Steve S 1935 Packard Twelve-Series 1208 4dr Convertible Sedan

FDR's Presiential Limosine

In 1995 I saw a giant black mid-30's Packard phaeton sitting on its axles in deplorable condition, at the back of a transmission shop in Dewey, OK.

The owner of the shop, Walt Dietzel, a long-time transmission specialist and well-known collector of classic automobiles, told us that the car had come from Greenville, NC. That owner had reportedly acquired it from New York Mayor Lindsay's estate. As his story went, Mayor Lindsay used the automobile for parades in the '60s and it was in fact the former presidential limosine of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Thus it was most likely a 1938 Model 1608 convertible sedan which FDR can to this day be seen riding in parades on the HIstory and Discovery channels. Related pictures are on display at the Dayton OH Packard Museum.

I asked Mr. Dietzel if he had a price on it, answer "no". Some ten years passed when I chanced to run into Walt's son in Bartlesville, OK, who said Walt was deceased and some investors had acquired the automobile and sent it to a restoration shop in Kansas City for a ground-up redo. It was, about 2008, when I saw an identical model cross the block at the Auburn IN Auction (some reports have the car going to a museum in Tokyo Japan.)

For years I have regretted not pursuing the automobile more vigorously when still in that transmission shop in Dewey. Figuring my "15 minutes of fame and fortune" had passed me by forever, I was then surprised to find out from a couple business associates that the Car Collections Museum at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas had a turnkey-restored 1935 Model 1208 on display. As opportunity gave me another chance, we acquired that automobile in December 2013.

Maybe not of presidential limosine pedigree, this motorcoach is nevertheless listed by the Packard Classics Automobile Association to be one of five known 1208 convertible sedans known to exist worldwide.

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