Packard Blue
Blue
Straight 8
3 Speed Manual
  • Designated Full Classic
  • Correct single stage paint
  • Original floors
  • 358 cubic inch straight eight cylinder engine
  • 3-speed manual transmission
  • Four wheel brakes
  • Restoration receipts included with sale

In the 1920s, it was not unusual for a person of means to own several cars for various purposes and to have a full-time driver on staff to maintain and operate them for him. We've all seen the elegant open-front town cars and massive limousines of the era, usually carrying glamorous, well-dressed passengers. The Packard Motor Company was just finding its true calling in 1924, when they introduced the new straight-8 engine that replaced the mighty (and expensive) twin-six V12. Just as powerful and almost as smooth, the straight-8 became the foundation of their high-end chassis until 1932, when the Twelve was again introduced.

This 1925 Packard 2-36 coupe is a beautifully restored Full Classic (note the capital C more on that in a moment) that is ready to drive and tour today. The body is a very interesting design, and directly correlates to those rich folks I was talking about in the opening paragraph. While limousines and town cars were acceptable for some, there were others who felt that the big cars were just too, well, BIG. Frequently, these people were women, and they wanted something a little more personal and easier for their drivers to maneuver through the busy streets. Body designers were quick to develop these close-coupled coupes with luxurious back seats for these customers, but on shorter wheelbases and with the driver sharing the same compartment. Nevertheless, you can still see there's a marked difference between accommodations up front and those in the rear. There's a full sized seat for the driver, but little more than a collapsible jump seat for a front seat passenger, primarily designed to permit easy access to the rear area, with comfort being a secondary concern.

The restoration on this Packard is several years' old, now sporting excellent patina and signs of outstanding maintenance. The deep, blue paint on the body is very good, complimenting the black fenders and top. Most likely done in lacquer or enamel, the single stage paint is absolutely the correct choice for older cars where modern 2-stage urethanes are simply too shiny and glossy to look authentic. As with most restorations, particularly those of cars of this vintage, assembly and panel alignment are very good, although if you're expecting 2010-style fit, you'll be surprised. With a wood-framed body, these cars do not fit together or seal like modern vehicles, but you'll be charmed and amazed by the solid feeling of closing a door, which feels more like a solid wooden door in your home. That dashing, long hood fits extremely well, and shows little wear on the piano-style hinge along the top, which is where all cars of this vintage first start to show their age. Out back, the trunk lid seals tightly and provides access to a reasonably-sized storage area. Running boards have been restored, and I'm going to trust that the restorer did his proper homework on the material used, because as a high-end luxury car, anything the customer wanted was possible, although I've never seen this material used before.

The grille, lights, and bumpers have been chrome plated, most likely for durability and ease of maintenance, because cars of this vintage typically sport nickel plating (chrome came into widespread use in 1928 or 1929). While the nickel is correct, it's also a bother to polish and never gets quite as shiny as chrome, and I don't see a penalty here for choosing the low-maintenance solution that still looks excellent. The massive drum-style headlights are correct, and feature fluted lenses that look beautiful on or off. Accessory driving lights have been added above the front bumper, and considering today's driving environment, the more lighting you can have, the better. Packard script appears on the radiator itself, and the radiator ornament is simple and understated, with a built-in moto-meter for keeping an eye on coolant temperature. Remaining trim pieces have been expertly polished and look very age-appropriate with just the right amount of patina to them. The glass is excellent, and since it's all flat and easy to reproduce, I'm going to assume it was all replaced at the time of restoration with brand new pieces, because 85-year-old glass just doesn't look that good. The leather top is excellent and looks highly correct, with the proper grain and installation.

The engine would become Packard's foundation for all the eight cylinder motors built well into the 1950s, and in 1925 it displaced 358 cubic inches and made a very respectable 80 horsepower (although the factory only rated it at 36.4 horsepower on the then-current SAE scale). Fully rebuilt by Owenby with fresh babbit bearings by Babbit Pot, the engine is bathed in traditional Packard green, with polished acorn nuts on top holding the head in place. The original vacuum tank is still in place on the firewall and feeds an original Packard updraft carburetor, which is virtually impossible to replace, although reproductions are now available for somewhere north of $2500 each! Those long manifolds are in excellent condition, thanks to porcelainizing by Prairie Porcelain and show no signs of leaking. Someone has thoughtfully wrapped the single exhaust pipe in thermal tape, ostensibly to help prevent vapor-lock in the vacuum-style fuel system, particularly with today's fuels. The water pump features modern seals so you don't have to keep repacking it as they did in 1925 (but that's why you hired the full-time driver/mechanic, right?). The engine starts easily and ticks over at something like 400 RPM with incredible smoothness. With a long 5-inch stroke, it doesn't like to rev, but that same long stroke makes mountains of torque, and Packard often advertised that their cars would go from 5 MPH to top speed in high gear without stuttering or hiccups. While not designed for highway travel (with 4.70 gears in the differential and direct drive in 3rd gear), this car should easily run at 45 MPH all day without worries, and Packard's reputation for reliability is not a legend these cars run well and run forever.

The transmission is a 3-speed manual, and in 1925, there were no synchronizers on the transmission, which means that double-clutching is mandatory. Fortunately, the gearbox in this Packard is nicely weighted and appreciates smoothness and speed in your actions hesitate and the gears will grind, but move decisively and you'll wonder why you need synchros in your modern car. The frame is a positively massive piece of structural steel, and the wheelbase spans a mammoth 136 inches (the 36 part of the 2-36 model designation, with the 2 standing for Second Series, since this was the second year of the Packard Eight). The exhaust system is a faithful reproduction by Keipich, and the rear axle features modern seals. Packard was also one of the first manufacturers to put 4-wheel brakes on their cars, and this one features mechanical externally contracting brakes at all four corners. Plan your stops and leave lots of room, because these are not modern binders, but in use they are strong, predictable, and do their job well considering this car probably weighs somewhere north of 4500 pounds. Disc wheels were standard on 1925 Packards, and the split rims wear relatively recent 6.00-23 Lester wide whitewall tires that really make the car sparkle.

The interior was obviously restored at the same time as the rest of the car, and has aged well, showing little evidence of wear. Blue velour is probably not correct for the vintage (I would expect a wool broadcloth), but it looks good and the stitching and patterns are authentic enough. Snyder's restored the positively gorgeous wooden steering wheel, and the garnish moldings and dashboard have been refinished to match. Interior handles and knobs carry the correct nickel finish, which has a lovely soft glow to it that only age and careful polishing can produce. The original aluminum and wood floorboards are still in place, and you can probably easily imagine yourself stretching out in that surprisingly roomy back seat.

Documentation includes a ton of original Packard factory literature, including advertisements and sales brochures. We also have a pile of receipts from the restoration and recent service work.

This isn't the kind of car you buy on a lark because you're just browsing. Packard collectors understand the importance of an early Eight. Restored to a good standard and now ready to tour and attend casual shows, it's an ideal car for the Packard collector who thinks he's seen everything. And it is indeed a Full Classic, as designated by the Classic Car Club of America, a very exclusive club where only the very finest cars are identified as Full Classics and eligible for vintage caravans and shows around the world. This is a fine car, and if I have my way, RK Motors Charlotte will start carrying a lot more cars like this in the future. Call us now!

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