Ambulances C :
Checker Ambulances, Medicars Chenard Walcker ambulance
Chernigov ASC Ambulance 03
Checker Ambulances, Medicars Chenard Walcker ambulance
Chernigov ASC Ambulance 03
“Ask the man who owns one.”
|Founder||James Ward Packard, William Doud Packard, George L. Weiss|
|Headquarters||Detroit, Michigan, US|
|Henry B. Joy|
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, and their partner, George Lewis Weiss, in the city of Warren, Ohio, where 400 Packard automobiles were built at their factory on Dana Street Northeast, from 1899 to 1903. A mechanical engineer, James Packard believed they could build a better horseless carriage than the Winton cars owned by Weiss, an important Winton stockholder, after Packard complained to Alexander Winton and offered suggestions for improvement, which were ignored; Packard’s first car was built in Warren, Ohio, on November 6, 1899.
In September, 1900, the Ohio Automobile Company was founded to produce Packard automobiles. These quickly gained an excellent reputation and 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 the Packard Motor Car Company, with James Packard as president. Alger later served as vice president. Packard moved operations to Detroit soon after, and Joy became general manager (and laterchairman 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-square-foot (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 80 trades. The dilapidated plant still stands, despite repeated fires. Architect Kahn also designed the Packard Proving Grounds at Utica, Michigan.
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 61 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 $2000. In 1931, 10 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. 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.
By 1931, Packards were also being produced in Canada.
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 $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.
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 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.
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 around 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, the company introduced its first car under $1000, the 120. Sales more than tripled that year and doubled again in 1936. To produce the 120, Packard built and equipped an entirely separate factory. By 1936, Packard’s labor force was divided nearly evenly between the high-priced “Senior” lines (Twelve, Super Eight, and Eight) and the medium-priced “Junior” models, although more than 10 times more Juniors were produced than Seniors. This was because the 120 models were built using thoroughly modern mass production techniques, while the Senior Packards used a great deal more hand labor and traditional craftsmanship. 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.
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.
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. Sales in 1944 were $455,118,600. By May 6, 1945, Packard had a backlog on war orders of $568,000,000.
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, amid 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 with which a parent company could shelter them, as well as the model lineup through which to spread the pricing.
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.
The Clipper 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 until 1951. They therefore updated by adding sheet metal to the existing body (which added 200 lb (91 kg) of curb weight). 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.
The design chosen was a “bathtub” type. While this was considered futuristic during the war and the concept was taken further with the 1949 Nash – and survived for decades in the Saab 92-96 in Europe – the 1948-1950 Packard styling was polarizing. To some it was sleek and blended classic with modern; others nicknamed it the “pregnant elephant.” 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, in this era, demand for any car was high, and Packard sold 92,000 vehicles for 1948 and 116,000 of the 1949 models.
Packard outsold Cadillac until about 1950; most sales were the midrange volume models. A buyer of a Super Eight paying a premium price did not enjoy seeing a lesser automobile with nearly all the Super Eight’s features, with just slight distinction in exterior styling. During this time, 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’s Ultramatic automatic transmission was the only one developed by an independent automaker was smoother than the GM Hydramatic, though acceleration was sluggish and owners were often tempted to put it into low gear for faster starts, which put extra strain on the transmission. However, while the Ultramatic was competitive, Packard was not able to immediately respond to Cadillac’s introduction of a powerful overhead valve V8 in 1949. Also, when a new body style was added in addition to standard sedans, coupes, and convertibles, Packard introduced a station wagon instead of a two-door hardtop in response to Cadillac’s Coupe DeVille. The Station Sedan, a wagon-like body that was mostly steel, with good deal of decorative wood in the back; only 3,864 were sold over its three years of production. Although the Custom Clippers and Custom Eights were built in its old tradition with craftsmanship and the best materials, all was not well. The combination of the lower priced Packards undermining sales and prestige of their higher end brethren, controversial styling, and some questionable marketing decisions, Packard seemed to lose focus on the luxury car market – relinquishing to a rising Cadillac. In 1950, sales dropped to 42,000 cars for the model year. When Packard’s president George T. Christopher announced 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 completely redesigned. Designer John Reinhart introduced a high-waisted, more squared-off profile that fit the contemporary styling trends of the era – very different from the design of 1948-50. 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. The 200-series models were again low-end models and now included a low priced 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. While the smaller powerplant and offered nearly equal performance in the new Packards to the 356, the move was seen by some as further denigrating Packard’s image as a luxury car.
Since 1951 was a quiet year with little new from the other auto manufacturers, Packard’s redesigned lineup sold nearly 101,000 cars. The 1951 Packards were a quirky mixture of the modern (the automatic transmissions) and aging (still using flathead inline eights when OHV V8 engines were rapidly becoming 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 an older design that lacked the power of Cadillac’s engines, was very smooth. When combined with an Ultramatic transmission, the drivetrain made for a nearly quiet and smooth experience on the road. However, it struggled to keep pace with the horsepower race. 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 midpriced 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. However, overall sales declined in 1953. While the limited edition luxury models as the Caribbean convertible and the Patrician 400 Sedan, and the Derham custom formal sedan brought back some of the lost prestige from better days, the “high pocket” styling that had looked new two years earlier was no longer bringing people into the showrooms for the bread and butter Packards.
While American independent manufacturers like Packard did well during the early postwar period, supply had caught up with demand and by the early 1950s and they were increasingly challenged as the “Big Three” – General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler – battled intensely for sales in the economy, medium-priced, and luxury markets. Those independents that remained alive in the early ’50s, 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 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 automakers. 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 placed behind “merger fever,” and the deal was rushed. it became clear after the merger that Studebaker’s deteriorating financial situation put Packard’s survival at risk.
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, 1954 styling 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. Packard stylist Richard A. Teague was called upon by Nance to design the 1955 line, and 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 also was totally new, with torsion bars front and rear, along with an electric control that kept the car level regardless of load or road conditions. Crowning this stunning new design was Packard’s brand new ultra-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 December 1953, Briggs was sold to Chrysler, who notified Packard that they would need to find a new body supplier after the 1954 model year ended. Packard then leased a building on Conner Avenue from Chrysler, and moved its body-making and final assembly there. The facility proved 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, though the problems had largely been resolved by that point. Additionally, a “brain drain” of talent away from Packard was underway, most notably John Z. DeLorean.
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 with a unique model name. Patrician was used for the four-door top of the line sedans, Four Hundred for the hardtop coupes, and Caribbean for the convertible and vinyl-roof two-door hardtop. 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 using the Clipper platform and rear fenders. 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 became 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 on the steering column, proved 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. (A private presentation of this 1957 new-car program was made to Wall Street’s investment bankers at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York in January of 1956.) 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. Nance was dismissed and moved to Ford as the head of the new 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. 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 fully-Packard-designed vehicle, a Patrician four-door sedan, rolled off the Conner Avenue assembly line on June 25, 1956.
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 (four-door sedan) and Country Sedan (four-door station wagon), they were powered by Studebaker’s 289 cu in (4.7 l) V8 with a McCulloch supercharger, delivering the same 275 hp (205 kW) as the 1956 Clipper Custom, although at higher revolutions. Borrowing design cues from the 1956 Clipper (visual in the grille and dash), with wheel covers, tail lamps, and dials from 1956 along with the Packard cormorant hood mascot and trunk chrome trim from 1955 senior Packards, the 1957 Packard Clipper was more than a badge-engineered Studebaker – but also far from a Patrician. Had the company been able to invest more money to finish the transformation and position the car under a senior line of “true Packards,” it might have been a successful Clipper. However, standing alone the cars sold in very limited numbers – and a number of Packard dealers dropped their franchises while customers stayed away fearful of buying a car that could soon be an orphaned make even with huge price discounts. With the market flooded by inexpensive cars, minor automakers struggled to sell vehicles at loss leader prices to keep up with Ford and GM. Also, a general decline in demand for large cars heralded an industry switch to compact cars such as the Studebaker Lark.
Predictably, many Packard devotees were disappointed by the marque‘s perceived further 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‘. The 1958 models were launched with no series name, simply as “Packard.” New body styles were introduced, a two-door hardtop joined the four-door sedan. A new premier model appeared with a sporting profile, the Packard Hawk was based on the Studebaker Golden Hawk and featured a new nose and a fake spare wheel molded in the trunk lid reminiscent of the concurrent Imperial. The 1958 Packards were amongst 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. Very little chrome was on the lower 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, an wild – or to some bizarre – mixture. Added to the front of all but the Hawk were tacked on pods for dual headlights, in a desperate attempt to keep up with late-1950s styling cues. All Packards were given 14 in (36 cm) wheels to lower the profile. The public reaction was predictable and sales were almost nonexistent. The Studebaker factory was older than Packard’s Detroit plant, with higher production requirements, which added to dipping sales. A new compact car on which the company staked its survival, the Lark, was only a year away. They failed to sell in sufficient numbers to keep the marque afloat. Several makes were discontinued around this time. Not since the 1930s had so many makes disappeared: Packard, Edsel, Hudson, Nash, DeSoto, and Kaiser.
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-slanted 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 10 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 and GM 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.
One very unusual prototype, the Studebaker-Packard Astral, was 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.
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, four-door hardtop as a ‘Packard’ for sale in North America, using stock Packard V8s, and identifying trim including red hexagonal 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 through 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.
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’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, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, 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 four-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 two four-barrels 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 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.
During the first World War, Packard played a key role both in the design and the production of the Liberty L-12 engine.
In the interbellum, Packard built one of the world’s first diesel aviation engines, the 225-hp DR-980 radial. It powered the Stinson SM-8D, among others. It also powered a Bellanca CH-300 on a record endurance flight of over 84 hours, a record that stood for more than 50 years.
The Packard One-Ten (also One Ten and 110) was a range of six-cylinder automobiles produced by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan during the 1940 and 1941 model years. The One-Ten model designation replaced the Packard Six model name.
Packard reintroduced a line of six-cylinder cars in 1937 after a ten-year absence as a response to the economic depression and ongoing recovery cycle in the United States. As an independent automaker, Packard could not look to other internal divisions to support its base of luxury models, so the inclusion of the Six, and the later 110 models, was necessary to aid in supporting the firm’s bottom line until better times returned.
Critics of the Packard Six and One-Ten models have long maintained that the cars hurt Packard’s reputation of being America’s premier luxury marque. Still, the reintroduction of the Six couldn’t have come at a better time for the automaker, just prior to the nation’s 1938 economic depression. By offering the less expensive Packard, the company was able to attract buyers who would otherwise be unable to purchase the more expensive Packard models.
Built on a shorter wheelbase than the senior Packards, the One-Ten was introduced in August 1939. The One-Ten was available in a broad range of Body styles, including both two and four-door sedans, station wagonand convertible. Total output for the 1940 model year was 62,300 units.
Following its successful first year, the 1941 One-Ten model range was expanded, and a second trim level, the Deluxe was added. Packard also added a taxi line within the One-Ten model range. Options for the One-Ten included heater, radio, spotlight, and despite its low-line status, air conditioning.
For 1942, Packard made a decision to retain numerical designated models within its senior line and the One-Ten reverted to being called Packard Six.
The Packard Light Eight (series 900) was an automobile model produced by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan only during model year 1932. The Light Eight was planned as a new entry model. It competed in the upper middle-class with makes like LaSalle, the smaller Buicks and Chryslers, and the top-of-the offerings from Studebaker, Hudson, and Nash. The marketing objective was to add a new market segment for Packard during the depression.
Packard did not use yearly model changes in these years. A new series appeared when management felt that there were enough running changes made. Therefore, the Light Eight was introduced during January 1932, together with the new V-12 (called “Twin Six” in its first year to honor the pioneer Packard model built from 1915 to 1923). Standard Eights and Super Eights followed in June 1932.
Construction of the Light Eight followed the Packard tradition. It had a heavy frame with X-bracing, 8-inch (203 mm) deep side members, and the usual rear-wheel drive. Wheelbase was 127.75 inches (3,245 mm). Power came from a 320 cu in (5.2 L) straight eight engine with a compression ratio of 6:0, delivering 110 hp (82 kW; 112 PS). It had a vacuum-plate clutch and an angle set hypoid differential. Battery and toolboxes were mounted on the fenders. Full instrumentation was used.
The car was distinguished by a grille that had the traditional ox-yoke shape, but also with a then fashionable “shovel” nose. Closed Light Eights had a quarter window layout that was not shared by other Packards.
The Light Eight used the same engine as the Standard Eight, but was lighter – 4,115 lb (1,867 kg) for the sedan vs. 4,570 lb (2,073 kg) for the model 901 Standard Eight sedan. It was also a good performer for its day.
The Light Eight series 900 was available in four body styles:
Style # 553 4-door, 5-passenger Sedan
Style # 558 2-door, 2/4-passenger Stationary (rumble seat) Coupe
Style # 559 2-door, 2/4-passenger (rumble seat) Roadster Coupe
Style # 563 2-door, 5-passenger Sedan Coupe (sometimes referred as a “Victoria” Coupe)
A Light Eight 4-door, 5-passenger Sedan was priced at US$1,750.00, compared to $2,485 for a similar Standard Eight Sedan. The three other Light Eight body styles cost $1,795.00 each. Packard managed to sell 6,785 units of its new model. In comparison, 7,669 units of the Standard Eight were sold during the shorter model run, from 23 June 1932, until 5 January 1933. The automaker had lower profits from the Light Eight compared with the Standard Eight.
Options for the Light Eight included Dual sided or rear-mounted spare wheels, sidemount cover(s), cigar lighter, a right-hand tail-light, luggage rack, full rear bumper, and fender park lights, the latter was priced at $65.00.
The Light Eight was intended as Packard’s price leader at the entry level of the luxury car market. It was attractive to buyers, but it failed its main reason for existence, which was to lure away buyers from its rivals. Instead, it hurt sales of Packard’s volume line, the Standard Eight. Amidst the Great Depression, many prospects for a Standard Eight ended buying a Light Eight. Although it offered not as much luxury, it had many features found in Packard’s bigger model. It was powered by the same 110 hp (82 kW) engine as the Standard Eight; it had a wheelbase that was only 1.75-inch (44 mm) shorter – and its lower weight brought more performance. The Light Eight included Packard prestige at a much lower price.
Packard learned its lesson quickly. There was no Light Eight for its 10th series (1933) line. It renamed the Standard Eight as simply the Eight and integrated a four-model subseries that was patterned after the Light Eight. Although the shovel nose was gone, the quarter window treatment remained, and the differential that was introduced with the Light Eight was now found in all Eights. This 1001 series was no longer available at low prices: they started at $2,150 for the sedan and went up to $2,250 for the roadster.
The Light Eight brought the experience to Packard to build and market an upper middle-class model. In this sense, it is the predecessor for the automaker’s second try into this market segment, the Packard One-Twenty, that was introduced in 1935.
The Packard One-Twenty (also One Twenty and 120) was an automobile produced by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan from 1935 to 1937 and from 1939 through the 1941 model years. The One-Twenty model designation was replaced by the Packard Eight model name during model years 1938 and 1942.
The One-Twenty is an important car in Packard’s history because it signified the first time that Packard entered into the highly competitive mid-priced eight-cylinder car market. Packard enthusiasts view the production of the One-Twenty and the Six/One-Ten modelsas the start of Packard losing its hold on the market as the premier American luxury automotive brand.
The introduction of the One-Twenty (and later the Six/One-Ten models) was a necessary move to keep Packard in business during the final years of the Great Depression. The reason the company decided to forgo the development of a companion brand name to sell the less expensive models may have been linked to its single production line capability at its Grand Avenue manufacturing plant as much as to the expense of launching a new brand of automobile. By making the One-Twenty a Packard, the car could be brought to market quickly, and would afford buyers the cachet of owning a Packard.
This car introduced the independent front suspension to the Packard line. Its so-called “Safe-T-Flex” suspension was an unequal upper and lower A-arm type with the largest possible lower A-arm composed of two different arms bolted together at a ninety-degree angle.
The support arm was a heavy steel forging reaching a few degrees forward of lateral from the front wheel support to as close to the centerline of the car as is practicable. An integral pad socketed the helical spring, whose upper end reached a high frame cross-beam. A tubular, hence lighter, steel torque arm was bolted to the support arm somewhat inboard of the wheel to permit a sufficient steering arc. It reached the frame nearly at the dashboard with a spherical rubber bearing. The upper A-arm was conventionally welded and oriented parallel to the lower one. Between it and the frame was an old-fashioned horizontal shock absorber whose two cylinders were side by side.
The support arm carried all the load; the torque arm carried the accelerating and decelerating torque; the upper A-arm controlled the camber. Advantages claimed for the system included superior maintenance of wheel alignment from the wide spread of the lower A-arm, a permanent fixing of the caster angle, and an increased percentage of the braking force transmitted to the frame through the torque arm.
In its introduction year, the Packard One-Twenty was available in a broad array of body styles including two and four-door sedans, convertible and Club Coupe. The One-Twenty, weighing in at 3,688 lb (1,673 kg), was powered by Packard’s aluminum-head L-head inline eight producing 110 bhp (82 kW) at 3850 rpm. Prices ranged from $980 for the three-passenger business coupe to $1,095 for the Touring Sedan. Introduced in January 1935, the car was an immediate success with consumers, with Packard producing 24,995 One-Twentys, compared to 7,000 of all other type Packards for the year.
For 1936 Packard increased the displacement on the L-head eight, increasing its output to 120 bhp (89 kW), making the car capable of reaching a top speed of 85 mph (137 km/h). The One-Twenty added a convertible four-door-sedan model which was the most expensive model in the range priced at $1,395. A total 55,042 units rolled off the line in 1936, the highest production that the One-Twenty would reach.
In 1937, the One-Twenty went up-market as the company introduced the Packard Six, the first six-cylinder Packard in ten years. For 1937, the One-Twenty broadened its model range and was now available in “C” and “CD” trim levels. The line also added a wood-bodied station wagon, Touring Sedan and limousine built on a 138 in (3,500 mm) wheelbase and priced under $2,000. Introduced in September 1936, 50,100 units were produced during series production.
For 1938, the One-Twenty name was dropped and its model folded into the Packard Eight model range, bringing the model name into parity with the Packard Six.
Returning to the Packard model range, the One-Twenty continued to be offered in a full range of body styles from coupe to Touring Limousine, with prices for the model range between $1,099 and $1,856. New for the year was introduction of column shifting, which did away with the floor shifter. Introduced in September 1938, a total of 17,647 units were built during the recession year which saw all automotive production the 1937 model year.
In 1939, the company introduced a fifth, transverse shock absorber and made column shift (known as Handishift) available on the 120. It also offered Packard’s Unimesh four-speed synchromesh transmission, the same as in the Twelve (and already standard on the Eight), as well as the new fourth-gear Econo-Drive overdrive, claimed to reduce engine speed 27.8%, and able to be engaged at any speed over 30 mph (48 km/h).
The series name One-Twenty officially became hyphenated for model year 1940. Again, the One-Twenty came in a full array of body styles, including a semi-custom convertible Victoria by Howard “Dutch” Darrin. Introduced in August 1939, total model year output was 28,138 units.
In its final year as a model, the One-Twenty lost a number of body styles to the expanded One-Ten line of cars. The One-Twenty was available in business coupé, club coupe, two-door sedan, four-door sedan, convertible coupe, convertible sedan, and two station wagon styles. Production sank to 17,100 units.
For 1942, the One-Ten and One-Twenty were dropped as model names and their models folded into the Packard Six and Packard Eight lines. In its seven years in the Packard line-up, the One-Twenty saw a total production of 175,027 units.
The Packard Caribbean was a personal luxury car produced by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, during model years 1953 through 1956. Some of the Caribbean’s styling was derived from the Pan American Packard show car of the previous year. It was produced only as a convertible from 1953 to 1955, but a hardtop model was added in its final year of 1956.
1954 Packard Caribbean
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door convertible
|Engine||327CID 4-bbl. L-head “Thunderbolt” 180 hp 8-cylinder (1953)
352CID Dual 4-bbl. 275 hp V8 (1955)
374CID Dual 4-bbl. 310 hp V8 (1956)
|Wheelbase||127 in (3,226 mm)|
|Length||218.5 in (5,550 mm)|
|Width||78 in (1,981 mm)|
|Predecessor||Packard Super Eight|
Introduced as part of the Packard Cavalier model range, the 1953 Caribbean was perhaps Packard’s most easily identified car because of its full cutout rear wheel housing and side trim, limited to a chrome band outline that stretched the entire length of the car. The band also helped to further delineate the car’s wheel openings. A steel continental spare tire was also standard. The hood featured a broad, low leaded-in hood scoop. Bodies for the Caribbean were modified by Mitchell-Bentley Corporation of Ionia, Michigan. Available “advertised” colors for the car were limited to Polaris Blue, Gulf Green Metallic, Maroon Metallic or Sahara Sand. However, a mere handful of special-ordered cars were built in Ivory or Black.
Interiors of the Caribbean were richly upholstered in leather. Most Caribbeans were also generously optioned, although the Ultramatic transmission and power windows were optional cost items on the first year model.
At total of 750 Caribbeans were built for the first model year, and these cars are highly sought after as collectible cars in the current collectible automobile market. Restored cars regularly sell in the six-figure ranges.
Beginning in 1954 the Caribbean was elevated to senior Packard status. The Caribbean continued to have its own unique styling features, however the full rear-wheel cut-outs were eliminated and the use of chrome/stainless trim became more liberal, and allowed for two-tone paint combinations. A four-way power seat was available. Like the Patrician, the Caribbean also gained heavier “finned” headlight housings, one of the visual cues applied to help differentiate the senior Packards from their lower priced brethren. The 359-cubic-inch (5,880 cc) straight eight senior engine was used in this final incarnation of Packard’s straight eight engine. A total of only 400 Caribbeans were produced for the model year, making 1954 the rarest year for the Caribbean.
Model year 1955 saw the Caribbean line, now with V8 engine, fully adopt the Senior Packard line styling; the car was also available in two or three-tone paint patterns. Designer Richard Teague succeeded in restyling the old Packard Senior body into a sensational, modern-looking design. The single hood scoop was split into two units. The car also received Packard’s torsion level suspension. Production for 1955 stood at 500 units.
For 1956, the Caribbean was broken out into its own luxury series, and gained a hardtop model. Trim differences between the 1955 and 1956 cars were slight. Grille textures changed, and matched the ones used on concurrent Patricians, and the rear treatment, featuring Packard’s cathedral style taillights also continued. The headlights also received slightly more exaggerated hoods. Total model year production equaled 263 hardtops and 276 convertibles. The model was discontinued when Packard production ended in Detroit.
The Packard Cavalier is an automobile produced by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan during 1953 and 1954. Produced only as a sedan, the Cavalier took the place of the Packard 300 model which was fielded in 1951 and 1952 as Packard’s mid-range priced vehicle.
The 1953 Cavalier was easily identified from other Packards by its unique chrome side spear trim.
Packard also created a Cavalier sub-series under which three other Packard models, marketed under various names were grouped:
A convertible model, using Cavalier trim, was offered during the 1953 model year and was priced in a more affordable price range than the Caribbean.
For 1954, the Cavalier was again offered as a four-door sedan only, but the range also lost its sub series, and the Caribbean was moved into the senior Packard line where it remained until Packard transferred manufacturing to South Bend in 1956.
For the 1955 model year, the Cavalier name was retired and the line was absorbed into the Packard Clipper Custom series.
Clipper (1956 only)
1955 Packard Clipper Custom 4-door Sedan
|Production||1941 to 1942
1946 to 1947
1953 to 1955
1956 (Clipper marque)
The Packard Clipper is an automobile which was built by the Packard Motor Car Company (and by the later Studebaker-Packard Corporation) for models years 1941 to 1942, 1946 to 1947 and 1953 to 1957. For 1956 only, Clipper was classified as a stand-alone marque.
The Clipper was introduced in April, 1941, as a mid-model year entry. It was available only as a four-door sedan.
The Clipper name was reintroduced in 1953 for the automaker’s lowest-priced lineup. By 1955, the Clipper models were seen as diluting Packard’s marketing as a luxury automobile marque.
For only the 1956 model year, the Clipper became a stand-alone make of automobile produced by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation. The Clipper lineup was aimed at the middle-price field of American automobiles that included Dodge, Oldsmobile, and Mercury. Following the closure of Packard’s Detroit, Michigan factory in 1956, the Clipper marque was discontinued, although the Clipper name was applied to 1957 Packards that were built at Studebaker’s South Bend, Indiana factory.
By the end of the 1930s, Packard president Max M. Gilman realized that his best efforts to improve profitability during the last lean decade had not been enough. The Packard One-Twenty had arrived in 1935 and saved the company from immediate demise; the One-Ten had followed, achieving even higher volume. But despite a strong performance in revival year 1937, Packard sales had plummeted as the depression returned in 1938, and the 76,000 sales for the calendar year 1939 were hardly past the break-even point. To be precise, they netted the company a scant half million dollars. This precarious financial state combined with the new model developments among Packard’s rivals meant that Gilman needed something radically new, and that he needed it in a hurry if he wanted to save the company.
Introduced a just eight months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Packard’s hopes for the future rode on a new car design. The Packard Clipper represented a break from traditional styling and embodied an abrupt change in construction techniques. However, World War II intervened. It made the investment to produce one of the only all-new 1941 American cars impossible to realize in a normal marketplace.
The Clipper’s market timing could not have been worse. After only 16,600 of the 1941 models were made, and a few thousand 1942s, Detroit stopped building civilian automobiles to concentrate on defense production. By the time cars began rolling off the lines again in late 1945, the still sleek Clipper’s impact had been diminished by four years of war. The bright promise of its debut was limited by late introduction; what should have been its solid sophomore year was weakened by World War II. Its third and fourth years were postponed until 1946–47. Though Packard designer John Reinhart and other Company insiders wanted to retain and “sweeten (in Reinhart’s word)” the Clipper’s svelte lines, Packard management felt pressured by new postwar designs throughout the industry, introducing the mixed review “bathtub” or “pregnant elephant” 1948–50 Packards.
There were only two other auto makers that introduced all-new 1941 models which were stopped short by the American entry into World War II and thus rendered obsolete before their time. Besides Packard, Ford brought out a much changed design for the 1941 model year — the restyled Ford and its Mercury clone. Nash also produced all-new 1941 models, using monocoque “unitized” construction for the first time. General Motors redesigned for 1942, arguably a piece of bad timing even worse than Packard’s, but the 1942s were so relatively few in number that they still looked reasonably new when GM resumed automotive production in 1946. The Ford/Mercury comparison is not apt either, primarily because these were quite different cars from Packards, with no pretence of luxury. Nor did their design history mirror the Clipper’s. The 1941 Fords and Mercurys were evolutionary developments, clearly related to the 1940s they replaced. The Clipper was such a dramatic break with previous Packard design as to preclude comparisons.
After the war, while Packard opted to improve the Clipper, Ford chose a total restyle for Ford and Mercury in 1949. And, while the bulbous 1941–48 Fords, Mercurys and Nashes were replaced by superior modern designs, the elegant Clipper was replaced by a bulbous 1948 upgrade that, while well received in its initial year, aged quickly in comparison with the new models from the Big 3 and Nash. It is not entirely coincidental that a 1949 Mercury Eight which had cost $2,000 new was still worth $430 five years later, while a 1949 Packard Eight which had cost $2,200 new was worth only $375. Motor Trend’s Tom McCahill, who had raved about the Packard Clipper, called the 1948 Packard “a goat.”
The Clipper’s timing was unfortunate. The state of the world being beyond Packard’s control, Clipper production came to a halt February 9, 1942, just as it was hitting its stride — just as Clipper styling had spread through the entire Packard model lineup.
A full envelope body of genuinely modern mien was a long time coming at the Packard Motor Car Company. Cadillac was wearing pontoon fenders and flowing lines by 1934 and had adopted all-steel bodies by 1935. In 1936, Lincoln announced the Zephyr, with an all steel unit-body and a shape so advanced that derivations of it were still in production twelve years later. By comparison, Packard adhered to tradition if crisp, conservative styling. Its main acknowledgement of new-era styling was the skirted fender which appeared in 1933. Packard, like Lincoln and Cadillac, had survived the Depression by building medium-priced cars: the One Twenty, Zephyr and LaSalle, respectively. But unlike its rivals, Packard styling had remained arch-traditional. Unlike Lincoln, Packard followed its medium-priced One-Twenty with an almost-low-priced car, the Six (later briefly known as the One Ten). Unlike Cadillac, Packard refused to market its cheaper models by a different name and remained wedded to them long after prosperity had returned. By 1941, the year the Clipper debuted, the cheapest Cadillac cost $1,445; the cheapest Packard sold for only $927.
Arguably its conservative design philosophy had stood Packard well in the years leading up to the Clipper. The company was able to advertise—and sold quite a few Packards with—styling continuity from year to year. There was a family resemblance between a 1939, say, and a 1932. In 1939 comparison of its One Twenty with the LaSalle, the company declared that: “Packard has style identity…Packard styling is consistent..But look at the 1938 LaSalle! About the only similarity is in the name, and who can be sure that a sudden fanciful style change won’t make the 1939 a style orphan?”
Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce survived for years with very expensive obsolete designs. Packard also survived with limited styling change for at least eight or nine years up through 1940. What’s more, Packard hallmarks were very good ones: the chiseled frontispiece; the grille recalling classic Greek architecture; the ox-yoke radiator/bonnet shape that harked back to the noble Model L of 1904. What’s more, the cormorant mascot, red hexagon hubs and arrowhead side-spear were a combination at least as recognizable and timeless as the stand-up hood ornament and meshwork grille of Mercedes-Benz. Together, these consistent hallmarks unmistakably said “Packard” to school children and bankers alike and had been the adornments of the chosen transport of moneyed America since Packard’s Boss of the Road Six and Twin Six of the Teens and early Twenties.
To create a modern envelope body while retaining those famous hallmarks was no small undertaking. It is still one of the chief accomplishments of automotive industrial design that the people who created the Packard Clipper were able to do so flawlessly. Advertising invited America to “Skipper the Clipper” in 1941. It was showing the country an obviously brand-new, up-to-date, in Packard’s words, “Windstream” or “Speed-Stream” automobile, yet one that was undeniably a Packard. Though it did not owe a curve or contour to any previous model, the milestone 1941 Clipper carried the same inimitable radiator and hood shape, the same arrowheads and red hexes, the same long hood and close-coupled profile of great Packards of the past. The smooth styling transition was a stroke of genius. When the Clipper debuted in late spring, 1941, many thought it more successfully avant garde than the 1936–37 Cord 810/812, more offhandedly elegant than Lincoln’s Zephyr, which many wags called a “Ford and a half.”
Faced with the same conundrum of appearing modern, an envelope body at odds with a mandatory trademark, a vertical radiator grille, Rolls-Royce could do little better in autumn, 1955 than offer a razor-edged 1941 Packard Clipper, albeit with a curved, one-piece winshield, as their new Silver Cloud and concurrent Bentley S-series.
Writing in The Classic Car and The Packard Cormorant, Joel Prescott published an account of the Clipper design which considerably revised the picture offered by George Hamlin and Dwight Heinmuller in Packard: A History of the Motor Car and The Company, published by Automotive Quarterly. The Cormorant has also published excerpts of James A. Ward’s book on the decline of the Packard Motor Car Company. The testimony of such designers as Howard Darrin, John Reinhart, William Reithard and Alex Tremulis is on the record.
Prior to World War II, Packard, like most auto companies at the time, did not have a styling department. It was Harley Earl’s formidable Art & Colour Section at General Motors that convinced the industry of the importance of styling. But even Earl’s efforts did not force rivals to add design departments until after the war. A handful of outside consultants, like Raymond Loewy at Studebaker, occasionally sold their designs to American producers. Sometimes the designs even reached production without drastic changes by the body engineers, who at that point largely controlled the shape of cars. One such design consultant was a Californian named Howard “Dutch” Darrin, whose involvement in the Clipper occurred because Packard was his favourite American make.
After returning to America in 1937 following a successful career as a Paris coachbuilder, Darrin looked around for chassis on which to practice his automotive art. He said, “I concentrated on Packards knowing that by lowering the radiator I could make a very beautiful custom-bodied Packard with little change in its basic structure.” The result was a long skein of dramatic Packard-Darrins, which were actually catalogued be the company at one point and which led to Darrin’s role in the Clipper. “Around 1940, Packard called and asked if I’d design a new standard line car for them. The hitch was that I had only ten days to do so, Chief stylist Ed Macauley (actually vice-president for design) would be on the coast for that amount of time, and if I didn’t have anything before he left, it would be a lost cause. The company offered me a thousand dollars a day if I could meet the deadline.”
Confident in his ability to put a thousand a day to good use, Darrin said he thought he “could establish enough lines for a full- and quarter-scale model.” Later he said that to meet the deadline, he “slept several nights on a drafting table”, yet Packard never paid him.
Kaiser-Frazer stylist Bob Robillard admitted that Darrin had held onto his claim as originator of the Clipper almost from the start. He still has copies of a 1946 Darrin paper delivered before the Society of Automotive Engineers, “Does Styling Control the Design of Cars?” In it Darrin states that he widened the Clipper body because the continuous fender-line, which comes right through the door past the A-pillar, required more width for the proper hinging of the door, “the net result being a wider and more roomy car.” Reithard disagrees. Before Darrin arrived, he remembered, “the parameters for track, wheelbase and overall length had been established. Other than that we had very little to go on except some very rough sketches and hand-waving from Darrin.”
But a quarter century later in Automobile Quarterly, Darrin was still repeating his 1946 claims, which were not challenged at the time. As Darrin stated: “Packard introduced the Clipper with a series of ads entitled, ‘A Star is Born'”, which he considered inaccurate. “The best compliment they paid me was stating that ‘three international designers’ combined to create the Clipper.” Packard was evidently referring to Darrin. George Walker (another outside consultant) and Briggs, all of whom had contributed to the design. But Darrin typically had his own interpretation: “You might construe that to mean that I was the equal of three designers.”
While Darrin held himself the central design figure and the original design “called for a sweeping frond fender-line that carried right through the doors to the rise of the rear fender, similar to a custom Clipper I built later for Errol Flynn. However, Packard shortened the sweep to fade away at mid-door. This was done as a hedge because no one knew if the through-fender-line would sell.” He said Packard Styling also “vandalized the design by throwing on huge gobs of clay along the wheelbase” creating a flare to the lower part of the doors to hide the running boards they added for the same reason. Thus by Darrin’s own admission, the Clipper that appeared in production was not entirely his work. Few designers besides Darrin believed this splendid car was the product of ten days’ work.
At the time Packard contacted Darrin about designing a production car in the theme of his limited-production Victorias, the Company was, according to Darrin, “….so afraid of GM they couldn’t see straight.” GM’s new C bodies, introduced midway through the 1940 model year, made Packard’s traditional bodies, only facelifted since their 1938 introduction, look dated. Packard had, as Darrin said, “….the best chassis in the industry.” The upper echelon cars looked more modern than Packard’s traditional 1941 bodies.
The Clipper changed that. The only thing hindering the Clipper’s ascendency was War II, and after the war, the sheet steel shortages and strikes at vendors that plagued all independents. After the war, for example, Chrysler was held up for weeks just by a strike at the supplier of their door locks. Being a holding company, GM was better to able to weather this situation.
Perhaps the best summation of the Clipper’s design comes from Joel Prescott: “The truth may well be that the Clipper should be remembered as automotive history’s most successful committee design, because assigning the genius of its beautiful lines exclusively to one particular designer cannot now be done with any degree of certainty.” And as it turned out, this new look guaranteed the Clipper an appearance never compromised by competitive imitators. In 1942 Cadillac and Buick adopted the same pontoon fender line, but the Clipper still looked unique, apart from and slightly above the crowd, especially the new 1942 senior Clippers, which alone retained the debut 1941’s 127-inch (3,200 mm) wheelbase, longer hood and front fenders.
When considering the great transitional designs that brought us from the art decorations and speed-lining age of the Thirties into the envelope bodies of the Forties, much is always made of Bill Mitchell’s famous Cadillac Sixty Special. In particular, its thin window frames, squared-off roof, wider-than-high grille, and concealed running boards were bold steps forward. The Clipper had at least as many pioneering features in an even more integrated package.
The original milestone 1941 Clipper rode the senior wheelbase of 127 inches (3,200 mm) and used the One Twenty’s 282-cubic-inch (4,620 cc) straight eight, but produced 125 bhp (five more than the One Twenty). Despite the familiar engine, few Clipper parts were interchangeable with other models. The chassis was entirely new: a double-drop frame allowed a lower floor without reducing road clearance. The engine was mounted well forward and the rear shocks were angled to assist the traditional Packard fifth shock in controlling side-sway. The front suspension was entirely new, since the lower frame eliminated the need for Packard’s traditional long torque arms. A double-link connection between the Pitman arm and steering brackets, with a cross bar and idler arm and two cross tubes, controlled wheel movement.
The 1941 Clipper was the widest production car in the industry and first to be wider than it was tall—a foot wider to be exact. The body from cowl to deck was a single piece of steel—largest in the industry, and the floor pan had only one welded seam from end to end. Single pieces of sheet metal comprised the rear quarters and hood. The hood could be lifted from either side of the car or removed entirely by throwing two levers. Instead of the traditional third side window, ventipanes were incorporated in the rear doors, providing controllable flow-through ventilation. The battery made its first move from under the seat to under the hood, where it stayed warmer and was more accessible. There was a “Ventalarm” whistle to warn when the tank was within a gallon of being full, and an accelerator-activated starter button, so the act of starting simultaneously set the automatic choke. Reithard’s beautiful symmetrical dashboard contained a full ration of instruments, including an electric oil pressure gauge adapted from the One Sixty. Options included Packard’s Electromatic clutch, which let the driver ignore the clutch pedal in ordinary driving; “Aerodrive” (overdrive); an effective auxiliary under-seat heater, leather upholstery, fender skirts, and, for $275, air conditioning—a Packard first, introduced on all eight-cylinder 1940 models.
Introduced in April 1941 as a single four-door sedan model, the Clipper was by no means a cheap or even medium-priced car. It sold for around $1,400, in a market niche between the One Twenty and One Sixty, competing with the Cadillac Sixty-One, Lincoln Zephyr, Buick Roadmaster and Chrysler New Yorker. Despite a late start, it garnered 16,600 model year sales, almost as many as the One Twenty. Clearly, for Packard, it was the wave of the future. By the 1942 model year, Clipper styling had permeated every Packard in the line, except where special tooling existed—convertibles, taxis, wagons and commercial cars. Curiously, however, the market slot occupied by the 1941 Clipper was abandoned, recreating a gap between the Clipper One Twenty Custom ($1.341) and the Clipper One Sixty ($1,688).
The bulk of the 1942 production was concentrated on the 120-inch (3,000 mm) wheelbase junior models, but the One Sixty and One Eighty Clippers proved conclusively that Packard was as much a builder of luxury cars as ever. The 1942 One Sixty sedan, for example, was 9.5 inches (240 mm) longer and 140 pounds (64 kg) heaver than its square-rigged 1941 predecessor. The One Eighty was wider, almost as long, with more interior width, and with almost as much legroom as the long-wheel-base 1942 One Eighty, which still used the old-style Packard bodywork.
The smooth 356-cubic-inch (5,830 cc) straight eight of the One Sixty and One Eighty Clippers, featuring a 104-pound (47 kg), nine-main-bearing crankshaft and hydraulic valve lifters, was the most powerful engine in the industry through 1947, exceeding Cadillac’s V8 by 15 horsepower (11 kW). It could deliver 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) in second gear overdrive and take the a 4,000-pound (1,800 kg) car to over 100 mph on Packard’s Proving Grounds banked oval track. In 1950, ten years after Packard’s nonpareil nine-main-bearing 356 inline 8 debuted, Rolls-Royce copied the design for their nine-mained, F-head 346-ci B-80 inline 8, used only in a handful of Phantom IVs produced solely for heads of state, military vehicles, and Dennis fire trucks. Like Packard’s 245-ci six used in junior Clippers, Packard’s 1940–50 356 Super-8 engine was widely used as a marine engine.
The top of the line Clipper One Eighty offered two shades of leather or six colors of wool broadcloth upholstery, Mosstred carpeting from New York’s Shulton Looms, walnut grained instrument panels, amboyna burl garnish moldings, seatbacks stuffed with down and rear center armrests. Unlike any other contemporary, the post war Custom Super’s headliner was seamed fore to aft instead of sideways. Packard claimed that the unique headliner was adopted “to provide a more spacious feel to the interior.”
With a nearly full line of Clippers, Packard managed to build 34,000 1942 models before production ceased in February (an annual rate of around 80,000). According to the late John Reinhart, there is no doubt that Clipper styling would have proliferated in 1943–45. “The next logical step would have been convertibles and commercials—and a wagon.” But the war intervened. Whereas Cadillac with its greater facilities was able to field a complete line of restyled 1942s, including convertibles, all of which came right back in 1946, Packard was able only to add a club coupe body before the war.
The club coupe was the sportiest Clipper with about 40 built before production closed down in 1942; a single One Sixty is the only example known to exist. Postwar, about 600 senior coupes were made, compared to about 6,600 senior sedans.
In 1946–47 the numerical designations were dropped and the line consisted of Clipper Sixes and Eights on the 120-inch (3,000 mm) wheelbase and Supers and Custom Supers on the 127-inch (3,200 mm) wheelbase. For the first time there were now seven-passenger sedans and limousines, riding a 148-inch (3,800 mm) wheelbase. For their type, these “professional Packards” enjoyed success. They compare with Cadillac’s 1946–47 Seventy-five, beating it not only be 15 horsepower (11 kW) but by a foot of wheelbase, yet selling for about the same $4,500–$5,000. Counting several thousand bare chassis supplied to commercial body manufacturers, the Seventy-five outsold the long wheelbase Clipper; but for finished cars from the factory, production was about 3,100 cars each for 1946–47 combined.
Many economic experts predicted that the end of World War II would bring a severe recession or perhaps even another depression to the United States. They had history on their side because the U.S. did experience a sharp, albeit brief economic downturn after World War I. Perhaps Packard’s management team took these calamitous warnings to heart while planning its postwar strategy. If the economy were to fall, it would make sense to market the low-priced Packards—the Clipper Sixes and Eights—rather than the upmarket Supers and Custom Supers.
The postwar economy proved the experts wrong. It was healthy and many materials, notably sheet steel, were in short supply. Workers who would never have struck during the war, now demanded more money, and so the automakers and their suppliers endured a series of costly strikes. These factors, of course, strangled production. At the same time, Americans had money jingling in their pockets, and were willing to spend freely to acquire most anything—especially new cars. Packard could not produce cars in the numbers intended, and it was selling the less profitable junior-series models.
Packard management’s chief interest after the war was in the same medium-priced cars that had saved it during the Depression, the Six and junior Eights. The company was still firmly run by President George Christopher, who had helped save it with the One Twenty. Christopher, a graduate of GM’s bucket mill B-O-P (Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac) divisions, had referred to the luxury Packards as “that goddamn senior stuff.” Christopher had junior Clippers in production by October 1945, but it was not until June 1946 that the first Super/Custom Super came down the line. Total Packard production in the first two postwar model years was 82,000, against 91,000 Cadillacs. The difference was that the vast bulk of Packard production was of Clipper Sixes and Eights priced $1,700–2,200. Other than the less popular Series 61 price leader, which replaced the LaSalle for 1941, postwar Cadillacs began around $2,300. Packard could have built and sold as many senior Clippers as Cadillac did Series 62s and 60Specials, had Christopher and his team so chosen.
The long-wheelbase (147-inch) Clipper seven-passenger sedan and limousine were competitive with Cadillac and the low-volume Chrysler Crown Imperial (Lincoln had no long models) in the first two postwar years. Likewise, among owner-driver models, Packard had Cadillac neatly bracketed. The Cadillac Sixty-two sedan and coupe started around $2,300 in 1946—about the same price as the Super Clipper. Against Cadillac’s $3,100 Sixty Special, which came only as a four-door sedan, Packard offered the more sumptuously trimmed Custom Super Clipper sedan or coupe for about the same money. The 1946–47 Cadillac Series 62 and 60 Special outsold the concurrent Packard Super and Custom Super Clipper three to one, simply because George Christopher board chose to focus on building junior models, which accounted for 80% of Packard’s postwar production.
This is a new point which has been missed in the many postmortems of Packard’s fall: Reverting to strictly luxury cars would not have meant downsizing the labor force or contracting the facilities. The market for anything on wheels was bottomless; it did not matter whether the car cost $1,800 (Clipper Eight). $2,300 (Clipper Super) or $2,900 (Custom Super). It would have sold. Nor is this a hindsight judgement, since Packard management was capable of seeing this at the time. At the start of postwar car production, Fortune recorded a consensus that “there now exists a market for from 12 to 14 million cars”, and that was in a day when three million or so cars was considered a very good year. “In 1941,” Fortune continued, “The 32 million American families owned 29,600,000 cars . . . As 1946 began, the cars were down to 22 million which is not very far from the danger point (18 million) of a transportation breakdown . . . of this remaining total, at least half are in their last days.” It did not take a mystic to comprehend these facts, as the late Hickman Price, Jr., who bought Willow Run for the Kaiser-Frazer partners, once said: “I believed we would have a period of three or four years—I remember putting 1950 as the terminal date in which we can sell everything we can make.”
Almost immediately after production got rolling in 1945, chief stylist John Reinhart was told, much against his judgment, to update the Clipper. If Dutch Darrin had thought Packard loaded “gobs of clay” onto his original model in 1941, what must he have thought of the hideously bulboid 1948 models? Furthermore, there was no change in market orientation, still rooted firmly in the medium price field. Indeed, in 1948, the final year for President George Christopher, senior Packard production dwindled from 20 percent to 11 percent of total production, trailing Cadillac by tens of thousands. Packard, as a later president, James Nance, stated, “handed the luxury car market to Cadillac on a silver platter.”
Professional designers have contemplated continuations of the Clipper into 1948–49, with a broader range of body styles including hardtops and convertibles. Their designs were beautiful and would have kept pace with the all-new Cadillacs and Lincolns of 1949, allowing Packard to come back with its first postwar redesign in 1950. But the key failure was to reorder the corporation’s priorities and establish it once again as the American luxury car it had been so successfully for forty years.
Hindsight does suggest that Packard lost its battle for survival at this point, although it would not be evident immediately. Since the company could not achieve GM volume, it would have been smarter to extract more profit from each car it built. Not only were customers standing in line, but by putting top-of-the-line Packards on the road, the public’s image of Packard as a luxury car builder would have been enhanced.
The 1948 facelift lost the design continuum the Clipper had offered. Though it retained the Clipper’s basic shell, the 1948 model bore no resemblance to its predecessor. The bulbous 1948 design became known to some as the “up-side-down bathtub” or “pregnant elephant” and Packard’s market share declined.
The money spent on the facelift, as John Reinhart and others maintained, should have gone into an expansion of Clipper body styles to compete with Cadillac. Packard recognized this too late when it brought out a convertible as the first 1948 body style—a model it should have had by 1947 at the latest. Eighteen months later Cadillac was already out with the Coupe de Ville hardtop, while Packard’s newest model was the Station Sedan.
By 1948 it was clear that the future of the car business belonged to the giants. At least one independent manufacturer was ready to make that happen; George W. Mason, President of Nash-Kelvinator. Mason wanted a postwar combination of independents, a fourth player in an automotive Big Four, with Packard as the luxury division. All independent automakers faced problems. By 1954, there was only a “Big Two,” as Chrysler’s market share fell to 12.9%.
All Cadillacs had been downsized for 1936, were effectively junior cars ever since, increasingly sharing components with lesser divisions. For example, a 1941 Cadillac convertible shares every piece of sheet metal with the 1941 Pontiac ragtop. Rolls-Royce was principally an aero engine manufacturer since 1935, the cars an increasingly boutique sideline, an “assembled” product cribbing from Buick, Packard, Chrysler, postwar R-Rs and Bentleys having bodies stamped by Pressed Steel near Oxford, who also served much of the rest of British automakers.
Despite the company’s postwar cash reserves, Packard continued production of its now dated L-head straight eight engines through 1954, competing against a field of OHV V8s. Moreover, the small independent automakers could not achieve unit costs and tool amortization down to GM/Ford levels, nor afford the requisite TV advertising and annual model changes.
For 1946–1947 all Packards used Clipper bodies and the “Clipper” name.
The Clipper nameplate was dropped for 1948 as Packard issued its Twenty-Second Series automobiles, which, while proclaimed by the company as “all-new,” were actually restyled Clippers. Only the 1941–47 Clipper’s roof and trunk lid survived. At this time, Packard’s president, George Christopher, insisted upon concentrating on sales of the company’s lower-priced cars, while longtime competitor Cadillac focused its attentions on the upper end of the market.
The Twenty-Second and Twenty-Third Series (from mid-1949) cars wore the “upside-down bathtub” styling that was briefly in vogue in the late 1940s. Unfortunately for Packard, Nash, Lincoln-Mercury, and Hudson, the four manufacturers who embraced this type of styling, General Motors introduced designs that were lower-slung, more tightly drawn and less bulbous at around the same time. GM’s designs caught the buying public’s fancy, while the “bathtubs” quickly fell from favor.
Following a round of bitter corporate infighting in 1949, Packard management finally decided to phase out the “bathtubs” and create the all-new Twenty-Fourth Series for 1951. The new “high-pockets” design (so called because of its high beltline) was much more modern. However, Packard continued to push hard into the lower end of the mid-priced field with its new “200” and “250” models, which was dominated at the time by Oldsmobile, DeSoto and others. James J. Nance became the company’s president in 1952, and he immediately set to work on divorcing the lower-priced cars from the higher-end Packards. To this end, he decreed that the 200 and 250 would be consolidated into a new line of Clippers for 1953.
Nance originally had hoped to introduce the new “Clipper” as a stand-alone marque, targeting the mid range price field which he felt was dragging the Packard image down. When word was leaked to the Packard dealer network that they would be losing their best-selling Packard model to “Clipper”, they balked. As an appeasement, Nance rolled the Clipper out as a Packard, and worked to transition the cars toward their own make. Thus, thePackard Clipper name was reintroduced and applied to the company’s entry-level models, previously known as the Packard 200, beginning in 1953. Clippers were available in Special and Deluxe trim models, as two- and four-door sedans. A 1953 Clipper went from 0 to 60 mph in 17.6 seconds in a Popular Mechanics test. The turning circle was 41 ft.
For 1954, the “Clipper by Packard” was given its own unique rear fender trim and tail lights to further differentiate it from traditional Packards. The cars were also available with a distinctive two-tone paint pattern. For 1955, Packard became a marque in the newly formed Studebaker-Packard Corporation. The 1955 Clipper Custom offered torsion-bar suspension something not offered on other models, which only offered coil and leaf springsuspension. It also had a power steering option. Drivers enjoyed the comfortable ride but complained of door rattles and poor workmanship.
The Packard Clipper Constellation was a two-door hardtop automobile produced by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation in model years 1955 and 1956. The 1955 model was a Packard product and sold as part of the Packard Clipper line; for 1956, Clipper split from Packard, becoming its own make.
A total of 8,039 Clipper Deluxe, 14,995 Super and 15,380 Custom was built during model year 1955.
Packard’s President. James Nance, believed that as a Packard line, the Clipper models were diluting Packard’s standing as a luxury automobile marque. For the 1956 model year, the status of being a stand-alone make was emphasized by creating a separate Packard Clipper division within Studebaker-Packard. Clipper’s logo was a ship’s wheel.
The automaker required Packard-franchised dealers to also execute a separate Clipper Dealer Sales Agreement in order to sell the line. Studebaker agencies in areas not covered by separate Packard dealers were allowed to sign Clipper franchise agreements (and could also take on the regular Packard line as well, subject to factory approval).
Clippers began receiving unique trim and rear quarter panels in 1954, and when Packard introduced its redesigned model in 1955, the Clipper retained its older rear sheet metal while receiving two-tone combinations that were unique to its models. For 1956, the Clipper received new rear sheet metal and tail-light treatments. Clipper marketed two hardtop coupes, the Panama in the Super model line and Constellation in the Custom range. Both were carry-over model names from the 1955 model year.
Around mid-1955, dealers began complaining that consumers were lukewarm to the cars because they were true Packards and demanded that the Packard name appear somewhere on the cars. Nance refused at first, feeling that placing the Packard name on the cars would undo his plan to save the Packard name for luxury automobiles. However, when dealers began defecting to Mercury franchises, Nance gave in, fearful that the shrinking number of dealers would harm the company more than just the Packard marque. A small “Packard” script emblems began to be placed on the decklids of newly built Clippers. In a complete reversal of Nance’s strategy, the emblems were also made available for placement on already-built cars that were languishing on dealers’ lots.
By the summer of 1956, Studebaker-Packard was in deep financial trouble. The Packards and Clippers were not selling at anywhere near a profitable level, and the company’s creditors refused to advance any further money to the company for new tooling that would have allowed Nance to finally realize his ultimate goal of sharing body components among the company’s three lines of cars. In late July, the last Packards and Clippers rolled out of the Conner Avenue factory.
Following the closure of Packard’s Detroit, Michigan factory in 1956, the Clipper marque was discontinued, although the Clipper name was applied to 1957 Packards built at Studebaker’s South Bend, Indiana factory.
Total Clipper production for 1956: 18,572 (excludes exports, if any)
Following the closure of the Detroit, Michigan Packard plant, Studebaker-Packard entered into a management contract with the Curtiss-Wright Company. Under C-W’s president, Roy T. Hurley, S-P’s new president Harold Churchill approved production of a new Packard, to be built in Studebaker’s South Bend, Indiana plant. The new Packards, originally to continue the Packard Executive nameplate, were to share the Studebaker President four-door sedan body and new four-door station wagon body as well. The total tooling cost of the new Packard was estimated at roughly $1 million. At some point, however, the Executive name was dropped, as all of the Packards produced for 1957 carried the Packard Clipper name.
In order to keep the tooling cost as low as possible, trim components from the 1956 Clippers were used. This was done to make the 1957 model differ in appearance from the President; outside, this included a narrower Packard-style front bumper and 1956 Clipper tail lamps and wheel covers. Inside, the cars’ dashboards were fitted with the same basic instrument cluster as used in the previous two years.
Sales of the new Clippers were not great; historians differ as to why, although the cars’ obvious Studebaker origins (which led the new Clippers to be derisively nicknamed “Packardbakers” by many people) certainly did not help. Only about 4,600 were sold for the year.
For 1958, the Clipper name was discontinued, and the few Packard automobiles that were produced (four-door sedans, station wagons, and two-door hardtop coupes) were simply known by their marque name. The only exception to this was the Packard Hawk, which was based on the Studebaker Golden Hawk.
The Packard 200 was an automobile model produced by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan during model years 1951 and 1952. Models in the 200 designation represented the least expensive Packard model range, on the firm’s shortest wheelbase, and least powerful 288 cu in (4.7 L) 8-cylinder in-line engine.
Concurrently, the company also produced the Packard 250, which shared the same basic body and wheelbase as the 200, but was equipped with Packard’s larger 327 cu in (5.4 L) 8-cylinder in-line engine.
The 1951 Packard 200 and 250 were introduced as Packard’s least expensive model range on August 24, 1950, taking the place of the low-line Packard Standard models which were eliminated for the 1951 model year. The 200 debuted as part of the fully redesigned Packard line, attributed to John Reinhart. Replacing the bulbous 1948-1950 Packards in the 22nd and 23rd Packard Series, Reinhart’s “High Pockets” design was more formal than its predecessor, and would serve Packard until the end of the 1956 model year when true Packard production ceased.
Both the 200 and the 250 were considered “junior” series cars, and were separated from the Packard 300 and Packard Patrician 400 models by their shorter wheelbases (122 in or 3,100 mm versus 127 in or 3,230 mm) and lesser trim appointments. Packard 200 standard models were available as a four-door sedan, two-door coupé, and a three-passenger business coupé (lacking a rear seat). While similar in appearance to the senior cars, the junior Packard lacked the noted Packard cormorant hood ornament and had vertical tail lights instead of the horizontal units on the senior models. The junior models also lacked the wrap-around rear window feature found on senior Packard sedan models.
The 250 model range was introduced in March 1951, and was specially designed to fill the vacuum of Packard having neither a hardtop or convertible in its 1951 model range. Besides their unique body styles, 250’s received three jet-louvers on each rear-quarterpanel. Better grade trim and fabric were used within.
All Packard 200 models came with twin horns, two sun visors, front and rear bumper guards, spare tire and jack set. Deluxe trim level included the spartan appointments found on the standard models, and added chrome wheel rings, and turn indications as standard. White-wall tires and full-wheel covers were also extra.
Items which have since become standard to the auto industry since the late 1960s such as heater, radio, tinted glass, carpeting, etc., were all optional on the Packard, as well as other premium cars during that era. Packard also became the first car-maker to offer power-brakes in 1951. “Easamatic” as they were trademarked, were a product of Bendix and an exclusive to Packard.
Changes for 1952 were minimal, and centered on the requisite annual trim updates. Packard did drop the Business Coupé, a move that other U.S. automakers were also making at the same time.
The Packard 300 was an automobile built and sold by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan for model years 1951 and 1952. The 300 represented the upper mid-range Packard model and provided better appointments than the Packard 200 or the Packard 250 models. The premier Packard offered during these years was the Packard Patrician 400.
For both model years the 300 model was built as a four-door sedan only and was mounted on Packard’s 127-inch (3,200 mm) wheelbase. The car included the basic trim appointments found in the 200 and 200 Deluxe model lines and included tinted windows, a robe rail for backseat passengers and striped interior fabrics. Exterior trim included full wheel covers as well as Packard’s graceful pelican hood ornament. The 300 also received a wrap around rear window which it shared with the Patrician models.
Power for the car in both years came from Packard’s venerable Super Eight engine, the 327-cubic-inch (5,360 cc) “Thunderbolt” inline eight which was shared with the 250 line. A three-speed manual shift was standard while Packard’s Ultramatic automatic transmission was offered as optional equipment.
In 1953 the 300 was renamed the Packard Cavalier as Packard moved away from its strict numeric model naming structure. A total of 22,309 Packard 300s were built in the model’s two years on the market with 1951’s total of 15,309 representing the high sales mark for the 300 model.
The Packard Executive was introduced on March 5, 1956 to fill a perceived price gap between the prestige Packard line and the new Clipper marque, which was in its first year as a separate marque. In previous years, Clipper models had been Packards. The most expensive Clipper, the Clipper Custom, listed at $3,065 for the 4-door sedan. The Packard Executive sedan retailed for $3,465, the Executive 2-door coupe $3,560, while the top-of-the-line Patrician sedan sold for $4,160.
The Executive was marketed with the invitation to “enter the luxury car class now—at a modest investment,” and was aimed at “the young man on the way up.”
Effectively, the Packard Executive replaced the entire Clipper Custom line of vehicles, as production of the Customs was ended once the Executive was announced.
The Executive was created by combining the Clipper Custom’s body, complete with its distinctive tail light design, and installing the front fenders, hood, and radiator grille assembly of the senior Packard models. It also used the Clipper Custom’s 122-inch (3,100 mm) wheelbase and its 352 cu in (5.8 L) 275 hp (205 kW) overhead valve V8 engine. This contrasted with the engine used by the rest of the 1956 Packard models, which displaced 374 cu in (6.1 L) and developed 295 hp (220 kW) (310 hp (230 kW) for the Caribbean).
Beyond the senior Packard grille and front end sheet metal, Executives were further distinguished from the Clipper line by a unique side trim design that that made reference to the senior Packards, and allowed for two-toned paint schemes. However, the interior appointments and instrumentation were pure Clipper. The prototypes produced for the all new 1957 Packard and Clipper lines show an all new Executive that would become a baseline Packard. All 1957 Clippers would have an all new body which shared many inner panels with the all new large Studebaker. Body panel sharing was the new plan for Studebaker-Packard models. Unfortunately the Insurance Companies would not finance the ambitious plan, and SPC was forced to retrench and ended up sharing body panels with the midsize Studebaker models. There was a 1957 Clipper, the last year to carry that name. Originally, the plan was to call the 1957 model an Executive. It was hoped to be a bridge car until an all new big Packard could be introduced. See Facel-Vega for a 1959 proposal for a rebadged Packard.
Executives received their own series designation of 5670. It was offered in two body styles; a two-door hardtop (model 5677), and a four-door Touring Sedan (model 5672).
Although the Executive sold as fast as it was produced, it was not enough to substantially improve the financial picture for the Packard-Clipper Division. Even as the Executive was being announced, the media had already been reporting of sales and fiscal woes at the Studebaker-Packard Corporation, and rumors were flying the Packard marque might be discontinued. These rumors weighed heavily on the company’s efforts to sell any of its products. Buyers did not wish to be stuck with a so-called “orphan” car, where spare parts would no longer be available from a dealer, and resale values would be negatively impacted.
During the Executive’s shortened model year of March through June, Packard built a total of 2,779 Executives—1,031 two-door hardtops and 1,748 four-door sedans.
All Detroit production of Packard and Clipper models ceased 25 June 1956 with the shuttering of the Conner Avenue assembly plant. The Packard name was continued for the 1957 and 1958 model years on products based on Studebaker platforms, built on the same assembly lines in South Bend, Indiana as the Studebaker models.
Also see: Packard Patrician :
1952 Packard Patrician
1956 Packard Patrician
The Packard Four Hundred was an automobile built by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indiana during model years 1955 and 1956. During its two years in production, the Four Hundred was built in Packard’s Detroit facilities, and considered part of Packard’s senior model range.
Between 1951 and the time the final Detroit-built Packard rolled off the line in 1956, Packard’s marketing strategy and model naming convention was in a constant state of flux as the automaker struggled to redefine itself as a producer of luxury automobiles, and separate itself from its volume selling Packard models which it designated the Packard Clipper. As a result, Packard fielded several models which existed for a single year during this period.
In 1951 and 1952 the automaker attempted to use a numeric naming structure that designated Packard’s junior models as Packard 200 and Packard 250 and its senior vehicles as the Packard 300, and bearing the highest trim level available, the Packard Patrician 400. The Patrician 400 replaced the previous model year’s Custom 8 model range.
The 400 model name was dropped from the Patrician model range at the beginning of the 1953 model range, however the Patrician name continued to occupy the premium trim level Packard from 1953 through 1956.
For 1955 the Four Hundred name was re-employed by Packard and assigned to the automaker’s senior model range two-door hardtop. Visual cues that helped to easily identify the 400 included a full color band along the lower portion of the car topped by a partial color band that truncated along the rear edge of the front doors. “The Four Hundred” in gold anodized script adorned the band between the front wheel well and door edge.
Changes to the 1956 Four Hundred followed those changes to the entire senior Packard line as it attempted to further distance itself from the Clipper, which was now its own marque in 1956. The Four Hundred shared its body and chassis with the more expensive, new-for-’56 Caribbean hardtop.
Senior Packards received a new grille texture and multi-tone paint schemes. The cars also received an altered headlight housing, with a slightly longer hood stretching over the headlight, as well as a more distinctive egg-crate grille over 1955. All ’56 senior Packards moved the Packard crest to the front of the hood, leaving the “circle-V” emblem in the grille looking somewhat bare.
Power was increased as the new-for-1955 V8 was enlarged from 352 to 374 cubic inches, with a corresponding upgrade in horsepower ratings. A new electronic push-button control for the Ultramatic automatic transmission was offered as an option on the Four Hundred (and Patrician series, standard on Caribbean), the push-buttons located on a pod mounted via a stalk off the steering column. Although sophisticated, it proved troublesome. A simpler column-mounted selector was standard.
In 1956, Studebaker-Packard’s financial position deteriorated to the point where the automaker could no longer afford the luxury of maintaining two distinct makes of cars produced in two distinct facilities. For 1957 Studebaker-Packard fielded a single model range, the Clipper. By the end of the 1958 model year the Packard name ceased as an automotive brand in the United States.
Production totals for 1955 came to 7,206 units for the Packard Four Hundred, and 3,224 units for 1956.
The 1958 Packard Hawk was the sportiest of the four Packard-badged Studebakers produced in the final year of Packard production. The Packard plant in Detroit, Michigan had been leased to Curtiss-Wright (and would be soon sold to them), and Packard models in this dying-gasp year were all rebadged and retrimmed Studebaker products. The 1958 Packard Hawk was essentially a Studebaker Golden Hawk 400 with a fibreglas front end and a modified deck lid.
Instead of the Studebaker Hawk’s upright Mercedes-style grille, the Packard Hawk had a wide, low opening just above the front bumper and covering the whole width of the car. Above this, a smoothly sloping nose, and hood—reminiscent of the 1953 Studebakers, but with a bulge as on the Golden Hawk—accommodated the engine’s McCulloch supercharger that gave the Studebaker 289 in³ (4.7 L) V8 a total of 275 bhp(205 kW). At the rear, the sides of the fins were coated in metallized PET film, giving them a shiny metallic gold appearance. A fake spare-tire bulge adorned the 1953-style Studebaker deck lid. ‘PACKARD’ was spelled out in capitals across the nose, with a gold ‘Packard’ emblem in script—along with a Hawk badge—on the trunk lid and fins.
The interior was full leather, with full instrumentation in an engine-turned dash. As on early aircraft and custom boats, padded armrests were mounted outside the windows, a rare touch.
The styling was definitely controversial, often described as ‘vacuum-cleaner’ or ‘catfish’ by detractors. The styling has come to be appreciated more today than in its debut. Only 588 were sold, with Packard’s impending demise a likely contributing factor. Most were equipped with the Borg-Warner three-speed automatic transmission. Approximately 28 were produced with the B-W T85 3-speed w/overdrive manual transmission. Studebaker-Packard was the first manufacturer to popularize the limited-slip differential, which they termed Twin-Traction. Most Packard Hawks came with TT. It was certainly the fastest Packard ever sold, since it shared the majority of its components with Studebaker’s Golden Hawk. The price was $3995, about $700 higher than the Studebaker model, but with a more luxurious interior. Electric window-lifts and power seats were optional extras.
Its rarity and status as the best-regarded of the ‘Packardbaker’ final-year cars have made the Packard Hawk quite collectible. Values are roughly double those of the equivalent Studebaker, although they are still low by comparison with Corvettes and Thunderbirds. Because a Studebaker drivetrain was used, mechanical parts are more readily available, although body and trim parts are more difficult-to-impossible to find. While it is a unique car, current restoration costs almost always exceed the selling price.
Type: Cast iron 90° V8, Silver Light dish-type pistons
Displacement: 289 cubic inches
Bore X stroke: 3.56 X 3.63 inches
Compression ratio: 7.5:1
Power @ rpm: 275 hp (205 kW) @ 4,800 rpm
Torque @ rpm: 333 lb·ft (451 N·m) @ 3,200 rpm
Valvetrain: In-head valves, solid lifters
Main bearings: 5
Ignition: Delco-Remy breaker-point
Fuel system: 2-bbl Stromberg 380475 downdraft carburetor, McCulloch supercharger, 5 p.s.i. max
Lubrication system: Full-pressure, gear-driven
Electrical system: 12-volt, 30 amperes
Exhaust system: Cast iron, dual exhaust
Type: Borg-Warner Flightomatic automatic
Ratios: 1st: 2.40:1
Type: Semi-floating hypoid, Twin-Traction Spicer-Thornton limited slip
Type: Power assist, Saginaw recirculating ball
Turns, lock-to-lock: 4.5
Turning circle: 41 feet
Type: Four wheel, power-assist Wagner hydraulic
Front: Cast-iron finned drum, 11 X 2.5 inches
Rear: Cast-iron drum, 10 X 2 inches
Swept area: 172.8 square inches
Construction: All-steel, box section, double-drop side rails, 5 crossmembers
Body style: Two-door, five passenger hardtop, soft top prototype
Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Front: Individual unequal-length upper and lower control arms, coil springs, hydraulic shocks, anti-sway bar
Rear: Live axle, semi-elliptic leaf springs, hydraulic shocks
Wheels: Kelsey-Hays tubeless 5-lug stamped steel
Front/rear: 5.5 X 14 inches
Tires: Classic bias-ply
Front/rear: 8.00 X 14 inches
Wheelbase: 120.5 inches
Overall length: 205.2 inches
Overall width: 71.3 inches
Overall height: 54.6 inches
Front track: 56.7 inches
Rear track: 55.7 inches
Shipping weight: 3,470 pounds
Crankcase: 5 quarts
Cooling system: 17 quarts
Fuel tank: 18 gallons
Transmission: 19 pints
Bhp per c.i.d.: 0.95
Weight per bhp: 12.62 pounds
0-60 mph: 12.0 seconds
¼ mile ET: 16.7 seconds @ 82.3 mph
Top speed: 125 mph
Fuel mileage: 12 mpg city, 20 mpg highway
1958 Packard Hawk: 588
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.
The electrical connectors developed by Packard were used extensively by General Motors in its automobiles. The first series of connectors was the Packard 56, followed by the Weather Pack, and finally the Metri Pack, which are still in common use today.
Pierce-Arrow, founded in 1901, once ranked with Detroit’s Packard and Cleveland’s Peerless as the Three P’s of Motordom