1929 Packard 633
A truly wonderful car that is best appreciated from behind the wheel.
For 1929, Packard offered four distinct series of automobiles, each designation having a parallel to the car's wheelbase - the 6-26 and 6-33 Standard Eights (with 126.5 and 133.5 inch wheelbases, respectively), the 6-40 Custom Eight (at 140 inches) and 6-45 Deluxe Eight (with a positively massive 145-inch wheelbase).
The new Standard Eight series replaced the Packard Six, which was discontinued in 1929. One of the most popular 1929 Packard models was the 6-33 seven-passenger sedan. It was ideally suited for both family and business use, and while it was not as sporty as a roadster or touring car, it was vastly more practical and comfortable, then and now. With a $2675 price tag when new, it was not an inexpensive car and looks the part of a high-end luxury sedan. And yes, all 1929 Packards are designated as Full Classics by the Classic Car Club of America (CCCA).
This particular 1929 6-33 7-passenger sedan was restored in the 1980s, and today presents as a well-sorted driver that is ideal for touring and casual shows. From a collection where regularly driving and enjoying the cars is mandatory, this Packard is completely road-worthy and ready to go on a moment’s notice. Refinished in the original paint scheme of Black over Highland Green with Peewee Green pinstriping, it’s an elegant, formal-looking car that is ideally complimented by recently installed blackwall tires. The paint is single-stage lacquer and the finish is still excellent on the body, though the front fenders are just now starting to show their age. The doors open and close precisely and latch securely with no rattles.
Chrome and other bright work on the car is a combination of original items and pieces that were undoubtedly restored with the rest of the car. Obviously the door handles are original pieces that have aged to a nice patina, but the radiator shell, bumpers, and cowl trim were all re-plated at the time of restoration and remain in good condition today, with only very minor pitting visible where the radiator shell meets the painted center insert. The famous “lady with donut” hood ornament is in good condition, and I’m not sure restoring it again would improve its appearance. The headlights and cowl lights carry a soft gloss that is exactly appropriate to the car, while the Packard crest on the radiator shell appears to be in original condition. Aftermarket taillights and side-view mirrors have been added in the name of touring safely, and a turn signal system has been incorporated into the cowl lights. I think if this were my car, I’d find a way to better disguise those rear taillights, but they work properly and greatly improve visibility from behind.
Powering all 6-33 models in 1929 was Packard’s 320 cubic inch straight-8 producing 90 horsepower. Nine main bearings provide remarkable smoothness and durability, and Packard’s famous machining tolerances make these some of the most rugged and reliable engines of the era. For 1929, an oil filter was added, and there’s a level gauge for crankcase oil. This big sedan’s engine was likely rebuilt when the car was restored, and today runs beautifully using the original 6-volt electrics and vacuum tank fuel system. Cosmetically, the engine is functional and clean, not detailed for show, but it would not take much work to elevate it to the next level if that’s your desire. It still uses the correct Packard carburetor and vacuum tank, although I think I would remove the crude homemade heat shield around the vacuum tank—its functionality is dubious at best and its appearance doesn’t do much for the engine compartment. The engine does, however, show signs of recent servicing including new spark plugs, wires, and recent valve work as evidenced by the new acorn nuts on top of the head. Both intake and exhaust manifolds are tight and crack-free with no exhaust leaks. The engine fires up quickly, idles beautifully, and drives wonderfully, with big Packard torque available at very low speeds.
The transmission is, of course, a 3-speed manual, although Packard had not yet incorporated synchromesh into their transmissions in 1929, necessitating double-clutching. However, I found this one extremely easy to drive and it doesn’t mind quick shifting—in fact, it seems to prefer it. Downshifts are easy with just a quick blip of the throttle. Enhancing the driving experience is an R11 overdrive unit installed 2 years ago by overdrive expert Lloyd Young of Columbus, Ohio. The system is almost transparent in usage, and slips into overdrive at about 25 MPH when you lift off the throttle in high gear. You can feel a slight kick as the overdrive is activated, and then the car pulls easily up to about 55 MPH, where it will happily cruise all day. There’s a reverse lockout to prevent damage to the overdrive unit when backing up, and the system is easy to use and one of the best additions you can make to an old car with 4.69 gears in back. And while many cars of this vintage receive wide whitewalls when they are restored, the Packard catalog for 1929 shows this model with blackwall tires. With that in mind, this car now wears a set of new 6.50-20 Denman blackwalls on the original disc wheels with split rims. The effect is imposing and dramatic.
The rest of the chassis is clean and well-maintained, showing signs of many years of happy motoring. Components are serviceable and clean, but not detailed for show. The exhaust was probably replaced in the ‘80s and is still leak-free and sounds like a Packard should. Braking is firm and steady and the car tracks extremely well. In fact, I should admit that a half-hour before driving this car, I was behind the wheel of a recently restored 1930 Cadillac V16 Fleetwood limousine. With all due respect to that spectacular Cadillac, I found this Packard to be much easier to drive and handle on the road and instantly felt more confident behind the wheel (whether that is because of the orders of magnitude difference in price tags, I can’t say for certain). And the view over the Packard hood is my absolute favorite in all of motoring, thanks to many happy hours spent in a similar 1929 Packard phaeton when I was a kid.
The wool broadcloth interior is beautifully finished and still holding up well after nearly three decades. The upholstery fabric is excellent, and even the driver’s seat shows very little wear. In back, space is expansive, and there’s plenty of room for five with the jump seats in place. Cushions are firm and the patterns are correct throughout. The brightwork is in good shape, and the gauges appear to all be functional except the fuel gauge. Sadly, there’s no way to verify whether the mileage shown is authentic, but it’s best to assume that it is not. The wood on the dash is in excellent shape, although the window garnish moldings are getting a little dry—easily remedied with some linseed oil. The aluminum floor boards up front are in excellent condition, and the hard rubber steering wheel feels great in your hands. During my drive, the engine temperature never rose above 160, there was plenty of oil pressure, and, well, the car just went about its business like it should.
This Packard was invited to the 2008 Glenmoor Gathering of Significant Automobiles, and presents today as a terrific tour candidate that can be shown proudly. Elegant, powerful, and understated, I’m still trying to work out a way to put this one in my own garage. A truly wonderful car that is best appreciated from behind the wheel. Call now!