Car quick pick



My car fleet

No cars selected

Packard - marque/manufacturer information

List of all Packard cars

Packard was a United States based brand of luxury automobile built by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, and later by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indiana. The first Packard automobiles were produced in 1899 and the brand went off the market in 1958. Packard automobiles are highly sought after by collectors today, and the marque enjoys an active collectors club system.

Packards were advertised with the slogan "Ask the Man Who Owns One".

1899-1929

Packard was founded by brothers James Ward Packard (Lehigh University Class of 1884), William Doud Packard and his partner George Lewis Weiss in the city of Warren, Ohio. James Ward believed that they could build a better horseless carriage than the Winton cars owned by Weiss (An important Winton stockholder) and James Ward, himself a mechanical engineer, had some ideas how to improve on the designs of current automobiles. By 1899, they were building vehicles. The company, which they called the Ohio Automobile Company, quickly introduced a number of innovations in its designs, including the modern steering wheel and years later the first production 12-cylinder engine.

While Henry Ford was producing cars that sold for $440, the Packards concentrated on more upscale cars that started at $2,600. Packard automobiles developed a following not only in the United States, but also abroad, with many heads of state owning them.

In need of more capital, the Packard brothers would find it when Henry Bourne Joy, a member of one of Detroit's oldest and wealthiest families, bought a Packard. Impressed by its reliability, he visited the Packards and soon enlisted a group of investors that included his brother-in-law, Truman Handy Newberry. On October 2, 1902, Ohio Automobile Company became Packard Motor Car Company, with James as president. Packard moved its automobile operation to Detroit soon after and Joy became general manager and later chairman of the board. One of the original Packards is still located at the Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio on Mahoning Avenue. The original is located at Lehigh University in Packard Lab.

The Packard plant on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit was designed by Albert Kahn, and included the first use of reinforced concrete for industrial construction in Detroit. When opened in 1903, it was considered the most modern automobile manufacturing facility in the world and its skilled craftsmen practiced over eighty trades. Though it has not been used for automobile production for many years, the plant still stands to this day.

The 3.5 million ft (325,000 m²) plant covered over 35 acres (142,000 m²) and straddled East Grand Boulevard. It was later subdivided by eighty-seven different companies. Kahn also designed The Packard Proving Grounds at Utica, Michigan.

Throughout the nineteen-tens and twenties, Packard built vehicles consistently were among the elite in luxury automobiles. The company was commonly referred to as being one of the "Three P's" of American motordom royalty, along with Pierce-Arrow of Buffalo, New York and Peerless of Cleveland, Ohio. Packard's leadership of the luxury car field was supreme.

1930-1946

Entering into the 1930s Packard attempted to beat the stock market crash and subsequent depression by manufacturing ever more opulent and expensive cars than it had prior to October 1929. The Packard Twin Six (designed by Jesse Vincent) was introduced for 1932, and renamed the Packard Twelve for the remainder of its run (through 1939). For one year only, 1932, Packard tried fielding an upper-medium-priced car called the Light Eight.

As an independent automaker, Packard did not have the luxury of a larger corporate structure absorbing its losses as Cadillac did with GM and Lincoln with Ford. However, Packard did have a better cash position than other independent luxury marques. Peerless fell under receivership in 1929 and ceased production in 1932; by 1938 Franklin, Marmon, Ruxton, Stearns-Knight, Stutz, Duesenberg and Pierce-Arrow had all closed.

Packard also had one other advantage that some other luxury automakers did not; a single production line. By maintaining a single line, and inter-changeability between models, Packard was able to keep its costs down. Packard did not change cars as often as other manufacturers did at the time. Rather than introducing new models annually, Packard began using its own "Series" formula for differentiating its model change-overs in 1923. New model series did not debut on a strictly annual basis, with some series lasting nearly two years, and others lasting as short a time as seven months. In the long run, though, Packard did average approximately one new series per year. By 1930, Packard automobiles were considered part of the "Seventh Series". By 1942, Packard was in its "Twentieth Series". There never was a "Thirteenth Series".

To address the depression, Packard started producing more affordable cars in the medium-price range. In 1935, it introduced its first sub-$1,000 car, the Packard 120. Car production more than tripled that year and doubled again in 1936. In order to produce the 120, Packard built and equipped an entirely separate factory. By 1936, Packard's labor force was divided nearly evenly between the high-priced "Senior" lines (Twelve, Super Eight and Eight) and the medium-priced "Junior" models, although more than 10 times more Juniors were produced than Seniors. This was because the 120 models were built using thoroughly modern mass production techniques, while the Senior Packards used a great deal more hand labor and traditional craftsmanship. The Junior models were very fine cars; they were just not in the same quality league as the Seniors. Although Packard most certainly could not have survived the Depression without the highly successful Junior models, the Juniors did have the effect of diminishing the Senior models stellar and exclusive image among those few who could still afford an expensive luxury car. Adding insult to injury, the 120 models were more modern in basic design than the Senior models. For example the 1935 Packard 120 featured independent front suspension and hydraulic brakes, both features that would not appear on any Senior Packards until 1937.

1937 – 1942

Prior to 1937, Packard was still the premier luxury automobile, even though the lion's share of cars being built were the 120 and Super Eight model ranges. Hoping to catch still more of the market, Packard decided to issue the Packard 115C in 1937, which was powered by Packard's first six cylinder since the Fifth Series cars in 1928. While the move to introduce the Six was at once brilliant – the car arrived just in time for the 1938 recession – it also tagged Packards as something less exclusive than they had been in the public's mind, and in the long run the Six hurt Packard's reputation of building some of America's finest luxury cars. The Six, designated "110" in 1940-41, continued for three years after the war, with many serving as taxicabs.

During World War II, Packard again built airplane engines, licensing the Merlin engine from Rolls-Royce as the V1650, which powered the famous P-51 Mustang fighter, ironically known as the "Cadillac of the Skies" by G.I.s in WWII. It was one of the fastest piston-powered fighters ever, and could fly higher than any of its contemporaries, allowing its pilots a greater degree of survivability in combat situations. They also built 1350, 1400, and 1500 hp V-12 marine engines for American PT boats (each boat used three) and some of Britain's patrol boats.

1946 – 1956

By the end of World War II, Packard was in excellent financial condition but suffered from a shortage of raw materials needed to manufacture automobiles again. The firm introduced its first post-war body in 1948, prior to its competition in the major firms (Cadillac, Lincoln, and Chrysler). However, the design chosen was of the "bathtub" style predicted during the war as the destined future of automobiles. Although the postwar Packards sold well, the ability to distinguish expensive models from lower priced models disappeared as all Packard became virtually alike.

By the time the firm was able to re-style again for 1951, the post war seller's market was coming to an end and again, the design failed to resonate with the public at large. Conceived as the antithesis of the bulbous post war models, the motoring press derisively named the new design "high pockets".

Packard President James J. Nance was also struggling with what he felt was the only way to reestablish Packard as a luxury car brand, which was to divorce the lower priced models from the luxury models. To do this Nance applied the model name Clipper to the least expensive Packards starting in 1953. Ultimately, Nance planned to spin Clipper off as its own automotive brand targeting Oldsmobile and Mercury, while a target date of 1956 was set for the new automotive brand.

Nash Motors president George W. Mason approached Packard about a merger for the first time in the late 1940s, believing that the days for independent car manufacturers were numbered. Packard's board of directors, believing Mason to be incorrect, was reluctant to merge. 1953 brought the return of the buyer's market, and 1954 was again a down year for Packard; still, Packard's directors delayed.

Meanwhile, Mason found a more receptive audience at Hudson, and the two companies merged to form American Motors Corporation on May 1, 1954. This left Packard, whose directors had finally seen the light, seeking a merger partner. After briefly considering joining the merged Kaiser-Willys organization (which was formed solely to take the two struggling firms out of the U.S. auto business in order to concentrate on Jeeps), and seeing no possibilities there, Packard's directors settled on Studebaker.

On October 1, 1954, Packard purchased Studebaker creating the Studebaker-Packard Corporation. Initially, Packard's executive team had hoped Studebaker's larger network of dealers would help increase sales. At first Nance believed that Studebaker's volume could sustain the companies, however Nance and other Packard officials discovered that Studebaker's finances were more dire than previously believed, primarily because no one took the time to actually study them in depth prior to the sale.

Packard's up-again and down-again sales continued, with a profitable year in 1955 thanks to the introduction of Packard's first V-8 engines that model year—although a complete retooling for the 1955 models resulted in products so poorly made that hundreds of cars had to be repaired by dealers before they could be sold to the public. This set the stage for a disastrous 1956, which saw production drop to its lowest levels since World War I.

1956 saw the launch of Clipper as a stand-alone marque as well as the launch of the Packard Executive, Packard's new mid-level car priced to compete against Chrysler and Buick. The Packard Executive was essentially a Clipper with the senior Packard front clip and interior. However, Packard dealers began to complain that consumers weren't buying Clippers because the cars weren't Packards. At first Nance refused to rebadge the Clipper as a Packard, but the dealers pushed back. In the end, Nance begrudgingly agreed to start badging the Clippers with the "Packard" script.

Packard had been selling engines and transmissions to American Motors for installation in 1955 and '56 Nashs and Hudsons, but a parts dispute with Romney ended this arrangement in April of 1956. The company severely in debt, its creditors ordered the old Packard plants to close on August 15, 1956, and Nance left the company which then entered into a contractual management agreement with aircraft maker Curtiss-Wright.

1957 – 1958: Packardbakers

In 1957 and 1958, a Studebaker President-based car bearing the Packard Clipper nameplate appeared on the market, but sales were slow. These badge engineered Studebakers were derisively referred to as Packardbakers by the press and consumers and failed to sell in sufficient numbers to keep the marque afloat.

While the 1957 Packard Clipper was less Packard than it was a very good Studebaker, the cars sold in limited numbers – which was attributed to Packard dealers dropping the franchises and consumers fearful of buying a car that could be an orphaned make soon. Of note: Former Packard designer Richard A. Teague, seeing the new "Packardbaker" for the first time, commented that seeing his beautiful Packard taillights "...on that tired old Studebaker body, was enough to make a maggot vomit!"

The 1958 models bowed with no series name, simply as "Packard". In addition to the knowledge that these cars were the last gasp by what had been thirty years before the biggest selling luxury car in the United States, their annual make-over on a budget usually set aside for a door-handle design at General Motors was awkward.

The end

Studebaker-Packard pulled the Packard nameplate from the marketplace in 1959 to focus instead on its compact Lark.

In the Early 1960s, Studebaker-Packard was approached by French car maker Facel-Vega about the possibility rebadging the company's Facel-Vega Excellence sedan as a "Packard" for sale in North America. Daimler-Benz, which was under a distribution agreement with Studebaker-Packard, threatened to pull out of the 1958 marketing agreement, which would have cost Studebaker-Packard more in revenue than they could have made from the badge-engineered Packard.

Packard engines

Packard's engineering staff designed reliable, well-made engines. Packard offered a twelve-cylinder engine - the "Twin Six" - as well as a low-compression straight eight, but never a sixteen-cylinder engine. After WWII, they were one of the last US firms to produce a high-compression V-8 engine, the "352", named for its 352 in³ (5.8 L) displacement. Their "Ultramatic" automatic transmission was built in-house (unlike Ford). The transmission, although having some advantages over Buick's, also had its own deficiencies. Packard's last major development was the "Torsion-Level" suspension, a four-wheel torsion-bar suspension that balanced the car's height much like an air-bag suspension. Contempoarary American competitors had serious difficulties with this type of suspension and eventually stopped offering the option.

Packard also made large aeronautical engines. See the articles on the Merlin engine and PT Boats for its contributions to the Allied victory in World War II

Attempted Packard Resurrection

A new company bearing the Packard name, but having no legacy affiliation with the established Packard Motor Car Company or the Studebaker Corporation, attempted a resurrection of the Packard nameplate around 2000 and produced at least one prototype Packard, featuring a V12 engine. The prototype was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2003.

Despite public interest in the car, plans for the automobile have not emerged, and its continued existence (or planned production) is undocumented as of 2007. As of May 10, 2007, the company website is still in existence and notes that the company is for sale.

Packard automobile models

  • Packard 110
  • Packard 120
  • Packard 160
  • Packard 180
  • Packard 200
  • Packard 250, see Packard 200
  • Packard 300
  • Packard 400, see Packard Four Hundred
  • Packard Balboa
  • Packard Caribbean
  • Packard Cavalier
  • Packard Clipper
  • Packard Eight
    • Packard Light Eight
    • Packard Super Eight
  • Packard Executive
  • Packard Four Hundred
  • Packard Hawk (1958)
  • Packard Mayfair
  • Packard Panther
  • Packard Patrician
  • Packard Patrician 400, see Packard Patrician
  • Packard Predictor
  • Packard Request
  • Packard Six
  • Packard Station Sedan
  • Packard Twin Six/Twelve
  • 1957 and 1958 Packards

Body styles/misc. by tradename

  • Packard Clipper Constellation
  • Packard Super Panama
  • Ultramatic, Packard's self-developed automatic transmission (1949-1956)

Gallery

List of all Packard cars

Source: Wikipedia

Infobox

Car Insurance FAQs #4

The appraiser who took care of my claim said I would be responsible for paying the deductible. What is a deductible?

A deductible is the portion of a claim you agreed to pay when you purchased your insurance policy. The deductible could be applied each time you have a claim on your auto policy.

How do I decide the amount of my deductible?

(...)

Read more...

 
TOPlist