1932 Packard phaeton

1932 Packard phaeton

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This 1932 Packard phaeton is one of several luxury cars in the Smithsonian collection. It was first registered to Layton R. Colburn, sales manager at a Packard dealership in Washington, D.C. In 1933, Colburn sold it to Franklin Q. Brown, Jr., a Harvard-educated business administrator who had moved to Washington to take a job with the Public Works Administration. Brown later was employed as a railroad examiner for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and as an economist with a New York investment banking firm. In the early 1960s, after the Packard no longer served as Brown's primary transportation, he drove it at his summer home on Martha's Vineyard. Brown donated the car to the Smithsonian in 1978.
The 1932 Packard Model 902 phaeton is a long, low, open car with a folding top. The body is black and has four doors. The car is rather massive at 4,300 pounds. The straight eight-cylinder engine developed 110 horsepower. Accessories include dual horns and a windshield wiper.
In the early years of the Depression, the market for luxury automobiles shrank. By the early 1930s, Packard's annual production was only a fraction of its output at the height of the expansive, extravagant 1920s. But the company held onto a small, elite market, including the rich and famous as well as less affluent motorists who appreciated Packard's engineering advances and refinements. In 1932 Packard tried to broaden its market by introducing a moderately priced Light Eight in addition to the Standard Eight (shown here). This attempt to enter the mid-priced automobile market was unsuccessful because of high production costs. A loyal following of repeat customers enabled the company to survive the Depression and compete successfully with rivals Cadillac and Lincoln. Production by several other competitors in the luxury class-Cord, Duesenberg, Franklin, Marmon, Peerless, and Pierce-Arrow-ceased during the 1930s because of diminishing sales and financial difficulties.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Packard Motor Car Company
overall: 73 in x 69 in x 207 in; 185.42 cm x 175.26 cm x 525.78 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
serial number
Credit Line
Gift of Franklin Q. Brown, Jr.
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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"I am not sure, but I do believe this vehicle was restored by my father, Frederick James Blachly in the 1970's. Do you have any records about the restoration of this vehicle? We do know that my father did restore a Packard that was given to the Smithsonian. I am just not sure it was this one."
"After confirming with some family members, this was indeed the car that my father restored. I am so very happy to see it here!"

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