Live Auctions

Chicken Barn Find: 1939 Packard “6” 1700 Coupe

I guess weird things come in pairs. I recently wrote an article about a ’53 Packard Mayfair that was found in a “chicken house”. Now, barely a week later, along comes a ’39 Packard that has been stored in a, you guessed it, a “chicken barn”. What is it with Packards and chicken houses/barns/coops? I don’t know, an unusual car and an unusual place to store it. Anyway, here we have a ’39 Packard “6” 1700 coupe, located in Auburn, California and available here on craigslist for $41,000. Thanks to Nevadahalfrack for this tip!

Being upwardly mobile cars, Packards of this era were generally found with in-line eight-cylinder engines. The Packard “6” was new for the model year 1937 and was a reaction to the long term lingering effects of the great depression. It was thought that going down-stream with a six-cylinder engine in the smaller 1700 series would help to generate needed sales volume that the larger, more prestigious models just were just not capable of producing given the times.

Speaking of that Packard six-cylinder engine, it is a 245 CI in-line six that produces about 100 gross HP. As is typical for the time, it drives through a three-speed manual transmission. The seller tells us, “The engine starts easy, and runs like a sewing machine.” I hope that means smoothly like a sewing machine and not underpowered like a sewing machine. There is no broad image of the engine available but there is one of its really fine looking carburetor. The seller has replaced several engine parts as well as the brakes and claims that this Packard has only amassed 44K miles in its 81-year life though he freely admits that the mileage may be questionable. The seller adds that it has a tank full of gas. I just hope it’s not something like 1952 gas which would be more like a tank of varnish at this point. Again, based on the provided description, it sounds like this Packard runs well so the gas is probably of no concern.

Through all of the chicken barn dust, you can see that this Packard is in very nice, strong condition. It still wears its original burgundy finish and possesses a very straight, and what appears to be, a corrosion-free body. There is no reference to the body, floors and/or frame regarding deterioration and integrity but based on what’s observable, it seems unlikely that there would be a problem. Chicken barn or not, these stored California cars withstand the progression of time!

The interior has that 1930’s refined automobile presence about it. What is visible in the accompanying images looks to be in very good nick. As I have mentioned before, the dash panels in cars of this generation can be real works of art. Even the old tube radio works once it has warmed up! The seller does add that the headliner has seen some mouse activity and further elaborates, “It has the cutest little mouse nest in the trunk, where the mice have worked very hard to prepare an Almond nut meal for the entire family. The mice have borrowed some headliner material to build their nest, so don’t expect a factory look for the headliner.” Cute or not, I hate meeces to pieces when it comes to old cars. Yes, they wreck the upholstery and leave little prizes everywhere, but more importantly, they chew on the wiring insulation and can make a mess out of it. In my estimation, the mouse house needs to go!

This is a really sharp looking car! Packards were always a step above; a top-shelf automobile. The grille is as recognizable as that of a Rolls-Royce, Bentley or Duesenberg, especially the thermostatically controlled vertical slats which open and close as needed. This is an expensive car but it is a significant car and a beauty as well. I guess the question is, if you’re not a collector of cars of this nature or a Packard aficionado, how would you use it?


  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    Sweet Mother of God, wash the car if you’re gonna ask 41 large for it! Honestly!

    Like 32
    • Mike

      No, don’t clean. How are you going to prove to buyers that it was actually in long term storage? VERY important when selling a vintage car!

      Like 2
    • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

      Damn right, clean the car. You’re asking a lot of money for it so clean and detail the hell out of it. Show a picture of the car as-found and then show pictures of how well it cleaned up. A half day detailing this beauty would encourage buyers a lot more than the way it looks right now. It’s the easiest thing a seller can do to put more money in his pocket.

      Like 13
    • Brent

      Think I’ll start a long term storage cloning business.
      Take someones pristine classic and blow dirt and dust all over it. Add bird poop, cat prints across the hood, cobwebs here and there and rat turds in the trunk. Stick it in a falling down shed with household junk on it and all around it. Take a few crappy pictures of it, add the proverbial ‘ran when parked’ and the owner will get twice the price for it.
      Think I am going be rich!!

      Like 14
      • Dave Mazz

        Brent; Do you want a partner? I was thinking about offering folks a DIY classic car selling kit: It’s a bag of garage and cellar sweepings to sprinkle on the “classic” car and a photo of a trash-filled storage space to paste-in a picture of the properly grimed-up buggy. Instructions on how to deflate tires, a dirty cover blanket and a few mouse corpses would be optional extras. :-) :-)

        Like 2
  2. Andy

    For that price for a six, I’d want to slap plates on it and drive it right to the ice cream stand, and then to wherever I want. To me, this would be a lot of money for a 120 in this shape.

    Like 13
  3. Sam61

    What a beauty…this and the recent convertible would make a great pair!

    Like 5
  4. F Again

    No vehicle collection should suffer rodents.
    I find the definitive solution to the problem of lotsa mice is a couple few cats.

    Like 11
    • 86_Vette_Convertible

      Cats are a good solution as long as you can keep them off the vehicles. Looks great for a parade car or one to take the grandkids down to the ice cream parlor.

      Like 5
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      F again,
      Best solution to rodent problems in cars is a couple of snake skins, 1 in the passenger area, & the other in the trunk. The mice can smell the snake skins yards away from the car. This really works! I get snake skins from either local snake collectors or pet shops.

      Like 1
      • On and On On and On Member

        Wow, never heard that but it sure makes sense.

        Like 1
  5. Tom c

    We had a older gentleman bring one of these , same color, into the bodyshop I used to paint at . If memory serves it came in for chips in all the fenders. I had trouble matching the paint because the car had been rubbed out so many times the paint had become transparent and the old pink lacquer sealer velvaseal was showing through . So we ended up doing a total restoration on the car , took two years . The old guy loved this car . A while later I hear the old guy and his wife split up and she wanted the car in the divorce settlement , just because it meant something to him , and she got it .

    Like 5
  6. Howard A Member

    While I think they are a bit off kilter with the price, as usual, it is a neat find. There are enough people around yet, that realize how important this car was to pre-war Packard. Packard realized, the days of elegant full classics were over, and they needed a “cheap” Packard, and this was it. Packard had synchromesh tranny’s, no harder to drive than your Prius. The down side, is the people who know about this car, are old and are having trouble paying for their pills, and a younger person may not want it unless it’s a resto-mod. Not sure what will happen to original classics like this in the future.

    Like 9
  7. Dual Jetfire

    In the 30s Packard went downstream twice, first with the 120, and then with the 110. While they stayed alive, neither was the sales bang they always wanted. That finally came in 1948 with the Flo-Thru Packards. That was the spectacular year and body for them

    Like 3
  8. bobhess bobhess Member

    Neat old car. Priced too high and if the seller is too lazy to clean it up what else didn’t they do?

    Like 13
  9. Capt RD

    Priced too high for what it is. Clean or not.
    Bought my 1st Packard in 1965 at age 15 – [1936 120CD] – from a PA barn.
    This era of Packards are all well made, from the base models up to the Custom orders. The factory had real pride in the workmanship and the engineering Dept. was unmatched in the industry.
    This particular car would be a fine moderate restoration project that would reward the new owner with plenty of pride and driving pleasure.
    Go see it and make a realistic cash offer to the owner is the way to go.

    Like 5
  10. Jack Quantrill

    Wonder what the finder-seller bought this for? Maybe, $500, and is asking $41,000? There is gold out there!

    Like 2
  11. sourpwr Member

    I’d buy it for the hood ornament !

  12. Bob McK Member

    Love it, would like to own it, but not at that price. No telling what you will find under all that dirt.

    Like 3
  13. Tom W Member

    A couple of comments:

    1) that is not ” its original burgundy finish.” The ad claims that it has its original color. You can see the overspray on the firewall (which should be satin black, not maroon over satin black). Also, given the caveat of seeing colors on computers, that is not an original Packard maroon. It seems to red.

    2) The hood ornament has never been replated. Look at the face detail. Amazing.

    3) I do believe the interior fabric is original, and despite the mice, in great shape.

    These are great cars. We have a 38 Eight club coupe (confusingly, a 120 in all years but 1938). They are very solid, very reliable cars. The body shell is 18ga steel, the x-frame is very stiff and robust, and the independent front suspension was the best of the era. Visibility is really good, so I have no difficulty driving in modern traffic. And you get that awesome grille.

    I hope someone that appreciates rolling art and mechanical history gets this car.

    $41K is not that out-of-line if it really is rust-free and the drivetrain is not worn out.

    Like 1
  14. Maestro1

    They are lovely cars. All Packards (with limited exceptions) should be saved.
    The asking price is absurd, but I’m not sure after seeing it fully in daylight that it’s about a $25,000.00 maybe $30,000.00 car. You’re going to see a correction in this market, or at least erratic pricing because we’re in an election year and the country is very polarized.

  15. Ed P

    Maroon seems like a proper color for a stately Packard.

  16. Gray Wolf

    Had a person in our VintageChevrolet Club who found a Pierce-Arrow touring car that was being used as a chicken coup! In order to get the vehicle he had to build a better coup than the chickens were living in. When that was completed and the chickens liked the new house, he got the vehicle!!

    Like 3
  17. John Manders

    looks to me that there is fulltime restauration being
    done – sometime.
    This car cannot be original as stated.
    Please investigate before buying…..
    Anyway; looks very nice.

  18. John Manders

    as an afterthought; just blow some dust fron the vacuumcleamer over this sale and claim it as an ‘BARNFIND’………..

  19. Jmg

    I’m a Packard fan. Way optimistic price there, bub. Maybe $15k-$20k…

    Like 1
  20. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Hood ornament is missing the lady’s arms holding the stylized wheel.

  21. Tom W Member

    Bill M: Good spot.

  22. Charles B. Goes IV

    My grandfather stored his 1918 t6 touring in a chicken coup from 47 to88 when grandmother passed it on to me . we put moth nalls in it 4 years in the seats. It worked 4 mice not chickens . original car i have activated as of 2005 enjoy going 4 ice creme with fam and gkids

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