|PACKARD HISTORY - 1945 - 1984|
1945 - August 16 - Victory over Japan signals the end of the war. Packard wartime production provided over 55,000 aircraft engines and more than 12,000 marine engines. Cancellation of government contracts at war's end created problems with subcontractors, materials bought and ordered and no longer needed, and total disruption of the manufacturing facilities needed for automobile manufacture.
1945 - Packard War Production profits net 1.2%. As a testament to Packard's wartime commitment, Packard's profits earned from war production was only 1.2% of government sales.
1945 - September 20 - The last Merlin airplane engine is completed. Total produced - 55,523.
1945 - October 3 - Truman H. Newberry dies. He is 80.
1945 - The end of the war approaches. This period was perhaps the most important period in Packard's history. The company had stepped out of the role of master car engine builder and now faced a period of intense competition with the "Big Three". During the war some Packard dealers were not able to survive repairing cars and had to close their doors. Others were ready to take their place, and thus at war's end Packard had 1793 dealers - the most dealers in its history - and all wanted and needed cars to sell. Building the cars was not that easy. Most of Packard's car building equipment and machinery had to be placed outdoors for storage since there was no room for them undercover. The equipment, though it had been protected by covers and grease, was in terrible condition. Most of the electric motors had to be rebuilt or replaced. More than all that, however, was the state of Packard's product. The Clipper, which had been an exceptionally modern product at the start of the war, was now a four-year old design, and it didn't look startingly new any longer. Packard had plenty of money, however, though the war effort had not contributed as much to Packard's coffers as one might expect. In banks Packard had about $33 million in cash. The net worth of the company was about $110 million. To clean up and renovate the plant would take about $2 million dollars, while the cost of an assembly line capable of producing 200,000 cars a year - Christopher's goal, would take a lot of cash and more space. A priority, therefore, was to construct a building on the property to house a new assembly line. Getting the labor force back into harness and retrained was another major task. Union leaders saw this as the right time to hit the industry for new wage demands. The favorite method to get the company's attention was to stop working which the union did - thirty-two times in 1945 and that was before automobile production had even started. Packard's problems with labor were not as bad as the ones that General Motors experienced, but the contracts that GM signed set the tone for the entire industry. The worst labor problem, however, was at Briggs where union activity was it its height. Since Briggs was building Packard bodies, the many delays from that area slowed up Packard production even further.
The Post World War Two Era
THE 1946-47 MODEL YEARS
1945 - The factory returns to car production but is slow getting started as the big three grab off much of the steel and other critical materials. 80,660 Packards are made for the years 1946- 1947.
1945 - October 19 - The Clipper Eight Standard (2101) and the Clipper Eight Deluxe (2111) are introduced. Serial numbers are F300001 to F309000. The engine used is the small 282 cubic inch eight. Two body styles are available on the 120" Clipper chassis 2101. They are the 4-door touring sedan and the 2-door club sedan. Body numbers are 1695 and 1692. The 2111 chassis includes the 4-door sedan, body number 1612, and the 2-door sedan, body number 1615. Both are also on the 120" wheelbase. These cars are 1946 model year cars identified by the first two digits of the body number "16". The cars made in model year 1947 are also 21st Series Packards, but the first two digits of the body number are "21". Prices ranged from about $1,500 to $2,150. These cars are a continuation of the Clippers introduced before the war. To speed up production and to modernize its product, Packard decided to concentrate on the Clipper design and to drop all other lines including the very Packard looking senior cars of 1941 and 1942. The Clipper body would have to provide all of the luxury being demanded by Packard's affluent clientele. The older body dies, moreover, were actually sold to Russia and formed the foundation for the Ziss cars. Russia bought the whole lot including the 110, 120, 160 and the 180. It was, in reality, a good deal for Packard since the company had no further use for the dies, and their value was little more than scrap. On the other side of the ledger, however, was the long range effect that the decision would dictate. Gone was an easy ability to produce limousines, convertibles, formal cars and customs as well as commercial vehicles including taxicabs and funeral cars. The taxicab, however, was made possible by using a six under the smallest Clipper body. Henney, builder of commercial vehicles, decided to wait for the major facelift scheduled for 1948 which meant that Packard did not compete for the market until the release of the 22nd Series. Henney, however, came across as far as limousines were concerned. They took bodies from Briggs, extended and modified them, and delivered them back to Packard as finished "custom" cars. In all some 3081 such bodies were reported as having been built by Henney. Serial numbers in the Data Base include F328262 and F331908 which are both outside the accepted range. Photos appear on page 175 and 177 of The Packard Registry.
1945 - The Packard Taxi is beefed up for commercial use. Packard cars intended for commercial use benefited from heavy duty components including heavy-duty brakes, generator, positive crankcase ventilation, 700 x 15 6-ply tires and the heavier drive train used in the Super Clippers. Special springs are also included, and interiors could be either a conventional type interior covered with leather or a partition type enclosure with special seats, heavy duty door latches and a particularly short turning radius of just 42 feet.
1946 - April 18 - The Clipper Six (2100 and 2130) is introduced. The serial numbers for these cars are in the range of F1501 to F50999 and all are 21st Series cars. On the 2100 chassis are the 4-door touring sedan, body number 1682, and the 2-door club sedan, body number 1685. Both are mounted on the 120" wheelbase. The 2130 cars include a taxicab sedan and a taxicab with partition. The body numbers on these cars are 1686 and 1684. The first two digits "16" in the body number indicate that the cars were 21st series cars with the 1946 model year. The "16" is changed to a "21" for the 1947 model year. Thus the 4-door touring sedan made in 1947 uses body number 2182 and the taxi body numbers are 2184 (with a partition) and 2186 (without the partition). Price ranges were $1,450 to $2,465 with a substantial price increase in effect for 1947. Serial numbers in the Data Base include F15108 which is a 1947 2100 with a 2185 2-door club sedan body. A picture of a 4-door sedan appears on page 176 of The Packard Registry.
1946 - April 18 - The Super Clipper (2103) is introduced. Serial numbers are F500001 to F520000. The engine used in the Super Clipper is the big 356 cubic inch eight with 165 horspower. In 22nd Series Packards the engine will be classified as having 160 horsepower. The reason for the change remains a mystery. Following the pattern established before the war when the Super Clipper was introduced, Packard reintroduces both the 2-door club sedan and the 4- door touring sedan on the 127" Clipper wheelbase. Body numbers for these cars are 1672 for the 4-door and 1675 for the 2-door. The first digit "16" denotes 1946 production. Note that pre-war production used "15" as the first two digits and 1947 uses "21" for the first two digits. The reason for the change to "21" is to update the body number to the Series number. Thus, for 1947, which is a 21st Series Packard, body numbers start with "21". Note also, however, that both 1946 and 1947 Packards are 21st Series Packards. Prices for the 1946 models ranged from $1,950 to $2,290. For 1947 prices were increased with a range from $2,250 to $2,775. Serial numbers in the Data Base include F510010 and F518585.
1946 - April 18 - The Custom Super Clipper (2106 and 2126) are introduced. The accepted serial number range has been F500001 to F520000. The long wheelbase 2126 was not available until after August, 1946, though initial note of it was made on April 18th. Serial numbers for the Custom Super Clipper are in the same range as the Super Clippers since chassis and engine details were the same. The engine is the big 356 cubic inch straight eight, and the chassis is the standard Clipper 127" version. Body numbers were 1622 for the 4-door touring sedan and 1625 for the 2-door club coupe. The "16" indicates 1946 production while the "16" was changed to a "21" in 1947. Both years, however, were 21st Series Packards. Note the "Super Clipper" above for more details on changes made to body designations. Prices ranged from $2,550 to $4,500 in 1946 and from $2,950 to $4,668 in 1947. The 2126 chassis was a 148" version that was used for the 5-7 passenger touring sedan and the 5-7 passenger touring limousine. The bodies for the long wheelbase cars were built under contract by Henney. Serial numbers in the Data Base for 2106 include F511804, F512599, F520137, F521045 and F597337. Pictures appear on pages 175, 176 and 177 of The Packard Registry.
Serial numbers in the Data Base for 2126 cars include F510762B and F516753. Body numbers include 2150-2948 (limousine) and 7-passenger 4-dr sedan 2151-2126, 2151-3341 and 2151- 3980. Also, if information in the Data Base is correct, one 2126 car, a 2151 5-7 passenger sedan touring, was initially registered as a 1948.
1946 - Commercial Car Production. Due to major body changes being developed at Packard, the Henney commercial body company decided not to build any commercial cars using the 21st Series. Instead Henney developed a new line to be used on the 22nd Series which would be a great success.
1946 - May - Super Eight production resumes.
1946 - September 4 - James T. McMillan dies - Trustee for one of the original stockholders.
1946 - 1947 Serial Numbers. For years Packard bodies were in a different number sequence than the chassis numbers, which represented model years. Thus the 1946 Packard was a 21st Series car while the bodies were numbered in the 1600s. In 1947 the series numbers remained the same while body numbers were moved up to the 21st series and thus had numbers that started with 21.
THE 1948-49 MODEL YEAR
1947 - Design of the 22nd Series. When Packard contracted with Briggs to build its bodies, a lot of the design work on Packard cars was also farmed out to that company. Al Prance, Brigg's chief stylist, did much of the design work that would appear on the 22nd Series. The styling flow for the Packard Clipper to the 22nd Series, therefore, which started with Darrin and the Clipper look, also passed through the hands of Walker and Flajole and, at Packard, through the in-house team of Gubitz, Reinhard, and Nowacky plus Phil Wright (who left Briggs in 1939 to join the Packard team) and Howard Yeager and then, for the 22nd Series, to Briggs and Al Prance. Edward Macauley, of course, maintained an oversight role for the work being done at Briggs.
1947 - July 25 - The new Super Eight and Custom convertibles, the first postwar Packard convertibles are introduced. See the Super Eight 2232 and the Custom Eight 2233 listed under 1947 - September for more information.
1947 - September 8 - The Six (2220 and 2240) is introduced. The serial number is in the range G1501 to G4100. Both of these models were produced for taxicab use. Taxi limousine, with body 2280, mounted on the 2220 chassis, had a wheelbase of 141" as did both body 2282, a 4-door sedan, and body number 2286, a 4-door sedan taxi. Note that the first two digits of the body numbers are "22" which denotes the 22nd Series. This series was made in both 1948 and 1949, but in this case, as opposed to 1946-47 Packards, the body number did not change. A "9" was added to the 2280 designation for 1949 which was then 2280-9. Since these cars were sold under a special commercial arrangement and were not intended for public use, no accurate price information is available, but production figures indicate that 1,316 were sold in 1948 and only 25 were sold in 1949. That ended Packard's interest in taxicab production except for a few made in 1950.
1947 - September 8 - The Eight (2201) and the Eight Deluxe (2211) is introduced. The serial numbers for these cars is G200001 to G203000. The 288 cubic inch engine is used in both the 2201 and the 2211. Horsepower is rated at 130. The body styles that are available include a 2- door club sedan, a 4-door touring sedan, and a 4-door station wagon. All are mounted on the 120" 2201 chassis. The 2211 120" chassis is used on the Deluxe Clipper Eight for both a 2-door club sedan and the 4-door touring sedan. Prices range from $2,125 to $3,425. The 22nd Series cars span 1948 and about half of 1949 when the 22rd Series Packards are introduced. Serial numbers in the Data Base include G203697 and body numbers 2293-3639 and 2293-4028.
1947 - September 8 - The Super Eight (2202, 2222 and 2232) are introduced. Serial numbers range from G400001 to G43000. The engine used in the Super Eight series is the 327 cubic inch engine that produces 145 horsepower. It is based on the 288 cubic inch block that formed the foundation for most of Packard's straight eight engines built from 1935 on when it was introduced in 257 cubic inch form. The engine was updated in 1936 to 282 cubic inch size and in 1948 to 288 cubic inches. Prices range from $2,675 to $4,000.
1947 - September 8 - The Custom Eight (2206, 2226, 2233 and 2213) is introduced. Serial numbers for the Custom Eights are in the range G600001 to G612000. The Custom Eight continued the big 356 cubic inch engine introduced before the war. Wheelbase lengths are 127" for the 2206 and the 2233 and 148" for the 2226. Bodies available on the 2206 include the 2- door club sedan (body number 2255), and the 4-door touring sedan (body number 2252). The 2226 chassis was used for the 148" wheelbase cars including the 5-7 passenger sedan (body number 2251) and the 5-7 passenger limousine (body number 2250). Chassis 2233 was used for the convertible victoria (body number 2259). A commercial chassis, 2213, was also available with a 156" wheelbase. Prices on the Custom Eight Series ranged from $3,625 to $4,890. The price of the Henney-Packard limousine-ambulance (14894) was $6,119. Serial numbers in the Data Base for 2213 commercial chassis include G601140, G601197, G601499, G602577, G604152, G605065C, G605941, G606331 and G607252. Body numbers for these cars include 2213-2038, 2213-2609, 2213-2734, 2213-2814, 2213-3039, 2213-3268, 2213-3286, 2213- 3642, 2213-3598, 2213-3698, 2213-3706 and 2213-3189. A picture appears on page 180 of The Packard Registry.
1947 - John Reinhart becomes Packard's chief stylist replacing Werner Gubitz. Edward Macauley is still director of styling.
1948 - Production for the year is 85,495. All are 22nd Series Packards.
1948 - May 5 - Albert S. Matthews dies. Matthews was president of Packard Federal Corporation, distributors of Packard Taxis.
The End of Macauley's Tenture at Packard
1948 - April 19 - Alvan Macauley retires as chairman of the board. He is 76 years old. Since a Board Chairman is not named to replace Macauley, President Christopher has complete control.
1948 - Packard earnings best since 1929. Company builds 98,898 cars.
The Ultramatic Transmission
1949 - Packard, of course, was the only independent automobile manufacturer to design and produce its own automatic transmission. In the middle 1930s Forest R. McFarland, Chief Research Engineer at Packard, started design work on an automatic. With some input from Van Ranst and Tommy Milton, McFarland experimented with a torque converter type automatic coupled to a centrifugal clutch. Some outside companies had tried to get involved, but none offered anything that Packard had not already considered. About 1944, as the war effort started to unwind, both McFarland and Vincent were able to reconsider the automatic transmission project. Packard did not want to find itself in postwar competition without an automatic that would be a good competitor to GM's Hydramatic. With help from men like Warren Bopp and Herbert Misch, Vincent and McFarland attacked the project head-on. A three-speed transmission seemed to hold the most promise, but it remained elusive. The earliest Hydramatics had used eight speeds which GM pared down to four. Rumors were that GM wanted to bring that down to three. At Packard a 2-speed type with a kick down in the torque converter seemed to be the best compromise between what was already working and a 3-speed unit that might be developed later. Like Buick, Packard leaned to the smoothness of a torque converter - a device that multiplied torque within the converter without multiple gear changes in a separate transmission ala Hydramatic. Interestingly, Buick engineers, with all the experience of Hydramatic available to them, chose to go the Packard route and use a Torque Converter as did all subsequent manufacturers of automatic transmissions. Packard, however, out did them all by designing a torque converter with the highest degree of torque multiplication in the industry plus a final direct-drive feature that locked the transmission driveline. At that point, as the direct drive was engaged, and with the feel of a final shift, the torque converter was merely going along for the ride. Power went straight through the torque converter and a conventional clutch, delivering power in a conventional fashion operated without any slip.
THE 1949-50 MODEL YEAR
1949 - Production for 1949 includes 53,138 22nd Series and 63,817 23rd Series for a total of 116,955 Packards.
1949 - Fifty years in business - Packard's Golden Anniversary. In order to celebrate its fiftieth year in business, Packard elected to introduce the 23rd Series midway through 1949, and thus 1949 witnessed production of both the 22nd Series and the 23rd Series cars. Since the 22nd Series had actually been in production for 1948 and halfway through 1949, it managed to set Packard's all time production record of 148,633 cars for any one series. Total sales for the year were also quite exceptional and reached almost 117,000 cars. Sales of upper end cars were very poor, however, and signalled the end of Packard's dominance of super luxury cars as well as the commercial market. Taxicab production ended with 1950, and limousine production also ended for the time being.
1949 - Chief Engineer William Graves threatens to quit if the "bathtub" style Packard is continued any further than the 23rd Series. President Christopher yields to pressure and orders design work on the 24th Series. The damage had been done, however. Christopher's insistence on building lower priced cars after the war, when the company could have sold as many luxury cars as it could build, would deal a major blow to Packard. I personally remember the reactions of the owner of Red Bank Packard, where I worked, when Christopher gave a press conference that admitted that Packard was in the Buick class and no longer saw itself as a competitior for Cadillac. The Custom, of course, was every bit as good and probably better overall than the best Cadillac made in the period 1948-1950. Packard should have produced mostly Customs, but Christopher wanted high volume instead of quality.
1949 - 23rd Series Packards are made during 1949 and 1950 though both model years, 1949 and 1950, are identified. Some models, the long wheelbase Customs is a good example, are only made in 1949 and not in 1950. See 1949 - May 2 below for more information.
1949 - Commercial Car Production. A few 23rd Series Packard taxicabs are made in the latter months of 1949. They are designated 1950 models and bear the chassis number 2340-5 which is the six-cylinder chassis left over from the 22nd Series. See 1948 - September 8 for more information. Probably a total of no more than 17 such cars were built.
1949 - May 2 - The 23rd Series Eight and Deluxe Eight (2301) are introduced. Serial numbers are in the range H200001 to H290000. Station wagons called Station Sedans by Packard are leftovers from the 22nd Series and thus carry the "G" prefix even though they are registered as 23rd Series cars. Ultramatic is available as an option on all 23rd Series cars. Packards that used the 120" wheelbase 2301 chassis include a 2-door club sedan in both an Eight and a Deluxe Eight version. The 4-door touring sedan was also available in an Eight and a Deluxe Eight version and, as noted, the station sedan. Prices ranged from $2,225 to $3,450. Pictures of 2301 Packards are shown in The Packard Registry on pages 182 and 183. Serial numbers in the Data Base include H214405 and H221847 and H274886.
1949 - May 2 - The 23rd Series Super Eight (2302, 2322 and 2332) is introduced. Serial numbers are from H400001 to H416000. All Super Eights are on the 127" wheelbase except chassis 2322 which is 141" and is used for the long wheelbase sedan (body number 2371) and the limousine (body number 2370). Models that used the 2302 chassis include the Super Eight and the Deluxe Super Eight 2-door and 4-door sedan. Chassis 2332, with a 127" wheelbase, is used for the Super Eight and Deluxe Super Eight convertible victoria. The Super Eight and the Deluxe Super Eight both shared bodies with the Custom Series, and the Deluxe Super Eight also shared the eggcrate grill used on the Custom. Super Eight prices ranged from $2,600 to $3,350.Photos appear on pages 184 and 185 of The Packard Registry. Serial numbers in the Data Base include H407904, H410330 and H412555F.
1949 - May 2 - The 23rd Series Custom Eight (2306, 2333 and 2313) is introduced. Serial numbers are from H600001 to H603000. All Custom models are now on the 127" wheelbase. The long wheelbase Custom on chassis 2313 is only available for the 1949 model year. It is dropped for 1950 probably because only 4 had been sold in 1949. The 2306 chassis is only used for the 4-door sedan since the 2-door Custom club sedan is also dropped with the 23rd Series. Chassis 2333 is used with the 127" wheelbase Custom convertible victoria. Prices range from $3,750 to $4,500. Serial numbers in the Data Base include H602031 and H602101. Photos appear on page 184 of The Packard Registry.
1949 - October 1 - The 23rd Series Six (2320-5) is introduced. Serial numbers are in the range G1501 to G1513. This is the last six that Packard will make, and most of the components of the 23rd Series were leftover parts from earlier series. The only chassis available was the 2320 which was used for the taxicab (body number 2340) with a 141" wheelbase.
1949 - October 4 - After a very heated board meeting over the future of Packard, president George T. Christopher resigns as President of Packard.
THE END OF THE CHRISTOPHER ERA - START OF THE FERRY YEARS
1949 - October 6 - The Boston Packard franchise is cancelled by Packard.
1949 - Hugh J. Ferry succeeds Christopher as president of Packard. Ferry had been with the company for forty years with very heavy experience in finance. Ferry senses, however, that his abilities do not lend themselves to the office of president and determines to find a more suitable replacement. In 1950 Ferry will contact James J. Nance, then president of Hotpoint, and Nance will stall fearful of what lies ahead at Packard.
1950 - Production for 1950 23rd Series drops to 42,640 units. Profit for the year is $5.2 million.
1950 - Packard enters 7 cars in the Pan American road race, all were 48s and 49s. Packards ran 1-2 in the 6th leg, 2nd in the 7th leg.
THE 1951 MODEL YEAR
1950 - August 21 - The 24th Series 200 (2401) is introduced. Serial numbers are in the range J200001 to J28000. The engine used in the newly designed Packard 200 is the standard Eight of 288 cubic inches. In its latest form, it develops 135 horsepower and 230 lb/ft of torque at 2000 rpm. The transmission is standard 3-speeds forward. Both an overdrive unit and Ultramatic are available. The 2401 chassis is used for the 2-door business coupe ( body number 2498) and in reality a commercial vehicle, a 2-door sedan, a four-door sedan, and a convertible coupe. Deluxe versions are available for the 2-door sedan and the 4-door sedan. The convertible is only available in the Deluxe version. Prices range from $2,195 to $2,650. Serial numbers in the Data Base include J254049, J259997H and J262533. Body numbers in our file include 2462-30912, 2462-32895, 2462-37796 and 2492-19496. Pictures are shown in The Packard Registry on pages 186.
1950 - August 21 - The 24th Series 300 (2402 and 2413) is introduced. Serial numbers are from J400001 to J425000. The engine used in the 300 line is the Super Eight engine of the 23rd Series. It is an in-line, L-head type of 327 cubic inches and 150 horsepower. The 2402 chassis is used for the 127" wheelbase 4-door touring sedan. A 156" wheelbase commercial chassis, 2413, is also available. Prices for the sedan are about $3,000 and from $6,400 to $8,000 for the commercial cars. Pictures are shown on page 186 of The Packard Registry.
1950 - August 21 - The 24th Series 400 Patrician (2406) is introduced. Serial numbers are J600001 to J610000. This is Packard's top-of-the-line car. It uses the 327 cubic inch engine that is also used in the 300 line but with some important changes. The 400 engine has nine main bearings as did its 356 cubic inch predecessor. Horsepower is down just a bit to 155, but with a lighter engine the 400 cars outperform the earlier Custom line Packards. The 127" chassis is the same as the 300 line with extra trim and higher quality interiors making up the difference. While it is not generally considered to be as luxurious as the 23rd Series Customs, it is an excellent handler - better, in fact, than the 23rd Series. Two cars are actually available on the 2406 chassis. One is the standard 400 touring sedan and the other is a custom formal sedan which is available only on special order. Prices for the 400 are about $3,600. Serial number in the Data Base include J603519, J603709, J605016 and J608872. Body numbers on file include 2452-2549, 2452-5568, 2452-6843, 2452-10237 and 2452-10795. Pictures appear on page 187 of The Packard Registry.
1951 - March 16 - The 24th Series 250 (2431) is introduced. In an effort to upgrade the convertible and a new hardtop, Packard creates the 250 line which uses the chassis from the 200 line and the engine from the Super Eight (300 line). The engine is the 327 cubic inch eight that develops 150 horsepower and 270 lb.ft torque at 2000 rpm. The convertible Deluxe uses body number 2469 and the Mayfair sport coupe uses body number 2467. Prices are about $3,200 to $3,400. Serial numbers are in the same range as the 300 numbers. Serial numbers on file include J417890 and body numbers 2469-3642 and 2469-3685.
1951 - Packard variations - Collectors who have studied Packard closely have often found that Packard would go out of its way to produce the product that the customer wanted. For example, customers who wanted a 327 cubic inch engine in the 200 series Packard were able to obtain that variation from the company. Other examples include the use of a nine-main-bearing 327 cubic inch engine in a 122" wheelbase car.
1951 - Commercial Car Production. Using the Packard commercial chassis, Henney sold 401 units which were designed by Richard Arbib, Henney's great styling talent. Prices were high, however, with the Henney-Packard ambulance (5194) well over $7,000 and the landau (5104) at about $7,500. Cadillac, moreover, was slowly eating away at the market and was already producing several times more commercial chassis than was Packard.
1951 - Panther - The Packard Panther started off as Edward Macauley's personal car. Using parts from production Packards and styling ideas from John Reinhart, the Panther was mounted on a 122" wheelbase. In effect, it was a coupe with a shortened body covered by a fixed hardtop. It used parts destined for the 1952 model year including a 1952 bumper, '52 hood crest with 1951 lettering on a 1952 grill, plus a hood scoop that was essentially the same as that which Henney put on the Pan American. Wheel covers were also 1951 and had the Patrician cloisonne center emblems. The engine was a 327 cubic inch Packard straight eight connected to Ultramatic. A picture of a 1954 Panther Daytona appears on page 195 of The Packard Registry.
1951- Chief Stylist Reinhart resigns and is replaced by Richard A. Teague. Edward Macauley is still the Director of Styling. The 1951 Packard, however, bears the work of John Reinhart. The car is a hit both in the showroom and on the exhibition floor. It is a big time favorite with designers who award it a number of impressive trophies. As in the recent past, however, most of the cars built are popular priced cars with only the 400 Flagship at the upper end. In all about 101,000 cars are built and 70% of those are in the lowest priced or 200 Series. Many quality features, however, like Mosstred carpet are gone and the beautiful woodgraining of the 23rd Series is now much smaller and less elegant. Mechanically the car is excellent. A 1951 Patrician that I have owned for many years is fully the driving equal of the many 1947 through 1950 Packard Customs that I have owned. The big 356 Cubic Inch engine is gone, though, replaced by a very capable 327 cubic inch 9 main bearing engine that is actually more flexible than its larger ancestor. With just 5 less horsepower, the 327 cubic inch engine gives the "feel" of increased horsepower. Visibility over the hood is much improved, and it is a much more popular car with the ladies.
1951 - Production of the restyled 1951 models will rise to 100,713 cars. Only 9001 Patrician 400s will be made. The name "400" reflects Packard's earlier lists of 400 influential owners used in its advertising program. The new convertible and Packard's first hardtop were initially designated for the 200 Series market. After a few were made the line was upgraded, and the engine changed from the 288 to the 327. After that the Convertible and the Hardtop were designated 250 Series Packards. The design of the new Packard is a revamping of the earlier "bathtub" design which results in a high beltline. Still the design is an instantaneous success. The design receives the highest award possible from the Motion Picture Art Directors; still both Christopher and Ferry are blamed for a cheapening of the Packard image. Packard is first with the low pedal power brakes. Power steering is also offered.
1951 - A privately entered Packard places fifth in the Pan American Road Race covering 1933 miles.
1951 - August - William D. Allison, from Hudson, demonstrates a torsion-bar suspension system that he invented. Hudson feels that it cannot afford to develop the system for use of its cars and allows Mr. Allison to try and sell it elsewhere. Allison shows the system to Packard, and Packard loves it. Packard engages Allison on the spot. The measure of how Hudson felt about Allison, and also the kind of company that Hudson was, is shown by the fact that Hudson gave Allison a leave of absence plus six month's salary and benefits so that Allison could work for Packard. How many companies would do that?
THE 1952 MODEL YEAR
1951 - November 1 - The 25th Series 200 (2501) is introduced. Serial numbers are K200001 to K25000. 1952 200 Packards are about the same as 24th Series cars except the design is refined a bit, and improvements are made in the body and in the detailing. Available is a 2-door club sedan in both a standard and a Deluxe version, a 4-door also in the standard and Deluxe version plus an Henney Commercial. All, including the Henney, are on the 122" chassis. Prices range from about $2,400 to $2,700. Serial numbers in the Data Base include K209707, K216759, K409491, K419329, K423138 and K426408. Body numbers include 2562-7223, 2562-8563, 2562-23025, 2562-26175, 2565-4043 and 2592-4896. Pictures of 2501 Packards appear on pages 187 and 188 of The Packard Registry.
1951 - November 1 - The 25th Series 250 (2531) and the 300 (2502) are introduced. Serial numbers are K400001 to K424420. Models are essentially the same as the 24th Series with updates and styling improvements. The 250 122" wheelbase (2531) is used for the convertible and the Mayfair hardtop while the 300 (2502) is used for the 127" wheelbase 300 touring sedan. Prices are slightly higher than those for the 24th Series. The only number of file in the Data Base for 2531 and 2502 is body number 2579-2275.
1951 - November 1 - The 25th Series 400 (2506) is introduced. Serial numbers are K600001 to K604169. The 2506 chassis is now used only for the 400 Patrician which is essentially the same as the 24th Series except for some styling updates. The price of the 400 remains about $3,000. A commercial chassis (2513) is also available with prices from about $6,000 to $8,000.
1952 - Production for the year drops to 62,921.
1952 - Decorator Dorothy Draper is hired to design Packard's interiors for 1952.
1952 - February 15 - President Ferry places an order with Charles Feldmann of Henney to produce a show car. Richard Arbib, top designer at Henney, is given the assignment, and a 1951 250 Convertible is shipped to Henney to form the foundation for the show car. The car will be ready for the March 29th show at the Grand Central Palace show in New York City. The car is lowered from stock by several inches which requires that both the radiator and the steering column be lowered. Wire wheels are remade from an old set left over from the 1930s. The rear seat is removed, a functional airscoop is added to the hood and a continental rear spare tire is added. Richard Arbib had a magic touch. The car was fantastic and it takes the first-place trophy for the most oustanding design at the show. Named appropriately, The Pan American, as it is called, is an instant hit with the public who bombard the company with requests for copies.
1952 - May - Cost estimates for the production version of the Pan American are completed. The original car was sold to the Macauley family who kept it for a number of years. The original cost of the car is reported to have been about $10,000 excluding Mr. Arbib's fee.
THE JAMES J. NANCE PERIOD - BEGINNING OF THE END
1952 - The Pan American show car was conceived in a complicated period at Packard. The company lacked a good sense of direction with Ferry wanting out and a new leader soon to emerge. Henney encouraged Packard to go ahead with a production version. At the same time Henney was busy converting two 1952 Mayfair hardtops into the Monte Carlo hardtop show car. Packard agrees to a limited production of about 6 examples of the Pan American and probably just the original two Monte Carlo hardtops. With encouragement from Feldmann at Henney, Packard will decide to produce the Caribbean for the 1953 model year. See January, 1953.
1952 - May - James J. Nance becomes Packard president and general manager. Nance is also elected to the board. Nance came to Packard as part of a grand plan to form a fourth major automotive manufacturer. The plan was that Nance would merge Packard with Studebaker, while George Mason at Nash would merge Nash with Hudson which was already for sale. In the end Nance would become president of the four car company. Nance was at Hotpoint when the discussions took place, and Hotpoint was owned by General Electric. It is notable, therefore, that when Nance left Hotpoint for Packard that General Electric bought 25,000 shares of Packard stock. The purchase, obviously, looked forward to the development of the four-car company that would be spearheaded by Packard. Nance was a man of many talents, but mostly he was a salesman and that was what Packard needed at the time. Nance was young at 51 and with a relatively young man's enthusiasm, Nance became Packard's first charismatic leader. Those who had sat in the president's chair before him had been, for the most part, Packard types - cool, calm and collectible. But time was running out for Packard, and probably Nance sensed that his "first 100 days" should not be wasted. Nance was tough minded - a hard worker who demanded hard work from all those around him. His ideas and motivation were brilliant, but Packard's problems related to company size, the competition in the industry for styling leadership, and an on-going emphasis away from the quality that had been Packard's heritage. The modern car was becoming an expendable - built to last without problems only for the length of the finance contract. After that the modern car was intended to become just another old car needing repairs. The modern car, with its built-in planned obsolescence, would, in effect, "encourage" buyers to replace their cars every three to four years. Planned obsolescence, however, had never been a word in Packard's vocabulary. In 1952 more than 50% of the Packards ever built were still on the road. Packard quality, therefore, would be a contributor to Packard's demise as owners held onto their Packards several years longer than the industry average. Nance, however, would not give up easily. He made the wise move to attack the luxury market with full force. A full 30% of the company's output would be aimed in that direction. To accomplish his goals, Nance assembled an army of executives who came from a wide variety of backgrounds. They included:
NAME, POSITION, BACKGROUND
Hugh J. Ferry, Board Chairman, Packard
James J. Nance, President, Hotpoint
Leroy Spencer, Executive Vice-President, Packard (resigns in July)
Fred Walters, Vice-President of Marketing, Oldsmobile
Walter Grant, Vice-President of Finance, Hotpoint
Albert Behnke, Vice-President of Purchasing, Hotpoint
George Reifel, Vice-President of Manufacturing, Packard
Ray Powers, Vice-President of Manufacturing, Lincoln (replaces Reifel)
William Graves, Vice-President of Engineering, Packard
Wayne Brownell, Vice-President of Industrial Relations, Packard
George Brodie, Vice-President of Defense Work, Packard
Edward Macauley, Director of Styling, Packard
Richard A. Teague, Chief Stylist, Packard
1952 - May - Hugh J. Ferry becomes Packard board chairman.
1952 - June - Milton E. Tibbets retires as Vice President and Patent Counsel after 45 years' service.
1952 - June - Hugh J. Ferry, treasurer, resigns. Walter R. Grant is elected treasurer.
1952 - July 29 - Leroy Spencer, Executive Vice President of Packard, resigns to become West Coast Manager of Packard.
1952 - Henney custom builds the Pan American show car . At best 6 Pan Americans were built. The Caribbean, introduced in 1953, was based on the styling of the Pan American.
1952 - September 10 - Two Mayfairs are sent to Henney for conversion into Monte Carlo showcars.
1952 - October 22 - Two Monte Carlo showcars are shipped to Packard from Henney.
THE 1953 MODEL YEAR
1952 - November - The 26th Series Clipper (2601 and 2633) is introduced. Serial numbers are from L200001 to L250000. Engine horsepower is increased to 150 as the Clipper is given a separate identity from the Packard line. There are four models on the 2601 chassis including a 2- door and a 4-door sedan. There is also the Sportster with body number 2697 and a Henney commercial. All 2601 models are built on the 122" chassis. There is also the 127" chassis, 2633, which is a commercial chassis. The best information is that 1 Henney vehicle was built on a 2601 chassis and 380 on 2633. Most were ambulances. Prices for the 2601 cars ranged from about $2,500 to $2,800. Prices for 2633 were about $4,000. Serial numbers in the Data Base include L201137 and L215843. A picture appears on page 188 of The Packard Registry.
1952 - November - The 26th Series Clipper Deluxe (2611) is introduced. Serial numbers are in the L300001 to L330920 range. The Clipper Deluxe with the 327 cubic inch engine represents a major departure for Packard. The biggest engine is now available in the Junior line. With 160 horsepower the Clipper Deluxe is a good performer. Both a 2-door and a 4-door are available, and prices range from about $2,700 to $2,800. Serial numbers in the Data Base include L310587H and L328114. A picture appears on page 190 of The Packard Registry.
1952 - November - The 26th Series Cavalier (2602) and the Packard level Convertible, Mayfair and Caribbean (2631) are introduced. Serial numbers are in the L400001 to L418552 range. Chassis 2602 is the 127" standard chassis to which the Cavalier 300 is fitted. Chassis 2631 is the 122" chassis to which the Caribbean convertible, the Packard Convertible and the Packard Mayfair hardtop are fitted. All 2631 cars are "Packard" level cars and use the 327 cubic inch engine rated at 180 horsepower. The Cavalier, 2602, also uses the 180 horsepower 327 cubic inch engine. All engines in the 2602 and the 2631 line are fitted with 5 main bearings. Torque for this engine is rated at 300 lb/ft at 2000 rpm. A commercial chassis, 2613, is also provided. Henney built 166 cars on the 2613 chassis. Prices range from about $3,300 for the Cavalier to about $5,300 for the Caribbean. Commercial chassis car prices range from about $6,700 to $8,500. The introductory date for the Caribbean is actually later than the other 26th Series cars. See 1953 - January and March for more information. Serial numbers in the Data Base include L405845, L409229, L412113, L412115, L419044. Body numbers on file for the Model 2631 include 2678-2127, 2678-2272, 2678-2305, 2678-2583, 2678-2605. Pictures appear on pages 190, 191 and 192 of The Packard Registry.
1952 - November - The 26th Series Packard (2606 and 2626) is introduced. This is the top- of-the-line Packard. It uses the 180 horsepower, 327 cubic inch engine with 300 lb/ft of torque. For the top-of-the-line, however, the engine is also fitted with nine main bearings. Three body styles are available on this 127" chassis including the 4-door Patrician sedan (body number 2652), the Henney commercial, and the Derham Formal Sedan (body number 2653). Chassis 2626 is a 149" wheelbase chassis that is used for the Executive long wheelbase sedan (body number 2651) and the limousine (body number 2650). About 7,456 Patricians, 25 custom formal sedans, 100 long wheelbase sedans plus about 50 limousines are built on the 2626 chassis. In addition about 9 Henney cars are built on the 2606 chassis. Prices range from about $3,750 for the Patrician, $6,500 for the Derham and about $7,000 for the 2626 cars. Serial numbers are in the range of L600001 to L607829. Serial numbers in the Data Base include L600011 and L606977. Photographs appear on pages 189 and 190 of The Packard Registry.
1952 - The Balboa Number 2631-2006. Based on the Caribbean, the Balboa was intended to fill the need for a luxury hardtop. The Caribbean hardtop would not be built until 1955, and, rather than call the 26th Series hardtop a Caribbean hardtop, the decision was made to introduce the Balboa. Built on the 122" wheelbase used for both the Caribbean and the Mayfair, Caribbean type sheet metal was added to a Caribbean chassis which gave the Balboa great strength and rigidity. In reality the only major difference between the Caribbean and the Balboa is the roof. The roof is particularly attractive and unusual in that it slants forward rather than to the rear and sits under the roof overhang. The window does not go down but in production it would have - or so the story goes. The cost to produce it was quite high - in the neighborhood of $12,000 which was a lot of money for the 1952-1953 era. Only one example was built, and, of course, it never got into production.
1952 - Bill France, driving a Packard, sets the 2nd fastest US stock car record at Daytona at 98.22. A Chrysler Hemi V-8 was first at 100.94. A Packard places 9th at the Pan American road race.
1952 - The Korean War brought many new defense contracts to the automotive industry. Packard's own involvement was to the tune of about $70 million dollars - mostly for the manufacture of jet airplane engines. To accomplish the needed task Packard bought a plant adjacent to the Utica Proving Grounds property which, together with tooling costs, involved an investment of about $17 million.
1953 - President Nance sets an optimistic and enthusiastic course for Packard. The line for 1953 enhanced the then three-year-old design. With high first quarter sales, sales for the year rose to $182 million, and profits before taxes are $10 million - the most in Packard's history. Later in the year the automotive market softened, but net earnings remained good at $5.4 million. Richard A. Teague did an excellent job of revamping the old design including a new grill. Major metal work, however, like fenders and the hood, are carryovers from the previous series, but a new windshield gives the whole series a new look. Intending to emphasize the Packard name as a luxury car, Nance decided to rename the popular priced Packards as "Clippers" - another good name from Packard's past. The medium priced line was given the name "Cavalier" (and who knows where the name came from). Also known as the "300", the Cavalier was a lost duckling because its identity was never quite clear - though it was certainly an excellent car, and it was, to be sure, a Packard through and through.
1953 - As the line is expanded production rises to a total of 90,277 cars of which more than half are from the lower priced lines.
1953 - Packard changes its ad agency from Young & Rubicam to Maxon.
1953 - January - The Packard Caribbean is announced. It draws heavily on the identity of the Pan American. Though Henney was largely responsible for the original design work of the Pan American, the actual production of the Caribbean is based on Packard convertibles shipped to Mitchell-Bentley in Ionia, Michigan, for conversion.
1953 - March - Deliveries of Caribbeans start. The Packard Derham is also put into production. Converted from Packard Patricians (number designation 2652), the Derham is assigned the number 2653 and includes many traditional Derham features like the oval rear window. To add another touch of class and to resurrect Packard's past, Nance decides to produce long-wheelbase sedans and limousines. No such cars had been produced by Packard since the 23rd Series of 1949. The production of the long-wheelbase cars was assigned to Henney who built them on a 140 inch wheelbase. Recognition of Henney's contribution, which had not previously appeared in any way on Packard cars, was noted by a plate attached to the rear door post which said "Body Styled and Built by Henney". It was a long overdue gesture. Henney had always been a Packard supporter - and for good cause. It was time, however, to acknowledge that closeness. The Derham and the Henney cars all used the 327 cubic inch engine with nine main bearings. 1953 was also the year of the "Balboa" and more awards for Packard. With a bottom that looked like a Caribbean and a top that had a unique rear overhang plus a rear window that slanted inward from top to bottom, it was strikingly different. For a while Packard considered putting it into production during the 1954 model year but finally gave up on the idea in order that the company could concentrate on the 1955 models. The rear window idea was put into production on Mercury cars a few years later, but when owners complained about snow build up the concept was dropped. A modern rear window with defrosting wires would solve the snow problem, and, since the windows generally stayed free of rain water, they did provide better visibility.
Packard Loses Briggs - Its Body Building Component
1953 - May - Chrysler buys Briggs Manufacturing - maker of Packard bodies. The loss of Briggs was a serious blow to Packard and underlined the bad decision made in 1940 to farm out Packard's body building business to Briggs. Briggs had taken advantage of Packard almost from the start, and that poor relationship only seemed to get worse. When the owner of Briggs died, inheritance taxes and other financial problems plunged Briggs very close to bankruptcy. To save what was left, the family offered the company for sale, and it was grabbed quite quickly by Chrysler. Chrysler, for several reasons, decided that it would not continue the arrangement that Briggs had with Packard. The decision, of course, created a mammoth problem for Packard. An interim measure was to contract with Chrysler, on a short-term basis, for the production of Packard bodies, at least until another solution could be found. Probably Chrysler was afraid of government intervention - restraint of trade, etc., if it put Packard out of business by refusing to make Packard bodies, but it was not going to do Packard any favors either. Packard, therefore, had to reallocate the money that had been set aside for the development of the 1955 Series to the negotiation effort designed to induce Chrysler to produce its bodies temporarily. The money, quite frankly, could have been better spent.
1953 - Packard places 5th in the Pan American Road Race. Engine was a Patrician.
1953 - Stock Packards placed 12th & 14th right behind modified factory Lincolns.
1953 - September 23, Don O'Dell wins the AAA 150 mile race at Milwaukee in a Packard. Other vistories this year included 4th at Heidelberg, PA, 3rd at Milwaukee and a 2nd at Illiana, Indiana.
1953 - Air conditioning was again offered though the unit was made for Packard by GM's Frigidaire. Other 1953 features include power steering, which was all Packard made. The Packard unit was of excellent design and did not require a heavy hand to activate as did the GM unit. Where power steering units developed by Chrysler and other companies supplied pressure to the steering linkage - which overtaxed the linkage, Packard placed its unit on the frame with power being supplied directly to the steering mechanism and not to the steering linkage. Other options included a selector bar radio and a four-barrel carburetor.
1953 - The changes made by Nance have helped the company. For the first quarter of 1953 profits rose to $3.5 million. That was a gain of about $2 million over the first quarter profits earned in 1952.
1953 - The summer of 1953 brought a major shock to Packard and to the rest of the automotive industry. The buying public stopped buying which meant that inventories shot up at an alarming rate. At the same time the government contract for jet engines was reduced. By year's end the Nance program for increased production was in a shambles. Profits still held, however, and were almost $5.5 million at year's end. It was a tough way to start Nance's expansion program which was supposed to get into full swing in 1954 and to lead into the 1955 production of the "all new" Packards. The program, which had heavy startup costs, involved developing a line of credit with banks for an estimated $20 million - something that was generally alien to Packard. 1953 would also be the last year that Packard would identify its cars using the old number sequence. The 1953 cars were 26th Series Packards. 1954 Packards would be 54th Series Packards.
THE 1954 MODEL YEAR
1954 - With high inventories of 1953 cars on hand, dealer orders to the factory are way down, and production dips sharply to 31,291 cars - the lowest in the company's history since the Eleventh Series of 1933-1934. The car market was sluggish, and clearly the original Reinhart style had seen its best days. Packard needed a new look and new engineering, and both would be found in the series planned for 1955. The series designation change that took place in 1954 made the 1954 cars 54th Series Packards - a numbering system that would continue to the end. It was a natural change that should have been adopted years earlier. Any numbering system that identifies a product by the year of manufacture can be followed quite easily and without much study of the system. That would certainly have helped Packard enthusiasts, many of whom struggle with series designations and its correlation with the year of manufacture identification. The 1954 Packard is supposed to reflect the ultimate refinement of the straight eight engine design. In reality and in retrospect, it was pushed beyond its natural limits. The original 327 cubic inch engine was now 359 cubic inches - more than the earlier 356 cubic inch engine dropped in 1951. With nine main bearings, it still had crankshaft rigidity, but the 212 horsepower output was asking a great deal from the old engine. The aluminum head, too, was a problem area.
1954 - November - The 54th Series Clipper Special (5400 and 5433) Clipper Deluxe (5401) and Clipper Super (5411) are introduced. The series numbering system is changed again starting with 1954. The series is made to conform to the model year, and thus the 1954 Packards become 54th Series Packards. Following the previous year's system they would have been 27th Series cars. There is some lack of information on the serial numbers of these cars. The best information is that there were two ranges including M200001 to M202000 (5400 and 5433) and a range that started at M300001 (5401 and 5411). The Clipper Special (5400 and 5433) continued to use the 288 cubic inch engine with a horsepower rating of 150. Two syles were fitted to this 122" wheelbase chassis including the 2-door club sedan and the 4-door touring sedan. About 1800 cars total were made on this chassis. Chassis 5433 was a commercial chassis with a 122" wheelbase. About 120 Henney cars were built for this chassis. The Clipper Deluxe (5401), also a 122" wheelbase chassis, used the 327 cubic inch engine and was fitted with three bodies including the 2-door club sedan, the 4-door touring sedan and the Sportster business coupe. About 7,610 touring sedans, 1,500 club sedans and 1,336 Sportster coupes were built. The Clipper Super used the 122" wheelbase chassis number 5411 to which were fitted the 2-door club sedan, the 4-door touring sedan and the Panama business coupe. Production figures for the Clipper Super show that 6,270 touring sedans were built plus 887 club sedans and about 3,500 Panama business coupes. Prices ranged from about $2,500 to $3,700 and higher for the commercial chassis. Serial numbers in the Data Base include M319233, a 4-door Clipper Deluxe with body number 5492-9130 and also body numbers 5497-2770 (Sportster) plus 5411 (4-door Sedan) M301113 with body number 5462-2488. See The Packard Registry page 193 for pictures.
1954 - November - The 54th Series Cavalier (5402) is introduced. Serial numbers are M400001 to M402638. The 5402 chassis uses the 327 cubic inch engine which produces 185 horsepower and 310 lf/ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. It is the 1954 version of the previous year's 2602, 2631 and 2613 line of chassis. With the 54th Series, only the Cavalier uses this chassis. Announced basic price is $3,344. The Data Base lists 5402 4-door Sedan Cavalier with body number 5472-2854.
1954 - November - The 54th Series Patrician (5406) Packard 400 (5413) Patrician Custom (5426) and the Packard Pacific and Caribbean (5431) are introduced. Serial numbers are M600001 to M605618. The engine used for the senior line of Packards is an expanded version of the 327 cubic inch engine that now produces 359 cubic inches and 212 horsepower. Its rated torque is 330 lb/ft at 2200 rpm. The head on this engine is aluminum, and, in time, it proves to be a troublesome feature. Nine main bearings support the crankshaft. The body mounted on the 127" chassis, 5406, is the Patrician (body number 5452). This body is both elegant and luxurious. The price of the Patrician is about $4,000, and 2,760 are sold. Patrician Custom 5426 uses the same engine but a 149" wheelbase. Mounted on this chassis are the Executive sedan (body number 5451) and the limousine (5450). Sixty-five of the Executive sedans are sold, and about 35 corporate limousines are also sold. Chassis number 5431 is 122" and is used for the the Deluxe convertible (body number 5479), the Pacific hardtop (body number 5477), and the Caribbean (body number 5478). The price of the convertible is about $4,000, and 863 are sold. The price of the Pacific is about $3,900, and 1,189 are sold. The Caribbean is priced at $6,100, and 400 are sold. Serial numbers included in the data base are M600251, M600775, M601527, M603550, M604316, M604971 and M604980. Body numbers by style include (Patrician 4-door Sedan) 5452-3378, 5452-4038, 5452-4405; (8-passenger Executive Sedan) 5451-2025; (2-door Pacific Hardtop) 5477-2464; (Caribbean Convertible) 5478-2042, 5478-2105, 5478-2260, 5478- 2400; (Convertible Deluxe) 5479-2642, 5479-2734; (Limousine) 5450-2025; (8-passenger Executive Sedan) 5451-2025. Pictures appear on pages 193, 194 and 195 of The Packard Registry.
The Packard Panther
1954 - Since 1952 Packard had developed a pattern of introducing a show car for each new model year. The Pan American never went into production but its lineal descendant, the Caribbean, did. The Panther was the show car for 1954, and it carried on a series of theme cars that included:
The Pan American - 1952
The Monte Carlo - 1952
The Caribbean - 1952
The Balboa - 1953
The Panther - 1954
The Request - 1955
The Predictor - 1956
The Panther was Packard's first fiberglass-bodied car and Packard's first business arrangement with Creative Industries. Creative Industries, Inc. produced five Packard Panthers which were originally dubbed the Gray Wolf in remembrance of Packard's early racing days. The cars were truly unique. They were made of fiberglass, and they were supercharged. Quite a bit to say about a car built in 1954. Designed by Dick Teague, the Panther was to be named the Gray Wolf II in memory of the early Packard racing car. After it performed admirably at Daytona that name was added, and officially it became the Panther Daytona. The "Daytona" part of the name was deleted when the hype wore off. Built on the 122" wheelbase, it used the 359 cubic inch straight eight engine of 1954. Boost was provided by a McCulloch which provided 275 horsepower. In stock form, except for a racing type windscreen, it was timed at 131.1 mph at Daytona - the fastest time ever recorded by a car in its class. Serial number M600081 appears in the Data Base for this car. More information on this particular Packard plus photos appear on pages 195 and 196 of The Packard Registry.
PACKARD CONTRACTS FOR ITS OWN FUNERAL BY BUYING STUDEBAKER
1954 - The background to the merger of Packard and Studebaker dates back to the original plans made in May, 1952, when Nance became president of Packard and brought with him a long- range plan for the merger of the four independents into a fourth major automotive manufacturer. The process was hastened because of a poor sales climate that developed in 1953 and a battle for leadership that erupted between Ford and General Motors in 1954. As part of the original plan, Geroge Mason has already merged Nash and Hudson together under the American Motors label. American Motors, however, was going through some tough times since the merger had not yet accomplished all that it was intended to accomplish. Even after the merger Nash and Hudson dealers, even though they were technically united under one corporate banner, remained in intense competition with one another. The car lines and markets were still ill defined, and finances were strained about as tight as they could go. Joining that group, therefore, had limited appeal to Nance at Packard and no appeal at Studebaker. Studebaker, which was doing its thing by stumbling around in the dark, probably had its eye on Packard which must have looked like a jucy plum to the South Bend company. The Studebaker folks played coy about any merger, which probably made that company look better than it was, or perhaps Studebaker didn't know how bad off it really was. At any rate, it appears that no one had all of the facts about the Studebaker operation - neither Studebaker nor Packard. The management firm of Lehman Brothers, Inc., which prepared a management report on the proposed merger, may have been as confused as everyone else because it, apparently, never found out how strained Studebaker actually was.
1954 - April - In April a report is presented by Lehman Brothers, consultants, regarding the merger of Studebaker and Packard. In principle the report made sense. It noted how different Packard and Studebaker were, and it noted that neither company was in direct competition with the other. That was true enough. Lehman concluded, however, that a combined company would have greater financial resources and a greater depth of management talent than the companies possessed singularly. While that may have sounded good, it did not make sense. The idea that the two companies could share models and parts, for example, was an open admission that the two companies would lose their individual identities and move to a middle ground where neither company had any heritage. Moreover combining two thin bank accounts together could only mean that one would gain slightly from the loss of the other, and that is just what happened.
1954 - April - Richard A. Teague, the designer of the Panther and the Balboa, was largely responsible for what would become the 1955 Packard. Teague replaced Reinhart in 1951 and inherited the excellent design work that Reinhart had done preparing for the 1951 Packards. Much of the design work is done on a rush basis - especially the rear end. As the story goes Teague planned the rear end treatment in about four hours, and Nance loved it. In reality the 1955 is a well disguised face-lift of the 1951 design though the public perceived it as an all new body. Many at Packard and customers, too, yearned for the old vertical grill treatment. Teague built a show car for 1955 that had this feature. Constructed by Creative Industries, the car had a vertical grill plus many Caribbean features - wire wheels, etc. To power the new Packard the engineers designed an all-new V-8 which was available in two basic sizes - one at 327 cubic inches and the other at 352 cubic inches. The size was increased to 374 in 1956, and it had plenty of block left to increase the size even further. The new engine quickly made a mark for itself, being driven for 25,000 miles at an average speed of 104.7 mph. The run was conducted at the Packard test track,and, since that track was not a certified course, the feat did not make the record books. The run is still well remembered, however, and usually earns footnotes whenever records are mentioned. Unlike most test runs, the Packard endurance run was conducted with a strictly stock car taken right off the production line.
1954 - The new updated automatic transmission, designed by Forest McFarland with support from John Z. DeLorean, is called Twin Ultramatic. With smoothness and now zip, it has two drive positions. The lower position starts off in low gear and shifts into high. In the high drive position the car starts in 1:1 without any shift from low to high. Both positions provide the torque multiplication feature of a torque converter plus Packard's great feature of a shift into direct drive locking out the torque converter.
1954 - Another Packard feature for 1955 was Torsion-Level suspension. The suspension was designed by William D. Allison whose heritage was with Hudson from the 1940s. The basic ingredients of the system had been tried on a Hudson test car but was discarded when the war came along. Allison tried to sell the idea to a host of companies including Hudson, Studebaker, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. Hudson, sadly, felt that it did not have the financial resources to refine it and to put it into production. In August, 1951, Allison showed the car to Packard and was immediately engaged to develop a chassis for Packard. It was a first on any production car, and as Packard produced it, with rods tying the front and rear wheels together, it was a totally new and brilliant idea. Instead of the "float" generated by conventional springs, which results when the motion put into a spring rebounds back out, Packard's Torsion-Level suspension took the forces generated by road irregularities and turned them into a twisting motion absorbed by the torsion bars.
1954 - May - The Lehman report of April was amended somewhat in May. It suggested that Packard "acquire" Studebaker's assets. What it really meant was that Packard should use its assets to buy the indebtedness of Studebaker. The assets of Studebaker, by the way, included a money losing operation with a break even production quota that was just about unobtainable. In reality, therefore, there were no "real" assets to buy at Studebaker. What Packard was going to buy was the proverbial "pig in a poke". I think Jim Nance should have known better. (See October 1, 1954)
1954 - Henney, producer of Packard's long-wheelbased cars goes out of business. Purchased by Charles R. Feldmann in 1946, Feldmann had done his best to save Henney, but it was no use. With Henney gone, Packard lost its ability to supply long-wheelbase customs and commercial vehicles. A 1956 Patrician would be sent to Derham for conversion on a test basis. It would end up being used by Nance as a personal vehicle.
1954 - June 7 - George T. Christopher dies at age 66.
1954 - June 22 - Agreement is made for Packard to buy Studebaker. Must be approved by stockholders.
1954 - August 17 - Stockholders approve purchase of Studebaker by Packard.
1954 - October 1 - Packard buys Studebaker, and the name is changed to Studebaker-Packard Corporation. Many Packard enthusiasts have long wondered how the name came to be "Studebaker-Packard". Putting Studebaker first in the name implies "something", but what? Since Packard bought Studebaker and not the other way around, why wasn't the name "Packard- Studebaker", which is even alphabetical. Some Packard enthusiasts think the name should have remained just "Packard" and Studebaker brought into the company as a division of Packard, and then some other enthusiasts think that the purchase should never have been made at all. I fall into the last category. At any rate, Studebaker became a major partner both in name and in influence. The folks at Packard, who were responsible for the purchase of Studebaker, should have reflected on what Studebaker had done to another great "P" company. The wonderful big three quality car makers had been Packard, Peerless and Pierce Arrow. Studebaker had done in Pierce Arrow, and now it was going to do the same thing to Packard. A number of stockholders at the time of the purchase brought up those exact points. Many, if not most Packard stockholders, were at least as dedicated to the company as they were to their investment in the company, and they feared that buying Studebaker was a big mistake. Studebaker had a history of making excellent cars, but by the time Packard came along Studebaker was far behind the times and, in my opinion, those in charge of operating the company only sought an influx of cash to protect their salaries. The comment made by one Packard stockholder was a priceless gem. It related to the foolishness of the captain of a sinking ship trying to save his ship by tying it to another sinking ship. There is more sense in that comment than one would get taking a college course in corporate finance. When the purchase was completed a new board was formed. Note the constitution of the new board:
Paul Hoffman - Board Chairman (From Studebaker)
James J. Nance - President (From Packard)
Harold Vance - Chairman of the Executive Committee (From Studebaker)
It is interesting, I think, that a so-called "Packard Man" was sandwiched in between two Studebaker types. Stockholders were not the only ones to object. A member of the Packard Management team, Fred H. Rush, complained about it bitterly and sent a lengthy report to Packard stockholders. Rush termed the deal a "sellout". Sadly, however, his words of wisdom were merely pearls thrown before swine. Far too many people, I think, including Nance, remembered the turn-a-round that Vance had been able to effect at Studebaker in 1935. The "miracle", however, included some particularly good luck including an economic turn-a-round that coincided with America's preparation for World War Two and a neat new car called the Champion, introduced in 1939, that propelled Studebaker out of the receivership that it had been in since 1933. Behind it all was Studebaker's Paul Hoffman, vice-president of advertising and sales. Hoffman was later responsible for the wonderful 1947 Studebakers styled by Raymond Loewy - perhaps America's best styled cars that year. When Hoffman left Studebaker temporarily in 1948, Vance and Loewy jumped off the deep end and dreamed up the 1950 - 1951 propeller styled Studebakers that proved to be an economic nightmare for Studebaker and for the people that bought them. The biggest blunder of all, however, came right after the war when Studebaker decided to avoid union problems by giving the union whatever it wanted. The union demands propelled production costs far beyond what was reasonable. The fuse had been lit, and all that remained was for the bomb to go off. The 1953 Studebakers, the cars that Packard was buying, were beautifully designed and well-built cars, but the company could not operate in the black. The only hope left for Studebaker was to sell out to a stronger company, and Packard was the only interested buyer. A surprise factor in the purchase was the lack of attention paid to the transaction by the two major financial investors - the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and the Mutual Benefit Life. It would appear that neither company did much to evaluate the transaction or the abilities of the parties to pay back what they were going to borrow, but the financial support for the new company gave an air of "respectability" to the transaction. Actually, Nance did anticipate a loss both for 1955 and 1956, but he expected that a common shell for both cars would make the company profitable in 1957. It is hard to imagine that Nance actually expected that prospective Packard buyers would even consider buying a Packard dressed in a Studebaker suit. A few buyers might - out of loyalty, but 100,000 or more? Never. Nance would later find out that the real break-even point in production would be a quarter of a million cars or more. That, of course, was "The Impossible Dream". One last straw - not the one that broke the camel's back because there was far more than just one straw that could do that - was the loss of defense work - thanks to a gentleman by the name of Charlie Wilson, formerly of General Motors fame. When the Korean War ended and defense work was paired back, Mr. Wilson was quick to shift work away from Packard and from Studebaker, too. Unfortunately, both had depended upon that income to see them over the initial hump. Perhaps it wouldn't have made any difference, but it was a lethal dose that cost Studebaker-Packard almost a half billion dollars in income. It has been said that Charlie Wilson probably didn't know the effect his action would have on Packard. Only a fool could miss the effect of taking a half billion dollars in income away from Studebaker-Packard and Charlie Wilson was anything but a fool. Later, when it was obvious that America was going to lose two premiere resources, two companies that had done more than their share for their country, there was no move to send a contract to Studebaker-Packard. Later on, bail-outs would save American Motors, Lockheed and even Chrysler - to name just a few, but Packard had some bitter enemies who would be glad to see the great lady and all of her competition gone for good. They got what they wanted.
The Last Great Bad Decision - Nance Buys An Old Briggs Plant to Build Bodies
1954 - October 17 - Plans to build the 1955 Packards at the Conner Avenue Briggs plant are completed. It is not the Briggs plant that Briggs had used to build Packard bodies but an older and much smaller factory. The decision to buy the Briggs plant to build Packard bodies is perhaps the worst decision that Nance ever made - except, probably, the decision to buy Studebaker in the first place. The move to the Briggs plant started on September 16 and was completed on October 17. Less than two weeks later, on November 1st, the first Packard to be built there rolls off the assembly line. The actual move was made swiftly and efficiently, but why Nance would abandon the Packard factory for a totally new environment remains a mystery. The old Packard plant, to be sure, was old, and it occupied multiple floors, but it was big, and it had served efficiently without problems for years, and it was still fully functional. The Briggs plant, on the other hand, was only a quarter of the size of the Packard plant and not nearly as efficient. Its purchase was a foolish waste of money. The old Boulevard plant was a luxury by comparison. It had gone through a whole series of changes over the years accommodating the ideas of one president after another, including a combining of the Junior and the Senior lines plus changes for the war effort, then a rebuilt after the war and finally to be taken apart piece by piece by Nance. One would have thought that Packard had an unlimited amount of money - the way that Nance spent it. The final determinant of the relative value of the two plants would be their respective production capabilities. The old Boulevard plant easily turned out 100 cars an hour for 16 hours a day. The best that the Briggs plant was able to accomplish was 25 cars an hour and that for just a single 8 hour shift. As a result sales suffered because the plant was so slow that orders could not be filled and that was just what Packard did not need. And, to make matters even worse, the quality of assembly was terrible - the worst by far in the company's history.
When George Mason of AMC died, his successor, George Romney, ended all hopes for a four- car company. A very few insiders knew that Romney had decided against the merger with Studebaker-Packard because Studebaker was such a liability that he feared it would kill off the new company, and probably he was right. There is no reason to assume that a merger between AMC and Studebaker-Packard would have been good for anyone. The only thing that would have saved Studebaker would have been to put it into bankruptcy and then shrink and reorganize it to a profitable size. Packard had done that, and during this period of time it actually made a profit.
1954 - October 21 - A new 1955 Patrician starts the 25,000 mile endurance run at the Packard Proving Grounds. The average speed for 25,000 miles was 104.737 mph.
1954 - Packard abandons its old factory in Detroit.
1954 - Packard again builds its own bodies - first time since 1941.
1954 - Jim Rathmann drives the Packard Panther at 131 mph at Daytona Beach.
1954 - Packard driver, Don O'Dell, finishes 4th overall in AAA, beating Hudson Hornet driven by Marshall Teague at Milwaukee.
1954 - Packard Marine engines continue to serve - The Constant, an ocean going minesweeper, launched in 1952, is assigned to the US National Reserve. It is powered by four Packard 1D1700 V12 engines. The Exploit, also an ocean going minesweeper, powered by Packard engines, is still on active duty. Other minesweepers still in service include the Implicit, Pluck, and the Guadalmedina and the Guadiana, which serve with the Royal Spanish Navy. Two Packard powered Mine Support Ships as well as a Torpedo Tender, also serve with the Royal Dutch Navy.
THE 1955 MODEL YEAR
1955 - Packard Marine engines are a viable commodity - The Adroit, and the Pledge are launched with Packard engines. Several more will be launched in 1956.
1955 - January 17 - The 55th Series Clipper Deluxe and Super (5540) are introduced. This year the motor number, which usually determine a Packard's serial number, is the same as the vehicle's serial number. This becomes the "ID" number. Chassis 5540 has a 122" wheelbase and is used for the Panama 2-door hardtop (body number 5547), the 4-door sedan (body number 5542) and the Deluxe 4-door sedan (body number 5522). The engine is all new, a V-8 of 320 cubic inches and very close in size to the earlier 327 straight eight. Horsepower, however, reflects the power potential from the V-8 type and is 225 horsepower at 4600 rpm. The crankshaft is supported by five main bearings. A new form of Ultramatic called Twin Ultramatic is available as an option. Overdrive is also available as an option with the three-speed stick shift. The chassis and body are clever reworks of the early straight eight types and hide the ancestory remarkably well. Chassis 5540 is used for the Panama 2-door hardtop, the Super 4-door sedan, and the Deluxe 4-door sedan. Prices range from about $2,600 to about $2,800. About 8,309 of the Deluxe touring sedan are built, about 7,979 of the Super, and about 7,016 of the Panama are built.
Serial numbers on file for the 4-door Sedan Deluxe (5522) include 2418, 2469, 2577, 3375, 4141,4406, 4482, 4522, 4631, 5267, 5583,6640, 7891, 8853 and 8928.
Serial numbers in the Data Base for the 4-door Sedan Super (5542) include 1035, 1088, 1305, 1780, 1833, 2245, 3005, 3071, 3639, 4205, 4717, 4981, 5508, 5594, 6444, 7157, 7184, 7504, 7575, 7628, 7805, 7871, 7927, 8361, 8541, 8630 and 8831.
Serial numbers listed for the 2-door Panama Hardtop (5547) include 1550, 1825, 2854, 2902, 3028, 3202, 3537, 3540, 3741, 4042, 4337, 4486, 4645, 4739, 4989, 5106, 5161, 5251, 5836, 6249, 6430, 6732, 6790, 6931, 7222 and 7675.
1955 - January 17 - The 55th Series Clipper Custom (5560) is introduced. The Clipper Custom introduces the new 352 cubic inch engine with a horsepower rating of 245 horsepower at 4600 rpm. Like the 320 V-8, the 352 engine is all new and represents the best in automotive design for its time. Torque is very high at 355 lb/ft which requires a strengthened transmission. To meet the new transmission requirements Packard introduces the Twin Ultramatic. The chassis for the Clipper Custom is the 122" transmission used in the 5540 series. A Custom 4-door sedan (body number 5562) is available as is the 2-door Constellation Custom hardtop with body number 5567. Prices for both body styles are about $3,000. Sales include 8,798 of the Custom and 6,670 of the Constellation.
Serial numbers in the Data Base include the following for the 4-door Sedan Custom (5562) 1209, 1359, 1416, 1604, 1988, 2025, 2300, 2346, 2844, 2910, 3052, 3191, 3562, 3944, 4758, 4877, 5432, 5549, 5642, 5692, 6122, 6160, 6268, 6352, 6572, 7048, 7377, 7524, 8001, 8033, 8091, 8178,8211, 8296, 8783, 9038, 9283, 9522 and 9644.
Serial numbers in the Data Base for the 2-door Constellation Custom (5567) include 1357, 1823, 1859, 1967, 2862, 3071, 3110, 3301, 3724, 3902, 4078, 4483, 4591, 4599, 4666, 4715, 4782, 4789, 5062, 5147, 5238, 5325, 5362, 5488, 5799, 6302, 6443, 6727, 7264 and 7657.
1955 - January 17 - The 55th Series Packard Patrician, 400, and, Caribbean (5580) are introduced. This is the premiere line for Packard in 1955. The engine is the 352 cubic inch version that is tuned to produce 260 horsepower. Twin carburetors and other tuning adjustments take the Caribbean horsepower to 275 - the most in the industry. Twin Ultramatic is standard with the senior line. It is a unique transmission that offers two forward speeds and a direct drive type of torque converter. The 5580 chassis is 127" which results in Packard's first 127" wheelbase convertible since 1950. All three cars, the 4-door Patrician, the deluxe 400 hardtop, and the Caribbean are first-rate products. They are well designed and well made with beautiful appointments. They suffer a bit from a shortened pre-production testing program, but none of the problems proves to be "life-threatening" even after 40 years of use. Prices start at about $3,900 for the Patrician, about $4,000 for the 400 and about $6,000 for the Caribbean. Sales of the Patrician are 9,127, which make it Packard's most popular 1955 model. About 7,200 of the 400 are sold plus 500 Caribbeans.
Serial numbers on file in the Data Base for Model 5580 include 4-door Sedan Patrician (5582) 1111, 1171, 1315, 1577, 1589, 1709, 2010, 2054, 2063, 2119, 2363, 2283, 2381, 2504, 2508, 2510, 2661, 2671, 2750, 2795, 2809, 2811, 2865, 3000, 3006, 3029, 3050, 3322, 3396, 3433, 3537, 3698, 3828, 3871, 3909, 3967, 4123, 4125, 4139, 4211, 4252, 4255, 4387, 4622, 4632, 4844, 4958, 5016, 5084, 5090, 5111, 5373, 5629, 5752, 5781, 5833, 5880, 6043, 6044, 6097, 6197, 6239, 6256, 6368, 6496, 6608, 6744, 6903, 6948, 6987, 7036, 7053, 7080, 7093, 7263, 7283, 7311, 7315, 7346, 7406, 7425, 7467, 7491, 7497, 7504, 7533, 7572, 7662, 7868, 7904, 7922, 8341, 8389, 8760, 8812, 8875, 8954, 8895, 8972, 9007, 9100, 9148, 9231, 9423, 9424, 9531, 9617, 9650, 9674, 9892, and 9906.
Serial numbers for the 2-door 400 Coupe Hardtop (5587) include 1003, 1124, 1205, 1216, 1285, 1416, 1472, 1437, 1630, 1701, 1918, 1937, 1973, 2151, 2165, 2178, 2187, 2263, 2286, 2299, 2347, 2413, 2467, 2561, 2614, 2674, 2704, 2738, 2790, 3018, 3027, 3110, 3234, 3268, 3310, 3328, 3374, 3486, 3523, 3784, 3838, 3903, 4038, 4098, 4135, 4142, 4199, 4239, 4287, 4293, 4499, 4509, 4558, 4569, 4608, 4660, 4679, 4694, 4745, 4833, 4886, 4949, 5036, 5087, 5133, 5192, 5245, 5351, 5463, 5494, 5518, 5576, 5805, 5878, 5977, 6099, 6152, 6232, 6273, 6350, 6461, 6466, 6518, 6560, 6569, 6584, 6623, 6711, 6712, 6726, 6768, 6820, 6834, 6879, 6883, 6926, 6961, 7095, 7110, 7140, 7240, 7253, 7328, 7344, 7371, 7402, 7469, 7550, 7554, 7611, 7625, 7630, 7787, 7929, 7940, 7975, 8015, 8019 and 8739.
Serial numbers for the Caribbean Convertible (5588) include 1001, 1008, 1014, 1019, 1040, 1047, 1050, 1053, 1059, 1060, 1066, 1079, 1081, 1082, 1083, 1084, 1089, 1094, 1095, 1098, 1099, 1101, 1102, 1109, 1121, 1133, 1134, 1144, 1150, 1151, 1159, 1169, 1185, 1187, 1213, 1219, 1221, 1224, 1227, 1232, 1233, 1244, 1249, 1257, 1263, 1292, 1313, 1314, 1326, 1327, 1328, 1332, 1334, 1335, 1341, 1346, 1348, 1366, 1376, 1382, 1389, 1391, 1400, 1407, 1411, 1421, 1423, 1433, 1435, 1437, 1444, 1451, 1455, 1456, 1464, 1476, 1479, 1487, 1491, 1495, 1499.
NOTE: Note the density of serial numbers on the above 1955 Packards especially the 5588 Caribbeans where complete strings of existing numbers appear. Note, for example, that of the 1079, 1081, 1082, 1083 and 1084 run of numbers, only one number out of six is missing. That certainly indicates a high survivability of these cars. I am also certain that there are a lot more numbers out there than the ones that we have in our Data Base which means that the survivability is even higher than shown here.
1955 - February - Pan American Airlines brings suit against Packard for its use of the name "Clipper" and later adds the names "Pan American", "Constellation", "Panama" and "Caribbean". The suit lingers on into 1958 when the names are dropped and no longer have any value to Packard.
1955 - As the new V-8 cars are released buyer interest rises and production rises to 55,247 units.
1955 - There is discussion about the development of a V-12 engine. On July 21, 1955, the concept is dropped.
1955 - Nance hires a new chief designer - William Schmidt from Lincoln-Mercury to replace Edward Macauley who retires almost unnoticed. Dick Teague is made director of Packard Styling, and Duncan McRae, who was recruited from Ford, is placed in charge of Studebaker Styling. McRae replaced Raymond Loewy who had a contract with Studebaker for services through 1962. To secure a release from Loewy is reported to have cost Studebaker-Packard a million dollars. It is just another case of throwing money away.
1955 - Packard changes its ad agency again, dropping Maxon, whom it employed from 1953, and hiring Ruthraff & Ryan.
1955 - Production for the year 1955 closed at 55,247 of which 16,833 were upper level non- Clipper cars. The Packard Division made a profit on that level of production though total corporate losses stood at close to $30,000,000.
THE 1956 MODEL YEAR
1955 - November 3 - The 56th Series Clipper Deluxe and Super (5640) are introduced. In an effort to push sales Packard eliminates the 320 cubic inch V-8 and replaces it with the 352 cubic inch version in the lowest priced line. Horsepower is 240 and torque is 350 lb/ft at 2800 rpm. Rear end changes include a new Packard-Spicer differential to replace the traditional hypoid type. Twin Ultramatic is now operated with push-buttons which, on occasion, could give almost as much trouble as the Cord selector type shift. Cord was vacuum operated, but Packard is electric. The problems of both can be cured with patience and some time. The same bodies as were available in 1955 are offered for 1956 and include the Clipper Deluxe Deluxe 4-door sedan (body number 5622), the Super Clipper 4-door sedan (body number 5642), and the Panama 2- door hardtop (body number 5647). The wheelbase is still 122". Prices of all three styles are about $2,600. Production figures indicate that 5,715 Deluxe sedans were built, about 5,173 of the Super 4-door sedans and about 4,000 of the Panama hardtops were also built.
Serial numbers for the 4-door Sedan Deluxe (5622) include 1001,1820, 1884, 2320, 2584, 2614, 2948, 2982, 3045, 3125, 3152, 3156, 3387, 3389, 3620, 3634, 3739, 4069, 4127, 4280, 4311, 5466, 5686, 5927, 5986, 6078, 6204, 6322, 6441, 6658, 6661, 6690 and 6701.
Serial numbers for the 4-door Sedan Super (5642) include 1127, 1171, 1274, 1295, 1667, 1951, 2137, 2323, 2396, 2724, 2835, 2867, 2879, 3096, 3122, 3435, 3518, 3846, 3864, 4094, 4102, 4124, 4405, 4455, 4520, 4717, 4775, 4899, 4982, 5074, 5143, 5144, 5276, 5290, 5457, 5587, 5641, 5788, 5822 and 6120.
Serial numbers for the 2-door Panama Hardtop (5647) include 1326, 1388, 1445, 1469, 1829, 1874, 2296, 2421, 2436, 2609, 2674, 3010, 3626, 3678, 3751, 3834, 4064, 4576, 4720 and 4747.
Pictures appear on page 199 of The Packard Registry.
1955 - November 3 - The 56th Series Clipper Custom (5660) and the Packard Executive (5670) are introduced. The Clipper Custom will be replaced by the Executive on March 5, 1956. The Clipper Custom is a 4-door sedan (body number 5662) built on the 122" wheelbase and with the 352 cubic inch engine that develops 240 horsepower. The chassis is also used for the Constellation hardtop. On March 5 the Executive was introduced with the 127" chassis, and it is used to produce the 2-door sedan hardtop (body number 5677) and a 4-door Executive sedan (body number 5672). Both 5677 and 5672 are powered by the 275 horsepower version of the 352 cubic inch engine. Torque from this engine was 380 lb/ft at 2800 rpm. About 2,125 of the Custom sedan were sold, while about 1,800 Executive sedans were sold. About 1,500 Constellation hardtops were sold, while only about 1,031 of the Executive hardtops were sold. Prices for the Custom series were in the $2,800 to $2,900 range, while prices of the Executive series were about $500 to $600 higher.
Serial numbers for the 4-door Sedan Custom (5662) include 1137, 1146, 1196, 1251, 1415, 1537, 1653, 1759, 1804, 2263, 2293, 2693, 3048, 3054 and 3117.
Serial numbers for the 2-door Constellation Hardtop (5667) include 1306, 1538, 1645, 1717, 1857, 2051, 2219, 2286, 2394 and 2490.
Serial numbers for the 4-door Sedan Executive (5672) include 1029, 1030, 1066, 1183, 1186, 1220, 1269, 1398, 1405, 1526, 1549, 1633, 1689, 1699, 1741, 1926, 2043, 2301, 2356, 2363, 2394, 2408, 2442, 2489, 2506, 2536, 2562, 2577, 2607, 2620, 2711, and 2759.
Serial numbers for the 2-door Sedan Hardtop (5677) include 1009, 1048, 1107, 1119, 1161, 1206, 1257, 1283, 1330, 1363, 1520, 1562, 1586, 1601, 1609, 1659, 1671, 1766, 1774, 1784, 1839, 1891, 1924, 1982, 1988, 2015 and 2022.
Pictures of the 5660 and 5670 cars appear on page 200 of The Packard Registry.
1955 - November 3 - The 56th Series Packard Patrician and 400 (5680) and the Caribbean (5688) are introduced. This was to be Packard's last shining hour bringing to a close the production of three extremely fine cars. With a bore and stroke of 4 1/8" x 3 1/2", the Packard engine for 1956 was a thoroughbred in every way. Its short stroke, low piston speed engine, produced 290 horsepower when used with chassis 5680 and 310 when used with chassis 5688. Torque was an enormous 405 lb/ft at 2800 rpm. Compression ratio was 10. to 1. Both chassis used were 127" versions, and Untramatic was standard though a standard transmission and overdrive were available as an option. Approximately 3,775 Patricians (body number 5682) and about 3,224 Packard 400 2-door hardtops (body number 5687) were made. The Caribbean was made in both a convertible (body number 5699) and a hardtop (body number 5697). Factory records indicate that 276 Caribbean convertibles and 263 Caribbean hardtops were built. Prices were about $4,000 for the Patrician and 400 hardtop and about $5,000 to $5,500 for the Caribbean hardtop and convertible.
Serial numbers in the Data Base for the 4-door Sedan Patrician (5682) include 1007, 1032, 1061, 1067, 1080, 1085, 1093, 1101, 1127, 1165, 1200, 1297, 1347, 1358, 1394, 1403, 1432, 1590, 1693, 1778, 1873, 1883, 1890, 1967, 1996, 2022, 2075, 2107, 2146, 2220, 2310, 2312, 2363, 2410, 2453, 2467, 2485, 2555, 2581, 2614, 2618, 2705, 2742, 2748, 2794, 2801, 2915, 2943, 2947, 2962, 2977, 2988, 3028, 3029, 3045, 3046, 3098, 3099, 3132, 3226, 3251, 3273, 3327, 3343, 3355, 3373, 3445, 3446, 3473, 3469, 3505, 3510, 3643, 3690, 3858, 3859, 3930, 3963, 3985, 3991, 3998, 4076, 4114, 4118, 4125, 4129, 4174, 4187, 4207, 4214, 4252, 4253, 4259, 4265, 4325, 4361, 4380, 4387, 4414, 4447, 4501, 4514, 4634, 4700, 4727, 4737 and 4765.
Serial numbers in the Data Base for the 2-door Sedan 400 Hardtop (5687) include 1057, 1077, 1081, 1124, 1165, 1168, 1191, 1263, 1275, 1386, 1486, 1509, 1522, 1535, 1607, 1664, 1750, 1804, 1810, 1812, 1880, 1913, 1941, 1959, 1969, 1997, 2003, 2091, 2100, 2134, 2212, 2214, 2240, 2263, 2320, 2325, 2369, 2392, 2404, 2588, 2593, 2747, 2765, 2794, 2806, 2823, 2832, 2838, 2857, 2861, 2878, 2884, 2945, 2990, 3001, 3002, 3009, 3024, 3036, 3053, 3064, 3083, 3106, 3128, 3154, 3181, 3186, 3230, 3255, 3354, 3404, 3415, 3417, 3463, 3517, 3672, 3683, 3687, 3780, 3805, 3809, 3824, 3845, 3922, 3933, 3955, 3981, 4046, 4134, 4139, 4140, 4183, 4185 and 4224.
Serial numbers in the Data Base for the 2-door Caribbean Hardtop (5697) include 1001, 1002, 1017, 1021, 1024, 1029, 1031, 1044, 1046, 1052, 1056, 1057, 1061, 1065, 1066, 1068, 1074, 1077, 1082, 1089, 1091, 1117, 1136, 1149, 1150, 1154, 1163, 1170, 1171, 1177, 1186, 1191, 1212, 1225, 1226, 1245, 1251, 1255 and 1263.
Serial numbers in the Data Base for the Caribbean Convertible (5699) include 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006, 1007, 1008, 1009, 1010, 1011, 1012, 1013, 1014, 1015, 1016, 1017, 1018, 1019, 1020, 1021, 1022, 1023, 1024, 1025, 1026, 1027, 1028, 1029, 1030, 1031, 1032, 1033, 1034, 1035, 1036, 1037, 1038, 1039, 1040, 1041, 1042, 1043, 1044, 1045, 1046, 1047, 1048, 1049, 1050, 1051, 1052, 1053, 1054, 1055, 1056, 1057, 1058, 1059, 1060, 1061, 1062, 1063, 1064, 1065, 1066, 1067, 1068, 1069, 1070, 1071, 1072, 1073, 1074, 1075, 1076, 1077, 1078, 1079, 1080, 1081, 1082, 1083, 1084, 1085, 1086, 1087, 1088, 1089, 1090, 1091, 1092, 1093, 1094, 1095, 1096, 1097, 1098, 1099, 1100, 1101, 1102, 1103, 1104, 1105, 1106, 1107, 1108, 1109, 1110, 1111, 1112, 1113, 1114, 1115, 1116, 1117, 1118, 1119, 1120, 1121, 1122, 1123, 1124, 1125, 1126, 1127, 1128, 1129, 1130, 1131, 1132, 1133, 1134, 1135, 1136, 1137, 1138, 1139, 1140, 1141, 1142, 1143, 1144, 1145, 1146, 1147, 1148, 1149, 1150, 1151, 1152, 1153, 1154, 1155, 1156, 1157, 1158, 1159, 1160, 1161, 1162, 1163, 1164, 1165, 1166, 1167, 1168, 1169, 1170, 1171, 1172, 1173, 1174, 1175, 1176, 1177, 1178, 1179, 1180, 1181, 1182, 1183, 1184, 1185, 1186, 1187, 1188, 1189, 1190, 1191, 1192, 1193, 1194, 1195, 1196, 1197, 1198, 1199, 1200, 1201, 1202, 1203, 1204, 1205, 1206, 1207, 1208, 1209, 1210, 1211, 1212, 1213, 1214, 1215, 1216, 1217, 1218, 1219, 1220, 1221, 1222, 1223, 1224, 1225, 1226, 1227, 1228, 1229, 1230, 1231, 1232, 1233, 1234, 1235, 1236, 1237, 1238, 1239, 1240, 1241, 1242, 1243, 1244, 1245, 1246, 1247, 1248, 1249, 1250, 1251, 1252, 1253, 1254, 1255, 1256, 1257, 1258, 1259, 1260, 1261, 1262, 1263, 1264, 1265, 1266, 1267, 1268, 1269, 1270, 1271, 1272, 1273, 1274, 1275 and 1276.
Pictures appear on pages 200, 201 and 202 of The Packard Registry.
1956 - The Last And Perhaps The Best
1956 - The Packards built for 1956 may have been one of the company's best products when measured by its level of advanced engineering and styling. It was an outstanding car and a beautiful one as well.
1956 - "The Greatest Packard of Them All" - The cars have all been improved and problems from 1955 have been corrected. The company is intensely proud of its new product and notes that it is "The Greatest Packard of Them All". Buyer interest is down, however, and production stops at 28,835. Interestingly, however, two of the most popular models are the top-of-the-line Patrician Sedan and the 400 hardtop which account for 24% of sales.
1956 - Packard changes its ad agency again, dropping Ruthraff & Ryan and employing D'Arcy. D'Arcy is blamed for not developing a well-defined advertising program for the new models, and thus public interest in the new Packards declines sharply.
Company Advertising - Dates from 1900
Ralph Estep - Packard's Advertising Manager from 1907
The Packard Magazine is Produced - 1910
The Packard Magazine is replaced by Passenger Transportation - 1919
The MacManus Agency - 1921 to 1925
Austin F. Bement - 1925 to 1932
Young and Rubicam - 1932 to 1953
Maxon - 1953 to 1955
Ruthrauff & Ryan - 1955
D'Arcy - 1956 to Studebaker
1956 - Dealer concern for the future of the company, and their own investments, leads to a mass defection. From a dealer list of over 2100 in 1954, the number will drop to about 1500 by early 1956. Further defections average abut 20 dealerships per month.
The Struggle To Produce and The Struggle To Survive
1956 - March - Production of the Clipper Custom 5662 & 5667 is replaced by the Executive. See 1955 - November 3 for more information.
1956 - April - Efforts to merge S-P with Chrysler end.
1956 - April - Concern for the body that will be used on the 1957 Packards leads to discussions between Packard and Ford concerning an adaptation of the Lincoln body with Packard front and rears. While Henry Ford II is willing, other Ford executives`are cold to the idea, and it goes no further. With no easy choices for the 1957 Packard the company decides to consult with Ernsy & Ernst for its recommendations.
An Accounting Decision That Will Kill Packard
1956 - April 9 - Ernst & Ernst reviews the various options open to the corporation and recommends that all production be done in South Bend; that the Packard automobile be dropped or that the Studebaker-Packard Corporation be liquidated.
1956 - May - The advertising budget is cut.
1956 - May - Robert Heller & Associates present a plan to S-P entitled "Program for the Liquidation of the Automobile Business."
1956 - May 8 - Curtiss-Wright offers a "Joint Agreement" to the Studebaker-Packard board. S-P will receive more defense work and S-P dealers will stock Mercedes-Benz cars. With Curtiss - Wright guarantees, S-P is given $15.3 million dollars for 90 days.
1956 - May 28 - A draft agreement between S-P and C-W is prepared. Known as the "Joint Agreement" C-W will manage S-P and S-P will sell Mercedes-Benz cars. S-P will receive operational cash and support for refinancing of its debts. S-P assets are moved around and some end up in the Utica Bend Corporation.
1956 - June 4 - Nance sees no role for himself in the "Joint Agreement" and offers to step down as president of S-P.
1956 - June 21 - 160 cars are built and 162 more remain to be built to conclude Packard production.
1956 - June 22 - 120 cars are built - 42 remain to be built.
1956 - June 22 - The last Packard V-8 engine is built.
1956 - June 25 - Monday - The actual death of Packard. 18 Packards and 24 Clippers are built, the last Packards made. The last car made is Patrician 4-door sedan 5682-4775. 1443 Packard workers are laid off.
1956 - July - The Packard Proving Grounds in Utica, Mi. closes.
1956 - July 3 - The lot rented from Hudson is released.
PLANS FOR THE 1957 PACKARD
1956 - July 16 - 1956 - The creation of the 1957 Packard. The original plans were to design a new Packard. The Styling Division at Packard completes the design of the 1957 Packard, but it will never be built.
1956 - July 26 - The Studebaker-Packard board approves the joint program with Curtiss Wright. Jim Nance and Paul Hoffman resign. Harold Churchill, of Studebaker, becomes president of Studebaker-Packard. Nance will receive the dubious credit for ending Packard's reign. After Packard, however, Nance demonstrates his abilities at Ford and then later in banking. Paul Hoffman, whose career had fallen and risen with the successes and failures of Studebaker. Hoffman would watch as Studebaker would hang on to its own end in 1966.
1956 - August 20 - A joint program with Curtiss-Wright is planned. There will be no more Packard built Packards. The plan is to continue the Packard name on a Studebaker car in 1957. The 1957 Packard will be built on a Studebaker President chassis in South Bend, Indiana. The chassis for the Packard would be the Studebaker Classic chassis with the Golden Hawk engine. The car would be named the Packard Executive. Styling will be a face lift on the Studebaker President with as many Packard trim items as possible. Wheel covers and the instrument panel are 1956 leftover Packard parts. The 1956 Clipper taillight is also adapted with letters and the hood ornament from 1955 Packard. A supercharger added to the Golden Hawk is also added to the Packard and horsepower is 275 - the same as that available on the last true Packard. A Packard decal is glued to the Studebaker engine and at least it says "Packard". The Studebaker engine is a good one, however, with roots back to the first Cadillac overhead valve engine of 1949. It is in reality a beefed up Caddy - the Studebaker engineers must have thought that Cadillac cut corners to lower weight and so the Studebaker engine is a "heavy". The transmission is Borg-Warner - about the same unit that Borg-Warner sold to Ford. Intelligent use of trim and interior materials give the car a Packard look, and all in all it is not a bad compromise. The decision is made to call it a Packard Clipper - just in case the name Packard is needed for a "real" Packard at some later date.
1956 - August 30 - The last 400 built, 5687-4224, is sold from the Chicago Branch.
1956 - September 1 - The Curtiss-Wright "Joint Program" goes into effect. Curtiss-Wright takes an option to buy Studebaker-Packard stock. Mostly gone are the more than 4,000 Packard employees who worked for company as late as the middle of June. Included are the 300 plus employees who made up the best engineering force in the automotive industry.
1956 - September - As the plant was shut down, company records were removed from file cabinets and drawers so that the used office equipment could be sold. With no one around with a desire to save anything, the records were sent to the powerhouse to be burned. With the plant closed, styling is finally sent to South Bend.
1956 - October 4 - Tooling for the 1957 Packard Clipper is approved.
1956 - October 31 - Last Board Meeting of Packard in Detroit. It ends the career of the company in that building which dated from 1903 - the days of Henry Joy. The Boulevard plant still survives. The Utica plant and the Test Track was eventually sold to Ford. The Connner Avenue plant, which did as much to end Packard's viability as anything else, was appropriately torn down in the 1960s.
1956 - The production of Packard designed cars ceases for good. After this point all Packards are redressed Studebakers.
THE 1957 MODEL YEAR - STUDEBAKERS CALLED PACKARDS
1957 - January - The 57th Series Packard Clipper (57L) is introduced. The car is a Studebaker in Packard trim, and, though it is an excellent car, it has little appeal to Packard buyers. Two chassis lengths are available. The 4-door sedan (body number Y8) uses the 120.5" chassis and the Country Sedan (body number P8) uses a 116.5" version. The engine is a V-8 with overhead valves. Its bore and stroke is 3.56" x 3.63" producing a claimed 275 horsepower from 289 cubic inches when supercharged. Both a standard transmission with overdrive and the Flightomatic automatic are offered. Prices are in the $3,000 range. Pictures of the 1957 and 1958 Packards appear on pages 202 and 203 of The Packard Registry.
1957 - The problems associated with the Packard car are unsurmountable. With Studebaker in charge of its destiny and much of the leadership exerted by Curtiss-Wright people, especially Roy Hurley who never led a major car company in his entire career, the future of Packard is untenable. Operating losses of S-P are in excess of $95 million, and net worth drops from $119 million to $23 million. Studebaker's operating losses spell Packard's doom. Mechanically the cars were good, but they had little appeal to Packard buyers.
1957 - Sales of the Packard Clipper have been terrible. The company decides to drop the name "Clipper" for good, and total Packard production for the year is 4,809.
THE 1958 MODEL YEAR
1958 - The 58th Series Packard and Hawk (58L) are introduced. Horsepower is now rated at 225 at 4500 rpm (non-supercharged) for the Packard line which includes a 2-door hardtop (body number J8), a station wagon (body number P8) and a 4-door sedan (body number J8). Also available is the Hawk (Body number K8) with a horsepower rating of 275. It is the only Packard in the 58th Series to be supercharged. The 120.5" chassis is used for the 4-door sedan and the Hawk, while the 2-door hardtop and the station wagon use the 116.5" chassis. Prices are in the $3,000 range for all cars except the Hawk which carries a $4,000 price tag.
1958 - Production for the year is down to 2,622 cars. All are redressed Studebakers.
1958 - Alvan T. Fuller dies in Boston. He is 80.
1958 - July - The last Packard ad appears in Car Life magazine.
1958 - July 12 - Studebaker-Packard announces that Packard production has ceased. Only Studebakers will be built in 1959.
1958 - July 13 - The last Packard built at Studebaker-Packard in South bend is built.
LIFE AFTER PACKARD
THE STUDEBAKER-PACKARD COMPANY STRUGGLES TO SURVIVE
1958 - September - Roy T. Hurley resigns as Studebaker-Packard chairman.
1958 - September - Curtiss-Wright drops its option to buy 5,000,000 shares of Studebaker- Packard stock.
1959 - S-P Introduces the Lark - The S-P Lark, conceived during the Curtiss-Wright era, is a viable product and produces a profit for S-P.
1959 - October - The management agreement with C-W is ended saving S-P nearly a million dollars a year in management fees.
1960 - Harold Churchill resigns as president of S-P. The Lark had proven to be profitable, and the company earned $28.5 million in 1959. Clarence Francis becomes president, and he recruits Sherwood Harry Egbert from McCulloch Motors. Egbert will flirt with the idea of reintroducing Packard as a made over Facel Vega - to which Mercedes Benz objected - and would later seek to have the name "Packard" removed from the corporate name. The proposed "new" Packard would end up being the Avanti.
1960 - S-P profits with the Lark carried over into 1960 and would extend into 1961 even though by then the Big Three had also entered the compact market.
1960 - Diversification - The S-P corporation diversified by acquiring other companies including:
D.W. Onan & Sons - Generators
Cincinnati Testing Labs - Plastics Research
Gering Plastics - Plastics Manufacture
Clarke Floor Machine Company - Fork Lifts, etc.
Gravely Tractors - Quality lawnmowers
Chemical Compounds Company - Maker of STP additives
1960 - Jan. 19 - Mrs. J.W. Packard dies in New York. They have no children.
1961 - August 6 - Earle C. Anthony dies at 80 in California.
1962 - April 20 - Jesse Vincent dies in Detroit. He is 82.
1962 - April 26 - Egbert tells the stockholders that the company should concentrate on one product, that Packard had no place in the future of the company and that the name "Packard" should be dropped from "Studebaker-Packard". Many stockholders are angered by the suggestion though eventually Egbert would prevail.
1962 - July 2 - Studebaker-Packard Corporation drops the "Packard" name though the Michigan corporation, The Packard Motor Car Company, remained though it was almost forgotten.
1963 - The slightly reworked 1963 Studebakers were poor sellers. Avanti suffered from production problems and could not make deliveries. With car sales down, Egbert resigned as president replaced by Byers Burlingame, the ex-controller and a Packard employee since 1925. Burlingame, nick-named the undertaker, determined that the car business had to go.
1964 - With losses from car production at $16.9 million for 1963, Studebaker president Burlingame seeks to eliminate the car business. The South Bends plants are sold, and Studebaker joins with Wagner Electric and Worthington to become Studebaker Worthington, Inc. The car business was ended totally and completely.
1967 - Burlingame resigns as S-W president. A .25 cent per share dividend is declared.
1980 - March 19 - Raymond H. Dietrich dies.
1984 - July 22 - James J. Nance dies at age 84.
Thus ends the history of The Packard Motor Car Company. Many Packard cars remain, however, and in them and with them resides much of the quality and spirit of the company. Each one is a treasured example of the grand old company - Packard.