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1941 Clipper grille design - the Beginning of the End
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JeromeSolberg
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Hi Folks,

Randomly, I have been thinking about the 1941-47 Clippers.

Largely considered to be a beautiful design, there is something about them that just bothers me. And I finally figured out what it is: the grille design.

Whereas most classic-era Packards have some variation of the waterfall grille, with vertically-oriented bars, the Clipper (and the 1948-50 cars which succeeded it) has horizontally-oriented bars which are just not very impressive.

It seems to me the 1941 Clippers, primarily because of the very toned-down grille, just don't have the little bit of specialness, that even a 1941 110 has, because of the grille. It's the grille of a taxicab, not a limousine.

To me, it's the beginning of the end. But what puzzles me is "why"? Why is the 1941 Clipper markedly less grand in it's grille design, even compared to the 110 and 120, which it was supposed to be at least slightly senior to.

Your thoughts are welcome

Posted on: 6/10 19:02
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Re: 1941 Clipper grille design - the Beginning of the End
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bkazmer
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styling trends were going to horizontal front ends. The 42 cat walk grilles vs the 41 show this. the Clipper keeps the tall and narrow shape but moves more horizontal.

Posted on: 6/10 19:12
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Re: 1941 Clipper grille design - the Beginning of the End
#3
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Wat_Tyler
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Some day, I should write an essay on what went right and wrong during this whole period, as Wat sees it with 20/20 hindsight.


I think that the Clipper was the last Packard and not the one that went over the cliff. That dubious distinction belongs to the bathtub models. I also think that the narrow bars on the pre-war cars is too busy but that they got it right post-war. Just my $0.02.


The damn things keep showing up at my house . . . .

Posted on: 6/10 19:27
If you're not having fun, maybe it's your own damned fault.
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Re: 1941 Clipper grille design - the Beginning of the End
#4
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HH56
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One of the articles said the Clipper grill was an attempt to keep as much of the classic vertical Packard grill styling for identification but modernize it in a transition to the horizontal look.

I think the prewar grill missed the mark because of the odd choice to have very narrow horizontal grill bars adjacent to the wide spaced bars in the lower horizontal portion. The lines just do not match up very well and might have looked better if the narrow grill bars had stayed vertical.

IMO, the 46-7 grill with wide bar spacing in the vertical portion that flows thru and perfectly matches the horizontal section is a considerable improvement over the prewar version. Adding the whiskers completed the look for a fully horizontal themed tastefully done front.

Posted on: 6/10 19:30
Howard
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Re: 1941 Clipper grille design - the Beginning of the End
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Tim Cole
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Reinhardt said the Clipper was a panic response to the Cadillac 60 Special. I personally prefer the 41 model over the rest. As I do the 37 Buick over the 38, and the 39 Caddy over the 40. However, I think the 40 Buick is way better than the 39.

In 42 Packard made the Clipper dash look like a Cadillac. And I always disliked the whiskers. Too much dazzle.

However, the more I look at them the more I think the bathtubs are better looking than the Clipper, the obvious restyling on the cheap notwithstanding.
And that shows in the sales figures.

From certain angles the Clipper looks great, but from certain others it doesn't.

I wondered if a bigger grille would help. As shown below trying to outsmart professional stylists doesn't work until 1957 when they started taking drugs.

Finally, I think the death blow to Packard was the 49 Cadillac 75. It was hands down the finest luxury barge in the world. Way better than any 49 Rolls, Mercedes, or anything. Nothing could touch it and that's when people started saying things like "This is the Cadillac plan ....."

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Posted on: 6/10 20:57
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Re: 1941 Clipper grille design - the Beginning of the End
#6
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Fish'n Jim
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I think you nailed it when they started to "match" the Cadillac and lost the luxury market. That's not leading, and not leading has it's consequences, aka following.
It took them a decade post war to change to the v-8 engine, way too late. Competition left them in the dust on that one.
The clipper front end is warmed over late 30s LaSalle.

Posted on: 6/11 19:34
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Re: 1941 Clipper grille design - the Beginning of the End
#7
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Wat_Tyler
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Pictures from my personal stash. In order: 1941 Clipper grill, 1946 Clipper grill, 1939 La Salle grill.

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jpg  IMG_1212.jpg (4,253.86 KB)
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Posted on: 6/12 11:26
If you're not having fun, maybe it's your own damned fault.
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Re: 1941 Clipper grille design - the Beginning of the End
#8
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bkazmer
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ask the man who owns one. LOL

Posted on: 6/12 12:26
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Re: 1941 Clipper grille design - the Beginning of the End
#9
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Wat_Tyler
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Wat is opinionated. Who knew?


That one only produces one horsepower no matter what lies GM told.


Wat's favorite GM product is the Saginaw M1 carbine.

Posted on: 6/12 14:55
If you're not having fun, maybe it's your own damned fault.
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Re: 1941 Clipper grille design - the Beginning of the End
#10
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Tim Cole
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Judge for yourself.

From this angle I think maybe a bigger grille would work pretty well. That narrow grille strikes me as a Darrin touch. Flatten it out a little and who knows?

The Clipper front always has bugged me. It's appeal changes with the angle of perception. The bathtub doesn't do that. Which says a lot about Macauley's ability. The Clipper was done over at the Briggs studio.

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Posted on: 6/13 10:30
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