1926 Packard Eight Series 243 Landaulet Coachwork by LeBaron Registration no. not UK registered Chassis no. 215129
Always built to the highest standards, the Packard was unquestionably one of the finest American cars of the pre-war era. First introduced in 1924, the Eight was the first Packard to employ four-wheel brakes. The nine-bearing, sidevalve, straight-eight engine developed 85bhp from 5.9 litres, and the line-up initially comprised ten models on two wheelbase lengths. The secret of Packard's success was tight quality control and the use of only the best materials, and the company made great play of the fact that almost everything was manufactured in house: 'Packard cars are designed by Packard engineers and built by Packard men. Packard engineering and Packard parts and cannot be found in any other motor car.'
Representing the best the US auto industry had to offer in 1926, this Packard Eight carries coachwork by LeBaron Carrossiers Inc, a company formed in 1920 by ex-Brewster employees Ray Dietrich and Tom Hibberd, who were joined shortly thereafter by Ralph Roberts. Originally a styling studio, LeBaron sold its first design to Packard's New York branch manager, and within a short while had concluded deals with the sales agents of all the most prestigious domestic and imported makes. Only after it had merged with the established coachbuilder Bridgeport Body Company in January 1924 to form LeBaron Inc, did LeBaron have a hand in building its own bodies, many of which are considered among the most elegant of the 'Roaring Twenties'.
Purchased new by Glen Stewart of Wye Island, Maryland, this unique Packard has an interesting history. Stewart was a member of the US Diplomatic Corps and had various postings in Cuba, Guatemala, and Austria before eventually settling in Maryland with his wife, Jacqueline Archer Stewart. The couple moved into a castle whose design had been inspired by the Alhambra palace in Grenada, Southern Spain. The Packard was ordered for use in Maryland and on their European journeys in 1927 and 1929. Among its many unusual features is a nickel-plated bonnet, while the entire body is raised six inches to provide space for lockable strongboxes within the chassis. Often occupied by the Stewarts' dog, a single folding seat is fitted in the rear. Different materials were used for the fixed and folding sections of the convertible hood, which was done to enable the Stewarts to place deckchairs on the roof while attending polo matches.
In 1967, the Packard was purchased from the Stewart Estate by the family of the immediately preceding owner. During the latter's ownership, the car was maintained regularly by a Packard mechanic and sympathetically restored but only where necessary, while the repaint was undertaken with great care so as to match exactly the original colour. The car retains its original fitted luggage with the Stewart's initials engraved on them, as well as the original footrests. It is featured in J M Forster's book, 'Packard: The Pride'. The current vendor's late father purchased the Packard at the Pebble Beach auction in August 1995.