Pack Automotive Museum

Performance - Hot Rods - Custom - Antiques - One Offs Many with valid Race and Movie Build Histories

One of only a few TOTALLY FREE On-Line Automotive Museums on the Internet

PACKARD

ASK THE MAN WHO OWNS ONEwas the most famous marketing slogan of the time for one of the fastest, most reliable and mechanically dependable cars built, but it was just the opposite that caused James Ward Packard to create it. 
As the story goes, Mr. James W. Packard, a mechanical engineer by profession, purchased an 1898 Winton that was supposed to be an extremely reliable, fast and good car of the time, well maybe with the exception of the one Mr. Winton sold Mr. Packard.  Packard was so put off with the vehicle that he took it back to the builder and engaged him in a very one-sided argument (his side).  When push came to shove, Winton challenged Packard to build a better mousetrap.  Packard not only accepted the challenge but also went to work immediately doing so.  Just one year later he and his brother William Dowd Packard originated a new auto company in Warren Ohio. 


The Packard Brothers wanted to prove their car’s toughness and style and thus entered their products in all sorts of endurance, speed and dependability tests and they even won many cross-country races.  Truth be told, they were probably better known for racing than for building but, having said that, they were also one of the first auto manufacturers to offer the public the exact same car they raced.  
Even though the Packard built cars by now were faster, more stylish and more comfortable than the Winton, they did not stop there.  They continued to develop large limousines and exciting luxury cars that sold for exceptionally high prices for the times.  Believe it or not, by 1919 the Packard 12 cylinder, the first American built car to conquer the packed sand at Daytona Beach in years, did so at 149 mph for a new Land Speed record.  The company continued to grow even though William Packard passed away in 1923 and his brother, James, in 1928.
By the 1930’s the company was producing some of the most prestigious and elegant vehicles around with big square, solid bodies and precision V/8 engines.  These were all the good points, however, there was competition and it wasn’t sitting still.
The perpetual target of wealth and elegance in America, the Cadillac Division of The General Motors Corporation, pushed their car to the foreground with a V/16 engine.  The public was “number of cylinders conscious” vs. quality conscious. With the decade drawing to a close the The Packard Brothers Automobile Co. chose to reduce the size of their engines, production and vehicles and thus saved the company even for a limited time.  The public was now ready for a more economical, better built car and the Packard was one of their options.

By post war America the company was feeling the pinch of competition even more.  Smaller cars were now larger, larger cars were now more stately and, Cadillac was entrenched as the leader in American auto elegance.  Packard had nowhere to go.  By the 50’s sales had dropped so much so that Packard had to merge and did so with The Studebaker Corporation who continued the Packard line for a short while.  Eventually, Studebaker was caught in the same crunch and had to delete product so it turned out to be the Packard.  Eventually, by the mid to late 60’s, even Studebaker itself was gone.
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