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A Judkins Bodied Packard Straight Eight Cabriolet Sedan

To us at The Old Motor, nothing evokes the golden age of antique and classic car building more than the work of the great American coachbuilders. The application of an entire custom body to an existing chassis has become a relic of another age, dictated by the rise of unit body construction in the last sixty or seventy years.

Here we have an impressive First Series Packard Eight, a 1924 Model 143 that was probably an early car built in 1923. Both the yoked drum headlights and the massive disc wheels, similar to those used on the previous Twin Six, mark it as being a First Series car,  according to several Packard experts. The company no doubt wanted to use up available on hand stock before changing over to to the new style of disc wheel which carried a 35″ x 5″ tire.

It sports a very handsome Cabriolet Sedan body built by the J.R. Judkins Company of  Merrimac, Massachusetts, one of the most prolific and very best known names in the field. Distinguishing features include a foreshortened body, radically (for it’s time) raked windshield, huge sun visor and dual rear spares. Extra nickel plating can also be seen on the headlight forks, center rim flanges and possibly the tire rims, as well. These additional touches may indicate that it was either ordered this way by a customer or it was a Packard of Judkins show or promotional car.

Note the Massachusetts dealer (or manufacturer) plate in the top photo and the embossed “Judkins” lettering in the shadow under the car in both shots. We believe that this identifies these images as originating at the Judkins factory. Photos courtesy of Jerry Lettieri.


Automotive Industries magazine did a large spread on the Packard with it’s new Eight-in-Line engine in the June 14, 1923 issue. Full details can be found (above) covering both the new 357.94 cubic inch engine and four wheel brakes. Note the differences between the standard body styles shown and the custom Judkins creation pictured above.

A very detailed cutaway drawing of the new, nine main bearing, L-head straight eight can be seen (below).

7 responses to “A Judkins Bodied Packard Straight Eight Cabriolet Sedan

  1. These photos are an example of why this is such a special site. The Classic Era, from roughly 1916-1939, saw some of the greatest automobiles ever built. Kudos to the team that built and maintains The Old Motor.

  2. I notice that the first series Single Eight still had that archaic petcock to check the oil. I have a first series Single Six of 1922 and until I saw this picture I thought that they went to a dip-stick in the following year. This oil check was primitive (found on Model T). Who was the baby logician who gave us the dip-stick, and when?

  3. That is most likely a twin 6, it is not an 8 cylinder car. None of the 8’s had those wheels, and the hood is not an 8 cylinder hood. Great pictures though……

  4. My mothers side of the family is from Merrimac MA. My grandfather Alfred Bailey worked for JR Judkins for many years doing machine work and carpentry and my great grandfather Mosses Bailey worked for Judkins even longer as a machinist. There is suppose to be a lot wood planes made my great grandfather for that shop for use on these cars with his initials and the name Bailey on them supposedly their are looked for by Collectors of wood planes. Thanks for your info.

  5. what a great find. We just bought a lamp with a 1930 Lincoln greyhound hood ornament on it. On trying to find out something about it, I stumbled on the L Judkins Berline coach. My maden name is Judkins, and my father’s family came from Mass. Now my lamp has even more meaning.

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