Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by LeBaron
*Please note that this car is titled by its engine number.
Formerly the Property of Robert L. Meyer
In late 1930, Packard introduced their improved Eighth Series chassis and those with the means to acquire a top-of-the-line luxury car could choose between the 840 and 845 DeLuxe Eights. Of the 1,053 845 DeLuxe Eights built, most received formal factory coachwork and just 94 were delivered to custom coachbuilders as bare chassis.
One of the most important custom bodies offered on the 845 DeLuxe chassis was LeBaron’s striking Convertible Coupe. Penned by Hugo Pfau, author of The Coachbuilt Packard and The Custom Body Era, this sensational design took inspiration from contemporary Murphy bodies and featured advanced aluminum construction, elegant sweeping lines, and a neatly integrated, disappearing top.
According to Pfau, LeBaron built approximately 50 examples of this handsome body style, with the vast majority fitted to Packard’s 845 DeLuxe chassis. The LeBaron design proved so successful that Packard’s in-house designers virtually copied it for use on their 1932–1934 factory-built convertible coupes.
The history of this magnificent Packard DeLuxe Eight can be traced back to 1940, when it was owned by Walter Paine’s Chevrolet garage in King City, California. Like many aging luxury cars, the LeBaron Packard was put to use as a tow truck because it was a “big, heavy, long wheel base vehicle with a 4-speed transmission.” In the early 1940s, Mr. Paine sold the Packard to his friend Leo Meyer, a local tomato farmer and classic car enthusiast. Mr. Meyer used the Packard on his ranch for a few years, but ultimately fell in love with the car’s elegant design. In his attempt to return the once grand classic to its former splendor, he removed the makeshift crane, sold the towing equipment to Mr. Paine, and installed a proper trunk lid.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Mr. Meyer’s Packard was a frequent sight throughout the Salinas Valley. According to Meyer’s son Robert, “he drove it in parades, took it to a Lions Club Convention, and generally let anyone drive it that wanted to use it for an outing.” Mr. Meyer even went so far as to install a trailer hitch and construct a small trailer so he could use the powerful Packard to transport his two-cylinder 1903 Mitchell to local events.
Around 1965, Leo Meyer presented the aging Packard Convertible Coupe as a birthday present to his son. As Robert had little use for the 35-year-old convertible coupe, he placed it on blocks in a local warehouse but maintained the belief that it might someday become a rare and sought-after collectible.
As the years passed, Robert Meyer rekindled his interest in the Packard and enlisted local Chevrolet dealer John Ingles to do some research and pinpoint the car’s exact model and year. Upon his return from several car shows, Mr. Ingles contacted Hill & Vaughn in Santa Monica, California, as they “seemed to be very knowledgeable about Packards.”
After speaking with Phil Hill, Mr. Ingles reported back to Mr. Meyer that his old Packard was in fact a rare, custom-built model of which only three are known to exist.
Between November 1977 and May 1980, Hill & Vaughn restored Mr. Meyer’s LeBaron-bodied 845 to the highest possible standard of cosmetic and functional excellence.
The Packard made its show-field debut at the Silverado Concours d’Elegance on June 1, 1980, and was justifiably awarded with a First in Class trophy. From there, the 845 went on to earn a perfect 100-point score at the CCCA Grand Classic in Carmel, a First in Class at the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and three consecutive First in Class and Best of Show honors at concours in Santa Clara, Walnut Creek, and Santa Barbara.
During fall and winter 1980, the Packard was further groomed for success, and the 1981 concours calendar further demonstrated this car’s outstanding presentation. At the CCCA National Meet in San Francisco, Mr. Meyer’s Packard captured a perfect 100-point score and a first place in the Senior Division. This impressive outing was followed by First in Class awards at Walnut Creek and Hillsborough as well as Best of Show honors at the Sunol Concours d’Elegance.
Over the next three years, the LeBaron-bodied Packard continued to garner admiration wherever it was shown, winning four First in Class awards, several special prizes, Best of Show, and a CCCA Senior Emeritus award.
In 1985, Mr. Meyer’s Packard returned to Hill & Vaughn for an extensive cosmetic freshening and mechanical attention. Once again prepared for serious concours competition, the Packard continued its winning ways, capturing First in Class and the Honorary Judges Award at the Palo Alto Concours d’Elegance and a First in Class at the Tucson National Concours d’Elegance.
After receiving yet another 100-point score and Premier Crown status at the 1991 CCCA Annual Meeting, Mr. Meyer decided to retire his Packard from judged competition. During its incomparable decade-long concours campaign, the LeBaron-bodied Packard earned more than 20 consecutive First Place awards, numerous 100-point scores, and several prestigious Best of Show trophies.
Though Mr. Meyer’s Packard was no longer a regular sight at judged concours events, it was meticulously kept in his King City collection for over 25 years before passing to a new caretaker.
In anticipation of its first appearance at auction, this Packard has been treated to a thorough service and detailing. With careful preparation, this rare coachbuilt classic is sure to be a contender for top honors at a variety of concours events as well as a delightful choice for open touring.
For those in search of an exceptional American classic, there is no need to look any further than this highly awarded and exceptionally rare LeBaron-bodied Packard.