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Coachwork by Packard Custom Bodyworks
Among the Rarest of All Packard Models | One of Just Five Speedster Phaetons KnownFirst Owner, Illinois (acquired new in 1930)D. Cameron Peck, Chicago, Illinois (acquired circa 1947)Wally Marsh, Cleveland, Ohio (acquired from the above in 1952)Dr. Charles W. Marsh, Longview, Texas (acquired from the above in 1958)Patrick Ferchill, Fort Worth, Texas (acquired from the above circa 1960)Knox Kershaw, Montgomery, Alabama (acquired from the above in 1996)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2012)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 2001 (Third in Class)Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Amelia Island, Florida (First in Class)CCCA Grand Classic, 2001 (First Place, 100 Points)
In 1930, just as Detroit was in the midst of an escalating horsepower race, Packard unveiled its prototypical factory “hot rod,” the 734 Speedster. The extremely limited-production model featured incredible performance statistics, and its radical proportions make it one of the finest sporting machines built by an American manufacturer during the Classic Era. Never a mainstream advertised model, fewer than 120 were built.
Based upon a modified, rigid boxed chassis with a short 134.5" wheelbase, the 734 Speedster was equipped with 19" wheels, a high-speed rear-axle ratio, special finned brake drums with three leading shoe linings, and a highly tuned 385 cid straight eight. With nine main bearings, a special two-barrel Detroit Lubricator carburetor, hemispherical combustion chambers, and a special cylinder head and exhaust manifold, the 734 Speedsters produced a stout 145 bhp.
Over the course of production, the 734 Speedster was offered in five distinct body styles: boattail runabout, phaeton, victoria, sedan, and roadster. Custom-tailored to the unique dimensions of the high-performance chassis, the low, narrow speedster bodies were built in Packard’s own custom coachworks. This work resulted in some of the most rakish Packard automobiles of all time, with design excellence on a par with the Dietrich Individual Customs that would soon follow.
Thanks to its lightweight coachwork, reworked chassis, and high-performance engine, the 734 Speedster offered 60 mph performance in second gear and achieved road speeds in excess of 100 mph. These figures were nearly unheard of for a production automobile in 1930, much less from a fully outfitted luxury car.
The Packard presented here is one of the magnificent Model 734 Speedster Phaetons, of which just 32 examples were built. This outstanding Speedster Phaeton, one of only five known to survive, is a well-known and highly regarded example of this rare breed of sporting Packards. Delivered new to Hubbard Woods Packard of Winnetka, Illinois, this 734 Speedster Phaeton, body no. 445-12, was sold to its first owner on May 13, 1930. Although little is known of the Packard’s earliest history, it is believed that the car remained in the Chicago area throughout the 1930s and 1940s.
Following WWII, pioneering classic car enthusiast D. Cameron Peck acquired the rare 734 Speedster Phaeton for his incomparable collection. Mr. Peck would come to own nearly 1,500 of the world’s finest automotive treasures – ranging from early French antiques to unusual American classics. For decades, Mr. Peck’s comprehensive catalogue of automobiles remained the standard by which all other collections were judged.
When a portion of The Peck Collection was auctioned in 1952, the Packard 734 Speedster Phaeton was sold to Wally Marsh, a resident of Cleveland. According to Smith Hempstone Oliver’s article published in the fall 1958 issue of The Bulb Horn, Mr. Marsh’s 734 Speedster Phaeton was described as “completely restored to new condition” before both he and the Packard relocated to Texas.
In 1958, Dr. Charles W. Marsh of Longview, Texas, purchased the 734 Speedster; less than a year later, he sold it to Patrick Ferchill of Fort Worth, Texas. Throughout the 1960s, Mr. Ferchill enjoyed the outstanding qualities of his rare, high-performance Packard and participated in several classic car tours. Finally, in 1996, after nearly a decade of negotiating, Mr. Ferchill sold his prized 734 in largely preserved, unrestored condition to longtime acquaintance Knox Kershaw, a lifelong collector of important Classics. After some initial restoration work was undertaken in Mr. Kershaw’s shop, the Packard’s comprehensive restoration was entrusted to D&D Classic Automobile Restoration in Covington, Ohio. Throughout the process, factory photos were used to guide details, and experts, including Clay Cook Enterprises, were called in for specialty work.
Restored from the ground up, the Speedster Phaeton was finished in an elegant two-tone gray color scheme with contrasting dark blue leather upholstery. Faithful to Packard’s original concept for the model, the Phaeton has not been over-accessorized, sporting neither driving nor cowl lights, and is simply outfitted with a polished radiator stone guard and a Goddess of Speed mascot.
The beautifully restored 734 Speedster Phaeton made its exhibition debut at the 2001 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, where it earned Third in Class. An award for First in Class at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance followed, then a First Prize in CCCA competition, achieving a perfect 100-point score.
In 2012, the 734 was acquired by the consignor to include it in his stable of other notable exotic machinery. During his tenure with the high-performance Packard, the current owner has taken the 734 Speedster on an 800-mile tour in the high elevation around Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and he has kept it in an optimal state of tune. Supporting the unique history and provenance of this special Packard is a comprehensive history file that includes extensive restoration documents, various correspondence, and copies of period literature.
Outstanding examples can be found only in the world’s finest collections, and the roster of past and present 734 Speedster owners is virtually synonymous with the history of classic-car collecting. Less than 120 examples of 734 Speedsters of all styles were built, with fewer than 30 in existence today; of this number, very few are as correct and authentic as this splendid Phaeton. Not only is this 734 Speedster a rare and sought-after American classic, its limited ownership, superb presentation, and connection to D. Cameron Peck – one of the most revered early car collectors – speak to its credibility and timeless appeal.
In consideration of its outstanding qualities and extreme rarity, this 734 Speedster Phaeton is an ideal prewar Classic for those who appreciate quality, elegance, exclusivity, design, and performance.