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Re: The Greatest Packards of Them All
#21
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Tim Cole
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On the Conner Avenue thing refresh my memory. Packard was doing its own stamping before they had to make bodies with all steel rooves? Or were they making bodies for the all steel limousines prior to the Briggs deal?

I've never heard a satisfactory argument either way for Conner. I knew people whose parents and grandparents worked for Packard and management was in their words "behind the scenes". Maybe they thought the Conner plant would cut down on operating costs given the Senior lines were gone. Maybe Nance wanted the place to look more like a refrigerator plant. I don't how many cars were coming out of there when it was Chrysler. If Chrysler was turning out more cars there than Packard then it might look wise.

The old Dodge main plant kept running long after Packard was gone and the line there was a drug infested mess. Management felt that drug addicts only want enough money for drugs. They sold the stuff to employees.

Posted on: 7/16 17:32
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Re: The Greatest Packards of Them All
#22
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Kevin
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Packard had capability to do the smaller stampings like radiator splash shields and core supports, etc., but starting with the 1941 Clipper program, they let all body stampings go to Briggs. The last body stampings they did on East Grand were for the traditional non-Clipper bodies. When those models were not brought back after the war, Packard had de facto exited the body stamping and building business.

It might be discussed in the new Heinmueller book, but part of the problem with trying to move body stamping and production out of the Connor Briggs plant after 1954 was the size of the presses. There were almost insurmountable issues with trying to move the presses to East Grand from Connor, so Nance's people ultimately recommended that they move to the sort-of one story configuration of the Connor facility. According to Robert J. Neal, there were hardly any operations in the existing Packard buildings south of East Grand in 1954, so it wasn't an issue of floor space. They felt that the efficiency of the one story layout was the way to go. It ultimately may have been, but the problem is that they needed a lot more sales (and a lot more car output) to make money. I don't even know that Connor would have been capable of the kind of output Packard needed. Maybe an all-new plant at Utica would have been the ultimate answer?

Posted on: 7/16 19:58
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Re: The Greatest Packards of Them All
#23
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humanpotatohybrid
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I don't think I've read a take yet on the stamping issue specifically, but Dwight's take on moving production to Connor was that:

1) The move in itself was burning money the company would later desperately need

2) The inevitable quality and production issues from the move greatly lowered the public trust in the 55 and 56 models, sharply reducing expected revenue.

Probably the most favorable solution would have been to do at Connor whatever Briggs formerly did, then truck the bodies back to the existing assembly line that had been working great for years.

Posted on: 7/16 21:33
'55 400. Needs aesthetic parts put back on, and electrical system sorted.
'55 Clipper Deluxe. Engine is stuck-ish.
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Re: The Greatest Packards of Them All
#24
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Tim Cole
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Okay, so that clarifies the situation as does this blurb:

"Briggs' Conner Avenue body plant had been dedicated to building bodies for Packard, and it was sold to that company; Packard moved all body/chassis operations there. Packard's 4.5 million square foot Grand Boulevard plant, used for 50 years, was replaced by the 1 million square foot Conner plant - which also made Packard bodies."

Of course, the 4.5 million includes floor space not used for automobiles.

So, the matter looks like an accounting decision to use a body stamping plant to assemble complete cars. Or in other words (to borrow Howard Hugh's favorite phrase) which is the lesser evil?

Sure, the Packard plant was capable of being used, but plant engineers probably figured it was easier to move the assembly line. Note as well, one of the reasons today's cars don't rust away in the showroom is they don't move complete bodies around on trucks anymore. However, if the product launch was successful Conner would have to go.

Rather than criticizing Packard, perhaps Chrysler is the real culprit. They bought a plant for the purpose of shutting down Packard. I'm sure the last thing they wanted was the four way merger George Mason had in mind.

Posted on: 7/17 9:00
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Re: The Greatest Packards of Them All
#25
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humanpotatohybrid
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Quote:

one of the reasons today's cars don't rust away in the showroom


Clearly you haven't been to a McLaren dealership

Posted on: 7/17 9:11
'55 400. Needs aesthetic parts put back on, and electrical system sorted.
'55 Clipper Deluxe. Engine is stuck-ish.
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Re: The Greatest Packards of Them All
#26
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Tim Cole
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I'm talking about meaningful products. Mclaren is inconsequential junk. My modern car is seven years old and not one spot of rust.

We're trying to conduct a constructive discussion here in an intelligent manner the same way Dwight has made for a serious work of historical significance.

Posted on: 7/17 9:14
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Re: The Greatest Packards of Them All
#27
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Ross
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Chrysler bought all of Briggs and Connor was part of it. They offered to sell Connor to Packard, which Packard couldn't swing, so they leased it to Packard for a not unreasonable amount.

Now I agree that it was a mistake to have final assy. at Connor, but I'm a little more charitable about the decision than some.

Consider:
*hardly any of the machinery used for producing straight eights was applicable for producing the new V8 so it made sense to have that production in the Utica location. That way 54 production could continue even as the new engine line was being set up. So that portion of East Grand was not needed for the future.

*The new Gear Start and Twin Ultras also needed a lot of new machinery so that was moved up to Utica as well. Now all of the very specialized personnel that keep production machines operational are working in Utica. Sooooo, better have all heavy machining operations done in one location for the purposes of steel supply, cutting oil, tools, skilled craftsmen etc.etc. Thus rear axle and suspension components move to Utica. This really makes a lot of sense as far as heavy manufacturing is concerned.

So what is left in the huge Packard factory with its own powerplant and all manner of overhead and maintenance? Oh, and no further depreciation writeoff-- Just the two assembly lines--one of which was hardly ever used given typical volumes.

Now assembly lines can be huge long complicated things, but not so much when all of the major components are finished elsewhere and trimmed bodies are delivered on trucks. I'm guessing they occupied only a small fraction of the space in East Grand. So I could see a really good case for compressing this into the Connor plant. It is not so black and white.

We know that material handling was a nightmare at Connor, but I could also guess that a lot of suppliers had promised "just-in-time" deliveries in the modern manner that they could not fulfill.

Posted on: 7/17 10:51
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Re: The Greatest Packards of Them All
#28
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Ernie Vitucci
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I agree with you. Ernie in Arizona

Posted on: 7/17 11:30
Caretaker of the 1949-288 Deluxe Touring Sedan
'Miss Prudence' and the 1931 Model A Ford Tudor 'Miss Princess'
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Re: The Greatest Packards of Them All
#29
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Fish'n Jim
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All so one man could keep his job and he was part of the problem...

Posted on: 7/17 13:29
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