Packard 1107 Twelve Convertible Victoria by Dietrich

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1107 Twelve Convertible Victoria by Dietrich





Fearing that the Twin Six name might confuse customers as to the car’s actual cylinder count, Packard decided to rename it “Twelve” with the Tenth Series, which was introduced in January 1933. There were various revisions to the new models, including a new frame, a new Gemmer worm-and-roller steering box, and a one-piece driveshaft. Closed-body Twelves now had a new, taller radiator, although the open cars, most of which were built using leftover Ninth-Series bodies, had the smaller radiator; the taller radiator became standard on the Eleventh Series. In a bid to improve sales of the 12-cylinder cars, the Individual Custom bodies — which now included six Dietrich models and two by LeBaron — were now available only on the Twelve, meaning that buyers who wanted a semi-custom car had to spring for the bigger engine.

The name of Dietrich is always closely linked to coachbuilt Packards of the late twenties and early thirties, partly because many carried this nameplate, and also, since many of them were the more spotting types, a high proportion of them survive.

Raymond Henri Dietrich started his career as an apprentice draughts-man with Brewster & Company and went on to found LeBaron with his co-worker Thomas L. Hibbard. He left that firm in the spring of 1925 to set up his own custom-body firm in Detroit with financial backing from the Murray Corporation. At the time, the latter was a newly formed merger of several independent body builders who numbered Lincoln and Packard among their better customers. Edsel Ford had been instrumental in persuading Dietrich to add his name to the group, but before long Packard became his largest customer.

When the Dietrich factory was first set up in Detroit, many of the bodies bore a strong resemblance to designs he had conceived for LeBaron. Soon he developed some new ideas in convertible bodies and these became a major portion of his work, although he still turned out some town cars, limousines and other more formal types.

With the onset of the Depression, some differences on policy developed and Ray Dietrich left the firm, but it was continued as a subsidiary of Murray for a few years. Many of the bodies from this period had been designed by Dietrich or bore traces of his influence. Others, using his ideas, were adapted to standard Packard bodies built at the Murray plant.

After Ray Dietrich left about the end of 1930, the separate plant occupied by the firm was closed, and production of Dietrich bodies transferred to the Murray plant. By 1933, some of the earlier Dietrich designs or adaptions of them had become the standard Packard convertible models. Bodies of the same design but with more elaborate interior finish were made alongside the standard models, and carried the Dietrich nameplate and of course higher price.

This arrangement continued through 1936, when the last Dietrich bodies were completed. Actually a few were mounted on 1937 chassis, introduced towards the end of that year.

Ray Dietrich himself continued for some years as an employee of or consultant to various automobile companies.

The Packard Twelve was produced from 1933 to 1939 with over 35,000 examples produced. It is considered by ma

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