Lot 35
1937 Packard Twelve 1508 Convertible Sedan


Selling on Wednesday

From The Chuck Morgan Estate Collection, The Ex-Bette Davis

CHASSIS NO: 1073212

• Purchased new by Jack Warner as a gift for two-time Academy Award Winner Bette Davis
• Two-time entrant, with a podium finish, at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
• Recently serviced, magnificent V-12 engine
• All-weather comfort for touring or parade duty
• Verified original ownership
• Long list of achievements and awards including 100 points three-times
• Extremely well-presented as originally ordered
• Rare body style as one of just four known divider window examples

473 cid, 67-degree V-12 engine, 180 HP, carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes; wheelbase: 144”

Even before she was 20 years old, Ruth Elizabeth Davis, better known to the world as Bette Davis, had made a name for herself in several Broadway plays. At the age of 22, she made the move to the silver screen in 1930 when she traveled across the country to arrive in Hollywood. Her first screen success came in 1934 when her performance in “Of Human Bondage” won rave reviews, followed the next year with the portrayal of a down-and-out actress in “Dangerous,” resulting in her nomination for Best Actress, for which she would go on to win the Oscar. By 1937, Bette Davis was a force in Hollywood. This same year, she decided to try and free herself from her contract with Warner Brothers, which she would ultimately lose, but won the hearts of millions of fans in the process. For whatever reason, Jack Warner ordered this stunning Packard Twelve and presented it to Bette Davis reportedly thanking her for her work in “Jezebel”, which would garner Ms. Davis her second Oscar for Best Actress.

In 1932, Packard resurrected their “Twin Six” moniker for their totally new V-12 engine. With a thin wedge of 67 degrees, this was the smoothest engine Packard, or for that matter, most any other American car maker, had ever engineered. For 1935, the displacement was enlarged to 473 cubic inches and output increased to 175 horsepower. For 1937, with improved carburetion, another five horses were added, making Packard one of the fastest and most respected cars in America. Despite its luxury status, Packard could be considered a conservative car for the classic era featuring finely crafted coachwork, elegant appointments, advanced designed chassis along with whisper quiet and vibration-less engine operations, the Twelve set the bar others tried to meet. Among other improvement seen for 1937 was the introduction of the “Safe-T-Flex” independent front suspension that had originally been developed for use on the junior 120 series, all steel disc wheels which added to the smoothness of the ride, and elimination of the dated Bijur central lubrication system. Coupled with classic styling, these updates make the '37 Packard one of the most desired cars for classic car touring.

This beautiful Packard Twelve model 1508 Convertible Sedan has been restored back to its factory original appearance and is appointed just as it was when delivered to noted screen legend, Bette Davis. Fitted with a coveted and seldom seen roll-up divider window that not only offered privacy for confidential meetings in the rear seat, it also added a bit of coziness for the rear seat occupants. While the chauffeur could rest upon durable top-quality black leather surfaces, the passengers were treated to fine gray broadcloth trimmed with black leather. A pair of senior Trippe driving lights increase the range for night driving while the dual enclosed side-mount spare tires add a touch of elegance to the impressive design and length of this motoring masterpiece. A large built-in luggage compartment provides plenty of space for a week’s worth of traveling needs. The top mechanism easily folds back to allow open-air driving and can be quickly closed and locked down for snug, weather-tight touring.

Bette would own this car until 1942 when it would be sold to James Jeightner in Del Ray, California who then sold it to Dave Pennington in Corpus Christi, Texas. The car would pass through a number of subsequent owners, getting a CCCA Senior Badge along the way in Hershey in 1993, ending up in the Larry Symons Collection. Larry knew he had a special car - celebrity ownership, desirable model year and exceptionally rare as one of only four known with the divider window. He made the determination that this car was worthy of a comprehensive restoration which he would commission at a cost of nearly $400,000. Following completion it would go on to win many awards including AACA National First, CCCA Premier, scoring 100 points three different times, Packards International Best of Show, Second in Class at the 1998 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Best in Show at the Forest Grove Concours and many more. The car would end up in the capable hands of noted Packard enthusiast Dave Kane who only parted with it in December of 2003 knowing it was going to a great home in the Chuck Morgan Collection. Chuck would not only care for the car, he continued to show it on occasion. Despite its spectacular current appearance, this is not a trailer queen as the Morgans used the car for careful CARavan touring. It has been presented at CCCA events where it has been given the “Premier” Status with badge number 1764 present. The car comes with a nice file of notes and letters which make it come to life in a meaningful way.

Clearly one of the finest examples around, this wonderful automobile, with such a rich heritage and background, presents an opportunity for the new caretaker to show, tour and enjoy an automobile that truly fits the word “Classic”. Packards were a luxury car and, when new, the sign of one’s stature in society. Nothing has changed with the ownership of a Packard Twelve. Whether it is being shown on the green of an exclusive concours or pulling into a scenic overlook in a National Park, this incredible Packard Twelve will invite questions where they will have to “Ask the Man (or Woman) Who Owns One.”