This video, named The Packard Story, It is a good reminder of much of the history for the first 60 years of the American Auto industry that is often now forgotten, particularly up to the late 1950’s / mid 60’s.
This period saw many manufacturers produce cars often with features ahead of the time [plus the odd lemon for some] and then fail to survive.
Packard produced its first car in 1899 [this car is still mobile today] and then went on to build a formidable reputation for reliability, style and comfort.
No mean feat when you look at the film clips of the roads in those early 1900’s with cars bouncing from one pot-hole or mud-hole to the next.
There are many film clips from the early 1900’s up to the later years in this video, always interesting to see.
Packard were noted for many innovations.
They were the first American car to replace the tiller with a steering wheel.
Built their own test track, plus scored well on the race track
Developed their Twin 6 engine in 1916 but dropped it in 1926 for their side valve Straight 8 which they used right through to the mid 1950’s.
Towards the end of production the long running Straight 8 was available in 3 options, 135hp, 150hp and 160hp.
During WWII Packard became famous for their V12 Merlin engine used in both Mosquito, Warhawk and Lancaster aircraft and the highly respected PT boats.
England had the Rolls Royce as its status symbol car, America had the Packard. It was generally considered the richest man in town would own a Packard, and during WWll the Packard was always the Generals car.
Rolls Royce in fact would regularly study the Packard, as they also did the Buick, to figure out why these two makes were so reliable.
Like Rolls Royce Packard didn’t produce cars in big numbers, both aimed at the luxury market.
After WWII Packard decided to survive it need to produce a ‘family mans car’, which it did and sales during its first year in 1948 totalled 28,000.
Their target was to achieve 200,000 cars a year but the best they could do was 100,000 and this put them on a slippery financial slope.
Packard, Nash, Hudson and Studebaker intended to merge but Nash and Hudson teamed up leaving Packard and Studebaker out so in rather a hurry Packard merged with Studebaker.
This resulted in disaster for both as Studebaker was in a worse financial position than Packard, and by 1959 it was all over for both.
Packard has a strong following of enthusiasts and it is mighty to see the Packard legend live on for the future with a museum displaying over 50 Packard cars plus lots of other exhibits has been set up in a previous Packard Dealership building in Dayton, Ohio.
General Motors have a similar museumwhere you can see many cars including their concept cars.