1941 Packard Darrin

One-Eighty Convertible Victoria

Summary

  • Year of manufacture 
    1941
  • Car type 
    Other
  • Lot number 
    250
  • Condition 
    Used
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
    Other

Description

Estimate:
$325,000 - $375,000

  • CCCA Full Classic eligible for all club events and CARavans.
  • One of less than 100 Packard Darrins produced prior to WWII.
  • Car number 13 of the 1941 production Darrins.
  • Among the most collectible and highly-desired Packard models.

The Packard Darrin was a special automobile in the maker’s lineup. It was a blending of all the glory that was Packard in the Classic Era with all the chutzpa that was the stock in trade of Howard “Dutch” Darrin. The result was glamor with lots of pizzazz.

Without Darrin’s insistence, the car wouldn’t have been built at all. Following his days in Paris, Darrin had settled in Hollywood; immediately established himself as the purveyor of custom coachwork to the stars. The polo playing-Darrin was quickly accepted by the movie crowd; his well-cultivated French accent fit in perfectly. He named his shop “Darrin of Paris.”

His first client was Dick Powell for whom he fashioned a two-passenger Ford Roadster in 1937. Shortly thereafter, he built a two-seat convertible victoria roadster on a 1937 Packard One Twenty chassis for actor Chester Morris. It led to the idea of building a five-passenger version and selling Packard on the idea of including it as part of its lineup. The initial word from Detroit was no . . . but that didn’t stop him.

Darrin began with a standard Packard Eight Business Coupe, little of which remained when the transformation was completed (later cars, like this example, used the larger 138” One-Eighty chassis). Most memorable are the sweeping cut-down curves of the doors, the car’s signature styling feature commonly referred to as the “Darrin Dip.” The rakish body looked downright racy when compared to competitor Lincoln’s Zephyr Continental. Yet the car remained unquestionably and distinctly, a Packard.

Darrin arranged to have the car parked outside the Packard Proving Grounds at the time of the annual dealer’s meeting, precisely where the dealers couldn’t help but see it. That, as they say, was that! Under pressure from its dealers Packard included the Darrin as part of its catalog for 1940 with three models; Sport Sedan, Convertible Sedan, and Convertible Victoria. Nearly one hundred were built through 1942 when production was halted prior to WWII. Darrins were real celebrity cars – Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Al Jolson, Ruby Keeler, Preston Foster, and Gene Krupa, all had one.

This lovely example has been in the possession of the consigner since 2012. During his ownership, the car has received a complete cosmetic restoration, including new paint. Prior to his purchase, the car remained in the care of just two owners from 1979. Sometime after 1997, the engine was removed and rebuilt and additional major mechanical work performed. The Darrin retains its correct Packard AM radio, which has been modified for AM/FM reception. Brightwork is described as very nice, as is the canvas top. As a CCCA Full Classic, the Packard is eligible for all club events and CARavans and is considered one of the most desirable models to collectors of Packards and cars of the Classic Era. To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/mo20.