Photographed and Reviewed by Peter Brown
The Danbury Mint's latest offering is the 1936 Packard Twelve, initially available exclusively to members of the Classic Cars Preview Society (CCPS) and to the general public about a month later. When the model was first announced, it was quite a surprise; nobody has done a new tooling of a car from this era in many years.
Of course, diecast technology and design have come a long way since the last model of this kind was produced, so the release of this one was much anticipated. Let me say right off the bat that it does not disappoint in any way. The myriad operating features work flawlessly, and tolerances are far better than we've seen previously in models of this period.
Starting up front, one can't help but be impressed by that imposing grille, with Packard's trademark arched center at the top. The DM boys have done a nice job on the blackout treatment, and the emblem at the radiator shell's base is nothing short of remarkable. Right out of the box it was apparent that DM has gotten a handle on the problems in China, as build quality is as good as I've seen in a long while.
The front bumper also gets a blackout treatment to visually separate the upper and lower horizontal bars, and has nicely wrought details like the bumper ends and the override guards. Headlight lenses are properly detailed and free of unsightly mounting posts, with delicate chrome trim rings and further chrome accents on the headlight pods.
Note the fine red pinstripes adorning the car's beltline and wheel arches, and surrounding the chrome center cap of each wheel. While we're on the subject of wheels, check out the reverse printed lettering clearly spelling out the Packard name in the red ring at each wheel's center, and the incredibly realistic-looking valve stems. Tire treads are perfectly replicated, though some have commented that the white walls are not wide enough.
In profile, one gets a real sense of the sheer mass of this dual-cowl sport phaeton. Covered spare tires decorate each side of the bonnet, and the chrome-edged running board inserts are done in flat black to simulate the treads. Note the courtesy lights at the leading edge of each rear fender, just above the running boards.
The low-slung convertible roof is a revelation in itself, with blue piping and welts capped at their ends in chrome, simulated stitching, and wood-grained cross-members on the underside. Even the side flaps, which run the length of the side openings, have been replicated in great detail, complete with matching blue piping and a wavy edge which helps create the illusion of real fabric.
Out back we are treated to many more fine details, like separate taillight housings complete with transparent red lenses and delicate chrome trim rings, the chrome fuel-filler cap and exhaust pipe tip, and the main attraction—a fully functioning luggage rack. It's a splendid job, with chrome details, and the Packard emblem in chrome with reverse printed lettering and red background.
Lower the luggage rack, grasp the separately-cast handle on the trunk lid, and lift to reveal a two-piece, hinged support post, and a small, lined trunk compartment. Notice how the compound, external door hinges permit both doors to be opened simultaneously, despite both being hinged from the same center post. In this view you can also see the latch post on the edge of the left rear door, which makes the door shut with positive click. A nice touch you'll find on each of the four doors, which ensures they will fit flush with the body when closed.
In this close-up view of the tail end, we get our first look at the top-down convertible roof, with its blue piping. Both the up and down tops fit snugly and securely, held in place by two posts on the underside which fit into corresponding slots on the sill behind the back seat.
Above is the same view with the trunk lid closed, and below, the same view with the luggage rack raised. It is not clear whether the rack is meant to stand vertically, or canted forward, but the oddly protruding hinges would seem to indicate the former. In these views one can also see the simulated light on top of the left taillight pod for illuminating the license plate, which is itself supported by a post on top of the pod.
Here's a close-up, magnified many times, showing the Packard emblem on the luggage rack in all its glory; a noteworthy achievement in miniaturization.
Below is our first look at the spectacular interior of the model, with its fine chrome details, and wood accents that are amazingly realistic in appearance. Likewise, the low-gloss finish of the inside door panels and seat coverings lend an air of realism to the cabin. Beige carpeting adds the finishing touch.
Above, one can see the wood dashboard with its readable gauges, the foot pedals and shift lever, and in the rear seat compartment, footrests for two passengers, and a pair of struts to aid in lifting the rear cowl and holding it up for the ingress and egress of rear seat passengers. Even the underside of the rear cowl, which you'd hardly even notice, has been treated to a lighter blue coloring to match the interior.
Here we get a better look at the seats with folding armrest in the back, and the rear cowl and folding windscreen, complete with articulated wind wings. The chrome "snaps" along the top of each door were presumably for attaching side curtains in the event of foul weather.
In this next view, the armrest is being folded up and out of the way, the windscreen and wings have been folded down flat, in anticipation of the cowl being raised to permit exit from or entry to the rear passenger compartment. Take a look at the door hinge assembly in these photos and marvel at how finely cast and delicate it is.
Lastly, in the view above, the doors are opened and the cowl lifted for entering passengers, or in the reverse order for exiting. Below, with the right front "suicide" door opened, we see the metal door sill plate, the base detail on the front seat, the separately cast door pull and latch handle in chrome, and the wood trim piece.
Above, at the front cowl there's an air vent, and the windshield has operating wings and it tilts open at the bottom as well. Dual side view mirrors and spotlights are mounted at the sides of the windshield frame, and the lights may be adjusted to point up or down, though it is not clear if this feature was intentional, or just a happy coincidence involving a snug fit and not enough glue.
The hood's four hinged panels open to reveal an engine compartment detailed to a high standard, with all plumbing and wiring present, as we have come to expect from Danbury.
In this close-up we have lifted the hood fully to reveal the printed information plate on the firewall, the exhaust manifold, the air filter, and the radiator braces complete with air horns mounted underneath. To the far left, notice the flexible metal conduits supplying electricity to the spotlights—quite remarkable.
Above and below are some additional top-down views for your enjoyment. The model really has presence, much as the real car must have had in its day.
The model was based on a real car which was measured in every detail, and can still be seen today. Do an internet search for 1936 Packard and you will find this very car, in the original Packard Blue, a shade very close to black.
In these final shots, the luggage rack has been posed in the vertical position, bringing the hinge arms flush with the rack itself. The three-quarter view is particularly pleasing.
In summary, with this model the Danbury Mint has taken a bold step by reviving the 1930's era, and they have not done so without financial risk. As it turns out, the project was an unqualified success, and gives fans of this period renewed hope of seeing more like it.
The Packard receives five stars, our highest rating. It is available directly from the Mint for $129 plus shipping and handling, and to CCPS members at their usual discounted price. Hats off to Moe and all the good folks at DM who continue to be bold, innovative, and above-all, meticulous in their designs and in their pursuit of perfection.