19-20 January 2012

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Lot 239

1941 Packard Darrin One-Eighty Convertible Victoria

  • Chassis no. 1429-2013
  • Engine no. CD502436C

Sold for $225,500

Nineteenth Series, Model 1906. 160 hp, 356 cu. in. L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 127"

• “Dutch” Darrin design benchmark

• Very attractive, older body-on restoration

• CCCA Full Classic status

Although expatriate Americans working and living in Paris numbered some 25,000 strong during the “Roaring Twenties,” their numbers fell by nearly 75 percent by the late 1930s as Europe lurched from Depression to war. Among them was the highly successful and well connected custom-coachwork designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin, who returned to America in style in 1937, setting up shop in Hollywood where he focused on serving the market of movie moguls and the era’s top entertainers with his handsome automotive designs.

Without a doubt, Darrin’s favorite body style was the convertible victoria, and he excelled at its execution with a near-perfect blend of formality and sportiness. Soon after settling in Hollywood, Darrin worked his magic on a European-themed 1937 Ford Phaeton for Warner Brothers actor Dick Powell, followed by a similar design on a Packard 120 chassis for RKO actor Chester Morris. A few more cars followed in 1937 as Darrin established himself in Hollywood, and approximately 22 custom Darrins were built in 1938 and 1939 for the era’s leading actors and musicians including Errol Flynn, Gene Krupa, Al Jolson and Carole Lombard for Clark Gable. For 1940, 30 cars were produced, mostly two-door convertibles, plus a number of convertible sedans.

In mid-1940, Darrin’s custom work on Packard chassis caught the attention of Packard President Alvan Macauley via dealer Earle C. Anthony. A deal was struck for Packard to market the cars as part of its model line, and a factory was established in Connersville, Indiana to build them. With their improved structural integrity, these limited-production “factory” Packard Darrin convertibles of 1941-1942 are the most desirable Packard Darrins of all. Priced at $4,595, they were expensive indeed, but their style and exclusivity helped Packard sell every one. Reportedly, as many as 35 Darrin convertible victorias were built on the Packard Super Eight chassis; it is believed that the highest-numbered example ever located is car number 18. Another 15 were built in 1942, with civilian automobile production halted that February in favor of wartime output.

The example offered here is car number 13 from 1941. While its earlier history remains unknown, it has benefited from the care of just two owners over the past 33 years, with the current California-based owner acquiring it in May 1997. With an older, body-on-frame cosmetic restoration, the Packard Darrin presents very nicely with a high-gloss lacquer finish, a virtually perfect canvas top with a custom-made plastic cover and very good brightwork. The leather upholstery is virtually new in appearance, all instruments are in good working condition (the electric clock is presently disconnected to preserve battery life), and the correct Packard AM radio, which has been modified for AM/FM reception, is in excellent working condition. During the car’s restoration in its prior ownership, the engine was removed and completely rebuilt, and after the current owner acquired the car, some additional major mechanical work was performed. The owner has informed us the car is in very good mechanical and operating condition.

Overall, this highly desirable and attractive Packard Darrin Super Eight 180 Convertible Victoria is a wonderful example of an unqualified design benchmark of the immediate prewar era. With so few examples built and even fewer available today, this striking CCCA Full Classic is destined to remain highly coveted and valuable for many years to come.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more