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Lot 621
1940 Packard Darrin 180 Super Eight Custom Victoria Convertible


Selling on Saturday Evening

CHASSIS NO: 18062001

• One of the most important Packard Darrins with known history from new
• The first 180 Darrin built; scheduled to be exhibited at the 1940 Paris Auto Show
• Featured in the 1953 film “Blowing Wild” starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck
• Professional restoration by Mann’s Restoration of Festus, Missouri

356 cid eight-cylinder engine, 160 HP, three-speed manual transmission; wheelbase: 127”

By the end of the 1930s, America was well on the road to prosperity once again and Packard Motors had weathered the storm, thanks to the introduction of lower-priced models that had the same build quality as their senior cars. The profits from these vehicles had allowed for advances for all models across the line. While Packard was known for their stately vehicles, there were those who wanted a special vehicle built in the tradition of quality one came to expect from Packard. Howard “Dutch” Darrin had built several custom-ordered bodies on Packard chassis and, in late 1936, he approached Packard about offering a limited run of some of his custom creations. The company did not seem that interested in this proposal, so Darrin, a self-promoting entrepreneur, took one of his custom creations to the annual Packard Dealers Convention and parked it right outside the front door. The response was just what he had hoped for, and the Packard-Darrin relationship was created. While several body styles were offered, it was the limited runs of the convertible Victoria that really captured the public’s attention, with bodies featuring soft lines that blended sheet metal and speed into one package and also promoted the famous “Darrin Dip” in the door design. Darrin’s design seemed to become more refined with each model that was released, but many believe the 1940 model achieved perfection in design. Unfortunately, the winds of war were approaching America, and, after the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor, it would be just a matter of time before civilian automobile production would come to a halt and a switch over to war and defense materials would be Job No. 1. On February 9th, the last Packard rolled off the assembly line in Detroit and Darrin would have to close his shop for the duration. The majority of his Packard Darrins were sold to major movie stars including Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Rosalind Russell, Al Jolson and Preston Foster. However, instead of being sold once finished, Dutch Darrin had other plans for this particular example.

One of the most important Packard Darrins, chassis number 18062001, would be the first 180 Darrin built for the 1940 model year. It was originally scheduled to be exhibited at the Paris Auto Show for 1940, but due to the fall of Paris to the German army on June 15, 1940, it stayed in the States and was displayed around the country at various dealerships to showcase the 1941 model line. After its marketing campaign came to an end, it was sold to MGM Studios in Beverly Hills, California, one of the most prolific Media Companies in the country. Under their ownership, this ’40 Packard-Darrin would appear in multiple films, most notably the 1953 film, “Blowing Wild” starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. MGM would retire this example from the big screen and the next eager owner would be CCCA member Norm Knight. After Knight, Tom Crook would own serial #001 for just two years before selling it to John Klein, who would retain it from 1992 to 2006. After Klein enjoyed the car for many years, it would trade hands to well-known and noted collector Rob Hilarides of Lindsay, California in November of 2006. Hilarides and his good friend Dave Brinkman would fly to Indianapolis, Indiana to pick up the car, but only with a one-way ticket. Following Route 66 in their then 66-year-old Packard, the pair set off on a 2,166-mile journey back home to California. They would “Packard” through the Midwest quite smoothly, until reaching Oklahoma and would find themselves in a life-threatening blizzard. Hilarides recalls in the Packards International Magazine that “the mental images of this rare, historical car reduced to spare parts in a snowbank, was just too horrible to contemplate. So, we didn’t think about it. We simply just kept moving.” Eventually, the duo would make it home, proving the car was clearly sorted for long-distance touring, apparently in any weather thrown in its way. Hilarides ownership would continue until acquisition of the car by the current owner. Under his watchful eye, this historically important Packard Darrin Victoria Convertible would be taken to Mann’s Restoration to undergo a restoration with a truly stunning outcome.

The rakish and unparalleled lines were expertly smoothed, bringing its allure and charm back to better than new. The Laguna Maroon paint was reapplied to give it an outstanding appearance, that seamlessly blends with its tan convertible top and matching boot cover, making it the envy of many enthusiasts. A truly special Packard Darrin with known history from new and a short stint on the big screen, it is ready to leave its current long-term home where it will continue to impress collectors and onlookers at every turn.

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