The Packard Automobile Archive

What’s in the Packard Archive

The Packard Archive contains a compendium of model information, illustrations, specifications and factoids. Significant in the archive will be the increasing development of Car Model Fact Sheets for each model and year – a one-stop shop of all the critical information on that brand’s year and model. The Car Models Fact Sheets are a single page for each model where we gather all the information on that vehicle that is available. It will not be a static page, but rather a living document that we will add to as information comes to light.

Please click the Tabs below and select any available model and year to see what we have collected to date.

Fact Sheets Contain the following Information

  • General Year Information
  • Models Offered
  • All Engine Specifications
  • Power Trains and Power Train Options
  • Chassis Information
  • Significant Options
  • Body Paint Colors  & Mix Codes – all Paint Companies
  • Direct Link to Hagerty Valuation for the Specific Brand/Model
  • Racing History (if available)
  • Downloadable Brochures Specific to that Year/Model
  • AMA Specifications Sheets (if available)
  • Road Tests (if available)

Coming Soon!

1955 Packard and Clipper

1956 Packard and Clipper

About The Packard Brand

Packards were large front engine, rear wheel drive luxury sedans the company has offered since the early 1900s.

The 1903 Model F Packard


Packard was founded by James and William Packard and their partner, George Lewis Weiss, in Warren, Ohio. 400 Packard automobiles were built from 1899 to 1903. Packard moved operations to Detroit soon after. Packard concentrated on cars with prices starting at $2,600, well above the entry-level autos. The marque developed a following among wealthy purchasers in the United States and abroad. From this beginning, through and beyond the 1930s, Packard-built vehicles were perceived as highly competitive among high-priced luxury American automobiles. For much of its history, Packard was the number one designer and producer of luxury automobiles in the United States. General Manager James Alvan Macauley was responsible for the iconic Packard slogan, “Ask the Man Who Owns One”.

The Packard Six was initially introduced as a senior-level luxury platform for three years starting in 1913, then upgraded to the Packard Twin Six starting in 1916. In the 1920s, Packard exported more cars than any other in its price class, and in 1930, sold almost twice as many abroad as any other marque priced over $2,000.

A 1922 Packard Coupe


Between 1924 and 1930, Packard was also the top-selling luxury brand. (The first appearance of the Packard “Goddess of Speed” hood ornament was in 1925 on the Single Eight and soon adorned all models, while the Cormorant or Swan appeared in the 1930s. The Adonis hood ornament was briefly used in the late 1920s.)

Entering the 1930s, Packard attempted to beat the stock market crash and subsequent Great Depression by manufacturing ever more opulent and expensive cars. Packard began offering different platforms that focused on different price points allowing the company to offer more products and remain competitive. The Twin Six was introduced for 1932. In 1933, it would be renamed the Packard Twelve, a name it retained for the remainder of its run through 1939. In 1931, Packard pioneered Ride Control, which allowed the hydraulic shock absorbers to be adjustable from inside the car.

A 1939 Packard Custom Convertible

To meet the challenge of the Depression, Packard started producing more affordable cars in the medium price range, as the demand for hand-built luxury cars had diminished sharply. In 1935, the company introduced its first car under $1000, the 120. Sales more than tripled that year and doubled again in 1936. By 1937, Packard was still the premier luxury automobile, even though the majority of cars being built were the Packard One-Twenty and Super Eight model ranges. Hoping to catch still more of the market, Packard issued the Packard 115C in 1937, powered by a Packard six-cylinder engine. The decision to introduce the “Packard Six”, priced at around $1200 was in time for the 1938 recession. This model also tagged Packards as something less exclusive than they had been in the public’s mind.

In 1942, the Packard Motor Car Company converted to 100% war production. During World War II, Packard again built airplane engines, licensing the Merlin engine from Rolls-Royce as the V-1650, which powered the P-51 Mustang fighter, ironically known as the “Cadillac of the Skies” by GIs in WWII. Packard also built 1350-, 1400-, and 1500-hp V-12 marine engines for American PT boats and some of Britain’s patrol boats. Packard ranked 18th among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts.

A 1947 Packard Super Coupe

By the end of World War II, Packard was in excellent financial condition with assets of around $33 million, but several management mistakes became more apparent with time. Packard resumed civilian car production in late 1945, labeling them as 1946 models by modestly updating their 1942 models. As only tooling for the Clipper was available, the Senior-series cars were not rescheduled. Packard decided that the beast approach for the new bodies scheduled for 1948 was to add the updated sheet metal to the existing 1941-47 body.

But because there was little differentiator between the high end and low end Packards, its perceived market reputation dropped to a competitor to Buick. The combination of the lower-priced Packards leading sales and impacting the prestige of their higher-end models and together with not offering an OHV V-8, Packard’s crown as “king” of the luxury car market had slipped.

The 1951 Packards were redesigned. Designer John Reinhart introduced a high-waisted, more squared-off profile fitting the contemporary styling trends — very different from the traditional flowing design of the postwar era. New styling features had similarities to nid-price GM models, further diminishing the image of a luxury brand.

A 1951 Packard 400

In 1953 James Nance the new Packard President, declared that Packard would cease producing midpriced cars and build only luxury models to compete with Cadillac. As part of this strategy, Nance unveiled a low-production (only 750 made) glamor model for 1953, the Caribbean convertible. Competing directly with the other specialty convertibles marketed that year, Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile 98 Fiesta, Cadillac Eldorado, and Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe), it was equally well-received and outsold its competition. Nevertheless, overall sales declined in 1953.

In 1953–54, Ford and GM waged a brutal sales war, cutting prices and forcing cars on dealers. While this had little effect on either company, it damaged independent automakers. Nash president George W. Mason thus proposed that the four major independents (Nash, Hudson, Packard, and Studebaker) merge into one firm American Motors Corporation (AMC). Mason held informal discussions with Nance to outline his strategic vision, and an agreement was reached for AMC to buy Packard’s Ultramatic transmissions and V8 engines. They were used in 1955 Hudsons and Nashes.

The merger fell through, mostly because of the complexities of merging four separate companies with plants in different state and differnt assmbly processes. What happened was the Nash and Hudson merges and Packard and Studebaker merged, exacerbating the problems. As of October 1, 1954, Packard Motor Car Company bought the failing Studebaker Corporation to form America’s fourth-largest automobile company, Studebaker-Packard, surprisingly without full knowledge of each company’s circumstances or consideration of the financial implications.

The super-sleek 1955 Packard 400 Hardtop

As the outstanding 1955 models went into production, an old problem flared up. Back in 1941, Packard had outsourced its bodies to Briggs Manufacturing Company. Briggs founder Walter Briggs had died in early 1952 and his family decided to sell the company to pay estate taxes. Chrysler promptly purchased Briggs and notified Packard that they would cease supplying bodies after Packard’s contract with Briggs expired at the end of 1953. Packard was forced to move body production to an undersized plant on Connor Avenue in Detroit. The facility proved too small and caused endless tie-ups and quality problems.[citation needed] Bad quality control hurt the company’s image and caused sales to plummet for 1956, though the problems had largely been resolved by that point.[citation needed] Additionally, a “brain drain” of talent away from Packard was underway, most notably John Z. DeLorean.

Nance was dismissed and moved to Ford as the head of the new Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln division. Although Nance tried everything, the company failed to secure funding for retooling, forcing Packard to share Studebaker platforms and body designs. With no funding to retool for the advanced new models envisioned, Studebaker-Packard’s fate was sealed. The large Packard was effectively dead in an executive decision to kill “the car we could not afford to lose”. The last fully Packard-designed vehicle, a Patrician four-door sedan, rolled off the Conner Avenue assembly line on June 25, 1956.