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1932-1939 Packard Twelve


1934-1937 Packard Twelve

The 1934-1937 Packard Twelve continued its successful run. The Eleventh Series enjoyed record sales in 1934, adding a shorter 135-inch wheelbase for a magnificent Speedster Runabout by LeBaron, which listed at a towering $7,746.

The 1934 Packard Twelve looked distinctly more streamlined, with front fender tips that curved gracefully downward, almost to the bumper.
The 1934 Packard Twelve was more streamlined, with
fender tips that curved down almost to the bumper.

But the 1935 catalog dropped that chassis, shortened the others to 139 and 144 inches, and no longer listed the previously broad range of custom bodies. Bodies were more rakish, but still preserved the traditional Packard identity, and the engine was enlarged by stroking it to 473.3 cubic inches, at which point it delivered 175 horses.

Numerically, 1936 had reached the Thirteenth Series, but Packard superstitiously skipped that in favor of the Fourteenth Series. Changes were insignificant, and sales held about even.

The 1937 Packard Twelve adopted Safe-T-Flex independent front suspension and Servo-Sealed hydraulic brakes.
The 1937 Packard Twelve had Safe-T-Flex front
suspension and Servo-Sealed hydraulic brakes.

Then for 1937 came the most radical redesign in the Twelve's history, led by an independent front suspension called Safe-T-Flex, based on the layout designed for the Packard One Twenty in 1935. Hydraulic brakes and steel disk wheels were also adopted; wire wheels and the Bijur lube system were dropped.

The new independent front suspension and resultant smoother ride combined with a reinstated three-model line (plus an improving economy) to make 1937 the best sales year in the Twelve's history.

The new model was the 1506, a sedan on a 132-inch wheelbase introduced at $3,490, less than any Cadillac Twelve. Public response was immediate, and Packard sold 1,300 Twelves, nearly triple the count for Cadillac's Sixteen and Twelve combined.

One would think that this would have impressed the mass-production types who wanted to permanently eliminate Packard's "goddamn senior stuff," but 1,300 cars was a drop in the bucket compared to the models they really cared about -- that same year saw Packard flog 68,000 Sixes and more than 50,000 One Twentys.

Amazingly, the workforce was almost evenly divided, half of them producing 118,000 junior models, the other half about 7,000 senior-model Twelves and Super Eights. Think about it.

To learn how the 1938 Packard Twelve fared, continue on to the next section.

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