Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki
Former type Automobile company
Founded 1899
Founder(s) James Ward Packard
Defunct 1958
Headquarters Detroit, Michigan, USA
Key people William Doud Packard, George L. Weiss, Henry B. Joy
Industry Manufacturing
Products Automobile

Packard was an American luxury-type automobile marque built by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, USA, and later by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indiana. The first Packard automobiles were produced in 1899, and the last in 1958.



Packard was founded by James Ward Packard (Lehigh University) Class of 1884), his brother William Doud Packard and their partner, George Lewis Weiss, in the city of Warren, Ohio. James Ward Packard believed that they could build a better horseless carriage than the Winton cars owned by Weiss (an important Winton stockholder) and, being himself a mechanical engineer, had some ideas for improvement on the designs of current automobiles. The story goes:

Packard was not completely satisfied with the Winton car he had recently purchased. He wrote Alexander Winton with his complaints and suggestions; however Mr. Winton, offended by Packard's criticism, challenged Packard to build a better car. Packard responded by doing so, his marque outlasting Winton's by many decades. Packard runs his first automobile in Warren, Ohio on November 6, 1899.[1]

In September, 1900, the Ohio Automobile Company was founded as the manufacturer, while the cars were always sold as Packards. Since these automobiles quickly gained an excellent reputation, and there were more automobile makers that produced — or at least planned to — under the label "Ohio", the name was changed soon: On October 13, 1902, it became the Packard Motor Car Company.

From the very beginning, Packard automobiles introduced a number of innovations in its designs, including the modern steering wheel and, years later, the first production 12-cylinder engine. All Packards had a single-cylinder engine until 1903.[1]

While the Cole 30[2] and Colt Runabout were US$1,500,[3] the high-volume Oldsmobile Runabout went for $650,[4] Western's Gale Model A roadster was $500,[5] and the Black went as low as $375,[6] the Packards concentrated on cars with prices starting at $2,600. Packard automobiles developed a following among wealthy purchasers both in the United States and abroad.

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—including Truman Handy Newberry and Russell A. Alger Jr. On October 2, 1902, this group refinanced and renamed the New York and Ohio Automobile Company as "Packard Motor Car Company", with James as president. Alger later served as vice-president.[7] Packard moved its automobile operation to Detroit soon after, and Joy became general manager, later to be chairman of the board. An original Packard, reputedly the first manufactured, was donated by a grateful James Packard to his alma mater, Lehigh University, and is preserved there in the Packard Laboratory.[8] Another is on display at the Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio.[9]

The 3,500,000 sq ft (330,000 m²) Packard plant on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit was located on over 35 acres (0.14 km²

) of land. It 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 practised over eighty trades. The dilapidated plant still stands,[10][11] despite repeated fires.[12] Architect Kahn also designed the Packard Proving Grounds at Utica, Michigan.


Packard Twin-Six Touring, 1916

Packard Fourth Series 426 Roadster, 1927

From this beginning, through and beyond the 1930s, Packard-built vehicles were perceived as highly competitive among high-priced luxury American 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.[citation needed]For most of its history, Packard was guided by its President and General Manager Alvan Macauley who also served as President of the National Automobile Manufacturers Association. Inducted into the Automobile Hall of Fame, Macauley made Packard the number one designer and producer of luxury automobiles in the United States. The marque was also highly competitive abroad, with markets in sixty-one countries. Gross income for the company was $21,889,000 in 1928. Macauley was also responsible for the iconic Packard slogan, "Ask the Man Who Owns One."

In addition to excellent luxury cars, Packard built trucks and buses as well.[13][14] In 1912, a Packard truck carrying a three-ton load, drove from New York City to San Francisco between 8th of July and 24th of August 1912. The same year, Packard had service depots in 104 cities.[15]


1930 Packard Deluxe Eight roadster

Packard Ninth Series De Luxe Eight 904 sedan limousine, 1932

Packard Eleventh Series Eight 1101 convertible sedan, 1934

Entering into the 1930s, Packard attempted to beat the stock market crash and subsequent Great Depression by manufacturing ever more opulent and expensive cars than it had prior to October 1929. The Packard Twin Six (designed by Jesse Vincent)[16] 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.

1931 Packard 833

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 interchangeability 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 changeovers 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 its Seventh Series. By 1942, Packard was in its Twentieth Series. The "Thirteenth Series" was omitted.

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 ten 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 the Senior Packards until 1937.


1941 Packard One-Eighty Formal sedan

1941 Packard Station Wagon advertisement

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 engine 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 GIs in WWII. It was one of the fastest piston-powered fighters ever and could fly higher than many of its contemporaries, allowing 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.


1949 Packard Convertible Coupé

1950 Packard Eight 4 Door Sedan

By the end of World War II, Packard was in excellent financial condition but suffered from several management mistakes that became visible as time went on. Like most other U. S. car makers, the firm started production in 1946 with modestly restyled 1942 models. As only tooling for the Clipper was left, concentrating on this design was the only option. There were several engines and chassis available, but basically only two body styles to choose from. The 4-door Touring Sedan looked very similar to the introduction model of 1941 and the 2-door Club Coupe was ageing quickly because of its fastback styling. Industry trend went in another direction: the light and airy looking 2-door Hardtop.

Although the postwar Packards sold well, the ability to distinguish expensive models from lower-priced models disappeared as all Packards became virtually alike. Further, amidst a booming seller's market, management had decided to direct the company more to middle-class models, thus concentrating on selling lower-priced cars instead of more expensive — and more profitable — models. Worse, they also tried to enter the taxi cab and fleet car market. The idea was to gain volume for the years ahead, but that target was missed: Packard simply was not big enough to offer a real challenge to the Big Three.

Instead, Packard's image as a luxury brand was further diluted. So, Packard lost buyers of expensive cars and couldn't find enough prospects for the lesser models to compensate. Of course, the shortage of raw materials immediately after the war - and that was felt by all manufacturers - hurt Packard more with its volume business than it would have when it had given more attention to the luxury car market.

The Clipper, although a graceful automobile, became outdated. So, in 1948, Packard presented its first postwar body — prior to its competition from the major firms (Cadillac, Lincoln, and Chrysler). In fact, these cars were heavily facelifted Clippers. The design chosen was of the "bathtub" style, predicted during the war as the destined future of automobiles. Six cylinder cars were dropped for the home market, and a convertible was added.

The new design cleverly hid its relationship to the Clipper. Even that name was dropped — for a while. But it looked bulky, and a bulky nickname it got: The "pregnant elephant". When a new body style was added, Packard made the mistake to introduce a Station Wagon instead of a 2-door Hardtop as buyers requested.

Packard left the luxury car market silently through the back door. Although its former glamour shined again in the mighty Custom Clippers and Custom Eights, built in its old tradition with excellent craftmanship and only the best materials, Cadillac now set the "Standard of the World".

When Packard's president George T. Christopher announced that the bathtub" would get another facelift for 1951, influental parts of the management revolted. Christopher was forced to resign and loyal Packard treasurer Hugh Ferry became president.

Although Packard did well during the early post-war period, supply soon caught up with demand and, by the early 1950s, the independent American manufacturers were left moribound as the Big Three (Ford, GM and Chrysler) battled intensely for sales in the economy, medium-price, and luxury market. Those independents that remained alive in the early Fifties, merged. Nash and Hudson became American Motors. Packard president James Nance, feeling that Packard could no longer survive alone, purchased Studebaker. However, Nance appeared to have no awareness of Studebaker's serious financial woes. Studebaker's management was notorious for building the wrong car at the wrong time, while the cars people wanted were always in short supply, strangling the company financially as a result.

Unable to afford an all-new design, Packard restyled the old "bathtub" models with a more modern body that resembled typical cars of the early 50s. Sales were slower than before, despite Packard's attempt to recapture the luxury market with such limited edition, luxury models as the Caribbean convertible and the Patrician 400 Sedan. In 1954, Packard stylist Richard Teague was called upon by Nance to redesign the old body once again, for 1955. To Teague's credit, the 1955 Packard was indeed a sensation when it appeared. Not only was the body completely updated and modernized, but the suspension was totally new, consisting of torsion bars front and rear, along with an electric load-leveler control that kept the car level regardless of load or road conditions. Crowning this stunning new design was Packard's first modern overhead-valve V8, displacing 352 cubic inches, replacing the old, heavy, cast-iron side valve straight-eight that had been used for decades. In addition, Packard offered the entire host of power comfort and convenience features, such as power steering and brakes, air conditioning (even in the Caribbean convertible, a Packard exclusive at the time), electric windows and more. For 1955, the Clipper became a separate make, with Clipper Custom and Deluxe models available. "Senior" Packards were built in three body styles. Each body style had a unique model name. Patrician was used for the four-door sedans, Four Hundred was used for the hardtop coupes, and Caribbean was used for the convertible.

Despite the new design, Cadillac still led luxury market, followed by the Lincoln and Chrysler brands. Reliability problems with the automatic transmission and all those electrical gadgets further eroded the public's opinion of Packard. Sales fell for 1955, and Packard looked more terminal than ever.

For 1956, Teague kept the basic 1955 design, and added more garish touches to the body. Headlamps were hooded in a more radical style in the front fenders, slight shuffling of tinward distinguished the '56. "Electronic Push-button Ultramatic," which located push buttons to control the automatic transmission on a stalk off the steering column, proved to be trouble-prone, adding to the car's reputation as a lemon which would soon become an orphan. Model series remained the same, but the V8 was now enlarged to 374 cubic inches for Senior series. In the top-of-the-line Caribbean, that engine put out 310 hp (230 kW). Clippers continued to use the 352 engine, however.


1958 Packard

In 1957, no more Packards were built in Detroit and the Clipper disappeared as a brand name. Instead, a Studebaker President-based car bearing the Packard Clipper nameplate appeared on the market, but sales were slow. Available in just two body styles, Town Sedan (4-door sedan) and Country Sedan (4-door station wagon), they were powered by Studebaker's 289 c.i. V-8 with McCullough supercharger, delivering the same 275 hp as the 1956 Clipper Custom, although at higher revolutions.

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 their franchises and consumers fearful of buying a car that could soon be an orphaned make. It was tried with design cues from the 1956 Clipper (visual in the grille and dash). Wheel-covers, tail-lamps and dials were stock 1956 parts, as was the Packard cormorant hood mascot and trunk chrome trim from 1955 senior Packards. The 1958 models were launched with no series name, simply as "Packard". More styles were added, a 2-door and a 4-door hardtop and, as the premier model, a Packard Hawk that was a Studebaker Golden Hawk with a new front, a spare wheel moulded in the trunk lid, and Packard trim.

These cars were the first in the industry to be "facelifted" with plastic parts. The housing for the new dual headlights and the complete fins were fibreglass parts grafted on Studebaker bodies. There was very little chrome on the low front clip. Designers managed to include the 1956 Clipper tail lights for one last time. All 1958 Packards were given 14 in (36 cm) wheels.

Predictably, some Packard devotees were disappointed by the marque's loss of exclusivity and what they perceived as a reduction in quality. They joined competitors and media critics in christening the new models as Packardbakers. They failed to sell in sufficient numbers to keep the marque afloat. However, with the market flooded by inexpensive cars, none of the minor automakers was able to sell vehicles at loss leader prices to keep up with Ford and GM.[17] There was also a general decline in demand for large cars which heralded an industry switch to compact cars like the Studebaker Lark.

Concept Packards

During the 1950s, a number of "dream cars" were built by Packard in a desperate attempt to keep the marque alive in the imaginations of the American car-buying public. Included in this category are the 1952 Pan American that led to the production Caribbean and the Panther (also known as Daytona), based on a 1954 platform. Shortly after the introduction of the Caribbean, Packard showed a prototype hardtop called the Balboa. It featured a rear window that could be lowered, a gadget introduced in a production car by Mercury in 1957. The Request was based on the '55 Four Hundred hardtop, but featured a bizarre, narrow, and upright Packard fluted grille reminiscent of the postwar "bathtub" models. In addition, the "Black Bess" was an engineering mule built to test new features for a future car. This car had a surprising resemblance to the 1958 Edsel, with front fenders showing off the dual headlights resembling a Plymouth from that era. This car was destroyed by the company shortly after the Packard line was discontinued. Of the ten Requests built only four were sold off the showroom floor. One of these was found in Yakima, Washington and restored by a group from Pasco, Washington. It was recently sold to a buyer in California. Best known of these show cars is the Predictor. This hardtop coupe's design followed the lines of the planned 1957 cars. It had many unusual features, among them a roof section that opened either by opening a door or activating a switch. Also novel were overhead switches, and a dash design that followed the hood profile. The Predictor survives and is on display at the Studebaker Museum section of the Center for History in South Bend, Indiana.

The end

Studebaker-Packard pulled the Packard nameplate from the marketplace in 1959. It kept its name until 1962 when "Packard" was dropped off the corporate's name, thus definitely finishing the story of the marque.

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

Packard automobile engines

Packard's engineering staff designed and built excellent, reliable engines. Packard offered a 12-cylinder engine—the "Twin Six"—as well as a low-compression straight eight, but never a 16-cylinder engine. After WWII, Packard continued with their successful straight-eight cylinder flathead engines. While as fast as the new GM and Chrysler OHV8s, they were perceived as obsolete by buyers. By waiting until 1955, Packard was the last U.S. automaker to introduce a high-compression V8 engine. The design was physically large and entirely conventional, copying many of the first generation Cadillac, Oldsmobile, and Studebaker Kettering features. It was produced in 320 cu in (5.2 L) and 352 cu in (5.8 L) displacements. The Caribbean version had two 4-barrel carburetors and produced 275 hp (205 kW). For 1956, a 374" version was used in the senior cars and the Caribbean 2x4-barrel produced 305 hp (227 kW).

In-house designed and built, their "Ultramatic" automatic transmission featured a lockup torque converter with two speeds. The early Ultramatics normally operated only in "high" with "low" having to be selected manually. Beginning with late 1954, the transmission could be set to operate only in "high" or to start in "low" and automatically shift into "high". Packard's last major development was the Bill Allison-invented "Torsion-Level" suspension, an electronically controlled four-wheel torsion-bar suspension that balanced the car's height front to rear and side to side, having electric motors to compensate each spring independently. Contemporary American competitors had serious difficulties with this suspension concept, trying to accomplish the same with air-bag springs before dropping the idea.

Packard also made large aeronautical and marine engines. Chief engineer Jesse Vincent developed a V-12 airplane engine called the "Liberty engine" that was used widely in entente air corps during World War I. Packard powered boats and airplanes set several records during the 1920s. For Packard's production of military and navy engines, see the Merlin engine and PT Boats which contributed to the Allied victory in World War II. Packard also developed a jet propulsion engine for the USAF, one of the reasons of the Curtiss-Wright take-over in 1956, as they wanted to sell their own jet.[18]

Resurrection of Packard name

Packard® Motor Car Company, a registered Arizona Corporation, is the registered owner of the Packard Name Trademark for automobiles and parts. The Company uses the trademark by licensing various companies to use the Packard name, and the Company also manufactures and markets Packard branded automobile parts.[19]

The Company answers e-mails and phone calls on a daily basis from people wanting information about Packard, past and present. The Company assists people and companies world wide, requesting specific Packard parts and puts them in touch with suppliers.[20]

In 1995, Roy and Barbara Gullickson purchased the rights to the Packard name and, subsequently, had the company design and build a new V12-powered luxury sedan, hoping to attract support for short-run manufacturing. The enterprise has been promoted on a website[21] which details the prototype, featuring an overhead-valve, fuel injected 525 cu in (8,600cc) V12 engine. The car was shown at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2003.

Packard automobile models

1907 Packard - The New York Times, November 6, 1907

  • Packard Single-Cylinder models:
    • Packard Model A (1899-1900)
    • Packard Model B (1900)
    • Packard Model C (1901)
    • Packard Model E (1901)
    • Packard Model F (1901-1903)
    • Packard Model K (1903)
  • Packard Twin-Cylinder model:
    • Packard Model G (1902)
  • Packard Four-Cylinder models:
    • Packard Model L (1904)
    • Packard Model N (1905)
    • Packard Model 24 (Series S) (1906)
    • Packard Model 18 (Series NA-NC) (1905-1907)
    • Packard Model 30 (Series U) (1907-1912)
  • Packard Six-Cylinder models:
    • Packard Dominant Six (1912-1915)
    • Packard Single Six (1921-1924)
    • Packard Six (1925-1929)
    • Packard 110
    • Packard 115 (1937)
    • Packard Six (1937-1949)
  • Packard Eight
    • Packard Single Eight & Eight (1924-)
    • Packard Custom Eight
    • Packard Light Eight
    • Packard 120 (1935-1942)
    • Packard 160
    • Packard 180
    • Packard Super Eight
  • Packard V-12:
    • Packard Twin Six (1916-1923)
    • Packard Twin Six (1932)
    • Packard Twelve (1932-1939)
  • Post War Packards (including Clipper)
    • Packard 400, see Packard Four Hundred
    • Packard Caribbean
    • Packard Cavalier
    • Packard Clipper
    • Packard 200
    • Packard 250, see Packard 200
    • Packard 300
    • Packard Executive
    • Packard Four Hundred
    • Packard Hawk (1958)
    • Packard Mayfair
    • Packard Pacific
    • Packard Patrician (including Patrician 400)
    • Packard Single Six & Six (1921-1929),
    • Packard Station Sedan (1949-1950)
    • 1957 and 1958 Packards

Packard Show cars

  • Packard Phantom (1944; also called Brown Bomber and Macauley's Folly)
  • Packard Pan-American (1951; also called Macauley Speedster after Packard design executive Edward Macauley)
  • Packard Pan-American (1952)
  • Packard Balboa (1953)
  • Packard Panther (1954–1955;
  • Packard Pan-American (1952) and Panther-Daytona)
  • Packard Request (1955)
  • Packard Predictor (1956)
  • Packard Black Bess (1957; not an official name, it was a driveable design proposal)

Body styles/misc. by tradename

  • Packard Clipper Constellation
  • Packard Super Panama
  • Ultramatic, Packard's self-developed automatic transmission (1949–1953; Gear-Start Ultramatic 1954, Twin Ultramatic 1955-1956)
  • Thunderbolt, a line of Packard Straight Eights after WW2
  • Torsion Level Ride, Packard's torsion bar suspension with integrated levelizer (1955–1956)
  • Easamatic, Packard's name for the Bendix TreadleVac power brakes available after 1952.
  • Twin Traction, Packard's optional limited-slip rea axle; the first on a production car worldwide (1956–1958)
  • Touch Button, Packard's electric panel to control 1956 win Ultramatic


1910 Packard Advertisement - Indianapolis Star, May 22, 1910

1910 Packard Advertisement - Indianapolis Star, May 22, 1910

1912 Packard Advertisement - Syracuse Herald, March 14, 1912

See also


Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Packard. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia

  1. 1.0 1.1 Flammang, James M. (1999). 100 Years of the American Auto: Millennium Edition. Publications International, 19. ISBN 9780785334842. 
  2. Clymer, Floyd (1971). Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877-1925. Bonanza Books, 104. 
  3. Clymer, p.63.
  4. Clymer, p. 32.
  5. Clymer, p. 51.
  6. Clymer, p. 61.
  7. The Alger Family in Grosse Pointe Historical Society website
  8. Packard's 100th Anniversary on Lehigh University website
  9. Illustrated at Remarkable Cars Picture Gallery
  10. See photos and Packard historical data at Detroit News, 16 Jan 2000
  11. Abandoned Packard Plant(Flickr pictorial website)
  12. "More fires break out at Packard Plant in Detroit". (2009-06-29). Retrieved on 2010-07-28.
  15. Clymer, p. 112.
  16. Georgano, G. N. (2002). Early and Vintage Cars 1886-1930. Mason Crest Publishers. ISBN 9781590844915. 
  17. Bresnahan, Timothy F. (June 1987), "Competition and Collusion in the American Automobile Industry: The 1955 Price War", The Journal of Industrial Economics 35(4 The Empirical Renaissance in Industrial Economics): 457–482, doi 10.2307/2098583. 
  18. Ward, James A.: The Fall of the Packard Motor Car Company; University Press (September 1, 1995), ISBN 0-8047-2457-1.
  19. "Packard Motor Car Co.".
  20. "Packard Motor Car Co.".
  21. "Packard Motor Car Co.".

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