1934 Packard 1108 Dietrich Convertible Victoria
Finished body work by Dale Adams Enterprises, February 27, 2012
This is the car that won the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Best in Show award, as well as Most Elegant Convertible.
The mechanical work, wooden body work, skilled machining and metal shaping are all featured here, work that few other shops are capable of performing.
This car spent its first nearly 30 years in Puerto Rico, where it was exposed to the salty sea air. By the time we restored it, the rust damage was substantial. We tried to preserve as much of the original sheet metal as possible, the only parts we could not save were the rear deck lid, running boards and door skins (though the passenger door was missing). We were able to save everything else, fabricating repair patches to restore panels (especially the fenders) to their original appearance.
We do not use plastic filler. All of our metal work is metal finished or soldered.
Original owner, Ricardo LaCosta II, circa 1935 - Puerto Rico
This car represents the pinnacle example of what many believe to be America’s finest manufacturer during the first half of the twentieth century. At this time Packard Motors was so respected that even their competitors recognized their acumen. When WWII broke out Rolls Royce was so confident of Packard’s capability that it was Packard that Rolls chose to build the famous Merlin engine under their license. After the war, Rolls adopted the Packard design for independent front suspension. Rolls Royce continued production of this design through the 1950’s.
Many Packard experts consider the 1934 Packard 12 to be the best overall year of Packard production. It has been said up until that time that Queen quality ruled over King price. While the 1935 and later models showed some improvements in design, close examination reveal a cheapening of the product unheard of before 1935. This automobile represents the best example of the best year and the best chassis and the best designer of what many believe to be America’s best manufacturer.
For those unfamiliar with the 1934 model year, Packard offered a line of semi custom cars that were usually built in numbers of at least five. The 11th series cars were distinguished from all other models by their raked back, “vee” windshields, extra long hoods, extra wide cowls, and their extra tall radiators. These were unique to only this model year. The V12 engine was in it’s third year of production and the bugs were worked out, most notably a change in the design of their hydraulic valve silencers.
that have survived are the LeBaron dual cowls, the LeBaron boattail
speedsters, the LeBaron coupes, the Dietrich convertible sedans, the
Dietrich Victorias, the Dietrich coupe and coupe roadsters, and the
Dietrich sport sedans. Finally, there is a car which was a blending of
the beautiful Dietrich Victoria with fenders identical to those used on
the LeBaron dual cowl phaetons and LeBaron boattail speedsters. This car
is also one of the twenty or so surviving “vee” windshield cars, but
the only one built with this combination. This is and always has been a
one of a kind car.
his book “The Magnificent Packard Twelve of Nineteen Thirty Four”, the
author Ed Blend recalls seeing this car at the Pittsburgh Auto Show in
1934 when he was a boy. Little is known of the car when it was new or
how it came to be, but Blend sites one example of Packard using it at a
major auto show venue. Pittsburgh was a steel supplier to Detroit, and
it was also the home of the Carnegie and Mellon fortunes, as well as
many others that supplied steel, coal and transportation. The Pittsburgh
Auto Show would have been an important date on Packard’s public
Other authors have recognized this car also. Beverly Rae Kimes mentions it in her book on Packards. Also, the famous automotive historian John Conde pictures this car in his book “Cars with Personalities”. One thing that is known is that after its original sale, the car ended up in Puerto Rico. It was seen there after WWII. After many forgotten years, where it had ended up as an open air taxi cab, a gentleman from New Hampshire rediscovered it in 1967 and had it shipped to the United States. In 1972 noted Packard collector John Wheatley, from Tulsa, Oklahoma bought it. This is where I first saw it in 1973 or 74, when it was still in an untouched state of great degradation. The car had been painted red with a brush, dashboard and all, with the beltline in bright yellow, also done with a brush. The passenger seat and door had been removed and discarded. Evidently this was done to make it easier for fares to enter and exit the car. I acquired the car in 1996. Little did I know when I was in my twenties back in Tulsa, that I would one day own this fabulous car.
- Dale Adams
Fender before & after photos. We are one of the very few shops with the knowledge, skill and capability to do this sort of metal working. We were able to use the original fenders despite their heavy damage and flaws from the factory (as the car was a one-off):
Completed engine photos:
Below: Various images from the restoration
Above: Since the chassis had been twisted in the past, we had to completely disassemble it to properly straighten it. This required the removal of dozens of factory rivets. As a result, we fabricated new rivets to match those from the factory, and created our own heavy duty chassis riveter (seen in use here).
Above: The chassis after primer.
Above: Original body wood was used wherever possible, sometimes combined with new wood to create a finished piece.
Above: Original driver front fender being patched.