Butchered But Running! 1932 Packard 902 Coupe

Looking proud but haggard, this once-elegant Packard actually runs! Still it clearly needs more than a wax and a tune-up before reflecting any blue sky at Pebble Beach. The 1932 Packard 902 Standard 8 Rumble Seat Coupe is listed here on eBay where 23 bids have driven the price to $7,500 with the reserve not met. While it may look like a fancier version of other rumble-seat coupes of the 1930s, this Packard rides on a 136 inch wheelbase, about the same as a 2017 Ram ProMaster Cargo Van. For comparison the 1932 Ford rumble seat coupe sported a 106 inch wheelbase, nearly three feet shorter! This is a big coupe, folks, built for the Old Money Elite whose coffers held cash to spare despite the lean times of the Great Depression.

Right then; the view is not so enticing from this angle. The seller offers no answer to the obvious question… Why? Many early cars were converted into truck-like vehicles on farms but this one may have simply donated its rear end to another car. While borderline sacrilege today, this meatball surgery may have taken place decades ago when this was simply a tired used car. Still there is hope. This Mecum listing illustrates the potential grandeur of this once-handsome Packard. This 902 featured a four-speed manual transmission and hydraulic adjustable shock absorbers which debuted the prior year. (some details courtesy of wildaboutcarsonline.com).

Caaarguide.com decodes the Model 508 body tag as a “1932 Packard Standard Eight (902) Stationary Coupe w/rumble seat” as per the seller’s description. What’s left of the car is largely intact and original, though nearly everything will need to be replaced or refurbished. With the rear body gone, this specimen is more likely to undergo a complete restoration than preserved.

Upon first glance you may notice the elegance of the engine’s design and castings. Also the Detroit Lubricator updraft carburetor, which seems unusual compared to the downdraft carbs found on most post-war cars. The seller states that this 320 cid straight eight cylinder “runs okay, does not smoke, and does yard drive.” When properly tuned, Packard straight eights idle whisper-quiet. I once saw a proud owner demonstrate how a nickel set on edge atop the cylinder head of a running Packard eight would remain upright. Unlike a V8, the inline or “straight 8” is inherently balanced and offers super-smooth operation, making 110 HP and bountiful torque. Balancing the fact that it starts and drives (at least somewhat) yet has no rear bodywork or rumble seat parts, how do you value this former high-fashion coupe?


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  1. Steve

    Three possible causes:

    1. Someone was crazy enough to start a truck conversion
    2. Donor for another car, but why, since this car looks to be in very good condition
    3. Wrecked from behind and bad parts removed (?)

  2. RNR

    One basic truism applies to virtually anything: Before it was old and valuable, it was old and worthless.

    • jw454

      This is a very true statement. I had two uncles that were wheeler dealers when it came to cars. They once traded a set of golf clubs and a golf bag for a Packard limousine that they drove home. At the time the guy was glad to get it off his property. The golf clubs had been found in the trunk of another car they traded two wooden spoke wagon wheels for. There was a time a car like this wasn’t worth much at all.

  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    A lot of cars were converted into trucks for no other reason than to get more gas rations. You could almost double your rations with a truck. That said, I often question why one would pick something that would be somewhat harder on gas than a Model A.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi geomechs, that’s true. I think the reason these stately Packard’s and Caddy’s became tow trucks, was like RNR says, these were beaters by most standards, and they were a lot tougher than most trucks of the time. I believe this is what the “cobbler” intended to do.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Hi Howard. There were a lot of luxury tow trucks back in the day. The one you linked up looks to be well done; it could almost stay that way and be acceptable. Not that I’d do anything like that of course.

      • Roger

        My dad told me about a local garage that built a wrecker from a Pierce-Arrow at one time,only other change that was made to it was replacing the rear axle with one from a truck,guess it did what it was built to do.

  4. Marvin Granger

    Well…it was popular in the ’30’s to re-body cars to up date them. You would have to rebuild the body so why not turn it in to a touring car or roadster ? I’m sure there are guys in the Packard club that would let you take measurements. Or they may have a different body….

  5. Terry J

    If I had it, I’d do some careful minor trimming and complete the job of turning it into a pickup for now. Later on if the rear section of a coupe popped up, then………. meanwhile it could be enjoyed as an authentic period pickup conversion. :-) Terry J

  6. bcavileer

    Well, ah.. you could spend 100k+ and try to restore this over xx years of work or you could buy the mecum car and drive home this weekend. Better love the work I say or just let others do the deed..

  7. SamM

    I always wanted to re-body something like this with a roadster body. I always pictured a rough sedan, but this would do. Maybe not as valuable as the original, but the potential to be prettier, I think.

  8. Jay M

    It would be interesting to know it’s story.

  9. Wrong Way

    I have been looking for a Packard or Hudson for a very long time! However this is to rough for me!

  10. grant

    “With the rear body gone, this specimen is more likely to undergo a complete restoration than preserved.”
    With the body gone, there is nothing to preserve. Restoration or parts is about all that’s left.

  11. Dave Wright

    I really like this car. It is missing 10% that we could make in our shop. There is an identical car scheduled for auction next week with a 120-150,000 pre sale estimate. I am going to think hard about this one. All the difficult parts are there, we would scrounge what missing parts we could find and make the rest. That great front end, running drivetrain and seemingly minimal rust. Most of the missing parts are sheet metal and English wheel stuff. Just the kind of work we like. There is a twin to this in the San Fransisco Art Collage collection. They are a very impressive automobile.

    • Dave Wright

      OK, I did it…….let’s see where it goes.

      • Dave Wright

        Help Bill McCoskey……………….

      • grant

        Did you buy it? Please, keep us updated. Snarky comments aside I love this car and I’m glad it will be saved.

      • Dave Wright

        Still bidding……like many of these sales, we have not met the reserve, I am high bidder but the reserve could be crazy. It is a voyage of discovery.

      • Mark S

        Dave while your busy with your English wheel why not turn it into a boat tail roadster.

      • Dave Wright

        Nah…….this baby needs to be original. If we started with a bare chassis maby but this is too correct.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Dave, while we may have had a difference or 2 in the past I got to hand it to you, you know what’s what. Fantastic find. It’s hard to believe someone would actually try and sell a rusted hulk of a Road Runner ( or whatever) when something like this shows up. Just shows how diverse the hobby is. Best of luck. I can’t find any ’32 Packard’s with wood spoke wheels. Most I’ve seen were regular spoke wheels. In case you can’t see what a magnificent car this can be, like Dave, check this out. ( got a chuckle out of “calling Bill”,,even the smart guys have a “go to guy”)

      • KEN TILLY Member

        Howard A. That’s one beautiful motor car! Thanks.

      • Dave Wright

        Howdy Howard……I was going to ask Bill about the wood wheels. I imagine that most people upgrade to the wires during any sort of restoration. You are right…..Bill Is the go to Packard guy. He will explain it.

  12. Todd Fitch Staff

    So it went for a little over $13k. Dave – did you win it?

    • Dave Wright

      I was the 3rd bidder. Just under 13,000. My bid did not meet the reserve, not positive the winning bid did but it appears to. I frequently get a call after this kind of deal. I think there is more shill bidding than we know. People get an active bidder or two, just overbid them at the end and call the second bidders to offer it for there top bid. Sometimes I bite and sometimes I don’t, it is just a way for the seller to find what my highest bid is. Has happened way too many times to be a coincidence. Something I don’t have to deal with in my government auctions.

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