1939 Packard Super Eight 1703 Convertible Coupe
Engine No: B5040I4A 130 HP 320 cid L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, floating rear axle, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes; wheelbase: 127” 1939 marked Packard’s 40th anniversary as an automobile manufacturer. Its president, Alvin Macauley, who had remained at the helm for 33 years, stepped down, though he continued as chairman of the board until 1948. Packard lost its leadership position among the independents in production, profits, and prestige; a title it held for decades. Studebaker Corporation was the new leader with the introduction of its $660 Champion. Regardless, it was under Macauley’s watch that Packard became the most respected automotive manufacturer in the business. The company’s record had never been tarnished by shady business dealings, cut-throat supplier operations, or wavering management. Packard’s relations with employees remained the best in the industry. It had never been shut down by a strike, and labor turnover was the lowest in the industry. Macauley was generally referred to by other automotive company executives as the “gentlemen of the industry.” In fact, it was he who preserved the basic concept of the Packard brothers during his tenure, “a gentlemen’s car built by gentlemen.” Calling its 1939 cars the Seventeenth Series, the new models were introduced on September 20, 1938. The Deluxe Eight fell victim to the company penchant for alterations in designation and was now referred to as the Super Eight. Reflecting the change in tastes of American buyers, Packard reduced the offerings in the Super Eight model line from 15 in 1938 to just six body styles for 1939. Aluminum heads were replaced by cast iron and the engine compression ratio was reduced to 6.45:1 with an optional 6.85:1 made available. Visual identity was made possible for this year only by vertical grille bars that alternated between chrome and body color. Faced with a shrinking market for its Senior cars, the 1939 Super Eight Series 1703 shared its 127-inch wheelbase with the medium-priced One Twenty Series. Moving to the smaller chassis meant weight was reduced from 4,530 pounds to 3,930. In combination with the 130 horsepower straight eight, performance was lively and improved over the 1938 model. The Super Eight Convertible Coupe carried body no. 1279 with a base price of $1,875.00. New for 1939 was a column-mounted gearshift with optional overdrive along with a hill-holding device and tachometer. Packard produced 3,962 Super Eights for the model year, some 1,500 more than the previous model year as the Super Eights moved to the production line of the One Ten and One Twenty models. This Super Eight Convertible Coupe was comprehensively restored by Past Perfect of Sugar Grove, Ohio, during the period from 1989-1992. All chrome was removed and refinished, the body and frame painted, and new top, door panels, seats, and carpet were installed in addition to the replacement of the running board covers. Glass, radio, and interior woodgrain were either replaced or repaired including the re-graining of the dashboard. The efforts put forth in the restoration were no doubt noticed when it was awarded First in Class-Open Cars at the Packard Club National Meet in 1992. It looks positively stunning in black with matching black canvas convertible top and wheel rims accented in red to match the convertible top piping and the red leather interior. It is nicely optioned including a radio and heater. Well restored, it has seen only limited use since and still presents beautifully. It will be a welcome addition to the collection of any Packard enthusiast and admired by classic car lovers everywhere.