1928 Packard 533 7-Passenger Sedan - SOLD
     
  • Overview & History
  • Specifications
  • Image Gallery
Using the original vacuum tank, Gracie starts quickly and easily, idles well, and doesn’t emit smoke or even much more than a pleasant mechanical whir from under the hood.

This 1928 Packard 533 7-passenger sedan is named Gracie, and she has a wonderful, storied history to tell. With known ownership from new, including the restorer who cared for her for more than 46 years, it’s a remarkable example of a very rare Full Classic Packard. Today it is one of only three known to exist, with the other two in Switzerland and Australia, and has been restored to show-winning condition throughout. It has won every major award possible, including a CCCA National First Prize, Senior, and Premier, an AACA National First Prize, and a Packard Club National First Prize, plus the Founder's Award at a Packard National Meet for best pre-1929 Packard, invitations to Meadow Brook Hall and Glenmoor Gathering Concours d'Elegance, and was the featured car in the Stan Hywet Inner Circle in 2012. Obviously, this Packard remains ready to drive and show at any level.

A noted historian and Packard expert, the gentleman who restored this car traced its history from new, even going so far as to speak with the grand-nephew of the original owner. That original owner was a developer in Chicago and used Gracie to shuttle prospective clients around the city looking at real estate projects, which explains the rather rare 7-passenger bodywork. She continued in this capacity for a remarkable 22 years, when, in 1950 Gracie was purchased by the owner of a bowling alley, who bought the big Packard as a novelty that he believed would draw customers to his business. Sadly, Gracie sat outside for more than a decade and was robbed of much of her exterior trim and interior fittings during that time. A dentist purchased her in 1964 as a project for his son, but he grossly underestimated the amount of work required to restore such a vehicle and the project was abandoned before it could even begin.

In 1967, fresh out of college, restorer Harry Wolk acquired Gracie as little more than a parts car and embarked on a remarkable 21-year journey to restore her to better-than-new condition. It required nearly a decade just to secure all the missing parts (this was pre-internet, of course) and ultimately the quest consumed more than 5000 hours, 1800 phone calls, 400 letters, and 275 different people in 33 states and five different countries. But by 1988, Gracie was restored to her current spectacular and highly-authentic condition and started collecting justly-earned awards at the very top of the hobby.

Visually, Gracie is stunning in person. The two-tone black over Dove Gray finish is accented with a bright red pinstripe, which is as she was delivered new in 1928. The combination is both formal and appropriate to the car, giving her a gravitas befitting such a large vehicle. Finish quality, as you might expect, is exceptional with excellent bodywork and no signs of her past visible today. All four doors fit well and close with a precise click that’s unheard of today. The front fenders were removed and repainted in 2012 with the body shop instructed to return them “like mirrors” and I think that mission was accomplished; the gloss is not only spectacular, but matches the rest of the car perfectly.

Most of the chrome was missing when the car was discovered in 1967, and things like the taillight housing and radiator shell were located and restored to show condition. However, the drum headlights, which were last used in 1928, were impossible to find so BRAND NEW headlight buckets were fabricated from scratch using original blueprints as a guide. In the same way, the “Packard” script on the radiator core was re-created using a laser cutter, and proper lenses were fitted to both the headlights and cowl lamps before everything was treated to show-quality chrome. The spectacular hood ornament, which combines Packard’s famous “donut pusher” mascot with a Boyce moto-meter, shows exquisite detail which must have cost a fortune all by itself. Also of interest are the exterior door handles which are hardened black rubber, not chrome or pot metal, and as such they are beautifully preserved and 100% authentic to this car. It is also important to note that while the photos show black canvas sidemount covers, they have been recently removed and matching Firestone wide whitewall tires have been installed on the spare wheels, so it looks slightly different today.

The spacious interior is large enough to host a basketball game and is as opulent as any motorcar could get in 1928. Correct gray wool broadcloth was procured and used to duplicate the original patterns, both on the seats and the door panels, and the result is a show-quality interior that shows virtually no signs of use today. Twin jump seats behind the front seat are surprisingly comfortable and have probably never been used beyond this author sitting in them during the photo shoot. Overhead, a correct headliner was stitched and bound in delightful windlace that wraps around the perimeter. New window shades were created, the bud vases were duplicated, and even the lovely wooden cases in the back seat were polished and reinstalled. Up front, the original gauges were restored and nestled into what appears to be the original tooled leather instrument panel, which in turn is set into a woodgrained steel dashboard. New carpets were installed throughout, with what the owner calls “driving carpets” up front, which are matching removable mats bound in gray leather—they do show some light wear, but that’s only because they’re doing their job. The garnish moldings are real wood and expertly restored, and all the window and door hardware was brightly plated for a correct look. Of note, both clocks have been recently rebuilt, the wiper works, all the lights and gauges are fully functional, and it presents today every bit as well as it did at the peak of its show career.

It would be easy to dismiss Packard’s sturdy 288.6 cubic inch inline-six in this application, but that would also be a mistake. Even with the massive 7-passenger body, performance is lively around town with plenty of torque and a wonderful smoothness that is a Packard hallmark. As the owner of a V8-powered 1929 Cadillac myself, I find that this Packard is comparable in performance and speed, and thanks to the comprehensive restoration, is remarkably tight and secure on the road. Using the original vacuum tank, Gracie starts quickly and easily, idles well, and doesn’t emit smoke or even much more than a pleasant mechanical whir from under the hood. Detailing is fantastic, with Packard Green on the block, correct black accessories, and details like fabric-wrapped wiring, correct hose clamps, and period fasteners used throughout. There have been no upgrades or alterations to the original spec, and while it shows just over 6000 miles since the restoration was completed, a 98-point score and perhaps more significantly, Best In Class at the Hickory Corners Grand Classic in July 2014, proves that Gracie hasn't lost a step.

The transmission is a 3-speed manual (non-synchronized, of course, so you’ll need to brush up on your double-clutching) driving the original rear end with 4.69 gears inside. She’s perfectly content to idle around in second gear and cruises effortlessly in traffic in high. There’s plenty of oil pressure, the generator charges well even at idle, and if our photo shoot is any indication, she’s virtually impervious to overheating, as she idled for more than an hour with the moto-meter barely registering any warmth. The chassis is detailed with correct finishes throughout and beautifully finished suspension components—note the bright tags on the front shocks, which are rebound-only units. To duplicate the original exhaust system’s look, the owner used regular steel then had the entire system nickel plated to give it a soft shine like freshly-minted metal that will last virtually forever. And with his research, he was able to determine that the insides of the 20-inch disc wheels were originally bright red like the pinstripe, and painted them accordingly. A set of six 6.50-20 Firestone wide whitewall tires were fitted and finish the big, elegant car quite nicely.

You will not find a more accurately restored, heavily documented, and frankly, beloved, old car than this 1928 Packard. Truly worthy of the marque, this is an exceptional car that if discovered today behind that bowling alley, would likely become little more than a parts car on Ebay. The asking price is but a fraction of the restoration cost, even in 1988 dollars, and never mind the thousands of hours spent on research and parts hunting. The truth is, cars like this will never be restored to this level again, but that also means you can take advantage of this opportunity to own a first-class Full Classic automobile at a very reasonable price. Call today!

Vehicle: 1928 Packard 533 7-Passenger Sedan
Price: SOLD
Stock Number: 111114
Mileage: 6582
VIN: 24543131753
Engine: 288.6 cubic inch inline-6
Transmission: 3-speed manual
Gear Ratio: 4.6900000000000004
Wheelbase: 133 inches
Wheels: 20-inch disc wheels
Tires: 6.50-20 Firestone wide whitewall
Exterior Color: Dove Gray over Black
Interior Color: Gray broadcloth
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