Sunday, July 30, 2017

Concours d'Elegance of America, Plymouth, Michigan, July 30, 2017: Part Two

Now came the first of the cars we had really come to see: American Classic Open!  A Baker's Dozen of spectacular motorcars from a Golden Age.

1935 Duesenberg J Torpedo Phaeton

A creation of famed designer Gordon Buehrig, the Torpedo Phaeton allowed the top to fold flush behind the rear seat compartment, making it, with its cut-down windshields and long wheelbase, the sleekest four passenger sports model to adorn a Duesenberg J chassis.  This car and two others were bodied by the A.J. Walker Co., while two more by Weymann American Body and a single example from the Hermann Brunn Co.

1932 Chrysler Imperial CH Convertible Sedan

The first Chrysler Imperial appeared on the market in 1926 to compete with luxury cars from Cadillac and Lincoln.  The CH model, on a 135 inch wheelbase, was bodied by Briggs, which had purchased the LeBaron coachworks.  1,392 CHs were built in 1932, of which only 152 were convertible sedans.  The CH featured rubber motor mounts, a fine leather interior and electric start.
1931 Cadillac 355A Convertible Coupe

This V8-powered Cadillac, which was derelict for many years in an orchard in Indiana, has been making the rounds of concours events as we saw it at The Elegance at Hershey a month earlier where I had the opportunity to speak to the owner.  Its convertible body is by Fleetwood.

1930 Stutz SV-16/MB Convertible Coupe

Originally priced at $4,450 when new, this rakish Stutz, bodied by LeBaron in aluminum, is one of only three known to have been constructed in this style.  It used Stutz's longer 145 inch wheelbase, and featured an overhead-cam straight eight engine with dual ignition, hydraulic power brakes, and a four-speed transmission.

1933 Packard 1002 Convertible Victoria

At the height of the Great Depression, Packard only built 4,800 cars, its lowest total since 1916.  The fine Convertible Coupe is one of only 100 thought to have been constructed on the Eight Chassis and sold for $2,780 new.  Among other features, it boasted a pivoted pane window ventilation system, exclusive to 1933 cars.

1930 Packard 734 Speedster Phaeton

Packard's Chief Designer came up with the idea of building the sportiest car possible by offering a custom body on the company's shortest wheelbase and highest power engine.  The 734 line was the lowest, narrowest and lightest available from the company and by 1930 was a full line of cars.  It is thought that only 150 Speedsters in all body styles were built before the series was discontinued in 1931.

1938 Packard 1604 Convertible Coupe

This wonderful Packard was purchased new by the Superintendent of Detroit Public Schools and wandered between owners until 1957, when purchased by a Wayne State University student and then ended up in storage between 1959 and 2005, its fine maroon paint having been replaced with a porch green paint job applied with a roller.  Having remained in the Detroit area, it suffered from the effects of Michigan winters over the years but was fully restored to its current condition by experts in Indiana.

1931 Stutz DV-32 Convertible Victoria

The wags once said "Ya gotta be nuts to drive a Stutz" but from the cars at St. John's this is certainly not true!  This very fine DV-32 boasts a LeBaron body, with the longest hood (extended 6 inches) used on a Stutz.  The car was originally exported to Argentina, where it was handled by the Stutz dealership of noted heavyweight boxter Luis Angel Firpo.  It eventually returned to the United States in 1974.  It is thought that the body style was a "catalogue custom" aimed at keeping LeBaron at the forefront of Stutz coachbuilders.

1930 Packard 734 Roadster

Unfortunately Packard records are no longer intact but it is thought that around 100 of these 734 Roadsters were built, with only a dozen accounted for today.  Its straight-eight engine produces 106 hp and is noted for its smoothness and reliability.  Economy of operation might have been a selling point in 1930 as the car was capable of getting a modest 15 mpg, impressive for such a luxurious and heavy vehicle.
1941 Buick Super Phaeton
In 1940 GM introduced a new "Torpedo" body style that was shared among division, used by the Buick Super and Roadmaster, the Cadillac Series 62, the Oldsmobile Series 90 and the Pontiac Torpedo.  With the elimination of running boards, lowering the car 2-3 inches, and making it 5 inches wider than its predecessor, the Buick was a genuine six passenger car.  467 Super Phaetons were built for the US market, with an additional 41 exported.  This example had a full restoration completed in 2013.

1937 Packard 1508 Convertible Victoria

This Rollston-bodied long wheelbase V12 convertible was a one-off design for the Shattuck Family that owned the Schrafft's candy company, based near Boston, and which enterprise was expanded to include restaurants and motor inns operating in the 1950s and 1960s.  The 144 inch Packard chassis was usually reserved for limousines or convertible sedans.  Very few of the V12 1508 models received custom bodies.

1934 Pierce-Arrow 840A Convertible Sedan

Believed to be the last convertible sedan to be produced by Pierce-Arrow, this LeBaron-bodied example was originally purchased by the wife of an associate of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.  Pierce-Arrow offered four different product lines in 1934, with the 840A being the most popular, albeit with a mere 654 produced.  This car is finished in Pierce-Arrow Thessalon Green and Black, with a matching interior.

1940 Packard 180 Convertible Coupe by Darrin

One of an estimated nine survivors of the series of twelve Darrin-bodied Packard 180s, this car was powered by a 356 cu. in. inline eight which Packard claimed, at 160 hp, to be the most powerful eight cylinder engine available in 1940.
1940 Packard 180 Convertible Sedan by Darrin
Arguably the best-looking of the three variants of the Darrin-bodied Packard, the Convertible Sedan had a long 138 inch wheelbase and a 3 inch longer hood.  It is believed that only eleven cars in this style were built, with a list price of $6,300, making the Convertible Sedan considerably more expensive than Convertible Victoria or Sport Sedan.  This car was originally purchased by a Mrs. Welch, of the grape juice company.

1933 Chrysler CL Imperial Convertible Roadster
Capable of exceeding 90 mph with its 125 hp straight-eight engine, the fine LeBaron-bodied. Chrysler Imperial would have retailed for $3,295 but there were few takers in that Great Depression year, with only nine Imperial Convertible Roadsters finding buyers that year.  Total production of all Imperials was only 155.  The design of the car is clearly influenced by Auburn but in 1934 Chrysler would turn in a completely different direction with its groundbreaking Airflow models.

Continue to Part Three here

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