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You are on the page : About the PACKARD



Packard was an American luxury car maker, founded as the Packard Motor Car Company, and later merged to become the Studebaker Packard Corporation.
James Ward Packard (1863-1927), owned a firm that manufactured incandescent carbon arc lamps and transformers in Warren, Ohio. In 1893, he took an interest in automobiles. Packard decided to create his own car following the purchase of a Winton, having been little convinced by his purchase and feeling capable of competing with the manufacturer. With the help of two mechanics poached from Winton, as well as his brother, the first Packard was produced on November 6, 1899. The slogan for this new manufacturer was established in 1901 and never changed: "Ask the man who owns one ".

On October 10, 1902, the Ohio Automobile Company became the Packard Motor Car Company. Henry Bourne Joy, a financier and railroad magnate impressed with Packard, and a group of investors totally refinanced the company. Without this generous initiative, Packard would never have achieved a worldwide reputation. Believing in the abilities of multi-cylinder engines, Joy recruited a Frenchman, Paul Schmidt, to design a 4 cylinder engine. James Packard remained at the head of the company until leaving in 1909.

Packard was very successful in the 1920s and 1930s, thanks to its 8 cylinder models, the Single Eights, cars featuring an excellent, quiet engine paired with good top speed. But shortly after that, the competition with Cadillac began to heat up. In fact, this was a fierce competition between a humble independent manufacturer and an industrial giant, General Motors. The American auto landscape was evolving at breakneck speed. In 1922, nearly 200 domestic brands were in competition on the market, not counting importers. In 1929, there were just 47, and in 1939 there were 22.
Packard made a splash in New York City on January 6, 1932, by presenting a new Twin Six, renamed the Packard Twelve the following year. The Twelve was clearly positioned at the top of the range, with prices in the same category as those for Cadillac V16s.

After the stock market crash of 1929, in order to deal with the economic slowdown, Packard chose to democratize its product lineup, by marketing a more affordable car. The Packard One Twenty went on the market in January 1935. A veritable anti-Depression car, it was half as expensive as a Packard Light Eight, while maintaining the same outward appearance that gave Packard its charm. The car was an immediate success for Packard, with 24,995 vehicles sold in the first year, out of a total 31,889 Packards. In 1938, Packard marketed the Six, quickly dubbed the One Ten, even more affordable than the One Twenty. Here, gone were the 8 cylinders, replaced with a simple, high performance 6 cylinder engine. Sales of the Six were better than sales of the One Twenty. But the "popular" success had a negative impact on Packard's luxury image. During the war, Packard plants produced Rolls Royce Merlin aircraft engines, as well as marine engines. Its production was altered and Packard struggled, like its many competitors, faced with the overwhelming Cadillac, at the cutting edge of technology thanks to funding from General Motors. After the war, Packard, worried about its finances, confined itself to making the old new again. Briggs, Packard's stamping company since 1941, took on the forms of the new car for 1948. Their instructions were to use as many parts as possible from prewar generations, including the popular 1941 Packard Clipper.

Clipper was eventually to become a new independent brand. Packard was to get back into the luxury car market. In 1954, James Nance, Packard's CEO at the time, purchased Studebaker, whose financial situation was hardly enviable compared to Packard's. Packard was still financially sound, and Studebaker dragged it into a delicate position.

Following this acquisition, Packard livened auto shows with the Panther, an experimental two-seat roadster, equipped with the old Packard inline 8 cylinder engine The Panther could have been a challenger to the first Corvettes and Thunderbirds. It was manufactured in 4 copies for Packard's promotional use, since the firm no longer had enough money for a small scale production run. There were still 2,622 customers on the gigantic continent of North America to purchase one of the last Packards, in 1958. In 59 years, there were 1,610,890 cars produced under the Packard name. Studebaker followed shortly after, in 1959...

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