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Mature beauty: A unique Packard Eight from 1929 in Germany

Mature beauty: A unique Packard Eight from 1929 in Germany

Why do even people who don’t have a driving license often admire prewar cars? Well, there are lots of reasons, but one is obvious: Prewar cars don’t have anything in common with today's mostly dull vehicles which are congesting the motorways in almost every part of the world. 
I remember my first trip from Germany to Italy as a schoolboy in the 1980s. After crossing the Alps you felt you were entering a different world. Suddenly, you were surrounded by agile Alfas, little Fiats and Innocentis, and of course distinctive Lancias whose drivers were determined to go as fast as possible as long as possible, no matter how difficult the roads or how feeble and fully-occupied their cars were.

“Tempi passati” – gone are the days. Apart from the usual Fiat Cinquecento (the genuine thing, of course) in a secluded mountain village, you’ll just come across the same usual suspects on Italian roads like anywhere else in Europe: Audis, BMWs, Hyundais, Mercedes’, Peugeots, Toyotas, VWs etc.

Against this background, the infinite world of prewar cars appears like a paradise lost. Never again has there been such a fascinating variety of marques and models, technical designs and bodywork.

That’s why old-motor addicts need to pay a visit to the truly worthwhile classic car events every year, in order to keep their peace of mind. On the European continent, there is one such event that truly stands out in this regard – the "Classic Days" at the magnificent moated castle “Schloss Dyck” in the lower Rhine area in Germany.

At we already posted an enthusiastic report of the Classic Days 2017. There is not much to add, maybe apart from a review of a very special Packard Eight from 1929 with body by Raymond Dietrich which catched my eye. 
I was just able to make a few snapshots of the car in question at its arrival on the castle grounds. And I must admit, I have rarely encountered a prewar car which overwhelmed me by its sheer beauty and originality like this one did. It has survived in unrestored (meaning “unmolested”) condition in the U.S.A. until 2016 when it was acquired by its current German owners who seem to appreciate its unique original appearance. Just look at the faded original paint, the tiny missing chips behind the radiator, the slightly discoloured top – and you’ll notice that almost 90 years of gentle maturing have left their traces on this car without impairing the sheer beauty of this stunning touring car.
This result cannot be replicated or reconstructed or “restored” – this is the original state everyone is dreaming of who has an understanding of what “authentic” really means.

Of course, “better-than-new” advocates and "replica afficionados” will disagree, but in my opinion a truly original early motorcar deserves an owner who views himself as a temporary steward of something which is worth to be preserved for the future just as it is, as long as it’s complete and running. And to me this Packard Eight is the perfect epitome of this idea.

By the way, if anyone can tell more about the origin and history of this breathtaking tourer which won the FIVA Preservation Award at the event, I am sure, prewarcar readers would love to know it.

Words and photos by Michael Schlenger



#3 2017-09-07 14:37
The look of a 1929 Packard Dietrich phaeton tells the story of Packard success in the expensive car market of the Roaring Twenties. A friend now owns his late father-in-law's 29 Packard Dietrich phaeton, given a cosmetic restoration 50 years ago. Mechanically it has never been touched. The engine is silent and hearing the whine of the transmission through the gears is music to the automotive heart. The car is a magnet to the crowds who have no idea what it is, much less who Dietrich was.

Finding an original is this condition is truly remarkable. Someone must have fallen in love with it and had the means to preserve it. How fortunate for all of us prewar car nuts.
#2 2017-09-07 11:33
Lovely car. What do we know about its long life?
#1 2017-09-07 03:36
Delighted to see that this car has not been relegated to collecting dust in a museum. It was acquired during or right after the war by William Folwell who used it as a daily car for over 10 years. It was considered one of the cleanest, most original, and best performing Packards when he bought it.
The car was stored in a barn in southeastern Pennsylvania for a number of years and the paint and chrome deteriorated along with a beam falling on the hood - leaving a dent. Folwell's brother-in-law, Packard collector and authority on pre-war Packards Hyde Ballard, took possession of the car in the 1950's and put it back on the road for use as a daily driver. As one who had owned several 640 Packards and had a 645 Dietrich seven passenger touring as a daily driver, he was very familiar with these cars. He also had worked on the Packard assembly line in the summer of 1929 while in college. The car was next used as a daily driver by yours truly for a several years while attending high school. It is one of the best running Packard big eights and always amazed people at how well it performed. It was not pampered or run at anything but regular highway speeds or faster.

The top is old but was probably done in the 1930's or 1940's. The horseshoe cut outs in the top are incorrect and are there simply because people left the top bow cradles installed rather than remove them.

For many years the 1929 dual cowl Packard 645 phaeton was considered one of the premier Classics. In fact, the official CCCA emblem displays such a car.

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