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Coachwork by Graber
The Packard 115-C While Packard entered the 1930s in fine form with a solid balance sheet, the stark realities of the deepening Great Depression and a weakening of demand for large luxury automobiles necessitated a broadening of its model lineup, resulting in the 1930–1932 Light Eight. The arrival of the eight-cylinder 120-C, otherwise known as the One-Twenty – was a start and, just in time for a sharp recession in 1937, Packard released the six-cylinder 115-C. So named for its trim 115" wheelbase and six-cylinder engine, the 115-C was the right car at the right time, conferring Packard’s enviable image of prestige and quality with significantly lower operating costs.
Succeeded by the Packard 110, the 115-C was offered for just one model year. Still, its trim proportions, solidly built chassis, powerful inline six-cylinder engine delivering a rated 200 lbs. /ft of highly usable torque, and attractive pricing made the Packard 115-C a most suitable American-built alternative for the practical European market.
In particular, Swiss coachbuilder Hermann Graber, who had set up his Carrosserie Hermann Graber operation in Wichtrach, near Bern in 1925, possessed considerable and successful experience with body construction for a number of manufacturers including various American-built chassis by the late 1930s. Graber was, and remains, best known for his coupe and cabriolet designs, as well as his impeccable quality standards during a career that continued uninterrupted until his eventual death in 1970.
This Car This original left-hand-drive 1937 Packard 115-C Cabriolet, numbered 115C-1088, is one of as few as an estimated six examples bodied by Graber in Switzerland when new. Its highly knowledgeable owner knows of only one or two other Graber-bodied Packards that have survived, including one right-hand-drive car in the UK.
This example was acquired by a Swiss gentleman in Florida named William C. Van Engelenburg, who purchased it during the early 1980s, brought it to his Florida home, and prominently displayed it in his climatecontrolled living room, where it obviously enjoyed pride of place as a highly prized possession. Mr. Van Engelenburg retained 115C-1088 until it was acquired from him by the current owner in 2004. As offered, this exceedingly rare and sporting car continues to present quite well and remains attractive, even considering the age of its restoration, which is believed to have been completed in the late 1960s or early 1970s. The white leather upholstery remains particularly fine, indicative of quality workmanship, and the canvas top is complete, undamaged, and properly equipped with a headliner.
The current owner has recently reported that the rare Packard starts easily and seems to drive very well with no known issues, with light handling and good power. Recently, a new battery was installed, and vital fluids were checked and changed as required. The carburetor was overhauled and the brakes were bled. While never toured with the current owner, the 115-C is noted to be sound and solid and it has been sparingly exercised over an approximate 500 miles since acquisition. In addition to being equipped with a heater/defogger and the original radio, which is not operational at this time, the Graber-bodied Packard still carries the plate affixed to the car from Werner Risch, the Zurich-based Packard dealer and distributor for Switzerland during the 1930s. To Swiss classic car or “old-timer” enthusiasts, Mr. Risch is also well known for the launch of his highly modified “Swiss Packard” line at the 1934 edition of the prestigious Geneva Auto Salon.
Eligible for Approved Classic status under the Classic Car Club of America by virtue of its custom-coachbuilt body by Graber, the 115-C has been a great joy to the consignor during his ownership. Fascinating and highly attractive for its Graber bodywork, this highly rare Packard 115-C Cabriolet offers a number of great possibilities for enjoyment by its new owner, both for tours and to show.