Ready To Roll: 1937 Packard 120C

Although the basic Packard 120C in black five-passenger sedan form is not the most desirable example of this stately marque, the car on offer here on eBay in League City, Texas is about as nice an example as you’re ever going to find.  The Buy It Now is $25,000. You couldn’t build another one for the price.

Everything the vendor tells us is positive. “Has been stored in my barn with a cover over it for years. The Interior was completely replaced several years ago exactly as original. The interior of the door panels is undercoated as shown in the last pics before the new interior. Complete undercarriage painted with chassis paint. Carburetor rebuilt. Doesn’t run hot. Runs good using lead additive in the fuel.”

There are extensive undercarriage photos, and they reveal the car as incredibly solid. The 120-horsepower straight-eight engine with an aluminum head is stirred by a three-speed standard transmission. The car seems to need hardly anything. I’d get rid of the wide whitewall tires—not common in the period—and just drive it, on errands and to shows.

This first-generation 120 (or “One-Twenty”) was built from 1935 to 1937, and then again from 1939 until the start of World War II hostilities. The number referred to the 120-inch wheelbase. The aim for the model was to get some traction in the mid-prized eight-cylinder market. The company wasn’t going to survive on high-end luxury cars during the Depression. Here was a car for Main Street, hence the contemporary ad slogan, “When Heaven was at the Corner of Sycamore and Main.”

Available were two- and four-door sedans (this is the latter), a Club Coupe, and a convertible. Prices started at just $980, with $1,095 buying the Touring Sedan. The pitch to the affordable side of the market was successful, and 24,995 120s were sold in 1935 (compared to 7,000 for all other Packards that year!).

This car boasts the 1936-introduction power increase, from 110 to 120 horsepower. In this form, it could reach the heady speed of 85 mph. Production was up to 55,042. This is why the 120s are among the most common surviving Packards. For ’37, the 120 was available in “C” and “CD” trims. This is the cheaper of the two models, but the differences probably aren’t great. If you really wanted to stretch out you ordered the limousine on a 138-inch wheelbase—still under $2,000.

There were no 120 in 1938 but it came back for a couple of years in 1939, and 175,027 were built. After the war, the 120 became part of the Packard Eight line.

Think of this car as an entry-level luxury, rather than as a budget line. It’s still plenty stately.

Comments

  1. Rich

    That’s an insanely good deal.

    Like 6
  2. TheOldRanger

    I agree Rich. I wish I had the time and money for this one as well. I’m too old to tackle projects like this and live on a pension to boot. I do remember seeing these as a kid and thought they were the best looking cars on the road. We had a 47 Packard when I was about 12 and it was a very solid and reliable car… and plenty of room for us 7 kids.

    Like 8
  3. Mitch

    Velour heaven!

    And suicide doors. This round thing below the dash is a ventilator?
    No engine pics? Pretty awesome

    Like 1
    • PeterfromOz

      Heater with fan. They tended to be always on or off as the hot water valve was often fitted in the engine bay and turned on for winter.

      Like 2
      • Mitch

        ty, would be a solution for all the bug owners out there.

  4. Solosolo UK ken tilly Member

    The last thing I would do to this car is to lose the wide whites as it would just be another “too much black” car.

    Like 2
  5. Wayne from Oz

    IMO the most beautiful Packard ever made.

    Like 1
  6. Kevin

    It doesn’t get much better than the old packards. I never saw a 30’s era one i didn’t love. Even the mundane ones I’d prefer over any rolls.

  7. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    I currently own a ’37 Packard 120CD, and while this one is a beautiful example, from headliner to carpets, the interior is incorrect, and to restore it to correct materials will likely run $10k. The heater assembly is an aftermarket unit. The price is very fair, provided there are no other problems.

    Like 3
    • Mark Kurth

      Agree with Bill regarding the interior. The original would’ve been wool (correct material still available), as opposed to this shiny nylon velour. Yuck!

      Like 1
  8. Captain RD

    Mine was a CD but an exact match to this one for my high school car 1965-1967.
    Bought for $240 at 14 years old from a PA barn — owned for 30 years.

  9. V12MECH

    It’s priced to get rid of now, good idea, a 4 door Packard from the mid 1930’s is not trending as a hot investment, unless you have a dual cowl, V12, or phaeton, nice looking car. Buy it and rent it out for weddings. Nice looking car. Dig out your chauffeur’s uniform.

    Like 3
    • Mitch

      President Roosevelt left the scene ….

  10. George Birth

    Now this is a decent seller who is offering a completed car for a fairly decent price. This deal won’t be around long.

    Like 1
  11. Bob Mck Member

    I would be proud to park it in my garage.

  12. UpNorth

    Will need to add Vintage Air for limo rides.

  13. Kenn

    I agree with George Birth. Would that there were more sellers like this one.

    Like 1

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