Re: Was the 1957-1958 Packard manufactured ONLY for marketing purposes?

Posted by Kevin on 2014/5/14 16:23:33
That seems to be the popular notion, one of those canards that gets out there and then is never challenged or corrected.

This topic was covered in a recently published book called "Champion of the Lark: Harold Churchill and the Presidency of Studebaker-Packard, 1956-1961" by Robert R. Ebert.

The gist is that the notion of producing the 1957 Packard just to avoid litigation is not true.

The question of whether or not there would have been a Studebaker-based 1957 Packard was up in the air for an extended period of time, and could easily have been nixed. The three factors that played in favor of the 1957 Packard Clipper were the the low cost of the tooling alterations that were needed, the fact that Duncan McRae already had worked up such a proposal even before Nance had thrown in the towel and before Packard Detroit was closed, and finally the low break-even volume on such a car.

As a Packard Clipper, it commanded more money than the Studebaker President Classic, $3,210 versus $2,500. If the tooling cost was about $1 million (I need to double-check this figure), then the extra $700 per car would have paid off the tooling and then some, bringing in a premium of $3.4 million over the income from the equivalent number of President Classics (around 4,800 cars).

S-P wanted to survive and generate cash, and it also wanted to wait out the storm and maybe buy time until a grand Packard could be returned to the line. As we well know, that was not to be, but Churchill was quoted as saying that it would be a lot tougher to bring back the Packard marque after even just one year of hiatus, than it would be to rebuild it after this obviously junior offering. So for better or worse, depending on how you feel about the South Bend Packards, Churchill stuck up for the Packard nameplate, and gave us two more years of Packard history before realities could no longer be ignored.

The Ebert book is available on as either a paperback or as a Kindle electronic book. It's a very scholarly book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Packard or Studebaker history, and who wants to look behind the scenes at the waning days of Studebaker-Packard, "America's fourth full line automaker."

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