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904 Individual Custom Eight 2071 Convertible Coupe by Dietrich
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.
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.
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