in this interesting color. It runs well on a tempory fuel source. Construction of this Packard Body was typical for the time, a wooden frame with steel panels and a fabric insert in the roof. Manufactures were not yet able to form solid steel roof panels. The Seller says the wooden body structure is in good condition, but they also say the rear doors sag a bit which is not a good sign. Only the chicken wire remains of the roof insert. The stylish dashboard is complete and looking good. The upholstery is in tatters and the carpet is gone, but the interior could be a lot worse. Those delaminated windows will need replacing, of course.

The engine is looking a little messy but it appears to have had some attention along the way. Perhaps it was rebuilt along with the restoration. This is the 160 horsepower version of the flathead 8, about 60 more than the Packard eight had only about 100.  The spin oil filter adapter looks like it was well thought out. I guess it’s a bit less messy than changing a cartridge type filter.

This Packard could be worth as much as $60,000 but it might cost even more than that to restore it, especially if the wooden body frame needs repair. It’s a wonderful example of the finest American craftsmanship using the best materials available but the market for cars like these is very limited. Most folks are more interested in muscle cars, for example than grand old sedans. Bidding is already approaching low retail according to Napa. Hopefully, there is a buyer with the resources to restore this elegant Packard to its former glory.

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Comments

  1. Hide Behind

    Buy cheap ice pick.
    Wood may appear solid but be dry rotted.
    If dry rot in any part not like cutting and splicing for cabinets, as the wood originally used was chosen for grain structure, and actually could contract and expand, but because of tight streight grains, old growth could absorb lots of pressure with out green splintering, seperations of outer grains.
    Today one cannot hardly fine such fine hardwoods. I know of a woody dark stained that had cheap ass alder.
    If one sees saw tooth splice( where teeth cut into each top and bottom portions, beware.
    That said this would make a fine auto and I would custom it out to the max as a powerfull luxurios cruiser, with modern suspension, and repo new old guages.
    And yes wear a fedora while driving.
    Sell all old, good money.

    6
    • Ensign Pulver

      Did Packard make solid steel in “lessor” models? On my list of dream cars is as 110 or 120 sedan…this could crush it!!

      • Dairyman

        Solid steel for the junior line started in 1938.
        In 1939 solid steel was used on the super 8 but not on the Twelve.
        In 1940 the Twelve line was dropped.
        The only junior cars that have wood are 1935-1937.

        3
  2. Andy Frobig

    Lovely car, but the write-up was more in need of editing than any I’ve seen here in a while.

    8
  3. Wayne

    There were quite a few independents still around after 1940, Hudson and Studebaker to name 2. Also full steel turrets were very common in 1937.

    6
  4. Dairyman

    This write up is horrible! If you don’t know your facts you better don’t write anything.
    Packard never had a 16.
    This straight 8 has 135 hp, the Twelve had 160
    This car is not worth anywhere close to $60k when restored (I know of several of these models that sold for $25-35k). You’re lucky if you can get $35k.
    The buyer of this car is upside down already, but they drive terrific; Ask the man who owns one!

    3
  5. Jack Quantrill

    Bought a black 120, like this in 1958 for $75. A buddy tried to speed shift it an blew the trans. Parked it at a friend’s dairy and never saw it again.

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