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Worth The Wait: 1937 Packard 1023

front left

In the 1930s Packard was the premier luxury automobile and this big 12 cylinder sedan was their finest. Many car-makers, like Peerless Franklin, Marmon, Ruxton, Stearns-Knight, Stutz, Duesenberg, and Pierce-Arrow did not survive the depression. Packard survived by building expensive luxury cars. Could you imagine having this Packard sitting in your garage for 30 years and just letting it sit, letting the water ruin the interior? They’ve now listed it on Craigslist for the princely sum of $42,000. It’s in Brentwood, California. It appears completely original and the body is solid. It could also be an older restoration. It runs, but it’s going to need lots of help to make it drivable again.

right rear

From this angle, the paint and chrome look amazing. Those tires appear original or perhaps from the 1980s.

front seat

This side of the front seat gives you an idea of how plush this car was. Rodents haven’t destroyed the interior, but there’s plenty of water staining and damage.

back seat

Passengers rode in real luxury. The wood trim seems to have survived, but water seems to have destroyed the upholstery and the door panels.


The dash appears in amazing condition.


The engine appears immaculate. This is puzzling, given the state of the rest of the car. That’s a 7.8 liter flat head 12 cylinder 175 HP engine. It incredible how smooth these run. This engine runs, but the clutch is stuck so the car can’t be driven.

front right

It’s very difficult to guess what this car might be worth. These are AACA/CCCA classic and I understand these 12 cylinder cars are rare. Many were scrapped in the 1940s because their scrap value, especially the aluminum, was worth more than their value as a used car. As to condition, if it was only stored for 30 years, I would guess it’s an older restoration. On the outside it looks nice except for the grill. The interior needs a complete rework and it will need lots of mechanical work to make it drivable. If you had a pile of money, would you restore this or enjoy it’s more original appearance and just restore the interior and mechanicals? I look forward to your comments.


  1. brakeservo

    A pre-war Rolls with similar limousine body wouldn’t be worth the cost of restoring it, I suspect that’s true here also, so strip the body off, shorten the wheelbase and build one heck of a V12 powered specia with lines similar to a Jag SS100 or oversized MGTC!!

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    • waynard

      Have you lost your mind? Your suggestion to radically modify this is plain goofy. Furthermore, a pre-war Rolls would be worth restoring as is this Packard. Whether you’d come out whole on either is unknown, but, really?

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      • Brakeservo

        Yes, I mean it! No one wants limos, particularly pre-war RR, and if it’s the same for Packards, make something fun with it!

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      • Matt A.

        I agree with you, waynard. Modifying a classic Packard like this would be sheer lunacy.

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    • Jeff

      Hey! They did that with 8 liter Bentley’s. Why not a Packard limo?

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  2. Pfk1106

    Wow, incredible car. Needs help, but I think it should , could be made usable again. My grandfather was a chauffeur in the 1920s through ww2. The family he drove for only owned packards. He maintained the 4 cars the family owned. He was the only person to drive their cars according to my father.

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  3. David Church

    Okay. buy it, restore it (don’t think it was restored, ever) to whatever condition the new owner wants. No matter what, this is a car that says, “I’ve arrived,

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  4. Charles

    Classy ride!

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  5. JimmiG

    My grandparents had a 1936 Packard 12 7 Passenger Sedan, that my grandmother sold in 1962 for $50 cdn.
    I can understand the stuck clutch however. My family always claimed my grandmother invented the the automatic transmission as she refused to use the clutch. Their car purred down the road except when the gears were clashed thru. A similar Packard to the ’37, except its a ’36 is found here

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  6. hhaleblian

    Mr Leno

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  7. jim s

    interesting car but if seller wants that kind of money they need to use a high line auction or take it to the Hershey car show this fall. great find.

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  8. Dairymen

    The car is definitely overpriced. Just to overhaul this engine by someone who knows these engines will set you back $25-30k!

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    • Bill Parmenter

      Yes, you’re right, but they live in Brentwood (Paying Bev Hills Taxes)…
      poor baby’s …..

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  9. Howard A Member

    As usual, people from California have lofty expectations when it comes to classic car values. While these routinely bring $100K, one could easily spend $50K and a whole lot of headaches, just to have a $90-$100K dollar car. Still, you’d think every available ’37 Packard project has surfaced, so it’s a great find. It just amazes me, these cars were driven around next to Model A’s. Outstanding car.

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  10. Dairymen

    There’s actually 3 barnfinds.com V12’s on California CL. 2 1937’s & 1 1938.

    I can’t find the other 37 right now.

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  11. waynard

    This 15th Series, model 1506, (1023 is the body type) has a value of about $7500.-$8500.00 in this condition. Expect to spend a minimum of $75,000 to $100,000. (and more) to get it done right. Then you’re upside down by about $20-25,000 given a #1 car is valued at about $60-80K. Not too bad if you’re a Packard nut. (I am). This price at $42K is way, way out of line. Seek elsewhere.

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    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Waynard– as someone who has owned over 300 Packards over the last 45 years, & the owner of an original 1937 Packard 8, I agree with you estimates of value & resto costs.

      Brake servo– I also agree pre-ww2 R-R saloons & limos, with or without division window, are rarely worth the time/expense to restore. I had a 1935 20/25 James Young limo, 100% complete but a rotten body. I parted it out & made more $ than if I had restored it, plus it enabled several other cars to be put back in the road.

      But once the owner learns what the Packard is worth, and lowers the price, then the car is worth restoring, as there are many serious buyers for any Packard 12 cars.

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  12. Neil

    My Dad restored a ’37 Packard in the late 60’s. It turned out to be a very nice car. Just about the time he got it completed, he picked up a ’35 Caddy rag top, with which he one first place in The Senior Division of The Classis Car Club. It was in really sorry shape when he first purchased it, but so beautiful when it was completed. It was even a cover car for the clubs publication, and my Dad wrote an article about the re- hab. Sadly, my Mom harped at him so much about ” his toy’s ” that he sold it at auction in ’74.

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  13. Jim Marshall

    I never found Packard’s that attractive from this era comparing them to Cadillac, Lincoln and Imperial’s. They always appeared stogy if that’s a word. The early 40’s models were good looking and the one’s after the war were very unattractive with the so called bathtub styling. I was unaware they had a V-12 engine that must be very rare as most of the one’s I’ve ever seen had that straight eight.

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    • Matt A.

      Wild– that’s the precise opposite of my reaction. Packards to me are head and shoulders in looks above any of its competitors. But to each their own; each of us means one fewer competitors for the cars each of us likes.

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  14. Peter

    The car is in great condition and would easily get the price over here in Australia. Apart from the rear upholstery, it should be driven as is. It looks to me that the engine has been rebuilt as it is too clean. Note, the green painted metal band over the Delco generator that covers the carbon brushes and the aluminium oil filler cap looks to have been polished. I wish it was sitting in my garage!

    Also, have the clutch & brake pedals been cut off as it looks as though there are only two stubs on the end of the forged pedal assembly?

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  15. Big Rob

    Here is my 37 Packard coupe found in New Mexico. I have already started the hot rod (gasp!) process, as noted by the chopped roof. Instead of spending upwards of 60K to restore the 37, cut that price by two thirds and make it a hot rod. Just my 2 cents!

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    • brakesevo

      At least your car is being recycled and preserved in another form. Those who decry hot-rods and “specials” should ‘step up to the plate’ and actually restore these things and not cry about those who do something with them. The only other choice is to let them return to the ground as rust . . . or through the scrap metal process – become Kias and Hyundais and such. I’d rather see a well done ‘rod than another Kia Rio!

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      • Matt A.

        Packards don’t go begging, brakesevo.

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    • Matt A.

      Yuck. Hot rods are fine for ordinary sedans that they made by the hundreds of thousands. It’s not appropriate for these, or (IMHO) convertibles.

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      • Big Rob

        That is the beauty of the old car hobby. We build what we like for ourselves, not what others think we should build.

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  16. OhU8one2

    Of all the past automotive manufacturers,this is the one I wish was still around today. Hard to imagine a modern day Packard,I’ll bet it would still be stately.

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  17. waynard

    Hard to believe maybe, but I’m a hot rodder too. But I also believe in saving cars worth saving, particularly the big classics. This one should be saved and at least sympathetically restored.

    I find nothing wrong with Big Rob’s effort. Rather nice, in fact. Lay that grille back about 4 inches and it’ll be even sleeker. Nice work.

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  18. Chris A.

    I’ve often wondered if the V12 would fit in the 1941 Clipper. Packard had a long history of building V12 car engines dating back into the ‘teens with the Twin Six. Additionally PT boats were powered by three supercharged Packard Marine V12s, whose design predated Rolls Royce Merlins. Packard re-engineered the Rolls Royce V12 from British standard to American standard thread series and did a whole lot of development work on the Merlin that ended up in P51 and P40 aircraft. Packard’s manufacturing methods and quality control resulted in mass produced Merlin aircraft engines built to a quality standard that Rolls Royce could only match with tool room fitter final assembly workovers. Packard car engines were built to the same standard prewar. A Packard 8 and 12 cylinder engine when correctly rebuilt are both quiet and unbelievably smooth. Looking back, a post-WWII miniature Packard OHC V12 car engine in an attractive body would have been interesting. Packard was the American Rolls Royce.

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  19. Rando

    I have an uncle with one of these. He bought his already resto rodded. I believe it has a big block chevy motor. Very elegant even as such and everyday reliability. Big beautiful car.

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