1929 Packard 640 Super Eight Touring
Chassis no. 177660
*345ci straight eight
*Restored by Robert Turnquist's Hibernia restorations
*CCCA Full Classic
It took some time for what we now recognize as Classic Era cars to be appreciated by the old car hobby. Many consider the first, great, restored American Classic to be Robert Turnquist's Packard 443 Phaeton. It is no coincidence that the Packard brand would be regarded as the quintessential American classic and this 1929 640 Packard Phaeton, restored by Mr. Turnquist's Hibernia Restorations, is another quintessential example of this genre.
Packard's rise to prominence has its roots in 1907 with the introduction of the landmark Model 30. From that point, Packard produced arguably the finest styled and engineered automobiles in the United States. From the Model 30 to the magnificent six-cylinder cars, then to the technologically triumphant Twin Six, Packard could do no wrong. The manufacturer would achieve a further triumph in 1924 with the introduction of the eight-cylinder range. This machine was seen as such a significant development that it would be designated as the "first series" and all other Packard model years would carry the consecutive series number until the end of the company.
This new, straight-eight car helped define so many of the characteristics we associate with classic era cars today. Most notably, the long straight eight required a long hood a body stylist's dream, which helped to define the appearance of a great classic. The industry was starting to witness a truly inspired period of automotive design.
With each year after 1924, a new series was introduced and more features and refinements were added. The Sixth Series, introduced in 1929, would prove to be Packard's most successful year and along with the 443 would be hailed as the marque's early classic masterpieces. Packard's styling prowess was no doubt related to the fact that only Ford employed more in-house stylists than Packard. Close examination of this car reveals a machine of cohesive and thorough styling excellence. From the hub caps to the door handles to the radiator shell, Packard got all the details right.
A 640 Packard has nearly everything one wants in a great classic: some of the finest styling of its day, superb quality and a powerful yet simple and reliable powertrain. Packard is as good as it gets when it comes to power and robustness. The cars are extremely dependable but can be fixed with a few common hand tools (conveniently fitted in the front door) if something does give trouble. For classic car touring, these make a wonderful choice due to their good road manners and the amount of space for passengers and luggage provided by the seven passenger body.
For the last 12 years this 640 has been the property of the Village of Amityville, New York, prior to which it was owned by the local Doyle family for many years, in whose custody it received its restoration. There has always been some suggestion that the car was owned or used by New York Mayor Jimmy Murphy, but contemporary images seem to disprove this as while a Packard was used for some famous 'Ticker Tape' parades, such as that for aviator Charles Lindbergh, that was an earlier car, and by the late 1920s Murphy was more often seen in a Duesenberg, which was his property.
Regardless of this connotation, the 640 Packard is a particularly fine example of the series. It benefits from a superb Hibernia restoration which cost some $150,000 in its day and put it in the handsome and correct tri-tone lacquer paintwork it wears today, which suits the car perfectly. The tan top and dark brown leather trim further complement the exterior colors. The end result is a car that exudes quality in a way only a car with all the right details can. The large wire wheels are a desirable and attractive feature that moves the car stylistically out of the Twenties. These Sixth Series cars benefit from a particularly attractive radiator shell and mascot, as Packard moved away from rounded styling. A look under the hood reveals a clean and proper engine compartment; closer inspection shows that the proper carburetor is still fitted.
In the present ownership, the car has been used with some regularity for town events and gatherings, but its condition remains good, as a testament to the quality of its restoration.
- Please note that the engine number for this vehicle is 177309C