Packard 250 DeLuxe

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Keywords: Packard 250 DeLuxe
Description: Packard was founded in 1899 as the "Ohio Automobile Company" in Warren, Ohio by James and William Packard and George Weiss. The firm changed its name to "Packard Motor Car

Packard was founded in 1899 as the "Ohio Automobile Company" in Warren, Ohio by James and William Packard and George Weiss. The firm changed its name to "Packard Motor Car Company" and moved its operations to Detroit in 1902. From the beginning, Packard concentrated on the luxury market. In the early years, the lowest-priced new Packard sold for more than the median price of.

Packard was founded in 1899 as the "Ohio Automobile Company" in Warren, Ohio by James and William Packard and George Weiss. The firm changed its name to "Packard Motor Car Company" and moved its operations to Detroit in 1902. From the beginning, Packard concentrated on the luxury market. In the early years, the lowest-priced new Packard sold for more than the median price of a new house!

Packard continued to build opulent luxury cars through the Great Depression, but survived by moving into the "medium price" market. By 1939, Packard was selling four times as many of its mass-produced medium-price "junior" models as it was of the fancier hand-built "senior" lines.

Packard introduced the first V-12 automobile engine in 1932, and a modified Packard V-12 was used in World War II PT boats. Packard also built the Rolls Royce Merlin aircraft engine which powered the legendary P-51 Mustang.

After the war, like all of the "independent" manufacturers, Packard faced the challenge of keeping up with a rapidly-changing auto market without the vast resources and economies of scale enjoyed by the "Big Three." Sales became maddeningly inconsistent — a good year would be followed by a bad one, and vice-versa, but the overall trend was one of slow decline.

The down-market move in the late 1930s, though necessary for the company's survival, had also diluted the Packard brand's exclusivity. President James J. Nance became focused on re-establishing the Packard brand's pre-Depression luxury cachet. Beginning in 1953, the least expensive Packard became the "Packard Clipper." Nance planned to spin "Clipper" off as a separate mid-price make, leaving the Packard name to be used exclusively on the high-class "senior" models. Unfortunately, it didn't work. When the first 1956 Clippers arrived in showrooms, Packard found to its dismay that they weren't selling because customers did not think they were "real" Packards! The cars were hastily rebadged as "Packard Clippers."

After the 1954 Nash-Hudson merger which formed American Motors, Packard's board began looking for a merger partner of its own. Packard acquired Studebaker in October of 1954, hoping to take advantage of Studebaker's volume and large dealer network. After the merger, the Packard board was unpleasantly surprised by Studebaker's financial condition — having failed in their haste to do a sufficient investigation before approving the deal!

The combined Studebaker-Packard Corporation struggled financially, and the product suffered as a result. The 1955 and 1956 Packards were excellent designs with a fine modern V-8 engine, but suffered from technical "bugs" and quality control problems uncharacteristic of the make. As an economy move, Studebaker-Packard closed the Packard plant in Detroit at the end of 1956. For model year 1957, Packard cars would be modified Studebakers built in South Bend. The '57 models, derisively nicknamed "Packardbakers," were a complete failure — Packard sales fell to one seventh of what they were in 1956. The proud Packard brand name disappeared completely after 1958.

Packard had a reputation for build quality and engineering excellence which was reflected in its long-time advertising slogan, "Ask the man who owns one." It was the only independent manufacturer to develop its own automatic transmission, the Ultramatic introduced in 1949. The Ultramatic employed a lock-up torque converter for fuel economy at cruising speeds, a feature that would not be adopted by other manufacturers until the 1970s. The last true Packards of 1956 also featured an advanced electronically-controlled self-leveling suspension.



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