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745C Delux Eight 1907 All Weather Town Car by LeBaron
Offered in three models, the Standard Eight, Custom Eight, and De Luxe Eight, it was powered by a low-compression aluminum-head L-head inline eight producing 90 bhp (67 kW). Packard ads bragged the engine "floated" on new rubber mounts. Power would be upgraded to 110 hp (82 kW) in 1932 and 120 hp (89 kW) in 1933.
For 1927, Packard introduced Bijur chassis lubrication and hypoid final drive gears to their Eight Series. The engine was enlarged, now displacing 6.3-liters. Horsepower rose accordingly, now rated at 105 bhp. Top speed was in the neighborhood of 80 mph. Optional color schemes became available at no additional charge in 1927.
The Eight offered optional four-speed synchromesh transmission. Like other Packards of this era, it featured Ride Control, a system of dash-adjustable hydraulic shock absorbers. The Eight also featured automatic chassis lubrication and "shatterproof" glass.
The Eight was available on several wheelbases: 127.5 in (3,240 mm) and 134.5 in (3,420 mm) for the 1930 Standard Eight, 140 in (3,600 mm) and 145.5 in (3,700 mm) for the De Luxe in 1931, 130 in (3,300 mm) and 137 in (3,500 mm) for the 1932 Standard Eight. For 1938, the Eight's wheelbase was stretcched 7 in (180 mm) over 1937, and the body was also wider.
It was advertised as a two-door roadster, two-door convertible & two-door convertible Victoria (both new for 1932), phaeton, four-door dual-cowl phaeton & Sport Phaeton (a four-door four-seat dual-cowl phaeton new in 1932) two-door coupé, four-door sedan, landau, town car, and limousine.
Production of the De Luxe Eight was less than ten per day. It was available in eleven body styles.
The 1932 Standard Eight was offered in thirteen body styles. In 1933 was offered in fourteen body styles.
1935 brought important changes in body style and design including a small but very attractive 5 degree rake to the vee-shaped radiator grille, revised hood side vents and pontoon-style rear fenders that now balanced the flowing, skirted front fender profile. The 150 horsepower 384 cubic inch Super Eight was shorter by 3" than earlier Super Eights, one of Packard's most responsive as well as handsomely proportioned models.
The five-passenger sedan was Packard's best-selling model for years. This helped Packard become the best-selling luxury brand between 1924 and 1930.
Fewer than 5,000 Tenth Series Packards were produced in all, with the vast majority of them being Senior eight-cylinder models. Only 1,800 Eights were built, and as a result, Eights are rarely found today, particularly the coupe roadster models.
Thomas L. Hibbard and Raymond H. Dietrich set up this firm in 1920 under the name of LeBaron, Carrossiers, to design and engineer automobile bodies much as architects built houses. They had met in the drawing office at Brewster & Company and each had considerable experience in the custom body field. Soon they were joined by Ralph S. Roberts, who had known Hibbard earlier, and although not himself a designer had a keen sense of style and good administrative ability.
The new group was successful in selling some designs, and the engineering drawings for many of them, but preferred to work-like architects in supervising the construction of the bodies they designed, for a percentage fee. Such bodies were built by a number of coachbuilders in the New York area and nearby, including Demarest, Derham, Locke and others.
İn the Spring of 1924, a merger was arranged with the Bridgeport Body Company m Connecticut. The new company shortened the name to LeBaron, Inc., and now had facilities for building the creations they designed. This took place a few months after the author had joined them as sort of apprentice designer and general assistant.
Hibbard had left early in 1923 to explore the possibility of having bodies built in Europe where costs were lower, but instead wound up in partnership with Howard Darrin. In 1925, Dietrich also left to set up the company under its own name in Detroit. Other overtures came from Detroit, and the end of 1926 LeBaron had been purchased by the Briggs Manufacturing Company there.
LeBaron was continued as a separate coachbuilding subsidiary, with added duties as source of designs for Briggs' large customers-Ford, Graham-Paige, Chrysler and others. Roberts moved to Detroit and set up a new design centre called the LeBaron Studios, with a freshly recruited young staff, who also turned out designs for the new LeBaron-Detroit Company factory devoted largely to building custom bodies in small series.
The original operation in the East continued until the end of 1930, when reduced business prompted consolidation of all activity in Detroit. Coachbuilt Packards and other makes continued to be built there until the beginning of the war. Following the death of Walter 0. Briggs, founder of the company bearing his name, the entire body-building operation was sold to the Chrysler Corporation in 1952, they having by then become Briggs' principal client. With this went the rights to the LeBaron name, although no true coachbuilt bodies had been built under that name since just before the war.
LeBaron had designed some Packards even in their early days before they had a factory. In the mid-twenties they began turning out small series of town cars and limousines as well as many individually designed Packards. By 1930 these were joined by some convertibles, including a two-seater with top folding into the body and covered by a small boot, which had been designed by the author.
During 1931, Packard introduced custom bodies under their own name, similar to those earlier bought in small series from LeBaron. When the firm discovered that Packard were also about to introduce a coupe roadster as a standard model, very similar to the bodies they had been building, relations cooled a bit. However, by 1933 they were working again on new Packard designs, and also building some of the ideas of Edward Macaulay.
For 1934, some attractive sport models as well as more conservative town cars from LeBaron were included in Packard catalogues. Town cars and limousines by LeBaron remained a major portion of the coachbuilt Packards available until passenger car production ceased for the duration of the war.
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