Friday, February 3, 2017

1930 Packard 7-33 Sedan 
“Luxurious Transportation”

The author recently visited the fantastic Woodland Auto Display at the Estrella Warbird Museum in Paso Robles California and we will feature more cars from Richard “Dick” Woodland’s collection in future articles. Today we open the series with a study of Mr. Woodland’s gorgeous 1930 Packard 7-33 seven-passenger sedan.

James Ward Packard purchased a Winton automobile in the late 1890's and after he was unsatisfied with his new car thought he could build a better car. The Packard Motor Car Company which first manufactured its cars in Warren Ohio in 1899, before it moved to Detroit, From the beginning Packard was considered one of the elite luxury cars built in the United States reinforced with the advertising slogan “ask the man that owns one.”  

During the period from 1917 to 1919 Packard was very successful in automobile racing with cars fitted with airplane-style engines driven by Ralph DePalma. In 1923, DePalma led an ill-fated attempt to build a fleet of Packards to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which resulted in disaster as all three cars retired before 225 miles were completed.

After the humiliating results, the jewel-like Packard race cars were returned to the factory and Chief Engineer Colonel Jesse Vincent reportedly ordered the cars and all related documents destroyed. The Packard factory never again participated in racing, although in  the 1937 Indianapolis ‘500,’ Russell Snowberger raced a supercharged Packard-powered entry at Indianapolis under the “Junk Formula” rules.
A period newspaper photo of actress Anita Stewart with her 1930 Packard Sedan

The 31st President of the United States Herbert Hoover owned several Packards as did the era’s top golfer Gene Sarazen. In Hollywood, Clark Gable and Western actor Jake Holt were both owners of 1930 Packards as were actresses Carole Lombard, Dorothy Jordan and Anita Stewart.

The 1930 Packard is considered to be one of the quintessential classic automobiles and prized because this series of Packard automobile was only produced for this single model year. The Seventh Series Packard “Standard Eight” introduced to the public in August 1929 was advertised with the claim that “anyone owning a car costing $1200 to $1500 can have a Packard at no extra cost over his present car ownership.” Packard prices ranged from $2300 - $2775, available in either the 127 ½ inch wheelbase, which was known as the 7-26, and the 134 ½ -inch wheelbase model known as the 7-33.

The 7-26 was available only as a five-passenger sedan while the 7-33 was available in twelve different body styles all built by the Packard factory. The 7-33 was available as a two-passenger Roadster (with a rumble seat), the 4-passanger Phaeton (an open body with no side windows), the Sport Phaeton,  a 7-passenger touring car which was a phaeton body style 2-, 4- and 5- passenger coupes, and the five-passenger club sedan.

The1930 Packard 7-33 model offering also included  2- and 4- passenger convertible coupes,  the seven-passenger sedan as shown in Paso Robles identified by the Packard factory as body number 404, and a seven-passenger limousine sedan which featured a curved glass partition to separate the driver from the passengers in the rear compartment. All the Packard “Standard Eight” models shared the same basic styling cue - a single flowing fender line from the crown of the fender to the running board.

In addition to the 7-26 and the 7-33 series, both sold as the “Standard Eight,” Packard also offered the “Custom Eight” known as the model 740 and the ”Deluxe Eight” known as the model 745, both equipped with a 384-cubic inch straight eight engine which were sold in very limited numbers often with custom bodies.   

With the United States economy in free fall following the October 1929 Wall Street stock crash, 1930 Packard sales declined dramatically from 1929’s total sales of 55,081vehicles ; for the 1930 model year there were 15,731 Model 7-26 sedans produced and 12,531 Model 7-33 body styles sold. In one year Packard’s net earnings fell from $19 million to $9 million and net profits fell 53%.

The wheelbase for the “Standard Eight” chassis had been increased 1 inch for 1930 because of the redesigned water pump which used twin rubber belts that also drove the fan. Underneath the long and graceful hood was a 320 cubic-inch straight eight L-head engine with two valves per cylinder and nine main bearings; the engine thermostat used in previous models was eliminated as thermostatically controlled radiator shutters controlled engine temperature.

The Packard straight eight engine developed 90 horsepower with the addition of the new model 51 updraft Detroit Lubricator carburetor. Powered was transmitted to the rear wheels through the transmission with a single plate clutch which with the addition of an extra low gear in 1930 had four forward speeds. The Packard 7-33 used a seven-volt lighting system with pure silver parabolic headlight reflectors and featured four-wheel assisted 16-inch mechanical drum brakes for 20-inch diameter wheels.

Since 1924 all Packard cars had featured the patented George Bijur chassis lubrication system, which lubricated 43 points of the chassis from a one quart central reservoir with a vacuum operated pump which was triggered by a spring-loaded handle adjacent to the steering column. The Packard 7-33 used a seven-volt lighting system with pure silver parabolic headlight reflectors and featured four-wheel assisted 16-inch mechanical drum brakes for 20-inch diameter wheels.

The 4745-pound curb weight seven-passenger sedan shown in the Woodland Auto Display features the optional fender parking lights (a $20 option) as well as the optional dual side-mount spare wheels. The big sedan is equipped the standard steel disc wheels instead of the optional wire or wooden wheels which fell out of vogue with the buying public in the early nineteen thirties. .

Dick Woodland’s car features the “Adonis” (alternately known as the “sliding boy”) hood ornament designed by New York sculptor Edward McCarten which was only offered by the Packard factory for two model years.  This hood ornament design patent (as opposed to a utility patent) was applied for on November 7 1928 with patent D79561 issued by the United States government on August 8 1929.

Even as the Depression deepened, Packard remained committed to the production of opulent cars and introduced a twelve-cylinder (or “twin six”) model in 1932. By 1935, Packard management gave in to the economic realities and introduced a lower-cost “Junior” series (the six-cylinder 110 and the eight-cylinder 120) which sold for less than $1000 and the brisk “Junior” sales saved the company. In 1936, a Packard “Junior Series” ‘120’ convertible coupe paced the start of the Indianapolis 500-mile race and at the suggestion of its driver Tommy Milton, that car began the tradition of awarding the Pace Car to the race winner.   

During World War Two Packard earned a sterling reputation for building aviation and marine engines, but following the war, the buying public became unable to differentiate the blurred lines between the Packard “Junior” and “Senior” series (sold as the Six, Custom, Deluxe and Super) and Packard sales slowly declined. Packard and Studebaker entered into an ill-conceived merger in 1954 largely funded by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, but afterwards Packard sales continued to slide.

The last “true” Packard a four-door Patrician rolled off the Detroit assembly line on June 25 1956. The final two years of production in South Bend Indiana used Studebakers with fiberglass panels bolted on and are known derisively as “Packardbakers;” the last car rolled off the South Bend assembly line on July 13, 1958.
Except as noted all photos were taken by the author who extends his thanks to Dick Woodland for maintaining and sharing his great collection.

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