Packard

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Packard
Former typeAutomobile company
IndustryManufacturing
Founded1899
Founder(s)James Ward Packard, William Doud Packard, George L. Weiss
Defunct1958
HeadquartersDetroit, Michigan, US
Key peopleHenry B. Joy
ProductsAutomobile
 
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Packard
Former typeAutomobile company
IndustryManufacturing
Founded1899
Founder(s)James Ward Packard, William Doud Packard, George L. Weiss
Defunct1958
HeadquartersDetroit, Michigan, US
Key peopleHenry B. Joy
ProductsAutomobile

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.

Contents

History

1899–1905

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 3,500,000-square-foot (325,000 m2) Packard plant on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit is located on over 40 acres (0.142 km2) of land. It was designed by Albert Kahn, and included the first use of reinforced concrete for industrial construction in Detroit. When opened in 1903, it was considered the most modern automobile manufacturing facility in the world, and its skilled craftsmen practised over eighty trades. The dilapidated plant still stands,[10][11] despite repeated fires.[12] Architect Kahn also designed the Packard Proving Grounds at Utica, Michigan.

1906-1930

Packard First Series Twin-Six Touring 1-35, 1916
Packard Fourth Series Six Model 426 Runabout (Roadster), 1927

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

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

The Packard Motor Corporation Building at Philadelphia, also designed by Albert Kahn, was built in 1910-1911. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.[14]

1931–1936

1930 Packard Deluxe Eight roadster
Packard Ninth Series De Luxe Eight 904 sedan limousine, 1932
Packard Eleventh Series Eight 1101 convertible sedan, 1934

Entering into the 1930s, Packard attempted to beat the stock market crash and subsequent Great Depression by manufacturing ever more opulent and expensive cars than it had prior to October 1929. The Packard Twin Six (designed by Jesse G. Vincent)[15] was introduced for 1932 and renamed the Packard Twelve for the remainder of its run (through 1939). For one year only, 1932, Packard tried fielding an upper-medium-priced car called the Light Eight.

1931 Packard 840 9th w/ series Grill

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

Packard also had one other advantage that some other luxury automakers did not: a single production line. By maintaining a single line and interchangeability between models, Packard was able to keep its costs down. Packard did not change cars as often as other manufacturers did at the time. Rather than introducing new models annually, Packard began using its own "Series" formula for differentiating its model changeovers in 1923. New model series did not debut on a strictly annual basis, with some series lasting nearly two years, and others lasting as short a time as seven months. In the long run, though, Packard did average approximately one new series per year. By 1930, Packard automobiles were considered part of its Seventh Series. By 1942, Packard was in its Twentieth Series. The "Thirteenth Series" was omitted.

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

1937–1942

1941 Packard Custom Super Eight One-Eighty Formal sedan; 19th series, Model 1907
1941 Packard Station Wagon advertisement; either One-Ten Model 1900 or One-Twenty Model 1901
1939 Packard Packard Twelve, 17th series

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

Packard dealer in New York State, ca. 1930-1945

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. It was one of the fastest piston-powered fighters ever and could fly higher than many of its contemporaries, allowing pilots a greater degree of survivability in combat situations. They also built 1350-, 1400-, and 1500 hp V-12 marine engines for American PT boats (each boat used three) and some of Britain's patrol boats.

1946–1956

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 as 1946 models 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 Roosevelt giving Stalin the dies to the Senior series, from which the Russians produced their own version for state limousines.[citation needed]

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

Instead, Packard's image as a luxury brand was further diluted. So, Packard lost buyers of expensive cars and could not find enough prospects 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 when it had focused on the luxury specialty car market.

1949 Packard Convertible Coupé
1950 Packard Eight 4-Door Sedan

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

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

Packard abandoned the luxury car market, relinquishing the market to Cadillac. Although the Custom Clippers and Custom Eights were built in its old tradition with craftsmanship and the best materials, Cadillac now set the "Standard of the World", with bold styling and tailfins. Cadillac was among the earliest U.S. makers to offer an automatic transmission (the Hydramatic in 1941), but Packard caught up with the Ultramatic,[16] offered on top models in 1949 and all models from 1950 onward. Packard outsold Cadillac until about 1950; the problem was that most sales were the mid range lines, the volume models. A buyer of a Super Eight paying premium dollars did not enjoy seeing a lesser automobile with nearly all the Super Eight's features, with just slight distinction in exterior styling. In addition to standard sedans, coupes, and convertibles, Packard also produced the curious "Station Sedan", a wagon-like body that was mostly steel, but had a little structural and a good deal of decorative wood in the back. Only 3864 were sold over its three years of production.

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

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

The 1951 Packards were at last completely redesigned. Designer John Reinhart introduced a high, more squared-off profile that was sleek and contemporary and looked as far from the bathtub design of 1948-50 as one could get. New styling features included a one-piece windshield, a wrap-around rear window, small tailfins on the long-wheelbase models, a full-width grill, and "guideline fenders" with the hood and front fenders at the same height. The 122-inch 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 wheelbase. 200-series models were again low-end models and even included a business coupe.

250, 300 and 400/Patricians were Packard's flagship models and comprised the bulk 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-cid 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 (previously the middle engine) was used instead and offered nearly equal performance.

Since 1951 was a quiet year with little new from the other auto manufacturers, Packard's redesigned lineup sold nearly 101,000 cars. The last new Packards ever produced were a quirky mixture of the ultra-modern (the automatic transmissions) and the archaic (still using flathead inline eights when OHV V8 engines were now the norm). The Packard inline eight, despite being a very long-in-the-tooth design lacking the power of Cadillac's engines, was very smooth and combined with Ultramatic, made for a nearly noiseless interior on the road.

Packard did well during the early post-war period and supply soon caught up with demand. By the early 1950s, the independent American manufacturers were left moribund as the "Big Three" – General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler – battled intensely for sales in the economy, medium-price, and luxury market.[17] Those independents that remained alive in the early Fifties, merged. In 1953 Kaiser merged with Willys to become Kaiser-Willys. Nash and Hudson became American Motors (AMC). The strategy for these mergers included cutting costs and strengthening their sales organizations to meet the intense competition from the Big Three.[18]

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

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

Nance had hoped for a total redesign in 1953, but the necessary time and money were lacking. Packard that year (total production 89,796) comprised the bread-and-butter Clipper line (the 250 series was dropped), Mayfair hardtop coupes and convertibles, and a new entry level long-wheelbase sedan named Cavalier. Among the Clippers was a novelty pillared coupe, the Sportster, styled to resemble a hardtop.

With time and money again lacking, the 1954 lineup was unchanged except for modified headlights and taillights. 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. Clippers (which comprised over 80% of production) also got a hardtop model, Super Panama. But sales tanked, falling to only 31,000 cars.

The revolutionary new model Nance hoped for was delayed until 1955, partially because of Packard's merger with Studebaker. In 1953-54, Ford and GM waged a brutal sales war, cutting prices and forcing cars on dealers. While this had little effect on either company, it gravely damaged the independent auto makers. Nash president George Mason thus proposed that the four major independents (Nash, Hudson, Packard, and Studebaker) all merge into one large outfit to be named American Motors Corporation. Mason held informal discussions with Nance to outline his strategic vision, and an agreement was reached for AMC to buy Packard's Ultramatic transmissions and V8 engines. 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."[19] 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.[20]

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

Due diligence was not performed, and the merger was rushed. Studebaker's management was notorious for building the wrong car at the wrong time, while the cars people wanted were always in short supply, strangling the company financially as a result.

In 1951 Packard replaced the old "bathtub" models with a new and more modern body that resembled typical cars of the early 1950s. Sales were slower by 1953, despite Packard's push to recapture the luxury market with such limited edition luxury models as the Caribbean convertible and the Patrician 400 Sedan. In 1954, Packard stylist Richard A. Teague was called upon by Nance to redesign the 1955 model. To Teague's credit, the 1955 Packard was indeed a sensation when it appeared, gaining greater acceptance than anticipated. Not only was the body completely updated and modernized, but the suspension was totally new, with torsion bars front and rear, along with an electric load-leveler control that kept the car level regardless of load or road conditions. Crowning this stunning new design was Packard's first modern overhead-valve V8, displacing 352 cu in (5.8 l), replacing the old, heavy, cast-iron side valve straight-eight that had been used for decades. In addition, Packard offered the entire host of power comfort and convenience features, such as power steering and brakes, electric window lifts, and air conditioning (even in the Caribbean convertible), a Packard exclusive at the time. Packard, ever the innovator, was the originator of AC in automobiles in the 1930s, as well as the first car to use a steering wheel. Sales rebounded to 101,000 for 1955, although that was a very strong year across the industry.

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

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

Despite the new 1955/56 design, Cadillac still led the luxury market, followed by Lincoln, Packard and Imperial. Reliability problems with the automatic transmission and all those electrical gadgets 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's, 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 garish 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 56 models. "Electronic Push-button Ultramatic," which located transmission push buttons on a stalk off of the steering column, proved to be trouble-prone, adding to the car's negative reputation, possibly soon to become an orphan. Model series remained the same, but the V8 was now enlarged to 374 cu in (6.1 l) for Senior series, the largest in the industry. In the top-of-the-line Caribbean, that engine produced 310 hp (230 kW). Clippers continued to use the 352 engine. There were plans for an all−new 1957 line of Senior Packards based on the showcar Predictor. Clippers and Studebakers would also share many inner and outer body panels. These models were in many ways far advanced from what would be produced by any automaker at the time, save Chrysler, which would soon feel public wrath for its own poor quality issues after rushing its all−new 1957 lines into production. James Nance had the dubious destiny to go over to Ford after Packard's dismissal and head the new MEL (Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln) division, and quickly buried another brand, the Edsel. Although Nance tried everything, but the company failed to secure funding for new retooling, forcing sharing of body parts (Studebaker's) but not as they had been envisioned. SPC's fate was thus sealed, the large Packard with all its newfound hope and promise was effectively dead: an executive decision had killed "the car we could not afford to lose".

1957–1958

1958 Packard

In 1957, no more Packards were built in Detroit and the Clipper disappeared as a separate brand name. Instead, a Studebaker President-based car bearing the Packard Clipper nameplate appeared on the market, but sales were slow. Available in just two body styles, Town Sedan (4-door sedan) and Country Sedan (4-door station wagon), they were powered by Studebaker's 289 cu in (4.7 l) V8 with McCulloch supercharger, delivering the same 275 hp (205 kW) as the 1956 Clipper Custom, although at higher revolutions.

While the 1957 Packard Clipper was less Packard, it was a very good Studebaker. The cars sold in limited numbers, which was attributed to Packard dealers dropping their franchises and consumers fearful of buying a car that could soon be an orphaned make. It was tried with design cues from the 1956 Clipper (visual in the grille and dash). Wheel-covers, tail-lamps and dials were stock 1956 parts, as was the Packard cormorant hood mascot and trunk chrome trim from 1955 senior Packards.

The 1958 models were launched with no series name, simply as "Packard". More styles were added, a 2-door hardtop and 4-door sedan, and as the premier model, a Packard Hawk that was a Studebaker Golden Hawk with a new front, a spare wheel moulded in the trunk lid reminiscent of the concurrent Imperial, and Packard styling cues.

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

Predictably, some Packard devotees were disappointed by the marque's loss of exclusivity and what they perceived as a reduction in quality. They joined competitors and media critics in christening the new models as Packardbakers. They failed to sell in sufficient numbers to keep the marque afloat. However, with the market flooded by inexpensive cars, none of the minor automakers was able to sell vehicles at loss leader prices to keep up with Ford and GM.[21] There was also a general decline in demand for large cars which heralded an industry switch to compact cars like the Studebaker Lark. Several makes were discontinued around this timeframe. Not since the 30's had so many makes disappeared: Packard, Edsel, Hudson, Nash, DeSoto, and Kaiser.

Concept Packards

1956 Predictor concept, at the Studebaker National Museum

During the 1950s, a number of "dream cars" were built by Packard in an attempt to keep the marque alive in the imaginations of the American car-buying public. Included in this category are the 1952 Pan American that led to the production Caribbean and the Panther (also known as Daytona), based on a 1954 platform. Shortly after the introduction of the Caribbean, Packard showed a prototype hardtop called the Balboa.[22] It featured a reverse slant rear window that could be lowered for ventilation, a feature introduced in a production car by Mercury in 1957 and still in production in 1966. The Request was based on the 1955 Four Hundred hardtop, but featured a classic upright Packard fluted grille reminiscent of the prewar models. In addition, the 1957 engineering mule "Black Bess" was built to test new features for a future car. This car had a resemblance to the 1958 Edsel. It featured Packard's return to a vertical grill. This grill was very narrow with the familiar ox yoke shape that was characteristic for Packard, and with front fenders with dual headlights resembling Chrysler products from that era. The engineering mule Black Bess was destroyed by the company shortly after the Packard plant was shuttered. Of the ten Requests built only four were sold off the showroom floor. Richard A. Teague also designed the last Packard show car, the Predictor. This hardtop coupe's design followed the lines of the planned 1957 cars. It had many unusual features, among them a roof section that opened either by opening a door or activating a switch, well ahead of later T-Tops. The car had seats that rotated out allowing the passenger easy access, a feature later used on some Chrysler products. The Predictor also had the opera windows, or portholes, found on concurrent Thunderbirds. Other novel ideas were overhead switches—these were in the production Avanti—and a dash design that followed the hood profile, centering dials in the center console area. This feature has only recently been used on production cars. The Predictor survives and is on display at the Studebaker National Museum section of the Center for History in South Bend, Indiana.

Astral

There was one very unusual prototype, the Studebaker-Packard Astral, made in 1957 and first unveiled at the South Bend Art Centre on January 12, 1958 and then at the March 1958 Geneva Motor Show.[23] 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.[24][25]

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 by George Hamlin, the car was restored and put on display by the Studebaker museum.

The end

Studebaker-Packard pulled the Packard nameplate from the marketplace in 1959. It kept its name until 1962 when "Packard" was dropped off the corporation's name at a time when it was introducing the all new Avanti, and a less anachronistic image was being sought, thus finishing the story of the great American Packard marque. Ironically, it was considered that the Packard name might be used for the new fiberglass sports car, as well as Pierce-Arrow, the make Studebaker controlled in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

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

Packard automobile engines

Packard's engineering staff designed and built excellent, reliable engines. Packard offered a 12-cylinder engine—the "Twin Six"—as well as a low-compression straight eight, but never a 16-cylinder engine. After WWII, Packard continued with their successful straight-eight-cylinder flathead engines. While as fast as the new GM and Chrysler OHV V8s, they were perceived as obsolete by buyers. By waiting until 1955, Packard was the last U.S. automaker to introduce a high-compression V8 engine. The design was physically large and entirely conventional, copying many of the first generation Cadillac, Oldsmobile, and Studebaker Kettering features. It was produced in 320 cu in (5.2 L) and 352 cu in (5.8 L) displacements. The Caribbean version had two 4-barrel carburetors and produced 275 hp (205 kW). For 1956, a 374" version was used in the senior cars and the Caribbean 2x4-barrel produced 305 hp (227 kW).

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

Packard also made large aeronautical and marine engines. Chief engineer Jesse 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.[26]

Resurrection of Packard name

Packard Motor Car Company, a registered Arizona Corporation, is the registered owner of the Packard Name Trademark for automobiles and parts. The Company uses the trademark by licensing various companies to use the Packard name, and the Company also manufactures and markets Packard branded automobile parts.[27]

The Company answers e-mails and phone calls on a daily basis from people wanting information about Packard, past and present. The Company assists people and companies world wide, requesting specific Packard parts and puts them in touch with suppliers.[27] In 1995, Roy and Barbara Gullickson purchased the rights to the Packard name and, subsequently, had the company design and build a new V12-powered luxury sedan, hoping to attract support for short-run manufacturing. The enterprise has been promoted on a website[27] which details the prototype, featuring an overhead-valve, fuel-injected 525 cu in (8.6 L) all-aluminum V12 engine. The car was shown at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2003. The 1998 prototype and Company, such that it was, were put up for sale in 2008. As with the Avanti Motor Corporation around the same time, there were interested parties, but no eventual takers. Both remain in limbo, the last great remains of a distilled empire, Studebaker-Packard Corporation, once the 75th largest corporation in the United States.

Packard automobile models

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

Packard show cars

Body styles/misc. by tradename

Electromatic, Packard's name for its electrically controlled, vacuum operated automatic clutch.

Advertisements

1910 Packard Advertisement - Indianapolis Star, May 22, 1910
1910 Packard Advertisement - Indianapolis Star, May 22, 1910
1912 Packard Advertisement - Syracuse Herald, March 14, 1912

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!

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Flammang, James M. (1999). 100 Years of the American Auto: Millennium Edition. Publications International. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-7853-3484-2.
  2. ^ Clymer, Floyd (1971). Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877-1925. Bonanza Books. p. 104.
  3. ^ Clymer, p. 63.
  4. ^ Clymer, p. 32.
  5. ^ Clymer, p. 51.
  6. ^ Clymer, p. 61.
  7. ^ "The Alger Family". Grosse Pointe Historical Society. http://www.gphistorical.org/autobarons/alger/index.htm. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  8. ^ Packard's 100th Anniversary[dead link] on Lehigh University website
  9. ^ "1903 Packard 2 Passenger Runabout". Remarkable Cars Picture Gallery. http://www.remarkablecars.com/ppads/showproduct.php/product/1809. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  10. ^ Wright, Richard A. (2000-01-16). "Once teeming with auto plants, Detroit now home to only a few nameplates". Detroit News. http://info.detnews.com/redesign/history/story/historytemplate.cfm?id=16. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  11. ^ DetroitDerek Photography. "Abandoned Packard Plant". Flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/detroitderek/sets/72157604058904117/. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  12. ^ "More fires break out at Packard Plant in Detroit". Wwmt.com. 2009-06-29. http://www.wwmt.com/news/detroit-1364125-packard-plant.html. Retrieved 2010-07-28.
  13. ^ Clymer, p. 112.
  14. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. http://nrhp.focus.nps.gov/natreg/docs/All_Data.html.
  15. ^ Georgano, G. N. (2002). Early and Vintage Cars 1886-1930. Mason Crest Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59084-491-5.
  16. ^ Flory, Jr., J. "Kelly" (2008). American Cars, 1946-1959 Every Model Every Year. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-3229-5.
  17. ^ Flammang, James M. (1994). Chronicle of the American automobile: over 100 years of auto history. Publications International. p. 278. ISBN 978-0-7853-0778-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=9Z5TAAAAMAAJ&q=frantic+1953-54+Ford/GM+price+war&hl=en. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  18. ^ "Time Clock, Oct. 12, 1953". Time. October 12, 1953. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,860075,00.html. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  19. ^ "Personnel: Changes of the Week". Time. 1954-10-25. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,823618,00.html. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  20. ^ "Autos: New Entry". Time. 1954-03-24. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,819620,00.html. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  21. ^ Bresnahan, Timothy F. (June 1987). "Competition and Collusion in the American Automobile Industry: The 1955 Price War". The Journal of Industrial Economics 35 (4 The Empirical Renaissance in Industrial Economics): 457–482. doi:10.2307/2098583.
  22. ^ Hudson and Packard Present Their Cars of the Future. 100. November 1953. p. 97. http://books.google.com/books?id=JNwDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA97&lpg=PA97&dq=Hudson+and+Packard+Present+Their+Cars+of+the+Future. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  23. ^ Automobile Quarterly Volume 31 No 1, 1992, pages 14-29
  24. ^ "1957 Studebaker-Packard, Astral, Form of Power: Atomic". Petersen Automotive Museum. 2010. http://www.petersen.org/default.cfm?DocID=1008&index=5. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  25. ^ Cruising the Misfits of Motordom, Chuck Squatriglia, Wired Magazine, 9 May 2009
  26. ^ Ward, James A. (1995). The Fall of the Packard Motor Car Company. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-2457-9.
  27. ^ a b c "Packard Motor Car Company". http://www.packardmotorcar.com/. Retrieved 2012-01-31.

External links