Classic, Classy Roadster Has ‘Modern’ Feel
With its ease of driving and handsome styling, Packard’s Tenth Series captured the hearts and wallets of women buyers and drivers in 1933.
The Tenth Series sporty coupe roadster 1001 employed the innovations of the Ninth Series of 1932, which included an automatic choke, a lower body design and revised steering geometry that made steering smooth and easy.
Packard’s ease of driving was further enhanced for 1933 with improvements of its own.
Engineers developed a power-assisted breaking system that had three levels of braking strength that could be changed to meet driving conditions by a switch on the instrument panel. The clutch and shifting mechanism were also improved, making driving easier and more enjoyable. This is the first year of the down draft carburetor, which was fitted with the automatic choke to lessen the driver’s work.
Nighttime visibility improved too with headlights featuring three brightness ranges: low, high and high-driving. The high-driving feature was most useful on the unlit two-lane rural roads prevalent during the era. Choosing a brightness level was easily done with a selector switch mounted on the instrument panel.
The Tenth Series was the first to use the new X-member frame, which added rigidity and better road feel and was used unchanged for the next 20 years. Other improvements included a vacuum pump to operate the windshield wipers and an electric gauge to measure the engine oil level.
Styling cues included updated slightly skirted fenders, a V-shaped radiator shell and the aircraft-inspired instrument panel. Many consider 1933’s purity of design to be Packard’s most classic year.
The massive torque produced by the eight Inline cylinder engine allowed the driver to turn the car at 10 miles an hour in third gear without lugging the engine. The torque of the 130 horsepower engine propelled the 1933 coupe roadster from five to 10 miles per hour in 10 seconds.
High gears in the 3-speed transmission gave the car added speed, and today the 1933 Packard coupe roadster can be effortlessly driven on the freeway.
The 1933 Packard coupe roadster offered at No Reserve in Barrett-Jackson’s 2012 Scottsdale auction (Lot #5001) came to the Tom Crook collection from the estate of a highly regarded collector. Its past is well documented, from the time a college student drove it to classes in the 1940s.
Its recent restoration finished the coupe roadster in two-tone red, with dark maroon clamshell fenders and accent body lines complementing the body’s rich fire engine red. Two-tone paint schemes in a variety of colors were a factory option. Even the frame could be painted in a color different from the body.
The car features several other desirable factory options. Among them are sporty wire wheels, the side-mounted spare, side mirrors, a chrome-plated radiator shell, driving lights and the Goddess of Speed hood ornamented radiator cap.
The interior seating and rumble seat is done in handsome tan leather. The tops of the door frames and the sporty dashboard, which is styled after aircraft cockpit configuration, are finished in burl Carpathian elm wood grain for a sophisticated and warm accent.
The convertible top is a high-quality material in tan to match the interior. The Tenth Series features a “disappearing” top design that allows the top to fold into the body for greater visibility and reduced drag.
The standard tilting windshield opens from the bottom to provide a sporty stance and added ventilation.
The care and craftsmanship of the restoration has earned a perfect 100-point judging from Classic Car Club of America (CCCA), earning both the CCCA’s “National First Award” and “Senior Award.”
The show quality restoration on body, undercarriage and mechanicals used all correct components and finishes.
The rarity of the 1933 Packard coupe roadster is enhanced by Packard’s use of series numbers rather than model years. Packard used series numbers because styling did not change radically from year to year, which helped hold the value of the cars. The company had long refused to adopt the convention of releasing new models to coincide with auto show schedules, but reluctantly joined other car builders.
The result was a shortened production run in 1933, from January through August, so fewer cars were built to survive the decades before being rescued by collectors. Surviving examples of the 1933 Packard coupe roadster are even fewer in number because of the model’s comparatively limited production run. The car at auction is the 18th coupe roadster to leave the production line that year.
— By Richard Gray