1930 Packard 734 Speedster Runabout

1930 Packard 734 Speedster Runabout
Brian Henniker, courtesy of Gooding & Company

In 1930, as Detroit was in the middle of an escalating horsepower race, Packard unveiled the 734 Speedster — an understated high-performance model that is perhaps the finest sporting machine built by an American manufacturer during the Classic Era.

Despite its limited production, the 734 Speedster was offered in five distinct body styles: runabout, phaeton, Victoria, sedan and roadster.

Custom tailored to the dimensions of the high-performance chassis, the Speedster’s body was built in Packard’s own coachworks, where standard bodies were narrowed, sectioned and trimmed to more striking proportions.

While most body styles were conservative, the 2-passenger runabout, with its exotic boattail, minimal top and dramatic staggered seating arrangement, was overtly sporting.

When new, these exclusive cars commanded a list price of more than $5,000 — at a time when a new Ford Roadster cost just $460. The Model 734 Speedster presented here is among the finest in existence and one of the few whose history can be traced back to new.

Carl Bomstead

SCM Senior Auction Analyst

Carl has been writing for SCM for 19 years. His first article appeared in the February 1997 issue, and at least one of his articles has appeared in every issue since. When he’s not writing, he serves as a National Director for the Classic Car Club of America and tends to his extensive collection of automobilia. He has been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for the past 20 years, and he also judges at Amelia Island and other major concours. An extensive number of collector cars have passed through his garage, and a 1947 Cadillac 62 Series convertible and a 1968 Intermeccanica Italia are current residents.

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