Auctions and Brokerage
Original Owner (1912–1921)Charles W. Neal, Alameda, California (acquired in 1921)Dr. George E. Shafer, San Bernardino, California (acquired from the above)William Harrah, Reno, Nevada (acquired in 1962)Rex Lucas, Aumsville, Oregon (acquired in 1976)Norman Buckhart, San Francisco, California (1984–1994)Current Owner (acquired in 1994)
A century ago, the pace of innovation in automotive design was similar to the changes we see in communications technology today. Three American manufacturers emerged as leaders in the luxury car market: Packard, Peerless, and Pierce-Arrow. Arguably, Packard was the standout of the Three Ps, as it survived the longest, built the most cars, and is the most well known today.
Packard was a commercial success thanks to engineering innovations being tempered with financial conservatism. The Model 30 was named for its horsepower rating. Using today’s US measure for horsepower, Model 30s make 55–60 hp. The sales price for a new Model 30 was $4,200, many times more than other four-cylinder cars. Still, the car sold well, especially to fleets, which speaks to its reliable, proven design.
This example is one of 1,250 Model 30s sold in 1912. Of these, fewer than 10 are thought to survive. This Model 30 has spectacular provenance, as it was owned and restored by casino magnate Bill Harrah, a visionary car collector and preservationist. As such, this antique Packard is well documented, with photographs from the early years of Harrah’s ownership.
Packard was a favorite marque of Harrah’s, who had more than 70 in his collection, and his team carried out a sympathetic restoration on this rare and highly original Model 30. Work was complete by 1975, with no. 20815 appearing in a color plate in the Harrah’s Club Harrah’s Automobile Collection Special Edition book. Since 1994, the Model 30 has been in the hands of a prominent West Coast collector of antique and vintage American cars, and it received expert care during that time. A bottom end engine rebuild was performed early in the consignor’s ownership, and the vehicle has covered less than 100 miles since. The consignor states that this Model 30’s running gear operates more quietly than any of his vintage Packards, and he strongly believes it is a low-mileage car, retaining incredibly well-preserved, original upholstery. It is fitted with the Victoria top installed by Harrah’s team and is also accompanied by a conventional folding top from a similar Packard Model 30.
As Packard entered its third decade, the highly successful Model 30 helped establish the company’s status as one of America’s finest marques. With its mechanical pedigree, spacious accommodation, and typical Packard build quality, this Model 30 was a superb touring car a century ago and remains a perfect choice for historic tours today.