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SLIDER: 1938 Packard One-Twenty

The Packard Twelfth Series One-Twenty was produced by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, from 1935 to 1937 and from 1939 through the 1941 model years. The One-Twenty model designation was derived from the wheelbase, and it was replaced by the Packard 200.

This was the first time that Packard had entered the highly competitive mid-priced eight-cylinder car market. This was a marketing strategy shared with GM’s LaSalle, the Chrysler Airstream, and the Lincoln-Zephyr and can be linked to the string of smaller models built by Rolls-Royce from the 20 of 1922 through to the Wraith of 1938.

The One-Twenty Packard (and later the Six/One-Ten models) was aimed at keeping  the company in business during the final years of the Great Depression, based on its earlier approach with the Packard Light Eight. Unlike GM with its La Salle, Packard decided not to introduce a companion brand name to sell its less expensive models.

In its introduction year, the Packard One-Twenty was available in various body styles: two and four-door sedans, convertible and Club Coupe. It was powered by an all-new Packard aluminium-head L-head inline eight producing 110bhp at 3850rpm. Introduced in January 1935, the car was an immediate success, with Packard producing 24,995 One-Twentys, compared to 7,000 of all other type Packards for the year, while competing with the 1935 LaSalle Series 50.

For 1936 Packard increased the engine displacement and increased its output to output to 120bhp, giving a top speed of 85mph. 55,042 units were manufactured in 1936, the highest production that the One-Twenty would reach. A built-in radio was available at a cost of $59.50 ($1,166 in 2021 dollars).

In 1937, the One-Twenty went up-market as the company introduced the Packard Six, the first six-cylinder Packard in ten years.

For 1938, the One-Twenty name was dropped and the model became part of the Packard Eight model range, matching the model name of the Packard Six – but we have been told that the car in our picture is a 1938 One-Twenty. Perhaps someone can enlighten us.

In 1939 the One-Twenty name returned. New for the year was introduction of a column shift (known as Handishift).

Photo by Peter McFadyen. See his website:

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