1937 Packard

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Project by Ken Reed posted 09-09-2009 03:14 AM 3004 views 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is one of my favorite cars: a 1932 Packard convertible coupe, bodied by Dietrich. The thing is just so elegant and the engineering is incredible. It’s powered by a V12 that is liquid smooth.

Anyway, I was commissioned to build new woodwork for it and it was more challenging than I suspected! Everything went just fine until it came time to veneer the ends of the center section, which is a compound curve. Veneer doesn’t like compound curves. I eventually got it soft enough with glycerin and alcohol for me to get it stuck down and it turned out OK.

Walnut solids, walnut crotch veneer over beech, polyester finish.

22 comments so far

View Innovator's profile


3589 posts in 4429 days

#1 posted 09-09-2009 04:28 AM

Beautiful work and car.

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4593 days

#2 posted 09-09-2009 04:31 AM

Hey Ken
Great job My favorite year of Packard what a beauty.


View Moron's profile


5048 posts in 4909 days

#3 posted 09-09-2009 04:41 AM


the real question is whether the rest of the car restorers can match your work?..............if they can, then its a “Blue Ribbon”

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


20289 posts in 4691 days

#4 posted 09-09-2009 06:03 AM

Fantastic job :-)) Did you sneak it out for a spin?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 4377 days

#5 posted 09-09-2009 11:06 AM

Hey Ken,
That is better than original…....well done.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4350 days

#6 posted 09-09-2009 11:18 AM

Thanks for posting. A real beauty! That Packard is a little before my time, but not much.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View ajosephg's profile


1896 posts in 4577 days

#7 posted 09-09-2009 11:44 AM

I think my dad drove one of these as a chauffer for a lady in Denver (all I know for sure is that it was a Packard convertable in that time period). He also had to keep it clean and use it for errands and stuff. The lady wanted him to teach her to drive it, but she could never figure out how to shift the manual trans.

How long ago did you do the restoration?

-- Joe

View Ken Reed's profile

Ken Reed

158 posts in 4200 days

#8 posted 09-09-2009 03:11 PM

I did the wood for this car some 20 years or so ago….I did quite a few cars as that was the business I was in at the time. I had a small shop and we specialized in woodwork for automobiles, though we did some yachts and aircraft work as well. The shop that restored this Packard turned out world class restorations and they were inspirational to work with. They rarely, if ever, asked how much, only when.

This particular car would not have been chauffeur driven as it only has a bench front seat. Your father probably drove a convertible sedan or perhaps a town car. Quite a job as those cars were huge and must have taken a lot of skill to drive.

I did get to drive this car, along with a bunch of other dream cars including a bunch of Rolls-Royces, Hispano-Suiza, Maybach, Ferrari, deTomaso Mangusta, Duesenburg, etc. Shoot, some of the cars I would have worked on for free if they just let me have the car for a week or so!

View tbirdman's profile


1 post in 4183 days

#9 posted 09-23-2009 09:44 AM

This is not a 32 Packard. It looks like a 37 Packard. 32’s front fenders were not skirted and the the Packard grill did not slant back until 1935. Also as far as I know, the trim on the car which you reproduced was originally metal but woodgrained to look like wood but not made out of wood or with veneers.

Here’s a company that offers woodgraining kits and services that re;icates the original woodgraining in these cars.

You work looks very nice.

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 4319 days

#10 posted 02-08-2010 05:45 AM

1932-1937 were great years for cars and trucks, I especially liked the Ford and Chevy pickups. The ‘32 Ford coupe is my all time favorite car.

It sure is nice to see some fine automotive woodwork. Thanks for posting.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View Ken Reed's profile

Ken Reed

158 posts in 4200 days

#11 posted 02-19-2010 07:04 AM


You’re right, of course! I couldn’t read my own writing on the back of the photo….but I believe ‘37 to be correct. My bad.


View Jim1963's profile


23 posts in 4042 days

#12 posted 04-21-2010 07:00 AM

Nice work and beautiful car.

-- SW la.

View dbray45's profile


3406 posts in 3792 days

#13 posted 03-09-2012 02:05 PM

My grandmother had one of those. She used to say that it was the best car she had ever had – except one problem – did not fit in the garage easily. When the house was sold in 1998, the dents in the far wall from the bumper were still there.

Beautiful work. The cars deserve the accolades of the shows.

-- David in Palm Bay, FL

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12306 posts in 4444 days

#14 posted 03-09-2012 02:19 PM

Very nice woodworking on the car. An elegantly beautiful piece of American iron, too.
But, I really disagree with your opinion of the Hopper bodied Rolls. Off beat, maybe. But, still a beauty.
I wouldn’t kick her out of my garage.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4777 days

#15 posted 03-09-2012 02:24 PM

Perhaps my most memorable ride was in a four door Packard Phaeton convertible with the top down, up route 35 from Richmond Indiana, on a beautiful Spring day. The car was owned by a local attorney, Charles V. Livengood, a long time family friend, and I was in the front seat, his only passenger. I was only 10-12 years old, but I’ll always remember this ride.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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