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1932-1939 Packard Twelve

The Most Famous Packard

The most famous single Packard Twelve was, surprisingly, not a convertible, but a four-door sedan. It was the star of the giant dome of the Travel and Transportation Building at the Century of Progress, the Chicago World's Fair, in 1933: a majestic Dietrich style 3182 Formal Sedan, modified to present "The highest expression of the industry that has civilized the world."

Standing next to the spindly 1899 Model A that had started the Packard saga, "the last word in Packards verily cried out unabashed luxury and was guaranteed to cause mouth-watering among the legions of spectators," wrote Morgan Yost in the multi-author Packard: A History of the Motorcar and the Company. It "was a delicate blending of ingredients from Dietrich and [Alexis] de Sakhnoffsky, with dashes of flavor from [chief of design] Edward Macauley and Packard."

The essential shape was that of the Tenth Series Sport Sedan by Dietrich, updated for the Eleventh Series with bumper caps and forward-extended front fenders. The use of a rear-mounted spare obviated sidemounts, revealing the beautifully swept fenders.

An elongated "false hood" and slim spears on the hood vent doors added to the impression of length afforded by the 147-inch wheelbase. On the bail-style radiator cap, the bail was replaced by an upright pelican mascot.

The factory's description, in MoToR for October 1933, noted "the costliness of its interior furnishings. All body hardware is heavily gold plated and so are the steering column and instruments. Wood paneling and trim are highly polished burley [sic] Carpathian elm. Built into the back of the front seat is a cabinet extending the full width of the car.

"The right side is occupied by a full length dressing case with gold plated fittings. At the left is a cellarette with a drop door which becomes a glass covered table when lowered. Inside are large gold cups in racks and large gold containers for liquid refreshments. Upholstery is especially selected beige broadcloth. The exterior finish is called Sun Glow Pearl, a new finish which is gold, or brown, or pearl, depending on how the light strikes it."

At the Century of Progress, Packard's fabulous Car of the Dome was a worthy answer to Cadillac's V-16 Aerodynamic Coupe, Lincoln's prototype Zephyr (then rear-engined), Duesenberg's "Twenty Grand," and Pierce's "Silver Arrow," and it carried off more prizes than any of these.

After the fair, Packard displayed it at its distributors around the country, after which it was used for some years by President Alvan Macauley. It was first purchased by a collector in 1951, and is now part of the fine Otis Chandler collection in California.

See the next page to find specifications for the 1932-1939 Packard Twelve.

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