1930 Packard 740 Convertible Coupe - SOLD
  • Overview & History
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This car will also successfully perform the nickel trick: you can balance a nickel on edge on the cylinder head while it’s running and rev the engine without a single vibration.


Packard motor cars embody the strength, beauty, and engineering prowess of the American auto industry in the 1930s better than almost any marque. Weathering the Great Depression without a parent company was only one of Packard’s many achievements, and that success has withstood the test of time, as Packards remain a favorite among Classic car enthusiasts around the globe. Dramatic styling and impeccable road manners were big selling points when they were new and today it means that owning and driving a Packard is always something special.

This stunning Seventh Series Packard is a 740 Custom Eight, which was built on a massive 140.5-inch wheelbase (hence the 740 moniker: 7th Series, 140 inches) and carrying a factory convertible coupe body. The 740 Customs were Packard’s in-house bodies, built to order in limited numbers and exceeded only by the 745 Deluxe Eight, which was designed for bodywork by outside coachbuilders. There are five 740 Custom convertible coupes known to exist, and this may very well be the finest of them all. It has won several major national awards, including a national first prize from the Packard Club of America and most recently scored 99.25 points out of 100 at Sawmill Creek CCCA Grand Classic in September 2014, which will grant the car Senior status. It was purchased in 1988 in pieces by a friend of mine who spent almost two decades restoring it to its current breathtaking condition. He’s the sort of fellow who loves to know how things work and has the patience and knowledge to figure it out. As a result, it was especially important to him to make sure every single component was as correct as it was in 1930, and in that regard he has definitely succeeded. There’s not a single aspect of this remarkable car that isn’t the way it was when it left the factory.

During the disassembly, he discovered original paint on the back of one of the hood doors and on some of the chassis components that matched its current medium blue bodywork, making this one of the very rare cars that was, indeed, finished at the factory with a body-colored undercarriage. The contrasting darker blue used on the fenders and belt moldings is traditional Packard Blue, and the car today represents almost exactly what it would have looked like on March 13, 1930 when Packard dealer John Dailey, Jr. in Rockville, CT first sold the car. Fit and finish work on the car are obviously show quality, with doors that fit precisely, a hood that swings on well-oiled hinges, and a rumble seat lid that feels almost effortless as it swings on its pivots. The paint was professionally sprayed with crisp masking between the two colors and a simple pinstripe to highlight the belt moldings. I’ve been over this car very carefully and quite honestly cannot find a single flaw in the finish, a testament to both the quality of the workmanship and the care it has received since it was completed.

All of the chrome was restored to show standards, and it glitters like jewelry against the handsome bodywork. It’s particularly gratifying to see the details that were preserved, suggesting both quality work and good base stock for the restoration; note the exceptional detail on the “lady with donut” hood ornament and the beautifully finished headlights and running lamps. Correct running board moldings were expertly fitted and it’s worth noting that there are special carpet squares for climbing in and out of the car, so the running boards have never been touched by dirty shoes. Accessory Trippe lights give it an impressive look (as if it needed assistance in that regard) and the sidemounts carry wonderfully crisp accessory mirrors with PACKARD etched on their surfaces. The landau irons on the top are excellent, sourced after a multi-year search for clean cores, and the cast aluminum step plates for the rumble seat show just the right satin finish. The radiator and grille shell with louvers was fully restored, but the louvers are now manually operated by a mechanism hidden in the left front fender. And since you’ve asked, that .75 point deduction at the recent Grand Classic? The back-up light was not working, but we later learned that it only works when the headlights are on, and it is, indeed, operating as it should.

The tan leather interior is sumptuous and expertly finished. The soft, aromatic hides are virtually free of marks, the simple door panels have stitching so straight you can use them to check your T-square, and the lush blue carpets have been protected by a set of “driving carpets” that keep them in as-new condition. The wood structure of the body and top was fully restored as needed, and the inside of the top is correctly finished with drill cloth sleeves over painted bows, as the convertible coupes were considered closed cars at the factory. The instrument panel was expertly woodgrained and fully rebuilt instruments reinstalled, all of them working properly including the liquid-filled fuel level gauge. The car comes with two shifter knobs, the original one currently installed and a matching blue knob that was a popular period accessory, but that might be the only deviation from factory-spec. The top has been folded once to confirm its operation, but it remains in as-new condition with no stretching, fading, pinch marks, or other demerits. The only possible issue is that the odometer recently stopped working, something we have not investigated. Pull a knob behind the front seat and the rumble seat springs open gently, revealing matching tan leather upholstery and blue carpets with a footrest—even back seat passengers travel in first class in a Packard. And again, attention to detail shows as there’s a switched courtesy light for back seat passengers, and it does work as intended.

Packard’s smooth and powerful 384.5 cubic inch straight-8 with nine main bearings was one of the most admired and respected engines of its time. Today, it provides the kind of relentless torque that makes large Full Classics so special on the road. Fully rebuilt and detailed, it is likely better than new in many ways. Externally, you’ll note that the gigantic cast aluminum crank case has been polished, which really makes a big impact when you lift the long hood. Correct accessories, including the Detroit Lubricator carburetor, generator, and starter, all of which are wearing correct finishes and detailing. The engine starts easily, and a neat feature is the pre-oiler built into the choke. Pulling the choke knob diverts oil to ports in the cylinder walls to ensure the piston rings are sufficiently lubricated during cranking. Once the car is running, pushing in the choke restores normal oil flow to the rest of the engine, and it makes a nice, healthy 25 PSI of oil pressure at idle. And yes, that system is working properly. This car will also successfully perform the nickel trick: you can balance a nickel on edge on the cylinder head while it’s running and rev the engine without a single vibration. It is a very impressive demonstration!

The 3-speed transmission is non-synchronized, but a quick double-clutch gets it into gear without issue and with all that creamy smooth torque, shifting is really superfluous anyway. The chassis was not painted blue as it was originally and instead wears the standard satin black that most production Packards used, which, to my eye anyway, looks best and lets the bodywork really shine. The rear end looks big enough for a locomotive and rides on special springs and shackles that offer impressive ride quality, especially with that road-smothering 140-inch wheelbase. Four-wheel mechanical drum brakes are remarkably effective with long pedal travel that feels progressive and confidence-inspiring, even at speed. The car is equipped with a complete and functioning Bijur lubrication system, but in the interest of keeping the chassis and the garage floor clean, it has never been used and the canister is empty. Instead, the owner uses a special zerk fitting and once each year he removes each Bijur fitting, manually greases the joint, and then carefully reinstalls the tubing so it looks correct. Standard gears were 4.69s, so it’s not a high-speed cruiser, but it’s quite content to motor along at 45-50 MPH all day and does so with the most delightful purr from the stainless steel exhaust system. Six 7.00-19 Lester wide whitewall tires are fitted to optional painted disc wheels, which gives the big convertible a very sporting look that stands out.

The car has a large album of restoration photos and receipts, copies of which are available to the new owner, although for sentimental reasons, the original photos will remain with the seller.

It is rare in the world of 100-point show cars in that a vehicle is both mechanically sorted and a delight to drive, as well as heart-stoppingly gorgeous. For the discerning buyer who insists on the very best, this car will never disappoint, and it is an ideal companion for CCCA Caravans or show competition, wherever your interests lie. We are honored to have this car at Harwood Motors and you will certainly feel the same way adding it to your collection.

Vehicle: 1930 Packard 740 Convertible Coupe
Price: SOLD
Stock Number: 111100
Mileage: 30,980
VIN: 183434
Engine: 385 cubic inch straight-8
Transmission: 3-speed manual
Gear Ratio: 4.6900000000000004
Wheelbase: 140.5 inches
Wheels: 19-inch steel disc
Tires: 6.50-19 Lester wide whitewall
Exterior Color: Two-tone blue
Interior Color: Tan leather
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