Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

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Lot 143

1939 Packard One Twenty Convertible Victoria by Darrin

  • Vehicle no. 1701-2098

Sold for $214,500

Series 1701. 120 bhp, 282 cu. in. L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed synchromesh manual transmission, independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf spring suspension, and hydraulically assisted four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 127 in.

  • One of about 30 original “Hollywood” Darrins; one of eight built in 1939
  • A unique, one-off example with 1940-style rear fenders as from new
  • Known ownership history for over 60 years
  • Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic

Following his days as a coachbuilder in Paris, the erudite, polo-playing Howard “Dutch” Darrin settled in Hollywood, California, and immediately established himself as the purveyor of custom coachwork to the stars. His first commission, a Ford roadster, was followed by a two-passenger roadster built on a 1937 Packard One Twenty chassis for actor Dick Powell. Powell’s car drew plenty of attention and evolved into a four-passenger design with the same long hood, short rear deck, vee’d windshield, and “dipped” doors. Examples were built for several Hollywood stars, most prominently Clark Gable, Gene Krupa, and Preston Foster. This drew the attention of Packard, which eventually acquired rights to the design and built the “Convertible Victoria by Darrin,” in small numbers, as part of its own catalogued offerings, between 1940 and 1942.

It is the pre-1940 models, the so-called “Hollywood Darrins,” each of which was handmade on Sunset Boulevard and each of which could genuinely be called unique, that are the most scarce and desirable today. The exact number that were built is not known, but historians place it at around 30, of which about eight or nine were made in 1939 on both One Twenty and the larger Super Eight chassis.

The car offered here, One Twenty number 1701-2098, has had its history traced by Darrin historian Don Figone, who notes that it is the only known 1939 “Hollywood” car with 1940-style rear fenders, a unique feature which it has had since new. He traced the car’s continuous history back to 1955, when it was owned by longtime Texas Packard collector James Tagliabue. Mr. Tagliabue owned the Darrin until 1965, when it was sold to Ken Duke. Subsequent owners were Lubbock, Texas, Packard dealer, Wendell Hawkins, and early collector J.J. Thompson of Florida, who in 1981 sold the car to the Imperial Palace Auto Collections of Las Vegas. It remained on exhibit at the Imperial Palace for many years, then was acquired by Mel Weiner of California.

In the early 21st century, a complete restoration of the Darrin was undertaken by a new owner at Aldrich Restoration Specialists of Clayton, Ohio, complete photographic documentation of which is on file and included with the car today. Finished in a variation on the classic Packard Cream, with a red leather interior, it was judged 2nd in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2007. It almost immediately thereafter joined a prominent Western collection, where it remained for several years, before eventually coming to find a new home in Orin Smith’s stable. The car remains very attractive overall, with signs only of regular driving enjoyment and use, such as light creasing and stretching to the seats, and minor chips and polish marks on the finish, and is very clean and solid, inside, outside, and underneath. The odometer recorded 43,294 miles at the time of cataloguing.

An authentic “Hollywood” Darrin and one of the few to have come to market in recent years, this car would be a landmark addition to any museum collection of Full Classics, representing the Packard that elegantly conquered the hearts and minds of Glitter Gulch.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more