To survive the Great Depression, independent automaker Packard had to diversify, and that meant selling more cars to more people. Hence, the 120. With all the quality and precision of a senior car, the 120 offers Packard style and performance at a Buick price. And this very nicely finished 1937 Packard 120 touring sedan proves just how good these cars really were.
There's no mistaking the Packard look, and it was no mistake that the 120 looked a lot like its big brothers. The grille is a Packard trademark dating back to the early 'teens and got a sleeker look in 1937. It's worth noting that the lovely Packard Blue paint on this car is pretty faithful to the original, and not only does it have a wonderful soft gloss today, but its condition is indicative of the quality that went into each Packard that was built, even the affordable ones! The doors close with that solid 'thunk' that only ancient original cars seem to offer, and while there are some signs of wear since the restoration was completed in the 1980s, there are more signs of the love and attention this car received in the years since. It's also equipoped with accessory fog lamps, a "lady with donut" hood ornament, and running boards, which all contribute to the 1930s vibe. Nice chrome, lovely bumpers, and that dominating grille make for a very attractive package.
The beautiful gray cloth interior is every bit as nice as the exterior. Sure, there are some very minor signs of age and use, but that's only proof that this car is a great driver. Bench seats were all that you got in 1937, but the front is intimate for two, with space for three in back where nobody's going to complain about legroom. The 120 was simpler than the big cars, but no less beautifully crafted, and it shows in details like the door panels and hardware, as well as the beautiful instruments, which have fantastic 1930s art-deco styling. The big steering wheel and light effort make the 120 one of the more nimble cars of the period and synchromesh was standard equipment by then, so the 3-speed manual transmission shifts easily without any grinding. Both the heater/defroster unit and the AM radio were options in 1937, and while the radio isn't working it's a fantastic addition to this car's pedigree. Even the trunk is in good order, offering plenty of space plus a full-sized spare tire and jack assembly.
The 120 was a great car simply because it offered Packard 8-cylinder power in a smaller package. Enthusiasts in the know will argue that the 120 is perhaps the best-driving Packard of the era, simply due to its all-new independent front suspension and superior brakes, not to mention a great power-to-weight ratio. The 282 cubic inch straight-8 purrs along with nary a vibration to be felt, and it shows extremely well when you open the hood. There's a replacement exhaust system with a pleasant 8-cylinder burble and you'll be pleased to note that the starter, generator, and water pump have all been rebuilt so it's ready to tour. There's a correct high-compression head on top, new plug wires that have the right cloth covering, and it cruises comfortably at 60 MPH. The chassis is extremely clean, suggesting a frame-off restoration, and it sits on flashy wide whites that really dress it up.
These are simply wonderful cars and I know it's cliché, but the old ad still rings true: "Ask the man who owns one." I guarantee he'll tell you this Packard is a great car, regardless of price. Call today!