Primed Or Painted? 1939 Packard 120 Club Sedan

The Packard 120 with its straight 8 is not the top of the line but is still a fine luxury car and a step above “The Six”. The 120 has many advanced features for its time, like an independent front suspension, synchromesh transmission and overdrive, which make them drive like much more modern cars. With a little work, this would be a wonderful car to drive and enjoy. The drop in value of prewar cars makes them a real value for those of us who enjoy them. Like Jamie said in his post about a another 1939 Packard 120 last May, “this looks like a lot of car to me for the money.” They wanted $29,000 for the one featured in Jamie’s posting and only $13,900 for this one, also listed on eBay. It is located in Aguanga, California, in the desert in Southern California. This Packard is perhaps an older restoration. It runs, drives and stops, but will need a little brake work and may not really be as nice as it seems.

This is the only peek at the interior provided. The upholstery has  just been redone according to the seller, but it needs a headliner. The headliner kit seems to be included according to an earlier posting.

This is the dash of apparently the same car advertised a year ago. It doesn’t look very nice with the cracked steering wheel and worn paint. Perhaps this is why the current eBay posting doesn’t show the dash or front seats.

Here’s the engine. Is that a freeze plug leaking? The engine looks neglected and could certainly use some cleaning and attention but it is said to run well.

This Packard appears to be the same one advertised on other sites in the last year except the other car is said to be in gray primer and this Packard appears painted. Perhaps it has new paint. Is that overspray paint on the right back window? If this is the same car advertised by Silverstone Motorcars a year ago, areas not pictured in this eBay posting, like the dashboard and the trunk, need attention. The earlier eBay auction ended at about $6,500 with the reserve not being met. This eBay posting seems to employ some very selective photography. Hopefully the buyer will inspect this car carefully before purchase.


  1. Blyndgesser

    These are among the smoothest cars I’ve ever driven.

  2. Mike

    Would Love to own one someday, if by that time they can be found!!!

  3. Jim L

    Overspray everywhere including on the tires, failure to dismantle for painting or even mask the rubber parts, painted right over the dents in the trunk lid and the right rear fender… The photos seem to be a mixture of primer painted and finish coat and you can see the primer peeling in the hood ornament picture. Just too many issues to be worth much. I’m afraid that this one would turn into a HUGE project with limited ROI unless you are buying it because you lost your virginity in the back seat of one just like it. This one is a definite pass.

  4. Ed P

    Packards are always interesting. A lot of work has gone into this already. I would have to replace the steering wheel.

  5. Mark

    It looks like they just sprayed a coat of clear over the primer- there’s no depth to the color. Unless it’s lacquer, which is highly doubtful these days. The most expensive restorations tend to be those where you have to undo everything the last guy did.

  6. Craig MacDonald

    I agree. Way too many suspicious things show up in the pics that make me wonder about what isn’t shown because standard shots aren’t included. And overspray on a tire? C’mon, man. All you have to do is throw an old sheet over the wheels.
    Eastwood makes a very good steering wheel restoration kit that I’ve used with great results, so at least that one is an easy fix. But this guy’s listing doesn’t pass the smell test. Too bad; could be a cool car.

  7. Howard A Member

    I don’t understand the negativity with this car. The 120 was a very important car for Packard. It kind of bridged the gap between the ultra luxurious Packards, and something the common person could enjoy. I’d have to think it was this car that really got Packard rolling, before that pesky war thing, anyway. This is a great example of this car, seemingly priced right, and aside from that tiny crack in the steering wheel, this would be a wonderful car to restore “as you go”. Restoring any car costs a fortune, and this person did what they could to get it presentable. You can finish it however you like. Nice car.

    Like 1
    • David Frank David F Member

      The negativity is not about Packard automobiles but about this particular car. It’s a great car and hopefully will be preserved. It looks like the seller is misrepresenting this car with selective photography. The pictures in a previous posting were much more revealing of areas that need work, like the rusty trunk floor and the sad dash and steering wheel. It looks like the seller is hiding problems. And the paint business…

  8. LIL ABNER Member

    Appears to be a junk. Too bad//

  9. Scott

    This is exactly the type of car that is so dangerous for me. Of all my bucket list cars a 1940 or 41 Packard 120 is tops. Only one above it is a convertible but I know that will never happen.

    There are so many red flags with this car along with practical issues such as space, and still I’m almost blind to them.

    Anyone else have the same problem with their bucket list cars?

  10. nessy

    Keep in mind this is a model 120 8cyl which was a lower priced Packard along with the 110 6cyl models. They were never high priced cars and still are not today unless you come across a custom body example. When new, the 120 was considered just a step or two above a nice midline Buick or Chrysler and around the same range as the LaSalle. If this was a Super 8 or a 12, it would be a very different story. It also would not have been just freshened up with a coat of paint, ect. This is a way to get into a Packard without breaking your bank and to the normal everyday guy, he will just think, “wow, a Packard” not knowing the difference between the junior and senior cars. The asking price of 14k is not going to happen. It’s an 8 to 10k car without much of an issue. Remember, the junior Packards are the models that kept Packard in business well after WW2, otherwise, I can say this for sure that Packard would not have lasted much longer after the war ended. Pierce-Arrow considered also building a lower priced car but then the heads in charge said, forget it, let’s go out in style, which they did in 1938 and will always be remembered as an ultra luxury car for the very rich.

    • Scott

      For me I like the junior Packards because I like to drive my cars. Don’t think I would feel comfortable driving and parking a senior just anywhere.

      Saw a 120 a few years back. It had original paint and interior. A few door dings and worn spots on the seats. The fellow let kids in, and drive them around the block. He enjoyed the car without a worry.

      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        I’ve had several super 8 cars and junior cars like the 110 & 120. Sold all the Super 8 cars and kept my 37 Packard 120. The 120 is a much easier car to drive long distances.

  11. Rustytech Member

    I love Packards, all years. While I would normally give an owner credit for trying to make their car presentable, however if one doesn’t have the know how or the patience to do it right, leave it alone. I would rather have a car with old faded paint to restore than have to strip off a badly done job. If short cuts were done on the paint, which if the thing that is seen first, what other short cuts were taken that you cannot see!

  12. The One

    I honestly don’t get why someone would throw a bad primer paint job on a car and then try to sell it. Most times they are trying to hide rust. I was on the island of Oahu and spotted a 1950 Studebaker Champion on a lot with a fresh white paint job. Knowing how salt sea air can literally eat a car, I poked my finger into the fender. Heh.

    Like 1
  13. Mark S

    I guess if this car passed my inspection and I was willing to pay the price I see no reason not to buy it. What do you expect a 78 year old car to look like. I can tell you this if it was a concours car it wouldn’t be a $13k car. It would be close to 6 figures. Of course when you buy a $13k 1939 Packard it going to be a project car. Just like the seller is hoping for top Dollar all the rest of us want him to give it away the question I have to wonder is if you’ve always wanted one when are you going to see another one this good for this price. To quote a former coworker, you got to pay to play.

  14. Bryan

    Most Packard 120s have the rear quarter window. The formal c-pillar of the Club Sedan must be quite rare.

  15. adam

    I was wondering if any one here could help me. I have a question about a 39 Packard 120 (I believe 120 is the model). Right now I am still in the breaking down stage of the build. That being said the doors are suicide doors. I figured out how to get the
    front doors free from the car, but how do you remove the back doors. I mean they are both hinged at the top and bottom of the so I know they’ll have to come free but the middle part of the back doors has
    a curved piece of metal attached to the door then runs into the frame of the car with a round flat piece at the end of it. I believe it to be a stopper so the door does not fold all the way open against the car.
    How do you undue this stopper so I can take the back doors off. If you could reply to this with my work email that would be great.
    Thanks Adam

  16. Richard

    Interesting comments about this car. I bought it about 6 weeks ago and it’s not in the worst car I every purchased. I did get for a good price and I wanted a project since I am retired. It runs great and its a driver not a trailer queen. I live in Bisbee, Arizona which is an old copper mineing town and I’m having a great time working on and driving it around town. About a year and a half ago we moved to Bisbee and we bought a house that was built in 1910 and the seller had owned it since 1920. Its fun to have a car that is almost as old as our house. Now I have 2 projects, The car and the house both needed new wiring and plumbing so I’ll be busy for awhile. I do not have any interest in a total restoration and I do not believe I could ever get there with this car but it’s so cool to drive it around town. It’s been fun reading all your comments and just wanted to say the Packard isn’t as bad as some of you said, but then I wanted it as a driver. Some time I’ll post new pic’s of it.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Thanks for the update and good luck with your projects!

  17. Richard Sanders

    Well it’s been a few years and I still having fun with the 1939 Packard. It’s got new brakes, new wiring, new paint, new tires, new hub caps (correct year) and I have driven it to a couple of shows, and in some parades. It’s always the center of attention and really turns heads when I’m driving it around town. It may not be the best Packard ever seen, but it’ still the best Packard around southern Arizona. I get ask all the time if it’s for sale. No it’s not for sale. It’s the only Club Sedan built in ’39 and I believe it was a prototype for 1940 club sedan. I love having a one and only. There never were windows behind the doors so I know it came out of the factory as a club sedan. I have found that it served in WWII in the Philippines and was captured by the Japanese then surrendered back to US in 1945. That makes it very cool.

  18. Richard Sanders

    It’s fun restoring this old Packard. It now has the original 3 speed with the econo drive (overdrive) rebuilt which was a chore finding parts since this was one of the first econo drive units built in 1939 by Packard. New brakes, new tires, interior has been somewhat restored/replaced. New interior panels made for the trunk, and kick panels. New wiring and converted to 12 volts for more reliability. It’s a true driver and it’s going to the annual Route 66 Rally in Arizona next week. I’m driving it a total of about 800 miles to and from the rally. I have traced the heritage of the car and it was used by the US Navy as a staff car pre WW2 in the Phillipines where it was captured by the Japanese then returned to US position and shipped back to San Diego CA. This is where the gray paint came from, Battleship Gray from the US Navy. It’s not perfect and never will be, but the heritage makes up for the rough conditions.

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