This 1940 Packard Custom Super-8 One-Eighty Convertible Sedan by Darrin is an absolute beauty and multi-time Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) award-winning automobile. After several seemingly promising years, by 1940, Packard was again struggling to keep up with its American automaker contemporaries. The economic conditions in the United States at the time were looking fairly decent and trending upwards. The historically high unemployment levels from a decade earlier caused by the Great Depression were seemingly in the rearview mirror and finally most Americans were again receiving pay checks and thus had expendable income. In fact, American automobile demand in 1940 was high and production rose over 30 percent nationwide from the levels reached in 1939. Nonetheless, Packards production did not keep up with the rising demand and stayed on par with its 1939 levels. One possible explanation for Packards sales woes can be attributed to the fact that, while classy, Packards lacked the modern styling that was being seen across seemingly the entire American automotive industry. Furthermore, the gap between Americas premier luxury automakers, Cadillac and Packard, grew further apart due to Packards new focus in the mid-level market now competing more with the likes of Buick, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Desoto, and even Hudson. In other words, Cadillac sat alone atop the luxury car market and the high-end Packards and Lincolns sitting in that second tier. Introduced on August 8, 1939, the Eighteen Series 1940 model-year Packards sported a brand new, freshened up look. Up front, a revised main grille sported a more petit look and any previous Packard and was flanked by a pair smaller grilles with vertical bars. In addition, the headlight pods now sat flush with the fenders, no longer perched atop the short stalks seen in the previous generations. The hood louvers also saw significant revisions that while still sporting the horizontal motif of the previous generation, now looked more like a series of small doors. Parking lights were mounted atop the front fenders as well. In line with longstanding Packard tradition, the model lines were divided into the more moderately priced Junior Packards (i.e. the 110 and 120) and the premium, ultra-luxurious Senior Packards (i.e. the 160 and 180). With the Packard Twelve ceasing production following 1939, the most prestigious, most expensive Senior Packards available were the Custom Super-8 One-Eighty models. While a handful of the Custom Super-8 180 bodies were built by Packard itself, the rarest and most prestigious bodies were built by custom body manufacturers such as Rollston and Darrin. While the 1940 Packard Rollston bodies were essentially modified 39 Twelve bodies, the bodies by Darrin were completely new for 1940 and were thus highly promoted by Packard. While Packard heavily promoted the Darrin-bodied Custom Super-8 180s, their efforts were futile with production estimates floating around a total of 50, give or take a few, Packard Darrins built in 1940. Of course, the Darrin name came from famed automobile designer Howard Dutch Darrin whose team of skilled craftsman heavily modified or hand crafted virtually every aspect of the Darrin-styled bodies out of their Connersville, Indiana, production facility. Darrin lowered the front profile of the 1940 Darrin Bodied Packards, including the hoods, grilles, cowls, and windshields. The fenders were also enlarged giving off a more accentuated look. Darrin also removed the running boards that came on the 1940 Packards, which gave the Super-8 by Darrins an ultra-modern look. Although some early Darrin-bodied Packards suffered from complaints of poorer handling, Packard actually reengineered the Darrin frames to account for Darrins modifications which led to better performance in 1940. The most expensive 1940 Darrin Packard was the 4 door Convertible Sedan model which sported a whopping MSRP of $6,300. The high price tag
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