1938 Packard Super 8 Sedanca de Ville by Barker

Series 1605. 130 bhp, 320 cu. in. L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, coil-spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 139 in.

Offered from a prominent private collection
Elegant, one-off British coachwork on a grand American chassis
Built for Canadian liquor baron Harry Hatch; documented history
Featured in Dennis Adler’s Packard and Hugo Pfau’s The Coach Built Packard

Once a year in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the heady days before the war, a sleek one-of-a-kind formal Packard traveled down the two-lane highways of the East Coast, descending from north to south. At the wheel was a liveried chauffeur, Walter Bibby, who wore his impeccable black uniform from the time the car left the gates of 38 Roxborough Drive, Toronto, until reaching his employer’s winter home in Palm Beach, Florida. He would then change into more appropriate livery for the Florida coast—cream linen—and collect his employers at the rail station. Harry C. Hatch and family had arrived in Palm Beach flush with the wealth that had come from leading the Hiram Walker distillery through Prohibition. Vacation could now commence.

A passionate breeder of racehorses, Mr. Hatch was not necessarily a “car guy” but was most certainly a connoisseur, whose good taste showed in his selection of a “senior” Packard, the 139-inch-wheelbase 1605 Super Eight. He had the chassis shipped for coachwork to London coachbuilders Barker, the favorite of royalty, which built a formal Sedanca deVille with the “razor edge” roofline and “turtledeck” rear-end styling distinctive of their Rolls-Royce designs. In fact, aside from the typical Packard grille and fenders, it would have been easy to mistake the Hatch Packard for a Rolls!

As Hatch’s son Clifford recalled later, his father had business in England, including importing Scotch, which likely resulted in a visit to Barker during one of his overseas trips. Barker’s original sketch of what is believed to be this car, but without side-mounted spares, appears on page 204 of Hugo Pfau’s The Coach-Built Packard.

The car was apparently sold by the Hatches around World War II and, in 1961, was sold by a Toronto dealer to longtime enthusiasts George and Sheila Van Nostrand, of Keswick, Ontario, who kept it for several years in good original condition. It was purchased by Ed Suddarth in 1986 after several documented intervening owners, and he completed its restoration and displayed the car at the 1989 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, winning a class award.

The Packard was acquired in 1990 by Richard Livoni, of Long Beach, California, who continued to show it for many years, achieving CCCA Senior number 1761 with 99 points in 1993 and numerous First Place and Best in Class awards at West Coast concours d’elegance. In Mr. Livoni’s care, the car appeared in an article by Dennis Adler in the May 1993 issue of Car Collector, as well as in Dennis Adler’s books Packard and Speed and Luxury: The Great Cars.

The present owner, a respected American collector has maintained it to an extremely high standard and has a wonderful collection of fascinating documentation, interviews with Hatch family members, and copies of articles featuring the car, which accompany it today. It has continued to return to Pebble Beach on occasion, most recently in 2009, and is as striking today as when Mr. Hatch’s chauffeur first drove it in Toronto. The correct black paint is rich and lustrous, while the interior is swathed with Connolly leather for the driver and soft broadcloth for the passengers. The rear compartment boasts twin lighted vanities, an intercom, a unique power-operated rear window shade, and—but of course—a built-in bar.