- Offered from the Estate of Frank Ricciardelli
- Part of renowned American collections for the past four decades
- Spectacular concours restoration by marque specialists Stone Barn
- 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Best of Show nominee
- One of three known survivors; a Packard of great beauty and significance
- Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
THE DIETRICH INDIVIDUAL CUSTOM
The most prestigious Packards of the Classic Era were the so-called Dietrich Individual Customs, which were fashioned on the Super Eight and Twelve chassis from 1932 through to 1934. Built largely to individual tastes as true “factory customs,” these striking bodies were known for their lithe and sporty lines. Their exceptional aesthetic was created by the vee’d windshields, a beltline that curved away from the windshield, and an extraordinarily long hoodline, which on the 1934 Eleventh Series extended all the way over the cowl to the windshield, visually lengthening the appearance of the car.
These cars were also tremendously expensive, particularly in 12-cylinder form, and with a modified L-head V-12 that could displace 445.5 cubic inches and develop 160 horsepower, the Dietrich Packard had the power to match its style. It was nothing short of a masterpiece of form and function.
Only three known surviving Dietrich Individual Custom Convertible Victorias are mounted on the grandest 1934 Eleventh Series 1108 Twelve chassis, all rightly considered to be among the ultimate examples of their type. Until recently, all have been cloistered within private collections, not often emerging for sale—something that now changes at Amelia Island.
VEHICLE NUMBER 1108-15
The example offered here was reportedly acquired in 1948 by Robert Wellcome of Westchester, New York, from a Maryland bookmaker. The bookmaker informed Wellcome that he had, in turn, purchased the car from a local dentist, who had acquired it for his daughter, only that she found it much too large to handle on local roads. Mr. Wellcome was told that the Packard had originally been sold in the Philadelphia area. Its new owner retained the car for nine years before selling it to early collector, Ted Fuller, who kept it for another 16 years. Eventually the Twelve was sold to the prolific Packard trader Frank McGowan.
It was originally restored in a rich dark blue by its next owner, John Wheatley of Oklahoma, and sold in the early 1980s to Jerry J. Moore of Houston, Texas, who was then building a vast collection. Mr. Moore retained the grand Packard for over a decade before selling it to Dr. Joseph Murphy of New Hope, Pennsylvania, in whose ownership it was featured in several books, including Dennis Adler’s Packard and the book done by Mr. Adler on the Murphy collection, titled In Search of Excellence. This began the car’s tradition of forming part of significant collections of Dietrich-designed Individual Custom Packards.
In 1998, the Packard was one of a group of important automobiles sold en masse from the Murphy stable to renowned collector, Otis Chandler. Mr. Chandler significantly built two superbly curated collections of Full Classics over the years, his second including a focus on Dietrich Individual Custom Packards. He acquired several such Individual Customs, each among the very best, counting among them a trio of Convertible Victorias from 1932, 1933, and 1934—reflecting his keen eye’s preference for the style. As he began to thin the herd in 2002, the 1934 Convertible Victoria was sold to well-known Packard connoisseur, David Kane, who then passed it to two-time Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Best of Show winners, Joseph and Margie Cassini, also great aficionados of this style.
In 2006, the Packard became part of the superb collection of the late Frank Ricciardelli, a dear friend and longtime client of RM Sotheby’s, who is much-missed by all who knew him. Mr. Ricciardelli kept the car for several years, continuing to show it occasionally. While the car’s older restoration continued to win awards, the owner eventually deemed it due for a fresh restoration. This was undertaken by the well-known Stone Barn Automobile Restoration of Vienna, New Jersey, extremely highly regarded for their work on 12-cylinder Packards.
In a recent conversation with Stone Barn proprietor Rich Fass, it was noted that the Packard was an otherwise fine automobile that did not require any major rebuilding, thanks to the care given it by previous owners. In fact, it had earlier been driven by the Ricciardellis on the Pebble Beach Motoring Classic from Seattle to Monterey, proving its continued mechanical fitness. Nonetheless, the car was fully disassembled, with every component properly rebuilt to the smallest nut and bolt, ensuring that it would be finished as perfectly as possible. The body was finished in a rich pewter, exquisitely well-suited to its glamorous lines. Stone Barn’s superb work resulted in First in Class, the Classic Car Club of America Trophy, and a Best of Show nomination at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2014, a remarkable achievement that Frank Ricciardelli described to Rich Fass as “one of the happiest moments of my life.”
Since that time, the Packard had remained carefully conserved yet secluded within the Ricciardelli collection, but has not been shown again. Thus, a wide array of opportunities await its new owner at important concours d’elegance on both sides of the Atlantic. That person will also be the latest name in a rich provenance, including many of the greatest, most knowledgeable collectors and enthusiasts of the last half-century.
All have known what is immediately evident to anyone who views this masterpiece in the metal—it is one of the finest, most significant Packards, and an automobile spectacular in history, performance, and presentation.