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The Demise of the Independents
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Michael C Wauhop
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The sad truth is, unfortunately nothing could save the Independent carmakers save a miracle-and none was forthcoming. Studebaker made a great car in 1953 that was visually stunning but prone to severe rusting; everyone wants to take credit for its styling, no one wants to take credit for its engineering. Hudson make a great car in the step down model only to be unable to update the design at a time when a new car was expected EVERY THREE YEARS (imagine that now). Kaiser made an attractive looking car but never jumped on the V8 bandwagon which was fatal. Nash made a reliable comfortable car that was maybe visually challenged but everyone I Have ever talked to that owned one liked it. The 1955 Packard was a technological tour de force that unfortunately was rushed into production before all the bugs were out-especially the T/U automatic (I finally gave up on mine in 2014 and went with a conversion to the GM 700r). Nance did have one great idea-the banding of the surviving independents together. If the heads of the independent car companies back in 1949 when they were benefitting from a sellers market, and has cash pouring into their coffers had banded together and formed an automotive company structured like GM they might be still here today. Unfortunately in life hindsight is often 20/20.

Posted on: 2017/4/3 10:47
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Re: The Demise of the Independents
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Michael C Wauhop
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I would also like to say with the Independents gone the big three that were left got sloppy in regard to quality, made cars that were unsafe (the Corvair and Pinto come to mind). They made cars that rusted with a vengeance (my fathers chevelle nomad wagon started rusting 2 years after he bought it new) They made cars that were terribly unreliable again the Pinto and also the Vega. Needless to say competition makes products better-and they would soon learn this when the Japanese arrived on our shores, some learning it at the 11th hour (Chrysler comes to mind).

Posted on: 2017/4/3 10:56
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Re: The Demise of the Independents
#3
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HH56
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Something I've been curious about is how much a role did advertising and surveys play back then. Packard did a bit of advertising, Stude more but the big 3 seemed to go to extremes anywhere they could. Also surveys. I believe Consumer Reports gave the 55s and maybe Packard in general some fairly mediocre ratings while some of the test magazines did a bit better. Of course, we can't believe Consumer Reports all the time but still lots of people won't buy anything they rate low.

Don't remember the organization doing the survey but saw an ad the other day touting present GM models as top notch buys because some same GM models of past years were rated high in consumer surveys. Ironically, many of those high rated models then were the ones being shipped with known faulty ignition switches.

Posted on: 2017/4/3 12:34
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Re: The Demise of the Independents
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ScottG
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Chevy currently claims more JD Power #1 in Initial Quality awards (first 90 days) than any other marque. Of course, they begin falling apart on day 91. Thanks, but no thanks GM especially now that you are beginning to import your "American cars" from China.

Posted on: 2017/4/3 13:24
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Re: The Demise of the Independents
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PackardV8
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Studebaker, Hudson and Nash suffered from a very sparse dealer network and poor parts availability practices.

NEW car sales are only as good as used car sales. If difficult to obtain service for the car then customers will not return to buy a new one.
As i understand it, Packard always had a good dealer networrk so i'm not sure why Packard failed. Probably failed due to same reason Chrysler failed: corporate inscest.

Show me ANY company, big or small that is full of in-laws,ex-laws and outlaws and i'll show u a company that isn't going to last more than a few years. That was Chryslers problem. Not sure about Packard.

Note that Studebaker often boasted in some of it's advertisements about fathers, sons and grand fathers working side by side in the company. A bad case of corporate incest.


FINANCING is another issue that may have contributed to the fall of the so-called "orphan" car companies..

Posted on: 2017/4/3 14:06
VAPOR LOCK demystified: See paragraph SEVEN of PMCC documentaion as listed in post #11 of the following thread:f
http://packardinfo.com/xoops/html/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=7245
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Re: The Demise of the Independents
#6
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Craig the Clipper Man
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WauhopM:

James Nance did not come up with the idea of banding the independents into one major corporate umbrella. The person who gets credit for that idea was George Mason of Nash. He proposed joining Nash, Studebaker, Hudson, and Packard together as American Motors. Unfortunately, Mason died before his idea could come to fruition.

Nash and Hudson did merge, as did Packard and Studebaker. Studebaker had a joker up its sleeve in 1954 when it revealed that it would drowning in red ink -- after its purchase by Packard. Nance must have felt like one of those gangsters going over the side of a boat in a cement bathing suit!

The final merging of Nash, Hudson, Packard, and Studebaker also hit a wall due in part to the animosity between Nance and Nash CEO George Romney. I think it was a moot point because it was too late for that merger anyway.

It is my opinion that the time for a merger between Packard and other major independents should have occurred during the 1920s before the Depression. By the early 1950s, the Big Three were rolling out cars at such a rate that the independents were literally left in their dust. Without the resources to bring out a variety of new models and flood television and magazines with advertisements, the independents continued to fall further and further behind.

I don't believe that Nance was the villain here. A lot of what is laid at his feet had its roots from many years before. No doubt the Studebaker purchase was a fiasco, but I don't think Nance would have made that move had he had all of the facts before him. I also think Nance made every effort to try to save Packard -- there just was no way.

Posted on: 2017/4/3 15:38
You can make a lot of really neat things from the parts left over after you rebuild your engine ...
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Re: The Demise of the Independents
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Dan
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When all is said and done, the demise of the independents comes down to a three word phrase:

Economy of scale.

The Big 3 became dominant in the industry by the 1950s. And the independents, try though they might, simply could not compete.

Would the merger proposed by George Mason and others have worked? Maybe. We'll never know. I suspect that even if that merger HAD occurred, the organization might have lacked the enormous amount of capital needed to compete with the Big 3.

Having said that, their efforts TO compete and differentiate themselves from Ford, GM, and Chrysler are interesting to me, and I never tire of learning more about them!

Posted on: 2017/4/3 20:13
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Re: The Demise of the Independents
#8
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Bob Supina
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I can't count the number of reasons that have been published on the reason why Packard went down, but I contend there is only ONE real reason.....

GOVERNMENT BAILOUTS HAD NOT BEEN INVENTED!

Posted on: 2017/4/3 22:11
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Re: The Demise of the Independents
#9
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dadoc
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I think that all of these reasons played a part in Packard's demise...which in my humble opinion could have been prevented with a Hudson and Nash merger immediately before or after WWII...in time to roll out a rationalized product line in '48 or '49...or even '50. The biggest stumbling block might have been dear Mr McCauley himself who could not imagine Packard being anything but...Packard. I think he did not see the world change around him. The premise of Agatha Christie's mystery "AT Bertam's Hotel" is that the world changes and when something doesn't change with time, there is a problem.

Posted on: 2017/4/3 23:12
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