Ralph is one of the premier living Packard collectors, not just in this country, but in the world. His collection numbers 85 classic automobiles, every single one of them 100-point concours quality. If you've been to Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, Meadow Brook or the Glenmoor Gathering in the past two decades, you've run across one of Ralph's prizes at some point, and probably more than once.
The Marano collection is one of America's greatest. And unlike some collectors, Ralph doesn't try to hide what he's got. The glassed-in building in Garwood is his private museum.
Among the most sought-after Packards are those with custom-built bodies, especially from Darrin. Mr. Marano said he was the only collector to own a Packard Darrin from each of its years of manufacture, 1937 through 1942.
Mr. Marano has owned some Darrins with celebrity provenance.
In 1985, he acquired a 1942 Darrin 180 Victoria driven by George Peppard in the television series “Banacek.”
In 1989, he traded cars and cash for a ’38 Darrin that Al Jolson commissioned for Ruby Keeler.
His red ’37 Darrin 120 convertible Victoria was originally owned by Clark Gable. “Gable didn’t like its running board option, and sold it back to Darrin, who sold it to Errol Flynn,” Mr. Marano said.
Show cars were important to Packard, helping to project an image of a company able to compete with the advanced styling of larger automakers. Mr. Marano decided several years ago that he would try to acquire all of the extant Packard show cars. He now owns a 1952 Pan American two-passenger design study; the ’53 Balboa; the fiberglass-body Panther of 1954; and the 1955 Request.