Re: Comparing Packards
Posted by su8overdrive On 2023/3/14 1:33:16
Had war not intervened, the '41 Clipper, despite not introduced 'til midyear, in April, would've far outsold the less expensive One-Twenty, 16,600 Clippers sold in five months vs. 17,100 One-Twenties over 12 months.
Traditionally styled '41 Packards looked shopworn, their sales down 24% while Buick and Cadillac up an accordant amount, Dutch Darrin recalling the preceding year, "Packard was so afraid of GM they couldn't see straight." The Clipper used some of the new GM C-body cues.
The tubs may've echoed a look shared with others at the time, but they received at best mixed reviews, hardly a hit. Consumer Reports chided "Packard, having dropped its distinctive hood design some time ago, has now simplified forms throughout to the point where its body could easily be cast in rasberry Jello."
Selling chiefly Oldsmobile/Buick-priced product in a sellers' market while bleeding your name white does not make your cars hits. The '51-on Packards were not universally admired, again, mostly Olds/Buick-priced fare. Packard was now selling to middle-class, mid-America folk who could now own a "Packard," while Cadillac owned the coasts and much between, industry polls showing Chrysler popular with educated professionals; engineers, scientists, professors, editors. Chryslers had better breathing, shocks, brakes amd quicker steering than Cad, Packard and the others; 16.2:1 steering gear vs. Cad's clumsy 25.5:1.
John Reinhart, stylist of the '51 Packard, lamented the "high pockets" look, the result of ex-GM production men running Packard penny-pinching, steel being cheaper than glass. Reinhart and company were told to use the roof and cowl heights of a Chevy-bodied '49 Olds as their guide.
I long ago had a 48,414-mile, sound '51 Packard owned by an older woman in Hawthorne, CA. All you had to do was crawl under, compare how the bumpers were attached with an Oldsmobile's nicer Fisher body, or examine a finely wrought Hudson Hornet. The Packard's sole qualities ergonomics and smoothness, Consumer Reports deriding the it-crawled-from-the-sea grille shared with much of Detroit: "....the largest and probably the homeliest grille die casting in the industry."
You don't have hits following the leader. Packard was a leader their first four decades. Not after.
Doesn't make them bad cars, just not hits.
Middle-of-the-road competency through the end in 1956 does not make a car "a hit," despite buff adherents 70 years later.
We like what we like, but that does not render such hits in the day. As Tim Cole reminds, 1929 was Packard's most profitable year. The former Hudson and cash register execs guiding Packard through the teens into the '30s ensured Packard's durable engineering refinement delivered via smart tooling, returning hefty profit margins, Packard's chiseled styling allowing them to own the tiny slivver of the car biz that was the fine car market (above $2,000 FOB) through '36.
The One-Twenty, enabled by recruited GM big B-O-Pers, was a hit by dint of low price--even Chevrolet's sales manager Bill Packer brought onboard to teach Packard dealers how to sell to the middle-class on credit. The One-Twenty was not only a hit, but became the basis of all Packards 1939-on save the 446 leftover Twelves. 1937 was a big year only because Packard unleashed a six for the price of a bottom-rung Buick, Olds, Chrysler six. 1940 was a good year thanks to cost-cutting, quality down a notch from '39, lower-than-ever prices, but the '40 side louvers were cribbed from the '38 Buick which had ended Packard's three consecutive wins of the annual Gallup Poll's Most Beautiful Car.
If not for Pearl Harbor, largely Clipperized 1942 would've been Packard's biggest year.
Rolls-Royce's postwar, downmarket, assembled fare, Silver Dawns/Bentley Mark VIs & R-types with GM components, bodies by Pressed Steel, who supplied much of England's motor industry as Briggs did Chrysler, Ford, Packard, were not hits, but like many postwar Packards, have their fans.
We're here to share info to enjoy what we have, keep them running. Terming everything someone likes "a hit" serves historic accuracy no better than deeming everything out of Kelley Blue Book a "classic."
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