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Balancing the Historians
#1
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Tim Cole
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From the article: "This Day in Labor History: June 6, 1943"

The biggest white racial job action was at Packard. There, on June 3, (1943) 25,000 white workers went on strike when the company promoted three black workers. Packard did this not out of a commitment to racial equality, but to destroy the union from within. Packard’s personnel director, C.E. Weiss, was a horrid racist who talked about his inability to promote blacks because they played dice on the job. Weiss also bragged about being the first executive to bring blacks north to bust unions, when he worked for Chrysler in 1917. Equally anti-union, Weiss decided to divide the UAW through promoting a few blacks. Racial division became a useful strategy in a post-NLRA world when overt union-busting was harder to pull off.
The Packard Hate Strike was just a foretaste of the racist feast to come that summer, when a mere two weeks later, the Detroit Race Riot of 1943 would break out, leading to 34 dead over three days after a fight, with all the white hatred over black incursions into their jobs and neighborhoods spilled over. It took federal troops to put this down. Japanese propagandists began to use the racism in Detroit to try and convince blacks to stop fighting.

Posted on: 4/29 16:52
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Re: Balancing the Historians
#2
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su8overdrive
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Good one, Tim. I brought up this sorry incident a year ago to the same deafening silence. It seems many here gathered would rather play what if and design fanciful Photoshop jalopies than examine reality, other than tech questions.
So we wind up with people who can tell you to the last lock washer how something was built,
but not why.

To think the nightmare you share started merely as Packard moved a grand total of three (3) black workers alongside whites to comply with the defense industry's anti-segregation policy.
To this day, we hear such dementia brushed off with "well, that's the way it was then," invariably by those sans wall-to-wall freckles; factory tans.
Except, it wasn't. Despite Henry Ford's virulent antisemitism, the product of a narrowly educated farmboy's mistrust of the Jews he imagined running the East Coast banks, Ford employed more black workers than the rest of the automotive industry combined, if not allowed to rise to management.
Meanwhile, two men at Cadillac took a far higher road, albeit one with a heartbreaking end:
https://blackdaffodill.wordpress.com/2 ... cs-and-african-americans/

Off topic, but you also did well to remind people that 1929 was Packard's most profitable year and really the end of their heyday. The Company held 42% of the remaining fine car (above $2,000) business through 1936, but that was small victory, someone concluding that all cars described as "Classics" of the '30s by all manufacturers equaled but a week's or so Chevrolet production. I forget the figures, but you get the point.

Junior and senior cars were nothing new at Packard going back to the late aughts. But juniors priced at a grand or less were, hence the GM fellows brought in to cost the 120 who stayed too long bringing increasingly shrill advertising, inept marketing, not playing to East Grand's strengths beyond milking that grille.
Packard was rooted in engineering refinement, and the Company's luminaries, Alvan Macauley and the Vincent brothers, chiefs of Packard's engineering and proving grounds, were former cash register company and Hudson men, able to rationalize luxe, get mileage from tooling.

We often forget that Packard continued its early reputation with sixes, the big Types 48 and 38 seen by many as the Company's apex, then the Twin-Six, and selling over five sixes for each eight during the booming '20s, spurred to offer the junior 319-ci eight only because of LaSalle's instant success, Packard already on a long road of following GM's lead.

The four-main-bearing Twelve of 1932-39 was never intended as all out luxe powerplant, as Pierce-Arrow's was, only a FWD Buick beater until Cadillac unleashed, to Packard's chagrin, a straight eight with firing impulses halved for less crankpin loading, able to use the existing driveline, to handle custom-bodied cars weighing three tons.
So Packard's stroked V-12 was hurriedly dropped in the existing Custom Eight's chassis, despite never intended to supplant the 384-ci eight as topline.

If we're to split hairs, and that's what engineering is, the seven-main-bearing Pierce V-12 would seem better, introducing hydraulic valve lifters, while Packard's Twelve used GM's devilishly complex valve silencers.

Having long honed the ability to turn out assembly line quality, Packard was financially able to launch a Depression junior car from their 35-acre complex. Pierce-Arrow, from their equally modern, reinforced concrete Albert Kahn-designed plant on their 34-acre site, not, despite having Studebaker's savvy, overtly or covertly.

Werner Gubitz, aided by outsiders Ray Dietrich and Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, gave senior Packards a "finished," chiseled look during the '30s Cadillac and others could never quite approach. But the '38 Buick broke Packard's three-year winning streak of the annual Gallup Poll's most beautiful car. Two years later Packard copied that Buick's hood louvers in tinny fashion on a car that should've been Darrinized well before the 1941 1/2 Clipper, the Company's sole sales success that year, their traditional bodied cars down 24% while Buick and Cadillac up a similar percentage, thanks to GM's racy new C bodies introduced for 1940, which cues the Clipper appropriated.

Since the GM fellows now running the show had long abandoned advertising of the order of Peter Helck's 1933 "Hush," and were too dim to listen to John Reinhart and others wishing to retain Clipper styling, let alone adroitly market it as Crewe was their "junior" Mark VI and Silver Dawn on the same 120" wb, perhaps better the Company bowed out with dignity after 1947, focusing entirely on their less hassle, more lucrative jet engine contracts, lacking R-R's ability to purvey slightly down-market luxe whacked out by Pressed Steel of Cowley near Oxford, who supplied much of the Sceptered Isle's motor industry, even as Briggs did here.
(The senior Clippers, like the Silver Wraith of the same time on the same 127" wb, were overkill. It took the hell of the Depression to wring the cognac of the 120 from Packard, each year 1938-47, it or its Clipper variant receiving Consumer Reports' "Best Buy" rating in its price class, all Packards 1939-on junior based other than 446 leftover '38 Twelves, as were, essentially, Cadillac and non-K Lincoln 1936-on, and Derby and Crewe products other than the complex, troublesome Phantom III.)

Compare the hipper '48 Cadillac with what Consumer Reports called East Grand's "rasberry Jello molds."
Game, set, match, GM, who it turned out, were slightly less bigoted. Read both barrels of the above link.
But Packard's engineering DNA ran deep, and it took the GM fellows years to reduce Packard to Jello molds and then their version of the '49 "shoebox" Ford, aping dreck like the Olds Fiesta, Buick Skylark, Cadillac Eldorado with the Caribbean; a standard convertible with 200 additional lbs."sporty" nonsense, even as the bathtubs weighed that much more than the svelte Clipper. Weight should not always accompany age if endeavor based in health.

The Packard of yore, who produced the Model 1106 LeBaron sport coupes, would've seen and met the Bentley R-Type Continental, perhaps listened to one of their engine designers in the late '30s, Howard Reed, a Buick alum, who pleaded with Packard's GM-infiltrated management to have not just overhead valves, but an overhead cam. Reed was told the additional noise would be "unseemly" in a Packard. Read "reduce our profit margin." So deviating wasn't how Packard became in the '30s the most widely held automotive stock after only GM.
My warmed over '42 160 Clipper ('47) naught but a Buick Roadmaster according to Packard. Not an entirely bad thing, considering Rolls-Royce was in the years just before the war annually disassembling a new Buick Limited to glean the latest Detroit production tips, Cadillac in 1941 complaining to GM's brass about Flint's one upmanship.

A final point: Reading some of the unrequited testosterone on these forums, you'd think the Merlin was equally a Packard engine. East Grand built it under license, improvements from either side of the Atlantic quickly introduced in all, the only difference, series by series, according to a fellow who's rebuilt Merlins for decades, the 112,545 wartime English and Glasgow engines, twice the amount Packard produced, having nicer external hand finishing. The Pratt & Whitney R-1830 "Double Wasp" also built by GM during the war, the only aero engine built in greater number during the war, by another six-plus thousand; the most produced aircraft engine in history.
Packard's legal counsel, Henry E. Bodman, rewrote the Merlin contract so that it became the basis of govt. agreements for years to come. Packard had plenty of tax money to buy an army of draftsmen for the conversion. Have we already forgotten the $1.5 trillion F-35 contractors' feeding frenzy?
Packard one of only two domestic automakers to emerge from War II profitable, was addicted to government contracts. The Pentagon, which receives fully half of each of our Federal income tax dollars to this day, remains unaudited. The war took more than the world's remaining innocence and 3% of its population.

Hispano-Suiza survives making nuclear power plant pumps. Traveling wave technology might be both benign and reuse previously thought spent fuel, but inexhaustable energy will only encourage the pandemic of overpopulation, which according to articles in the NY Times and elsewhere, encourages pandemics. Enjoy the ride.

Meanwhile, are we ever to divine who had the best 384; Chrysler Imperial, Packard, or Pierce? Believe all three were roller cam engines, but only the Pierce had hydraulic lifters, also cross-fertilization with Studebaker, whose President 8 led the Indy junk formula. SAE or equivalent vetted comparisons only; no hear tell.

Posted on: 4/29 21:58
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Re: Balancing the Historians
#3
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Joe Santana
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Sorry, Mike, but Buick never made hood louvers this elegant. Portholes, maybe.

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Posted on: 4/30 14:15
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Re: Balancing the Historians
#4
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JeromeSolberg
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Packard had its faults, and the racism in management was definitely a problem, and not something to be ignored. Given the notable decline in the quality of Packard's management as detailed above, their lack of vision in race relations is just one more mark against them.

There is an excellent book, "Driving While Black", which I encourage everyone to read. The stories there are not pleasant, though the automobile was notable as an alternative to the constant indignities foisted upon the African American population by the institutional racism endemic to bus and train travel. African Americans had much greater fear than most of being stranded by the side of the road with a car in need of repair, given the dangers they may face simply because of their color. Cars from GM especially were favored if for no other reason than the greater likelihood that parts and service could be obtained just about anywhere. GM subsequently catering to this market no doubt helped.

Book: Driving While Black

Still, Satchel Paige was notable for driving a green Packard (sometimes this photo is re-colored with the Packard in blue or red, but from what I have read it was green).

Satchel Paige and his Packard

Posted on: 4/30 16:14
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Re: Balancing the Historians
#5
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cortes121
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Tim,

Do you have or would know where one could look into hiring practices and race relations for the other independents?

I find the subject incredibly interesting, especially when it comes to the smaller auto makers, but the information on this sort of thing for them is not as prevalent as it is for the likes of GM and Ford, at that time.

Also, thanks for providing that link Jerome, seems like quite and interesting read.

Posted on: 4/30 20:32
- Anthony

1955 Packard Clipper Custom
1951 Kaiser Deluxe
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