Why We Lost Packard

In This Issue – The Packard Disaster

One of the things that has been a constant, even today, is that luxury brands seem to survive bad decisions, poor marketing, and a screwed up dealer network. The rationale is that the profit margin and the cache of the brand is such that someone will either swoop in and rescue the current company or it will be reconstituted in a merger.

There are only two times in our auto history that this did not happen was the great depression of 1929-33 and the mid 50s. One can understand the Depression, after all everyone took a huge financial hit in those years, businesses and all levels of people from Joe worker to Fred wealthy. In the 50s, another thing happened, and that was something that is still a bit hazy. The car markets consolidated – many marginal brands either merged or disappeared.

That’s certainly understandable where a manufacturer needs volume to make a profit: Kaiser-Frazer, Willys, even Hudson were all victims of this thinking. The manufacturing processes developed in World War Two allowed advances in production, not just on the assembly line but even more so in the supply chain. From 1948 on, one couldn’t reliably utilize outside suppliers for many things; car bodies, transmissions, etc. due mostly to cost, delivery, and even running changes that were happening as more and more technology was applied to motor vehicles.

How did any of this affect Packard, and what circumstances lead the brand to disappear is both interesting and sad. Let’s take a look . . .



In Engine Development

The 1955-56 Packard V-8 featured the latest in OHV technology and it power was perhaps unequaled – with the 1956 Packard Caribbean’s 374 CID engine developing 310 HP and an amazing 405 ft. lbs of torque!

In planning the Packard V-8, the primary objective was to design into this new engine, the best features that present  technical knowledge and state of the art permit . . .the SAE Paper introduction.

The V-8 was so good that both AMC and Studebaker purchased versions for use in their 1955 and 1956 cars – notably the Studebaker Golden Hawk and the famous 1955 Hudson Hornet. Read the Society of Automotive Engineers SAE paper on this engine HERE.

The Last Great Packard Brochure

At right is the last true brochure for the Packard. Thereafter, Packards would be Studebakers, reskinned in a fairly ugly way and in no way reflecting the prestige and stateliness  of the brand. Opinion is that Studebaker wanted no part of the energy and effort it took to deliver the luxury brand.

In these last two years, the only car that would reflect the Packard’s heritage would be the Packard Hawk, even that car was a reskinned Studebaker Hawk and without the famous Packard V-8, which had been installed in the ’56 Hawk.

Rambler or Hudson, the name was fading from the public’s interest. In 1957 only 4,809 Packards were delivered – paltry vs. 1956’s 28,835. In 1958 the number dropped to even 1956 true Hudsons were sold.  In 1956, the number dropped to 2,622 and after that, finis.

Check out the last great Hudson Brochures here!

Other Packard Brochures can be found in our Library.

Packard Documented the Complete Specifications of their Models.

ll manufacturers that were part of the Automobile Manufacturers Association submitted these specifications each year. The Association placed these submissions in research files that were retrievable in paper. We have captured those that are currently available in our library (And we’re on the lookout for more!)


You can see these accurate technical descriptions HERE:

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