CHASSIS NO: 14722138
• Luxurious broadcloth rear interior
• Rare Packard with custom coachwork by Rollson of New York
• Elegant chauffeur driven towncar with cabin privacy window
356 cid L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, 160 HP, 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”
Always built to the highest standards, Packard was unquestionably one of the finest American cars of the pre-war era. First introduced in 1924, the Eight was notable as the first Packard to employ four-wheel brakes. Its side valve straight-eight engine developed 85 horsepower from 5.9 liters, and the Eight lineup initially comprised ten models on two wheelbase lengths. In 1927, the engine was enlarged to 6.3 liters and a smaller 5.2-liter Standard Eight was introduced for 1929; the larger engine continued to power the Custom and DeLuxe Eights. The latter was re-christened ‘Super Eight’ for 1933, by which time all Packards featured synchromesh transmission. Engine improvements were introduced year by year, the big news for 1937 being the introduction of the 5.2-liter engine on the larger Eight.
The eight-cylinder Packard was in its 19th series by the time this One-Sixty rolled off the Detroit company’s production line in 1941. Independent front suspension and hydraulic brakes had been part of the Packard specification for some years now, while the 365-cubic-inch, 160-horsepower engine had been first introduced on the Eight line in 1940. A new look graced the Packard range for ’41; headlamps were now inset into the fenders and running boards had disappeared, but continued as an option.
By 1941, most American coachbuilders had given up the ghost amidst changing economic times, but Rollson, the successor to New York’s famed Rollston, soldiered on by building small runs of “semi-custom” bodies for Packard. With both Rollson and Packard suffering the problem of traditional clientele who were still wealthy but a little less so than before, emphasis was placed on offering the same hand-built quality but at a somewhat lower cost. Accordingly, the Rollson semi-customs were based upon factory body shells, which Rollson would extensively modify and re-engineer to their own designs. This allowed the cars to be sold for less than full customs, yet they still benefitted from traditional hand finishes and beautiful appointments.
The Rollson company was one of the most heralded custom coachbuilders of the classic era, known for producing some of the highest quality custom Packards at extremely low volume. Due to painstaking attention to detail, Rollson delivered only about 50 custom cars during the four-year period between 1938 and 1941. Of those 50 cars, only five or six of these Packard 160 Town Cars were produced. These special cars were ultra-rare in their own time, and today it is no exaggeration to call this Rollson Packard one of the rarest models ever produced by one of America’s most storied manufacturers. These cars were intended to be driven in the proper manner, by chauffeur, and were outfitted with open driver’s compartments and elegant formal roof lines.
The example on offer is one of two such Packard 160 Panel Broughams that were hand-built by Rollson of New York for 1941. The car has been fully restored and is equipped with side-mounted spare tires and coach lamps. The stately interior is adorned with bud vases, vanities with beveled glass mirrors, jump seats and a sun shade. It is a rare coach-built Packard that drives exceptionally well. Any owner of a Packard will tell you what a pleasure it is to operate a Packard from this period. As the Packard advertisements used to say, “Ask the man that owns one,” and that still holds true to this day. Formal and elegant, this rare Rollson Packard would be a fine addition to any collection and is perfectly suited for comfortable touring and club events.