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Don't make 'em like this anymore
#1
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Dave Brownell
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The subject of plastic came up in another forum post today. It made me start thinking of how substantially different our Packards are to almost anything being made today. It's usual for someone to come up to my older cars and lightly thump on a fender panel and remark about how big, solid and heavy cars used to be. Of course, they're right, but are our old cars better or worse than what you can buy today? That depends on your perspective, persuasion and experience, I suppose.

In Europe, car makers must certify how much of a new car is recyclable in terms of metals, plastic, glass, rubber, etc. For all I know, maybe American makers must do the same to sell cars there. This got me to thinking about how much of my 56 Packard is plastic of any sort. My guess would be less than one percent by weight, even if you counted Bakelite. My new cars (minus the obvious Corvette content) might be ten to fifteen percent. Carbon fiber is now being done bigger and cheaper. Aluminum Audis, Jags, Rovers and 2015 F-150s are causing retrofitting of body shops all over, and possible interesting things with insurance billing. The Revolution in what makes up a new car is now an industry unto itself, long after Packard closed its doors.

I have an eighteen year old Chevy truck with nearly four hundred thousand on it. Original engine, never opened up...even the water pump is original. So is the master cylinder and exhaust. Sometimes, newer is better. But, for me (and metal thieves) a copper radiator, wiring and stainless steel trim found on a Packard has its own unique value. If Packard had persisted beyond the Fifties, we might have some issues, just like our Cadillac brethren, with plastic bumper fillers that disintegrate, and shiny plastic Mylar trim that delaminates in the sun. After all, no Packard will ever have to have their headlight plastic cleared and buffed. They don't make them like they used to and some of us like it that way.

Posted on: 2014/6/9 13:54
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Re: Don't make 'em like this anymore
#2
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Rusty O\'Toole
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I can't believe how heavy today's cars are in spite of their small size, cramped interiors, and lavish use of cheap plastic and light weight aluminum, not to mention all the advantages of computer controlled design and manufacture.

Would you believe a 1956 Packard Patrician weighs practically the same as a 2014 Ford Taurus? 4035 lbs for the Ford, 4025 - 4275 for the Patrician. A 56 Clipper is about 3700 - 3800 or 300 pounds lighter than a Taurus.

Posted on: 2014/6/13 23:25
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Re: Don't make 'em like this anymore
#3
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Ken_P
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It turns out, the much larger amount of wiring has a weight penalty! If you took the modern car, somehow made it carbureted, with manual everything, it would be a lot lighter than any car of the '50s.

It seems like a fundamental tenet of design- any time you gain an advantage, you must fill it with new gizmos.

Posted on: 2014/6/14 1:11
1937 120 1092 - Original survivor for driving and continued preservation.
http://packardinfo.com/xoops/html/mod ... p?topic_id=16514&forum=10

1937 115 1082 - Total basket case, partial restoration, sold Hershey 2015
https://packardinfo.com/xoops/html/mod ... &order=ASC&status=&mode=0
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Re: Don't make 'em like this anymore
#4
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Fyreline
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I agree that it's surprising how cars that are so much less "substantial" than a Packard can weigh the same - or more. But, as has been correctly pointed out, the added complexity of the 2014 car includes so much electronic, safety and emissions equipment that all account for the weight penalty. I would think that a new Impala with no electronics, emissions or safety equipment and a carbureted Powerglide V6 would be a relative featherweight for a large car, and a similarly-equipped Cobalt or Aveo would probably change lanes in a brisk wind without use of the steering wheel.

Posted on: 2014/6/14 7:08
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Re: Don't make 'em like this anymore
#5
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Dave Brownell
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Looks and impressions are certainly deceiving. Just after one of my sons first met my 56 Packard, he congratulated me on what a solid and heavy car it appeared to be. We then compared his 2014 Honda Pilot which weighs (depending on content) 4300-4600 lbs dry to my hardtop at about 4100. The family Range Rover is right about 5000 lbs and it has more heavy gauge metal (minus the easily dented exterior aluminum body panels) underneath, so the Packard would fight it in a different weight category, in spite of perceptions of new plastic and vinyl.

Our experience is that the old Packard gets about the same gas mileage as his new Honda heavyweight and perhaps 20 percent better than the Rover, so I'm not complaining. But lots of that weight on the new cars involves much better crash protection than the 58 year old car. There's no question about what we'd rather be in if it comes to a serious accident.

Colin Chapman produced all of his fun to drive Lotus cars with an eye to weight being the enemy of performance and smiles. Years later, the Elite lookalike Miata came in at almost a thousand pounds more, but the smiles remained on their drivers. When I look at the weight and complexity of our Rover's air suspension and the distinctly superior ride of the Packard's Torsion Level application, I must congratulate Mr. Allison and all the other long-gone Packard engineers who designed and built them this way. Different times, needs and capabilities, for sure. But what Packard did at the time still deserves the praise today.

Posted on: 2014/6/14 7:43
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Re: Don't make 'em like this anymore
#6
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PackardV8
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Glass is HEAVY. Modern cars tend to have much larger glass area. Combined with alot of unibody metal structure hidden from the eye.
Fuel economy, since the sythesised "Energy Crisis" ca 1975 is mostly just psucholigical. What gain has been made in fuel economy is due to electronic controls and sensors.
The safety factor again is strictly psychological. Does not really rxist except for the shoulder strap and collapsable steering column the rest of the so called saftey features such as air bags and ABS (anti stop brakes) is little more than just gimmick on a par with catalytic convertets saving the earth.

Posted on: 2014/6/14 18:56
VAPOR LOCK demystified: See paragraph SEVEN of PMCC documentaion as listed in post #11 of the following thread:f
http://packardinfo.com/xoops/html/mod ... ewtopic.php?topic_id=7245
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Re: Don't make 'em like this anymore
#7
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Fish'n Jim
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Perception IS reality.

Posted on: 2014/6/14 19:36
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