DUESENBERG Automobile & Motors Company, Inc

1927 Emblem Duesenberg

1923 Duesenberg Model A Winged Motometer a

Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company, Inc. Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1913-1937

Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company, Inc.
  • Automobile manufacturing
  • Engine manufacturing
Founded Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States (1913)
Defunct 1937; 79 years ago
Headquarters Auburn, Indiana, United States
Number of locations
Auburn, Indiana
Area served
Key people
August Duesenberg & Frederick Duesenberg
Services Automobiles, ship and airplane engines
Website http://www.automobilemuseum.org/

Duesenberg Motors Company (sometimes referred to as “Duesy”) was an American manufacturer of race cars and luxury automobiles. It was founded in St. Paul,MN, United States by brothers August and Frederick Duesenberg in 1913, where they built engines and race cars. The brothers moved their operations to Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1916 to manufacture engines for WW I. In 1919, when their government contracts were cancelled, they moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, established the Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Company, Inc. (Delaware) and built outstanding automobiles. In late 1926, E.L. Cord added Duesenberg to his Auburn Automobile Company. With the market for expensive luxury cars severely undercut by the Depression, Duesenberg folded in 1937.


Duesenberg family with Fred and August in the middle, ca. 1886.

In 1913, brothers Fred and Augie Duesenberg founded Duesenberg Motors Company, Inc. on University Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota, to build engines and race cars. The brothers were self-taught engineers and built many experimental cars. Duesenberg cars were considered some of the very best cars of the time, and were built entirely by hand. In 1914, Eddie Rickenbacker drove a “Duesy” to finish in 10th place at the Indianapolis 500, and Duesenberg won the race in 1924, 1925, and 1927. The fledgling company sidestepped into aviation engine manufacturing when Colonel R.C. Bolling and his commission acquired a license to produce the Bugatti U-16 for the U.S. Army Air Service. The end of World War I stopped this project before it could ever mature.

In 1921, Duesenberg provided the pace car for the Indy 500, driven by Fred Duesenberg. In 1923, Jimmy Murphy became the first American to win the French Grand Prix when he drove a Duesenberg to victory at Le Mans.


Model A (1921–1927)

Main article: Duesenberg Model A

At the end of World War I, they ceased building aviation and marine engines in Elizabeth, New Jersey. In 1919 the Duesenberg brothers sold their Minnesota and New Jersey factories to John Willys and moved to a new headquarters and factory in Indianapolis, where the “Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Company, Inc.” was established in 1920 to begin production of passenger cars. The plant was located on a 17-acre (69,000 m2) site on West Washington street at Harding street until 1937.

1923 Duesenberg Model A touring car at the Louwman Museum

 1923 Duesenberg Model A touring car at the Louwman Museum NL

Although the Duesenberg brothers were world-class engineers, they were neither good businessmen nor administrators; they were unable to sell all the units of their first passenger car, the Model A. This had the first “mass-produced” straight eight engine in the U.S. It was an extremely advanced and expensive automobile (prices began at $6,500), offering features such as single overhead camshafts, four-valve cylinder heads, and the first four-wheel (16″) hydraulic brakes (designed by Fred in conjunction with Lockheed) offered on a passenger car anywhere (predating Adler‘s introduction to the European market in 1926 on the “Standard 6”). The Model A was a lighter and smaller vehicle than the competition. It was among the most powerful and the fastest cars of its time. Among the celebrities who purchased this model were Tom Mix and Rudolph Valentino.

The model experienced various delays going from prototype to production. Deliveries to dealers did not start until December 1921. Sales lagged and the goal of building 100 Duesenbergs each month proved far too high, as the Indianapolis plant struggled to roll out one a day. In 1922 no more than 150 cars were manufactured, and only 650 Model As were sold over a period of six years.

1922 Model A specifications

Engine Power Transmission Wheelbase Ground clearance Frame
260CID 1-bbl. I8 90-100 hp 3-speed manual 134 in (3,404 mm) 10 in (254 mm) Chrome Nickel steel 6.40-inch (163 mm) in depth

Winning races did not translate into financial success either, although that winning reputation would eventually attract new investors, who supplied the cash flow to prop up the production facility. The brothers continued to create excellent engines for cars, boats, and a few planes but only as employees of various capitalist investors who bought the rights to their famous family name.

1925 August and Fred Duesenberg

 Brothers Duesenberg pictured in 1925, August at left and Fred at right.

The firm had already acquired a considerable aura of prestige when in October 1919, Fred signed over the rights to his name, patents and drawings for a passenger car to a pair of promoters, Newton E. Van Zandt and Luther M. Rankin. On March 8, 1920, these men became president and vice president of the “Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Corporation of Indianapolis”. Fred was chief engineer and Augie his assistant, and both were salaried as employees.

Van Zandt quit after a year, and business went from bad to worse in 1923. In 1924 the company went into receivership, but somehow it survived that year. In 1925, the firm’s name was changed to “Duesenberg Motors Corporation” and Fred assumed the title of president. Fred and August struggled to keep the company, but to no avail, as they weren’t able to raise enough capital.

Model X (1926–1927)

Model X Duesenbergs are very rare. It was a sportier version of the model A with a heavier and longer (136 in (3,500 mm) wheelbase) chassis and 100 hp (75 kW) engine that enabled it to reach 100 mph (161 km/h). The most notable differences between the A and X were that the latter had hypoid differentials and all its valves were on one side; it sported the hydraulic brakes that Fred had originated on his 1914 racing cars. This braking system could have earned him a fortune if he had obtained a patent.

According to Randy Ema, the top Duesenberg authority in the United States, only 13 were built. They fit in between the Duesenberg Model A and the famous J; only four were known to survive until automobile preservationist Jay Leno found a fifth X in a neighborhood garage in 2005.

Model J (1928–1937)

Main article: Duesenberg Model J
1930 Duesenberg J Walker La Grande Torpedo Phaeton

 1930 J Walker La Grande Torpedo Phaeton

E.L. Cord bought the company on October 26, 1926 for the brothers’ engineering skills, talent and the brand name in order to produce luxury cars. He challenged Fred Duesenberg to design an automobile that would be the best in the world. Indeed, Cord wanted the biggest, fastest, and most expensive car ever made. He also ordered a large chassis to be able to compete with the biggest, most powerful, and most luxurious European cars of the era, such as Hispano-Suiza, Isotta Fraschini, Mercedes-Benz, and Rolls-Royce.

After Cord’s takeover, the new company was renamed “Duesenberg, Inc.” Fred would continue in the new organization, now with the title of vice president in charge of engineering and experimental work. Whereas Augie had played an important role in the development of the Model A and its variant, the very rare X, he had nothing to do with the J and had no formal connection with Duesenberg, Inc. until later. According to the expert Marshall Merkes, “Cord did not want Augie around.” However, all Duesenberg racing cars produced after 1926 were Augie-built in an enterprise that functioned separately, and in a building apart from the main Duesenberg plant. He was also responsible for a number of engineering achievements like the superchargers he developed for both the Auburn and Cord motorcars.

1931 Duesenberg J Murphy

 Duesenberg J Murphy 1931.

The newly revived Duesenberg company set about to produce the Model J, which debuted December 1 at the New York Car Show of 1928. In Europe, it was launched at the “Salon de l’automobile de Paris” of 1929. The first and — at the time of the New York presentation — only example made of the series, the J-101, was a sweep-panel, dual-cowl phaeton, with coachwork by LeBaron, finished in silver and black. By the time the Great Depression hit in October 1929, the Duesenberg Company had only built some 200 cars. An additional 100 orders were filled in 1930. Thus, the Model J fell short of the original goal to sell 500 cars a year.

Duesenberg Model J engine

 Model J engine

The Model J’s straight-eight was based on the company’s successful racing engines of the 1920s; designed by Duesenberg, they were manufactured by Lycoming, another company owned by Cord. In unsupercharged form, the eight produced an impressive (for the period) 265 horsepower (198 kW), aided by dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. The Model J was capable of a top speed of 119 mph (192 km/h), and 94 mph (151 km/h) in second gear. Other cars featured larger-displacement engines, but none surpassed its power. It was also both the fastest and most expensive American automobile in the market.

As was the custom among the luxury car brands, only the chassis and engine were displayed, since the interior and body of the car would be coachbuilt to the owner’s specifications. The chassis on most Model Js were the same, as was the styling of such elements as fenders, headlamps, radiator, hood and instrument panel.

Duesenberg bodies came from both the United States and Europe, and the finished cars were some of the largest, grandest, most beautiful, and most elegant cars ever created. About half the Model Js built by Duesenberg had coachworks devised by the company’s chief body designer, Gordon Buehrig. The rest were by independent coachbuilders from the United States, such as Derham, Holbrook, Judkins, Le Baron, Murphy, Rollston (later renamed Rollson), Walker, Weymann, and Willoughby, and from European works Fernandez et Darrin, Franay, Gurney Nutting, Saoutchik, etc. However, other coachworks were made by Duesenberg branches in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Florida and Denver, as well as by smaller dealers. For the in-house bodies Duesenberg used the name of La Grande.

The chassis cost $8,500 ($9,500 after 1932); the completed base model cost between $13,000 and $19,000 (two of the American-bodied J’s reached $25,000), at a time when the average U.S. physician earned less than $3,000 a year. Figures are not available as to the prices charged by deluxe coachbuilders in Europe, but it is reasonable to assume the final selling price of the products mounted on the costly imported chassis were considerably higher than their all-American-built counterparts.

The J was available in two versions of chassis with a different wheelbase; a long one (153.54 in (3.90 m)) and a short one (about 141.73 in (3.60 m)). There were also other special sizes, like the only two SSJs with a wheelbase shortened to 125 in (3.18 m) and a couple of cars with the wheelbase extended to 4 m (160 in) and over.

The dashboard included lights that reminded the driver the oil needed changing and the battery should be inspected.

A series of minor modifications were carried out during the production life, but most of the design remained the same up until the factory closed in 1937. First to go was the four-speed gearbox, which proved unable to handle the engine’s power. It was replaced by an unsynchronized three-speed gearbox, which was fitted to all subsequent Duesenbergs. Unlike almost all American manufacturers, Duesenberg did not switch to a fully synchronized gearbox in the mid-1930s, which made the Model J difficult to drive and outdated. By 1937 the chassis and gearbox were ancient compared to the competition.

Regarding this model, it is necessary to emphasize that most of them (engine and chassis) were made in 1929 and 1930, but due to the Depression, high price, and other factors, were sold in subsequent years. The year it was bodied is used to date a particular J, though the chassis was made in an earlier year.

1935 Duesenberg Convertible SJ LA Grand Dual-Cowl Phaeton

1935 SJ LaGrande Dual-Cowl Phaeton.

The supercharged version, often referred to as the SJ, was reputed to achieve 104 miles per hour (167 km/h) in second gear and have a top speed of 135–140 miles per hour (217–225 km/h) in third gear. Zero-to-60 mph (97 km/h) times of around eight seconds and 0–100 mph (0–161 km/h) in 17 seconds were reported for the SJ in spite of the unsynchronized transmissions, at a time when even the best cars of the era were not likely to reach 100 mph (160 km/h). Duesenbergs generally weighed around two and a half tons; up to three tons was not unusual, considering the wide array of custom coachwork available. The wheelbase was 142.5 in (362 cm).

This rare supercharged Model J version, with 320 hp (239 kW) was also created by Fred Duesenberg. and introduced in May 1932, only 36 units were built. Special-bodied models, such as the later “Marmon Meteor” chassis, achieved an average speed of over 135 mph (217 km/h) and a one-hour average of over 152 mph (245 km/h) at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah. The SJ’s supercharger was located beside the engine; to make room for it, the exhaust pipes were creased so they could be bent easily and extended through the side panel of the hood. These supercharged cars can be recognized by these shiny creased tubes, which Cord registered as a trademark and used in his other supercharged cars from Cord and Auburn.

Fred Duesenberg died of pneumonia on July 26, 1932, resulting from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in which he was driving a Murphy-bodied SJ convertible. His brother, Augie, took over Fred’s duties as chief engineer and Harold T. Ames became president of Duesenberg, Inc.

The SSJ is very similar to the SJ version, but with close to 400 hp (298 kW). The only two examples built in 1935, the SSJ Speedsters sported a lightweight open-roadster body produced by Central Manufacturing Company, an Auburn subsidiary in Connersville, Indiana. One of them belonged to the actor Gary Cooper, the other one was lent by the company to actor Clark Gable, who already owned a Duesenberg J. The inscription SSJ (same goes for SJ) has never been officially used by the company, but it eventually became commonly used among the car lovers. The second “S” stands for “short wheelbase” as the two SSJ are the only Duesenberg to have a chassis with the wheelbase shortened to 125 in (3,200 mm). The 420 cu in (6.9 l) straight eight engine of both SSJ models is equipped with two special carburetors and inlet ports of a special shape called “ram’s horn”, which was used in other SJs as well. Unlike the normal port, the “ram’s horn” is composed of two horns, with each of the two being split in two again. At the rear, the SSJ sported an external spare tire and smaller “later-style” round taillights. The external exhaust pipes sprouting out of the hood were an indication it was the “supercharged” version, but these were optional on J models as well.

There is another version of the model J known as the Duesenberg JN (a name never used by the company either). All JNs were sold with Rollston coachwork and only ten were produced in 1935. In an attempt to give a more modern look to an ageing design, the JN was equipped with smaller 17 in (43 cm)-diameter wheels (versus 19 in (48 cm)), skirted fenders, bullet-shaped taillights, and bodies set on the frame rails for a lower look. The battery box and tool box were redesigned slightly so that the doors could close over the frame. Supercharged JNs gained the logical SJN designation.

1930 Duesenberg J hibbard and Darrin Town Car and King of Spain Alfonso XIII

King Alfonso XIII of Spain standing next to his 1930 Model J Hibbard and Darrin Town Car.

The Model J quickly became one of the most popular luxury cars, as well as a status symbol in the United States and Europe, driven by the rich and famous, including Al Capone, Evalyn Walsh McLean, Greta Garbo, Howard Hughes, Mae West, Marion Davies, Tyrone Power, Clark Gable, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, William Randolph Hearst, Powel Crosley, Jr., the families Mars, Whitney, and Wrigley; members of European royalty such as the Duke of Windsor, Prince Nicholas of Romania, Queen Maria of Yugoslavia, and the Kings Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Alfonso XIII of Spain. The latter was very keen on motoring and chose his now-missing Duesenberg J, among his cars, to go to exile after the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic. Father Divine had the last Duesenberg chassis built with an extra-long 178-inch wheelbase. It weighed 7,800 lb (3,500 kg) and accommodated ten passengers. J. Herbert Newport was the designer. Built by Bohman and Schwartz and delivered in October 1937, it was 22 ft (6.7 m) long and 7 ft (2.1 m) wide. It was known as Father Divine’s Throne Car, because it had a removable rear top section that exposed two raised rear seats.

Originally, New York supported the Model J. New York was the financial capital of the United States in 1929, and many of its people could afford such a very expensive car. As the Depression deepened, however, power shifted, and ultimately it was newly wealthy Hollywood that kept Duesenberg alive through much of the 1930s. It was so reputed and imposing that many Hollywood stars, such as James Cagney, posed next to the car to promote their careers.

1935 Duesenberg J advertisement published in the magazine Country Life
1935 Vanity Fair Magazine Duesenberg advertisement

Duesenberg advertising the Model J as “The World’s Finest Motor Car”. In their print ads, an elegant man or woman were seen together with a concise but meaningful sentence: “He/She drives a Duesenberg”. The campaign was a success.

There was a gradual evolution (up to the 1937 model) to preserve the “stately lines” while moving into a more integrated mode of styling. The final evolution of the Duesenberg engine was ram-air intakes, which were added to some of the last supercharged models to produce 400 hp (298 kW), referred to as “SSJ”. Of 481 Model Js built (including all its versions) produced between 1928 and 1937, about 378 survive.

Duesenberg ceased production in 1937 after Cord’s financial empire collapsed. However, between 1937 and 1940 two automobiles put the final touch to this historic marque. The first one was delivered by the coachbuilder Rollson to the German artist Rudolf Bauer in April 1940; it is both the longest Duesenberg and the last one delivered. The last one ever made was assembled from leftover parts between 1938 and 1940.

In 1940, Augie Duesenberg sold marine versions of the current 254-ci splash-oiled Hudson flathead inline eight.

Duesenberg became far less popular during World War II, by the end of which a few Model Js were advertised for around $300 to $400, with some ultimately selling for only $100 or $200. Business rebounded in the 1950s, when classic and vintage cars became popular among collectors. Several Model Js were advertised in the New York Times in 1951, at prices as low as $500. By 1959 a decent example could not be bought for less than $4,000.

A distinctive feature of the Duesenberg Model J was the “bowtie” style front bumper, which used two pieces of steel, with the top piece bent to resemble a bowtie.

Production summary

Name Years of production Units made
Model A 1921–1927 ~650
Model X 1926–27 13
Model Y (model J prototype) 1927 1
Model J (including SJ, SSJ, JN & SJN) 1929–37, SJ: (1932–37), SSJ: (1935), JN & SJN: (1935) Total: 481, S(36), SSJ (2), JN & SJN (10)


After World War II, August Duesenberg tried to revive the Duesenberg name but was unsuccessful; several later attempts were also unsuccessful. The closest came in the mid-1960s with Fritz (August’s son) at the helm and Virgil Exner as the stylist using the chassis of a 1966 Imperial and a Chrysler engine. One of Exner’s Duesenberg designs was later produced as a replicar Stutz Bearcat.

A 1970s Duesenberg was also created, based on a contemporary Cadillac Fleetwood and with modern styling. Its production was a limited run.

A reproduction automobile called Duesenberg II was produced between 1978 and 2000 by the Elite Heritage Motors Corp and successor company Duesenberg Motors Inc. in Elroy, Wisconsin. Five body models of the original Duesenberg J were offered. Each one was copied from an original and visually almost identical, with Ford Lincoln drive train, Ford V8 engine and modern comfort features. These replicas sold for up to US$225,000. Fewer than 100 total were made.

In 2011 a new company with worldwide trademark rights was established as Duesenberg Motors Inc., with the intention of again restarting the manufacturing of the Duesenberg II replicas in 2012 in Baldwin, Wisconsin. This effort died quickly when the owner stopped the project because of lack of cash flow. There are no products currently for sale, and future cars are unlikely.

A Duesenberg SJ convertible coupe sold for $4.5 million in March 2013.

Etymological note

1929 Duesenberg J Murphy Convertible Coupé before house of birth duesenberg

A model J in front of Fred & Augie Duesenberg birthplace in Kirchheide, Germany.

The origin of the American slang word “doozy” or “doozie”, meaning something excellent or powerful, is unknown. Merriam-Webster completely rejects any origin in the automobile, noting doozy originally appeared as “dozy” in eastern Ohio in 1916 — four years prior to the production of the first Duesenberg vehicles. They also claim there is little evidence connecting the Duesenberg and doozy during the 1920s and 1930s, when the car was most popular. “Dozy” is akin to the verb “dozen” that is semantically and etymologically related to “daze” and that is attested in slang terms such as “the dozens.”

See also

My collection found by searching the world wide web:

Packard Automobile Company Detroit Michigan United States 1899 – 1958k


Automobile company
Industry Manufacturing
Fate folded
Founded 1899
Founder James Ward Packard, William Doud Packard, George L. Weiss
Defunct 1958
Headquarters Detroit, Michigan, US
Key people
Henry B. Joy
Products Automobile

Packard was an American luxury automobile marque 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 last in 1958.



Packard was founded by James Ward Packard, his brother William Doud Packard and their partner, George Lewis Weiss, in the city of Warren, Ohio where 400 Packard automobiles were built at their Packard factory on Dana Street Northeast, from 1899 to 1903. Being a mechanical engineer, James Ward Packard believed they could build a better horseless carriage than the Winton cars owned by Weiss, an important Winton stockholder.

In September, 1900, the Ohio Automobile Company was founded to produce “Packard” autos. Since these automobiles quickly gained an excellent reputation, the name was changed on October 13, 1902 to the Packard Motor Car Company.

All Packards had a single-cylinder engine until 1903. From the very beginning, Packard featured innovations, including the modern steering wheel and, years later, the first production 12-cylinder engine and air-conditioning in a passenger car.

While the Black Motor Company‘s “Black” went as low as $375, Western Tool Works‘ Gale Model A roadster was $500, the high-volume Oldsmobile Runabout went for $650, and the Cole 30 and Cole Runabout  were US$1,500, Packard concentrated on cars with prices starting at $2,600. The marque 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. 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. Another is on display at the Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio.

The 3,500,000 sq ft (330,000 m2) Packard plant on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit was located on over 40 acres (16 ha) of land. Designed by Albert Kahn Associates, it included the first use of reinforced concrete for industrial construction in Detroit and was considered the most modern automobile manufacturing facility in the world when opened in 1903. Its skilled craftsmen practiced over eighty trades. The dilapidated plant still stands, despite repeated fires. Architect Kahn also designed the Packard Proving Grounds at Utica, Michigan.


1899 Packard Model A Runabout, Wagen Nr. 1 (Werkbild, Anfang November 1899)

1899 Packard Model A Runabout, Wagen Nr. 1 (Werkbild, Anfang November 1899)

1903 Packard Modell F, Einzylinder

1903 Packard Modell F, Einzylinder

1904 Packard Model L

1904 Packard Model L

1905 Packard Twin Six 905

1905 Packard Twin Six 905

1906 Packard Modell 18 Runabout (Serie NA)

1906 Packard Modell 18 Runabout (Serie NA)

1906 Packard S 24HP Runabout

1906 Packard S 24HP Runabout

1907 Packard ad The New York Times 1907-11-06

1907 Packard ad The New York Times 1907-11-06

1910 Packard Advertisement - Indianapolis Star, May 22, 1910

1910 Packard Advertisement – Indianapolis Star, May 22, 1910

1910 Packard Advertisement - Indianapolis Star, May 22, 1910a

1910 Packard Advertisement – Indianapolis Star, May 22, 1910

1910 Packard Eighteen Touring Serie NB

1910 Packard Eighteen Touring Serie NB

1910 Providence Packard June07

1910 Providence Packard

1911 Packard

1911 Packard

1912 Packard Advertisement - Syracuse Herald, March 14, 1912

1912 Packard Advertisement – Syracuse Herald, March 14, 1912

1913 Packard 6

1913 Packard 6

1914 Packard 1-38 Five Passenger Phaeton

1914 Packard 1-38 Five Passenger Phaeton

1914 Packard Dominant Six 4-48 Runabout


1915 OX5 aircraft engine  Packard Merlin

1915-ox5-aircraft-engine-packard-merlinKampfflugzeugmotor Packard V-1650-7 Weiterentwicklung unter Lizenz des Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 Zylinder, in dieser Version 1315 bhp

Kampfflugzeugmotor Packard V-1650-7 Weiterentwicklung unter Lizenz des Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 Zylinder, in dieser Version 1315 bhp

1915 Packard Model E 7t


1915 Packard


1916 Packard First Series Twin-Six Touring 1-35


1916 Packard Model D Mexican Revolution (231)




1917 Packard  Engine 6900cc


1917 Packard Twin Six 2-25 Convertible Coupe von Holbrook


1918+20 Packard Twin Six, 3. Serie, Modell 3-35; seitengesteuerter V12, 90 PS 2600 min. Links Limousine (1920), rechts Brougham (1918)


1919 Packard Albright


1919 Packard Truck


1922 Packard Phaeton


1922 Packard Single Six 126 Sportmodell, vierplätzig

1922-packard-single-six-126-sportmodell-4 seats

1922 Packard Single Six Modell 126 2-pass. Runabout


1923 Packard Single Six 226 Touring


1924 Packard Single Eight 143 Town Car by Fleetwood


1926 Packard 236


1926 Packard Eight Modell 243 7-pass. Touring


1927 Packard 343 Dual Windshield Phaeton


1927 Packard Eight Modell 343 Convertible Sedan von Murphy


1927 Packard Fourth Series Six Model 426 Runabout (Roadster)


1927 Packard magazine ad


1928 Packard 526 Convertable Coupe


1928 Packard1928-packard

1929 Packard 640 Custom Eight (7410688536)


1929 Packard 640 Custom Eight Roadster


1929 Packard Custom Eight 640 4-door Convertible Sedan, Karosserie von Larkins, San Francisco


1929 Packard M640 Wrecker


1930 Packard 734 boattail speedster


1930 Packard Custom Eight (Modell 740) Coupé-Roadster


1930 Packard Standard Eight 733 Coupé


1930's Packard Eight hyrbilar under tidigt 1930-tal, i Diplomatstaden, Stockholm


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. For most of its history, Packard was guided by its President and General Manager James 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 the 1920s, Packard exported more cars than any other in its price class, and in 1930, sold almost twice as many abroad as any other marque priced over US$2000. In 1931, ten Packards were owned by Japan’s Royal Family. Between 1924 and 1930, Packard was also the top-selling luxury brand.

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

The Packard Motor Corporation Building at Philadelphia, also designed by Albert Kahn, was built in 1910-1911. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

By 1931, Packards were also being produced in Canada.


1930 Packard Deluxe Eight roadster

 1930 Packard Deluxe Eight roadster

Entering 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. While the Eight five-seater sedan had been the company’s top-seller for years, the Twin Six, designed by Vincent, was introduced for 1932, with prices starting at US$3,650 at the factory gate; in 1933, it would be renamed the Packard Twelve, a name it retained for the remainder of its run (through 1939). Also in 1931, Packard pioneered a system it called Ride Control, which made the hydraulic shock absorbers adjustable from within the car. For one year only, 1932, Packard fielded an upper-medium-priced car, the Light Eight, at a base price of $1,750 (about $27,933 in 2014), or $735 ($11,732) less than the standard Eight.

1931 Ninth Series model 840

 1931 Ninth Series model 840
1931 Packard 845 CONVERTIBLE
1931 Packard Individual Custom Eight 840 Convertible Sedan von Dietrich
1931 Packard Standard Eight 833 2-4 passenger Coupe

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 ceased production in 1932, changing the Cleveland Ohio manufacturing plant from producing cars to brewing beer for Carling Black Label Beer. By 1938, Franklin, Marmon, Ruxton,Stearns-Knight, Stutz, Duesenberg, and Pierce-Arrow had all closed.

1932 Ninth Series De Luxe Eight model 904 sedan-limousine

 1932 Ninth Series De Luxe Eight model 904 sedan-limousine
1932 Packard light Eight 900 type 553 sedan
1932 StCharles Packard 1
1932-st charles-packard-1
1933 Packard 12-cylinder Touring Sedan Convertible
1933 Packard Series 1105 Convertible Coupe
1933-packard-series-1105-convertible-coupe©chad younglove
1933 Packard Twelve Individual Custom Twelve Modell 1005 Sport Phaeton von Dietrich

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 averaged 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.

1934 Eleventh Series Eight model 1101 convertible sedan

 1934 Eleventh Series Eight model 1101 convertible sedan
1934 Packard Straight Eight 11th Series Sedan
1934 Packard Super Eight 1104 Roadster Convertible
1934 Packard Twelve Model 1106 Sport Coupe by LeBaron
1934-packard-twelve-model-1106-sport-coupe-by-le baron
1935 Packard Eight Model 1200 5-passenger Sedan (Style #803), Packards preisgünstigstes Senior-Modell
1935 Packard wishbone front suspension (Autocar Handbook, 13th ed, 1935)
1935 Packard
1936 Packard One-Twenty Club Sedan Model 120-B Style 996
1936 Packard Twelve (V12) Modell 1406 Convertible Victoria
1936 Packard V-12 Convertible Sedan by Dietrich

To address the Depression, Packard started producing more affordable cars in the medium-price range. In 1935, the company introduced its first sub-$1,000 car, the 120. Sales 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. Although Packard almost certainly could not have survived the Depression without the highly successful Junior models, they did have the effect of diminishing the Senior models’ exclusive image among those few who could still afford an expensive luxury car. 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, features that would not appear on the Senior Packards until 1937.


Processed by: Helicon Filter;


1937 Packard 115C Coupe


1937 Packard Super Eight Convertible Sedan


1937 Packard Super Eight


1938 Packard


1938 Packard Eight Convertible Sedan


1938 Packard Henney Stationwagen 12 person


1938 Packard Six Model 1600 Club Coupe


1938 Packard Super Eight


1938 Packard
1938 packard-touring-limousine

1938-packard-touring-limousine ad

1939 Packard One-Twenty Business Coupe


1939 Packard Packard Twelve, 17th series

1939 Packard Packard Twelve, 17th series

1939 Packard Six-120

1939-packard-six-120 ad

1939 Packard Super Eight Model 1705 Touring Sedan a


1939 Packard Super Eight Model 1705 Touring Sedan


1939 Packard Taxi


1939 Packard Twelve (17. Serie) von US-Präsident Franklin Delano Roosevelt


1939 Packard Twelve Brunn Cabriolet


1939 Packard Twelve Formal Sedan


1939 Packard






1940 Packard custom


1940 Packard One-Twenty Coupé, 18. Serie. In Frage kommen 1801-1398 Business Coupe, 1801-1395 Club Coupe oder 1801-1395DE Deluxe Club Coupe (1940)


1940 Packard1940-packard

1941 la linea de montage de Packard modelos 110, 120, 160 y 180
1941 Packard 110 Deluxe Woody Station Wagon
1941 Packard 120 coupe
1941 Packard 120 Station Sedan Woody
1941 Packard 160 Super 8 1905 Rollston Limousine
1941 Packard 180 Formal Sedan
1941 Packard Custom Super Eight One-Eighty Formal sedan; 19th series, Model 1907
1941 Packard Clipper Darrin Convertible Victoria
1941 Packard Clipper Sedan
1941 Packard Clipper Taxi.
1941 Packard Heney-Limo-400
1941 Packard Limousine By LeBaron
1941 Packard Model 120 Convertible
1941 Packard One-Eighty Formal Sedan
1941 Packard Station Wagon advertisement either One-Ten Model 1900 or One-Twenty Model 1901
1941 Packard Station Wagon advertisement; either One-Ten Model 1900 or One-Twenty Model 1901
1941 Packard station wagon model 110
1941 Packard Swan
1941 Packard-Henney-cc-bw-4001941-packard-henney-cc-bw-400 hearse

Packard was still the premier luxury automobile, even though the majority 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, priced at around $1200, was brilliant, for 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 hurt Packard’s reputation of building some of America’s finest luxury cars. The Six, redesignated 110 in 1940–41, continued for three years after the war, with many serving as taxicabs.

In 1939, Packard introduced Econo-Drive, a kind of overdrive, claimed able to reduce engine speed 27.8%; it could be engaged at any speed over 30 mph (48 km/h). The same year, the company introduced a fifth, transverse shock absorber and made column shift (known as Handishift) available on the 120 and Six.


1942 Packard (20. Serie) Super Eight One-Sixty Limousine


1942 Packard Clipper 160 Millitary Staff Car


1942 Packard Six (115) Convertible Coupé Modell 2000


1942 ZIS-110 (1942–1958) ist dem Packard Custom Eight 180 der 20 ZIS 110 I

Russian copy of Packard the ZIS 110

In 1942 the Packard Motor Car Company converted to 100% war production. During World War II, Packard again built airplane engines, licensing the Merlin engine from Rolls-Royce as the V-1650, which powered the famous P-51 Mustang fighter, ironically known as the “Cadillac of the Skies” by GIs in WWII. Packard 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. Packard ranked 18th among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts.

By the end of the war in Europe, Packard Motor Car Company had produced over 55,000 combat engines totaling 84,356,900 horsepower. Sales in 1944 were $455,118,600. By May 6, 1945 Packard had a backlog on war orders of $568,000,000.


1946 Packard Clipper Super Sedan


1946-47 Packard Clipper Super Touring Sedan Modell 2103


1946-47 packard


1947 Packard Ad


1947 Packard Clipper 2 door


1947 Packard Clipper 1947


1947 Packard Clipper Custom Touring Sedan Modell 2106-1622 21. Serie


1947 Packard Clipper Super Touring Sedan Modell 2103-1672 (1946) oder 2103-2172 (1947).


1947 Packard clipper-eight


1947 Packard Custom Super Clipper Club Sedan


1948 Packard 2201 Six Passenger Sedan Woodie Right


1948 Packard clipper-six


1948 Packard Sedan-Type Taxicab


1948 Packard Station Sedan


1948 Packard Super Eight Victoria Convertible Coupe


1948 Packard Woody


1948-49 packard


1949 Packard Convertible Coupé


1949 Packard Custom Eight Convertible Coupe


1949 Packard Station Sedan


1949-50 packard


1950 Packard Eight 4-Door Sedan


1950 Packard Eight


1950 Packard Super 8 Talla Hood Marque


1950-55 Packard dealer in New York State

Packard dealer in New York State, ca. 1950-1955

1951 Packard 200 2401 Standard Sedan


1951 Packard 200 Club Sedan


1951 Packard 200 Touring Sedan Modell 2401-2492


1951 Packard 250 Convertible Modell 2401-2469


1951 Packard 300 Touring Sedan Model 2402–2472


1951 Packard Clipper Darrin Convertible


1951-52 packard


1952 Packard '200' Touring Sedan


1952 Packard 400 Patrician 2406 Sedan


1952 Packard Balboa-400


1952 Packard Carry All


1952 Packard Pan American Show Car


1952 Packard Parisian


1952 Packard Patrician '400'


1952 Packard Special Speedster


1953 Henney-Packard Junior Ambulanz Modell 2601 basierte auf dem Clipper Special


1953 Packard Caribbean convertible, Water Mill


1953 Packard Caribbean Sports Convertible Modell 2631-2678 in Matador Maroon Metallic


1953 Packard Caribbean


1953 Packard Carribean


1953 Packard Cavalier Touring Sedan Modell 2602-2672 in Carolina Cream


1953 Packard Cavalier


1953 Packard Clipper Deluxe Touring Sedan Modell 2662


1953 Packard Mayfair Hardtop (Modell 2631-2677)


1953 Packard Mayfair


1953 packard


1954 Henney Packard


1954 Hudson Super Wasp Hollywood Hardtop. Das Step Down Design von 1948 im letzten Produktionsjahr


1954 Nash Ambassador Super Sedan. Grunddesign von 1952 mit etwas Beteiligung von Pininfarina am Entwurf


1954 Nash Metropolitan Coupé


1954 Packard Caribbean 2631


1954 Packard Caribbean Convertible


1954 Packard Clipper Super Panama Model 5467


1954 Packard Convertible Modell 5479


1954 Packard Gray Wolf II

1954-packard-gray-wolf II

1954 Packard Junior persfoto


1954 Packard Pacific Modell 5431-5477


1954 Packard Panther Concept Car


1954 Packard Panther Convertible ~ Designed by Dick Teague


1954 Packard Panther Daytona front


1954 Packard Panther Daytona, goud zwart


1954 Packard Panther Daytona, kleur


1954 Packard Panther Daytona


1954 Packard Panther Daytona


1954 Packard Panther


1954 Packard Stradablog (2)


1954 Studebaker Champion Sedan. Facelift eines 1953 eingeführten, neuen Designs von Raymond Loewy. Der Champion war das basismodell des neuen Konzerns.


1955 Packard Caribbean convert VA i


1955 Packard Caribbean Convertable Front Left


1955 Packard Caribbean


1955 Packard Clipper Custom Touring Sedan Modell 5562 spätere Ausführung mit gebogenem vorderen Zierstab.


1955 Packard Convertible Concept


1955 Packard Four Hundred Hardtop Modell 5587 mit optionalen Speichenrädern von Kelsey-Hayes


1955 Pontiac Star Chief Catalina Hardtop mit fast identischer Farbtrennung wie beim Packard Clipper


1955+57 Packard Deluxe Super Eight '50 Buick Roadmaster '55 Buick Roadmaster '57

1955 + 57-packard-deluxe-super-eight-50-buick-roadmaster-55-buick-roadmaster-57



1956 Packard 400


1956 Packard Caribbean Convertible Bonhams


1956 Packard Caribbean convertible


1956 Packard Caribbean Hardtop Modell 5697


1956 Packard Caribbean Hardtop Modell 5697a


1956 Packard Caribbean Hardtop Modell 5697b


1956 Packard Caribbean


1956 Packard Clipper 4-Door Sedan


1956 Packard Executive 5670 Sedan


1956 Packard Executive 5677 2


1956 Packard Executive 5677 6


1956 Packard Executive Hardtop Modell 5677


1956 Packard Patrician 5580


1956 Packard predictor concept car


1956 Predictor concept, at the Studebaker National Museum


1956 Tri-Toned Packard Caribbean Coupe


By the end of World War II, Packard was in excellent financial condition, but several management mistakes became ever more visible as time went on. Like other U.S. auto companies, Packard resumed civilian car production in late 1945 labeling them as 1946 models by modestly updating their 1942 models. As only tooling for the Clipper was at hand, the Senior-series cars were not rescheduled. One version of the story is that the Senior dies were left out in the elements to rust and were no longer usable. Another long-rumored tale is that Roosevelt gave Stalin the dies to the Senior series, but the ZiS-110 state limousines were a separate design.

Although the postwar Packards sold well, the ability to distinguish expensive models from lower-priced models disappeared as all Packards, whether sixes or eights, became virtually alike in styling. Further, amidst a booming seller’s market, management had decided to direct the company more to volume 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, and they lacked the deep pockets a parent company could shelter them from as well as the model lineup to spread the pricing through.

As a result, Packard’s image as a luxury brand was further diluted. As Packard lost buyers of expensive cars, it could not find enough customers for the lesser models to compensate. The shortage of raw materials immediately after the war – which was felt by all manufacturers – hurt Packard more with its volume business than it would have had it had focused on the luxury specialty car market.

1949 Packard Convertible Coupé

 1949 Packard Convertible Coupé
1950 Packard Eight 4-Door Sedan
 1950 Packard Eight 4-Door Sedan

The Clipper, although a graceful classic automobile, became outdated as the new envelope bodies started appearing led by Studebaker and Kaiser-Frazer. Had they been a European car maker, this would have meant nothing; they could have continued to offer the classic shape not so different from the later Rolls-Royce with its vertical grill. Although Packard was in solid financial shape as the war ended, they had not sold enough cars to pay the cost of tooling for the 1941 design. While most automakers were able to come out with new vehicles for 1948-49, Packard could not do this until 1951. They therefore updated by adding sheet metal to the existing body (which added 200 pounds of curb weight). The design chosen was of the “bathtub” style, predicted during the war as the destined future of automobiles, and most fully realized by the 49/50 Nash. Six-cylinder cars were dropped for the home market, and a convertible was added.

These new designs hid their relationship to the Clipper. Even that name was dropped — for a while. However, it looked bulky, and was nicknamed the “pregnant elephant”. When a new body style was added, Packard introduced a station wagon instead of a 2-door hardtop as buyers requested. Test driver for Modern Mechanix, Tom McCahill, referred to the newly designed Packard as “a goat” and “a dowager in a Queen Mary hat”. Still, demand for any car was high and Packard sold 92,000 vehicles for 1948 and 116,000 of the 1949 models.

Packard abandoned the luxury car market, relinquishing the market to Cadillac. Although the Custom Clippers and Custom Eights were built in its old tradition with craftsmanship and the best materials, Cadillac now set the “Standard of the World”, with bold styling and tailfins. Cadillac was among the earliest U.S. makers to offer an automatic transmission (the Hydramatic in 1941), but Packard caught up with the Ultramatic, offered on top models in 1949 and all models from 1950 onward. Packard outsold Cadillac until about 1950; the problem was that most sales were the mid range lines, the volume models. A buyer of a Super Eight paying premium dollars did not enjoy seeing a lesser automobile with nearly all the Super Eight’s features, with just slight distinction in exterior styling. In addition to standard sedans, coupes, and convertibles, Packard also produced the curious “Station Sedan”, a wagon-like body that was mostly steel, but had a little structural and a good deal of decorative wood in the back. A total of 3,864 were sold over its three years of production.

Also in mid-1949, Packard introduced its Ultramatic automatic transmission, the only independent automaker to develop one. Although smoother than the GM Hydramatic, acceleration was sluggish and owners were often tempted to put it into Low Gear for faster starts which put extra wear on the transmission.

In 1950, sales tanked as the company sold only 42,000 cars for the model year. When Packard’s president George T. Christopher announced that the “bathtub” would get another facelift for 1951, influential parts of the management revolted. Christopher was forced to resign and loyal Packard treasurer Hugh Ferry became president.

The 1951 Packards were at last completely redesigned. Designer John Reinhart introduced a high, more squared-off profile that was sleek and contemporary and looked as far from the bathtub design of 1948-50 as one could get. New styling features included a one-piece windshield, a wrap-around rear window, small tailfins on the long-wheelbase models, a full-width grill, and “guideline fenders” with the hood and front fenders at the same height. The 122-inch (3,099 mm) wheelbase supported low-end 200-series standard and Deluxe two and four doors, and 250-series Mayfair hardtop coupes (Packard’s first) and convertibles. Upmarket 300 and Patrician 400 models rode a 127-inch (3,226 mm) wheelbase. 200-series models were again low-end models and even included a business coupe.

The 250, 300, and 400/Patricians were Packard’s flagship models and comprised the majority of production for that year. The Patrician was now the top-shelf Packard, replacing the Custom Eight line. Original plans were to equip it with a 356 cu in (5.8 L) engine, but the company decided that sales would probably not be high enough to justify producing the larger, more expensive power plant, and so instead the debored 327 cu in (5.4 L) (previously the middle engine) was used instead and offered nearly equal performance.

Since 1951 was a quiet year with little new from the other auto manufacturers, Packard’s redesigned lineup sold nearly 101,000 cars. The last new Packards ever produced were a quirky mixture of the ultra-modern (the automatic transmissions) and the archaic (still using flathead inline eights when OHV V8 engines were about to become the norm). No domestic car lines had OHV V8s in 1948, but by 1955, every car line offered a version. The Packard inline eight, despite being a very long-in-the-tooth design that lacked the power of Cadillac’s engines, was very smooth and combined with an Ultramatic transmission, made for a nearly noiseless interior on the road.

Packard did well during the early post-war period and supply soon caught up with demand. By the early 1950s, the independent American manufacturers were left moribund as the “Big Three” – General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler – battled intensely for sales in the economy, medium-price, and luxury market. Those independents that remained alive in the early Fifties, merged. In 1953 Kaiser merged with Willys to become Kaiser-Willys. Nash and Hudson became American Motors (AMC). The strategy for these mergers included cutting costs and strengthening their sales organizations to meet the intense competition from the Big Three.

In May 1952, aging Packard president Hugh Ferry resigned and was succeeded by James J. Nance, a marketing hotshot recruited from Hotpoint to turn the stagnant company around (its main factory on Detroit’s East Grand Boulevard was operating at only 50% capacity). Nance worked to snag Korean War military contracts and turn around Packard’s badly diluted image. He declared that from now on, Packard would cease producing mid-priced cars and build only luxury models to compete with Cadillac.

As part of this strategy, Nance unveiled a low-production (only 750 made) glamour model for 1953, the Caribbean convertible. Competing directly with the other novelty ragtops of that year (Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Fiesta, and Cadillac Eldorado), it was equally well received, and outsold its competition.

Nance had hoped for a total redesign in 1954, but the necessary time and money were lacking. Packard that year (total production 89,796) comprised the bread-and-butter Clipper line (the 250 series was dropped), Mayfair hardtop coupes and convertibles, and a new entry level long-wheelbase sedan named Cavalier. Among the Clippers was a novelty pillared coupe, the Sportster, styled to resemble a hardtop.

With time and money again lacking, the 1954 lineup was unchanged except for modified headlights and taillights, essentially trim items. A new hardtop named Pacific was added to the flagship Patrician series and all higher-end Packards sported a bored-out 359-cid engine. Air conditioning became available for the first time since 1942. Packard had introduced air conditioning in the 1930s. Clippers (which comprised over 80% of production) also got a hardtop model, Super Panama. But sales tanked, falling to only 31,000 cars.

The revolutionary new model Nance hoped for was delayed until 1955, partially because of Packard’s merger with Studebaker. In 1953-54, Ford and GM waged a brutal sales war, cutting prices and forcing cars on dealers. While this had little effect on either company, it gravely damaged the independent auto makers. Nash president George Mason thus proposed that the four major independents (Nash, Hudson, Packard, and Studebaker) all merge into one large outfit to be named American Motors Corporation. Mason held informal discussions with Nance to outline his strategic vision, and an agreement was reached for AMC to buy Packard’s Ultramatic transmissions and V8 engines, and they were used in 1955 Hudsons and Nashes. However, SPC’s Nance refused to consider merging with AMC unless he could take the top command position (Mason and Nance were former competitors as heads of the Kelvinator and Hotpoint appliance companies respectively). But Mason’s grand vision of a Big Four American auto industry ended in October 1954 with his sudden death from a heart attack. A week after the death of Mason, the new president of AMC, George W. Romney announced “there are no mergers under way either directly or indirectly.” Nevertheless, Romney continued with Mason’s commitment to buy components from SPC. Although Mason and Nance had previously agreed that SPC would purchase parts from AMC, it did not do so. Moreover Packard’s engines and transmissions were comparatively expensive, so AMC began development of its own V8 engine, and replaced the outsourced unit by mid-1956.

Although Nash and Hudson merged along with Studebaker and Packard joining, the four-way merger Mason hoped for did not materialize. The S-P marriage (really a Packard buyout), proved to be a crippling mistake. Although Packard was still in fair financial shape, Studebaker was not, struggling with high overhead and production costs and needing the impossible figure of 250,000 cars a year to break even.

Due diligence was not performed, and the merger was rushed. 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.

In 1951 Packard replaced the old “bathtub” models with a new and more modern body that resembled typical cars of the early 1950s. Sales were slower by 1953, despite Packard’s push to recapture the luxury market with such limited edition luxury models as the Caribbean convertible and the Patrician 400 Sedan, and the Derham custom formal sedan, In 1954, Packard stylist Richard A. Teague was called upon by Nance to redesign the 1955 model. To Teague’s credit, the 1955 Packard was indeed a sensation when it appeared, gaining greater acceptance than anticipated. Not only was the body completely updated and modernized, but the suspension was totally new, with 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 cu in (5.8 l), 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, electric window lifts, and air conditioning (even in the Caribbean convertible), a Packard exclusive at the time. Sales rebounded to 101,000 for 1955, although that was a very strong year across the industry.

As the 1955 models went into production, an old problem flared up. Back in 1941, Packard had outsourced its bodies to Briggs Manufacturing. In 1954, Chrysler bought out that company, ending Packard’s supply. They had to resume in-house production, which for unknown reasons was done in a cramped factory in West Detroit. This facility was too small and caused endless tie-ups and quality problems. Packard would have fared better building the bodies in its old, but amply-sized main facility on East Grand Boulevard. Bad quality control hurt the company’s image and caused sales to plummet for 1956 even though the problems had largely been resolved by that point.

For 1956, the Clipper became a separate make, with Clipper Custom and Deluxe models available. Now the Packard-Clipper business model was a mirror to Lincoln-Mercury. “Senior” Packards were built in four body styles. Each body style had a unique model name. Patrician was used for the four-door top of the line sedans, Four Hundred was used for the hardtop coupes, and Caribbean was used for the convertible and hardtop vinyl-roof two-door hardtop models. In the spring of 1956 the Executive was introduced. Coming in a four-door sedan, and a two-door hardtop, the Executive was aimed at the buyer who wanted a luxury car but could not justify Packard’s pricing. It was an intermediate model using the Packard name and the Senior models’ front end, but built on the Clipper wheelbase and using the Clipper tail end fender treatment. This was to some confusing and went against what James Nance had been attempting for several years to accomplish, the separation of the Clipper line from Packard. However, as late as the cars introduction to the market, was there was reasoning for in 1957 this car was to be continued. It then become a baseline Packard on the all new 1957 Senior shell. Clippers would share bodies with Studebaker from 1957.

Despite the new 1955/56 design, Cadillac continued to lead the luxury market, followed by Lincoln, Packard, and Imperial. Reliability problems with the automatic transmission and all electrical accessories further eroded the public’s opinion of Packard. Sales were good for 1955 compared to 1954. The year was also an industry banner year. Packard’s sales slid in 1956 due to the fit and finish of the 1955 models, and mechanical issues relating to the new engineering features. These defects cost Packard millions in recalls and tarnished a newly won image just in its infancy. Along with Studebaker sales dragging Packard down, things looked more terminal than ever for SPC.

For 1956, Teague kept the basic 1955 design, and added more styling touches to the body such as then−fashionable three toning. Headlamps hooded in a more radical style in the front fenders and a slight shuffling of chrome distinguished the 1956 models. “Electronic Push-button Ultramatic,” which located transmission push buttons on a stalk off of the steering column, proved to be trouble-prone, adding to the car’s negative reputation, possibly soon to become an orphan. Model series remained the same, but the V8 was now enlarged to 374 cu in (6.1 L) for Senior series, the largest in the industry. In the top-of-the-line Caribbean, that engine produced 310 hp (230 kW). Clippers continued to use the 352 engine. There were plans for an all−new 1957 line of Senior Packards based on the showcar Predictor. Clippers and Studebakers would also share many inner and outer body panels. These models were in many ways far advanced from what would be produced by any automaker at the time, save Chrysler, which would soon feel public wrath for its own poor quality issues after rushing its all−new 1957 lines into production. James Nance was dismissed from Packard and moved to Ford as the head of the new MEL (Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln) division. Although Nance tried everything, the company failed to secure funding for new retooling; forcing Packard to share Studebaker platforms and body designs, but as badge-engineered models, not in the way it had been envisioned. With no funding to retool for the advanced new models envisioned, SPC’s fate was sealed; the large Packard was effectively dead in an executive decision to kill “the car we could not afford to lose”. The last Packard-designed vehicle, a Patrician 4-door sedan, rolled off the assembly line on June 25, 1956.


1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan Station Wagon


1958 Packard a


1958 Packard four door sedan front


1958 Packard Hardtop Coupe


1958 Packard Hawk Modell 58-Y8


1958 Packard Hawk Sport Coupe


1958 Packard Hawk


1958 Packard rear


1958 Packard Station Wagon - 1 of 159 built


In 1957, no more Packards were built in Detroit and the Clipper disappeared as a separate 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 cu in (4.7 l) V8 with McCulloch supercharger, delivering the same 275 hp (205 kW) as the 1956 Clipper Custom, although at higher revolutions.

While the 1957 Packard Clipper was less Packard, 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 hardtop and 4-door sedan, and as the premier model, a Packard Hawk that was a Studebaker Golden Hawk with a new front, a fake spare wheel molded in the trunk lid reminiscent of the concurrent Imperial, and Packard styling cues.

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. Designer Duncan McCrae managed to include the 1956 Clipper tail lights for one last time, this time in a fin, and under a canted fin. A bizarre combination and poorly executed. Dodge did something similar, however the effect was less jarring. Added with the pods for the dual headlights and the new 1958 Packard was a real hodgepodge of late-1950s styling cues. The public reaction was predictable and though there were more models in the Packard lineup, sales were almost non-existent. Had Studebaker’s been built in Detroit on a Packard chassis, the outcome might have been positive. The Studebaker factory was older than Packard’s Detroit plant, with higher production requirements, which added to dipping sales. The company had problems and a new compact car, the Lark, was only a year away. All 1958 Packards were given 14 in (36 cm) wheels to lower the profile.

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 were able to sell vehicles at loss leader prices to keep up with Ford and GM. There was also a general decline in demand for large cars which heralded an industry switch to compact cars like the Studebaker Lark. Several makes were discontinued around this timeframe. Not since the 1930s had so many makes disappeared: Packard, Edsel, Hudson, Nash, DeSoto, and Kaiser.

Concept Packards

1956 Predictor concept, at the Studebaker National Museum

 1956 Predictor concept, at the Studebaker National Museum

During the 1950s, a number of “dream cars” were built by Packard in an 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 reverse slant rear window that could be lowered for ventilation, a feature introduced in a production car by Mercury in 1957 and still in production in 1966. The Request was based on the 1955 Four Hundred hardtop, but featured a classic upright Packard fluted grille reminiscent of the prewar models. In addition, the 1957 engineering mule “Black Bess” was built to test new features for a future car. This car had a resemblance to the 1958 Edsel. It featured Packard’s return to a vertical grill. This grill was very narrow with the familiar ox yoke shape that was characteristic for Packard, and with front fenders with dual headlights resembling Chrysler products from that era. The engineering mule Black Bess was destroyed by the company shortly after the Packard plant was shuttered. Of the ten Requests built only four were sold off the showroom floor. Richard A. Teague also designed the last Packard show car, 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, well ahead of later T-Tops. The car had seats that rotated out allowing the passenger easy access, a feature later used on some Chrysler products. The Predictor also had the opera windows, or portholes, found on concurrent Thunderbirds. Other novel ideas were overhead switches—these were in the production Avanti—and a dash design that followed the hood profile, centering dials in the center console area. This feature has only recently been used on production cars. The Predictor survives and is on display at the Studebaker National Museum section of the Center for History in South Bend, Indiana.


There was one very unusual prototype, the Studebaker-Packard Astral, made in 1957 and first unveiled at the South Bend Art Centre on January 12, 1958 and then at the March 1958 Geneva Motor Show. It had a single gyroscopic balanced wheel and the publicity data suggested it could be nuclear powered or have what the designers described as an ionic engine. No working prototype was ever made nor was it likely that one was ever intended.

The Astral was designed by Edward E Herrmann, Studebaker-Packards director of interior design, as a project to give his team experience in working with glass reinforced plastic. It was put on show at various Studebaker dealerships before being put into storage. Rediscovered 30 years later, the car was restored and put on display by the Studebaker museum.

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 corporation’s name at a time when it was introducing the all new Avanti, and a less anachronistic image was being sought, thus finishing the story of the great American Packard marque. Ironically, it was considered that the Packard name might be used for the new fiberglass sports car, as well as Pierce-Arrow, the make Studebaker controlled in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

In the late 1950s, Studebaker-Packard was approached by enthusiasts to rebadge the French car maker Facel-Vega‘s Excellence suicide door, 4-door hardtop as a ‘Packard’ for sale in North America, using stock Packard V8s, and identifying trim including red hexagon wheel covers, cormorant hood ornament, and classic vertical ox yoke grille. The proposition was rejected when Daimler-Benz threatened to pull out of its 1957 marketing and distribution agreement, which would have cost Studebaker-Packard more in revenue than they could have made from the badge-engineered Packard. Daimler-Benz had little of its own dealer network at the time and used this agreement to enter and become more established in the American market thru SPC’s dealer network, and felt this car was a threat to their models. By acquiescing, SPC did themselves no favors and may have accelerated their exit from automobiles, and Mercedes-Benz protecting their own turf, helped ensure their future.

The revival

In the 1990s, Roy Gullickson revived the Packard nameplate by buying the trademark and building a prototype Packard Twelve for the 1999 model year. His goal was to produce 2,000 of them per year, but lack of investment funds stalled that plan indefinitely and the Twelve was sold at an auto auction in Plymouth, MI in July 2014.

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 OHV V8s, they were perceived as obsolete by buyers. By waiting until 1955, Packard was almost 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 cu in (6.1 L) version was used in the senior cars and the Caribbean 2×4-barrel produced 305 hp (227 kW).

In-house designed and built, their “Ultramaticautomatic 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 G. Vincent developed a V12 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 US Air Force, one of the reasons for the Curtiss-Wright take-over in 1956, as they wanted to sell their own jet.

Packard automobile models

Packard show cars

Packard tradenames

  • 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.
  • Electromatic, Packard’s name for its electrically controlled, vacuum operated automatic clutch.
  • Twin Traction, Packard’s optional limited-slip rear axle; the first on a production car worldwide (1956–1958)
  • Touch Button, Packard’s electric panel to control 1956 win Ultramatic

The Packard advertising song on television had the words: Ride ride ride ride ride along in your Packard, in your Packard. In a Packard you’ve got the world on a string. In a Packard car you feel like a king. Ride ride ride ride ride along in your Packard, what fun! And ask the man, just ask the man the lucky man who owns one!


America’s Packard Museum and the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum hold collections of Packard automobiles. There are also collections in Whangarei and Maungatapere, New Zealand which were started by the late Graeme Craw.

See also

Kampfflugzeugmotor Packard V-1650-7 Weiterentwicklung unter Lizenz des Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 Zylinder, in dieser Version 1315 bhp


Packard Bentley 42 litre


Packard Custom Super 8 Clipper One-Eighty


Packard Darrin Victoria


Packard Dominant Rutherford V6 car


Packard Eight Sport Phaeton


Packard Flower Car


Packard Hearse a


Packard Hearse

Packard Hearse

Packard Macauley Sportster Prototype


Packard one twenty


Packard Patrician


Packard Predictor, SNM


Packard Six Convirtible Coupe


Packard Super 8 2232 Convertible Victoria Coupe


Packard tow truck


Packard Hearses and Flowercars

1916 Packard Funeral bus 1925 packard Hearse 1935 Packard Carved Panel 1936 Packerd open driver hearse 1937 Packard 1501 flower car 1938 packard hearse 1938 Packhard Hearse 1939 Henney Packard Hearses 1200 brochure 1939 Packard Limousine-Style Hearse 1940 Henney Packard-sid-400 Hearse 1940 Packard Henney Hearse 1941 Packard Limousine-Style Hearse by Henney 1942 packard hearse 1948 Henney Packard~Flower Car 1948 Packard Hearse 1950 Henney Packard Utility Car 1950 Henney-Packard flower car 1951 Henney Packard NU-3-way 1951 Henney-Packard Ambulance 1952 TT-26-84 Packard lijkwagen 1954 Henney Packard-cc-400 Hearse 1954 Packard Henney Junior


1930 PACKARD, Hennekam 1938 Henney Packard Ambulance-S 1938 Packard Super Eight Ambulance 1939 Packard 1701-A Custom Ambulance Dark green-cream 1939 Packard-Henney-amb 1941 Henney Packard-amb-400 1941 Henney Packard-serv-400 1941 Packard henney Interior-eme-400 1942 Packard End-Loading Limousine-Style Ambulance with coach work by Henney 1947 Amerikaanse Packard Eight series ambulance uit 1947 van het Sint Antonius ziekenhuis in Sneek B-774b 1947 Amerikaanse Packard Eight series ambulance van het Sint Antonius ziekenhuis in Sneek B-774 1947 Packard Ambulance GZ-66405 NL 1948 Ambulance 4x4 V6 B-803