Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Murphy
From the Robert W. Valpey CollectionRudolph and Alexandra Hamilton Schilling, Woodside, California (acquired new in 1929)Robert Lindland, Redwood City, California (acquired from the above in 1941)John Brooks, Sacramento, California (acquired from the above in 1969)Charlie Jones, Woodland, California (acquired from the above in 1989)Frank McGowan, Branford, Connecticut (acquired from the above circa 1993)Mark Smith, Melvin Village, New Hampshire (acquired from the above circa 1995)Robert W. Valpey (acquired from the above in 1999)
Packard Centennial Celebration, Ohio, 1999CCCA Grand Experience, Michigan, 2003 (Most Elegant Car)PAC National Meet, Massachusetts, 2005Vintage Celebration at New Hampshire International Speedway, 2006Packard Proving Grounds, Michigan, 2019
The Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California, was one of the most celebrated American coachbuilders of the pre-WWII era. The firm earned a well-deserved reputation for their elegant designs and quality craftsmanship, and specialized in sporting, open body styles. Murphy also catered to the demands of well-heeled West Coast customers who wanted more formal coachwork; throughout the 1920s, the company built attractive town car bodies for upscale chassis such as Cord, Doble, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, and, of course, Packard. The 645 Deluxe Eight presented here is a perfect example of Murphy’s genius, as it is among the most splendid-looking town cars ever built on a Packard chassis. Compact and beautifully proportioned, with an intricately detailed belt molding, this town car features the characteristic Murphy windscreen, composed of a single pane of glass, heavily raked and framed by thin pillars. A classically formal town car with a particularly clean and elegant aesthetic, it features an open driver’s compartment, while the passenger compartment is luxuriously appointed with wool upholstery, jump seats, and a chauffeur speaking device.
Originally finished in dark brown with black fenders and moldings, and equipped with side-mounted spares, a rear-mounted trunk, and wooden artillery wheels, this Murphy Town Car was built for Alexandra Hamilton Schilling, whose husband, Rudolph, was an heir to the Schilling Spice fortune. During her ownership, the Packard was always chauffeur-driven and primarily used in San Francisco, with regular trips down to Woodside, where the family lived weekends and summers. Mrs. Schilling kept the Murphy Town Car until 1941, when it was given to the family’s chauffeur, Robert Lindland. Sometime after WWII, Mr. Lindland moved the Packard to his vacation home near Auburn, California, and retired it from use in the mid-1950s. The town car languished on his property until 1969, when a college student named John Brooks purchased it from Mr. Lindland’s widow. Mr. Brooks recommissioned the Packard and drove it sparingly over the next two decades before selling it, in 1989, to Charlie Jones of Woodland, California. During the 1990s, the Packard was owned by two distinguished collectors – Frank McGowan and Mark Smith – and was acquired by Robert Valpey in 1999.
After showing the town car at the Packard Centennial Celebration in 1999, Mr. Valpey commissioned noted marque expert Chris Charlton of Classic Car Services Inc. in Oxford, Maine, to restore the car in a sympathetic manner, preserving as much of its original character as possible. Since this work was carried out, the Packard has been shown selectively and has always garnered admiration; in 2003, it was awarded Most Elegant Car at the CCCA Grand Experience. This marvelous 645 Deluxe Town Car, with its elegant Murphy coachwork and Schilling family provenance, is a truly exciting find that is sure to attract interest from Packard enthusiasts the world over.