Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.
Today’s featured vehicle is a 1937 Packard Super Eight formal sedan. Distinguished visually by a four-door layout paired with a solid, padded top, this body style—like all other 1937 Super Eights—rode on a 134-inch wheelbase that shrunk five inches from that of the 1936 cars. The straight-eight engine also downsized for this model year, from 385 cubic inches to 320 and from 150 hp to 130. Assuming you’re not able to calculate displacement on the fly, and given the very subtle exterior design changes, you might glance under the hood and note the placement of the choke actuator. In the ’37 cars, this was integrated into the exhaust manifold.
Despite losing the statistics battle to its ’36 predecessor, the ’37 Super Eight boasts a commanding presence—and today’s all-original example brings with it a truly princely lineage.
This particular formal-wear sedan now belongs to Tom Scheffner of Pennsylvania, who thoughtfully provided us with his car’s pedigree. It was originally purchased in September of 1937 in San Francisco by Virginia Hobart Baldwin, a widow who was comfortably settled thanks to a share in the fortune made by her father in lumber and in silver mining. “She was active in charities and the arts,” writes Scheffner, “and would arrive at events in her signature green Packard.” Chauffeured, naturally.
In 1949, Mrs. Baldwin married the Russian Prince Zourab Tchkotoua, who had managed to escape the Russian Revolution and find a second home in California. Following their marriage, the newly christened Princess Virginia Tchkotoua commissioned two medallions of her husband’s family coat of arms to be mounted on the rear doors of her Packard—in a suitably tasteful fashion.
Unfortunately, the Prince appears to have been impoverished both in loyalty and in cash reserves, and barely a month after their marriage he ditched his wife and moved to New York. Virginia willed the Packard to her life-long chauffeur but, since he died only a week after she passed in 1958, the car remained with the estate and passed through a succession of established collectors—including Mr. Lorin Tryon, one of the co-founders of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Scheffner acquired the car in 2013. Beyond respectful cleaning and maintenance, he has altered nothing on this car. He ends his historical recollection with a quote from Michael Furman’s The Stewardship of Historically Important Automobiles: “The change in her outward appearance is the sign of a life well lived. A life whose story is worth telling.”