1938 Packard Twelve Landaulet
Engine: 430 CI V12
Horsepower: 175 @ 3200 RPM
Transmission: 3 Hydra-Matic Synchromesh
Front: Independent with coil springs and tubular shock absorbers
Rear: Live axle with leaf springs and tubular shock absorbers
One of very few surviving late Packard Twelves fitted with truly custom coachwork, this 1938 Twelve was ordered as a chassis by Doris Duke, heiress to the American Tobacco Company fortune. At the age of 25, Miss Duke was already the world’s wealthiest woman, and was a prominent figure in the society and gossip columns for much of her eight decades of life. She was a horticulturalist, a noted collector of jewelry and Oriental art, and famously a Newport resident.
The Duke Twelve was custom-bodied by Rollston, New York’s most famous and costly coachbuilder, as a modern landaulet, a limousine with a convertible section over the rear seat. Similar in style to a Rollston body produced for the Duesenberg Model J, number J-577, the body featured a one-piece windshield, as well as a lavishly appointed interior with a clock and speedometer. The design also featured storage for cocktail accouterments in the rear passenger compartment. Controls for the radio were placed literally at Miss Duke’s hand, in the right rear armrest.
Reportedly the car was delivered to Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey, and was used to transport its owner on her regular trips between the Garden State and her summer “cottage,” Rough Point here in Newport – just down the road on Bellevue.
Ray’s Auto Restoration of Webster, Massachusetts, a noted local Packard specialist, oversaw its complete restoration to original condition, including the correct original Duke color scheme, over a two-year period. Fittingly, given its early history, the car was first shown at the Newport Concours d’Elegance in 2009, winning Best Pre-War Open Car.