1928 Packard 443 Custom Eight Runabout

Richard Dix standing next to a 1928 Packard model 443 (form the collection of the author)

From the beginning, the stars born of the Hollywood movie industry have wanted to be seen in the best cars available. Richard Dix, seen posing with a 1928 Packard 443 custom eight roadster, was just such a leading man. Born Ernest Brimmer, he studied to be a surgeon, but his talent for acting blossomed in dramatic club at school. Dix went on to be one of the few stars to transition from silent pictures to the “talkies”.

This picture is dated February, 25th, 1930 and the featured Packard would already have been a used car. The shot is clearly taken on the set of a movie lot; if you look carefully, you can see the backdrop is a prop. I suspect that the car may actually belong to Dix – check out the custom figurine that’s been added to the motometer - and that the image might be taken at the RKO lot in Los Angles. Dix had just left Paramount to sign with RKO in 1929.

Packard introduced the fourth series cars (443) in July of 1927. The custom eights were offered in nine standard body styles – all on the 143-inch chassis. This Packard runabout, style number 312, is one of those standard body styles. The car has a 385 cubic inch straight eight engine developing 109hp. Packard produced 7,800 model 443’s in 1928 and this car would have sold new for $3,975.

Although Packard had dealers in both Beverly Hills and Hollywood, the most prolific dealer was Earle C. Anthony, Packard’s west coast distributor. I don’t know if this Packard came out of the showroom on 1000 S. Hope Street, but it very well may have been. Today, I can only imagine what it must have been like to see cars like this Packard rolling through the streets of Hollywood. 

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