History Of The Packard Motor Car Company – HotCars

Let’s take a look back at one of America’s most cherished automakers, the Packard Motor Car Company.
In American automotive history, the phrase "Ask the Man Who Owns One" is one of the most well-known. When questioned about a Packard, this was the typical answer. In addition to being stylish and powerful, the cars from this brand were also reliable. The Packard adventure began in 1898 when mechanical engineer James Ward Packard acquired a Winton. The company's success was largely due to its meticulousness and creativity.
The Winton cars were good cars, however, the one Packard bought had a lot of problems. After returning the car to Winton, Packard didn't hide his disgust with the situation. Winton encouraged Packard to come up with a better car. Hence, James Packard and his brother, William Dowd Packard, started working on a car right away. Their first automobile, a one-cylinder car, was delivered a year later.
"Ohio Automobile Company" was the company's first name when it began production in 1899. When the company relocated from Warren, Ohio to Detroit, Michigan in 1903, it was renamed the Packard Motor Car Company. There were no signs of slowing down the brothers' pursuit of perfection and excellence. For the most part, they showed the durability of their vehicles by taking first place in cross-country reliability tests.
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They didn't stop there. More and better vehicles were being manufactured by them at a steady pace. They designed their cars to compete with the world's most spectacular premium automobiles. And, of course, the vehicles were also more expensive than those made by other companies. The Land Speed Record was set by a Packard in 1919. Ralph De Palma's 12-cylinder Packard flew through Daytona Beach's dunes at 149 miles per hour. This remarkable feat highlighted the Packard automobile's superiority.
With the beginning of World War I, Packard turned its focus to the development of marine and aircraft motors. This maintained the corporation profitable throughout the war. Despite the Great Depression and World War, Packard remained at the forefront of automobile manufacturing. Packard attempted to compete in a larger market in the early 1940s by developing the Clipper, a vehicle designed for increased production but for a reduced price.
The Clipper bodies were built by the Briggs Manufacturing Company. As the production started, the price Briggs Manufacturing Company had told Packard seemed to be too low, thus the price was hiked, forcing Packard to bear the additional expense. Packard could have produced the bodies for less money if he had done so. Nevertheless, the Clipper series sold exceptionally well, outpacing Cadillac and LaSalle.
The automobiles were attractive, long-lasting, and exquisite. Howard "Dutch" Darrin developed the vehicle's body, which rested atop the 120 chassis. The Packard 120 was the company's first automobile that cost less than $1,000. Its goal was to boost sales and increase manufacturing. The Clipper's eight-cylinder motor had sixteen valves and could produce 125 horsepower, which was quite a lot for the time. The Clipper Series was very sought out because of its futuristic body, elegant interior, and good performance.
Related: These Packards Prove That The Brand Was the Pinnacle of American Luxury
In February 1942, the US government ordered all car companies to halt manufacturing and focus their efforts on war-related projects. Packard started making airplanes and marine engines, as well as ambulances and military vehicles. During the war, the Packard plant produced almost 60,000 motors in total. Packard resumed automotive manufacture after the war ended in 1945.
It earned $33 million from motor and military vehicle sales, with $2 million going toward renovations and upgrades to its facilities. Packard's finances were in tip-top shape. Meanwhile, the majority of pre-war automotive parts were in poor condition. They had been kept in storage to create room for technologies used in the design and manufacture of military vehicles. These storage facilities were frequently exposed to the elements. Equipment and supplies had to be substituted as a consequence.
It was Packard's decision to focus only on the Clipper Series when automotive manufacture commenced. Packard developed the Clipper Six 2100 and 2103 in 1946, as well as the Super Clipper 2103 and Custom Super Clipper 2106. In 1947, the Super Eight and Custom convertibles were introduced. Packard debuted the 23rd Series Eight and Deluxe Eight later in 1949.
For the time, the Clippers were incredibly original and unusual. They had a gas tank alarm that whistled as the fuel was injected and only stopped when the tank was filled. By keeping them out of sight, the running boards and door hinges gave the car a more polished appearance. The Clipper was also quite broad. This resulted in more interior space for passengers and improved cornering stability at high speeds.
Gradually, vehicle sales started to fall at the end of the 1940s and persisted throughout the 1950s. James Nance was named president and general manager of Packard in 1952. The company partnered with the much bigger Studebaker Corporation in 1954 in the hopes of lowering manufacturing costs. Furthermore, for Packard, Studebaker's wider dealer network might be an advantage.
However, that didn't help, and Packard suffered when sales of Studebaker models fell rapidly. As a result, Packard's production activities in Detroit were suspended in 1956 by James Nance. Despite the fact that the firm continued to construct automobiles in South Bend, Indiana, until 1958, the final model built on June 25, 1956, is regarded as the last real Packard. The National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio, is now the official museum of the founding Packard Motor Car Company as well as the Packard Electric Company. Its mission is to honor and preserve Packard's contributions to transportation and industry history.


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