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Comparing Packards
#1
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CCR
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I am just curious if anyone can describe or note the main differences/similarities between the 41 Clipper and other "traditional" 41 models (i.e. apart from the body :) )?

Posted on: 3/11 21:20
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Re: Comparing Packards
#2
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HH56
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I believe the body and front suspension were the main differences. Engine, trans and a lot of other mechanical was the same but traditional bodies had the Safe-T-Flex suspension with the center link steering layout while Clippers went to the more conventional lower A arm and steering linkage setup. The Clipper also had a rear transverse shock absorber which I don't think the conventional bodies used.

If you want to compare detailed mechanical specs the 41 conventional models are in the Sept 15, 1940 Service Letter Vol 14 #17 and the 41 Clipper is in the April 1, 1941 Service Letter Vol 15 #7. Both can be downloaded from the Literature Archive, Service Letters, Counselors and Bulletins category.

There is another publication with more detail on the Clipper body differences.

Posted on: 3/11 22:11
Howard
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Re: Comparing Packards
#3
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su8overdrive
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As always, HH56 accurately sums it. The Clipper's lowered floorpan left no room for Safe-T-Flex's long torque arms, same reason the 1956-on Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud/Bentley S-series also went to a GM-type i.f.s., despite previous Crewe products using a nut for bolt copy of Safe-T-Flex, as did, at the rear, the postwar Lagonda.

The traditional, old-bodied Packards did have a fifth rear shock to control lateral side sway, while the Clipper version the Monroe horizontal bar and shock are one and the same.

The traditional bodied Packards, like yours, have better ergonomics, IMHO, but streamlining was everything in the industry, and men suffer for fashion as much as the distaff.

Ironically, the Clipper, Packard's last ever hit with the public--not one-marque-itis buffs half a century and more later -- was harbinger of the end, since the Company outsourced bodies to Briggs. Of course, R-R/Bentley offered downmarket, assembled product after the war with bodies provided by Pressed Steel of Cowley near Oxford, who also supplied much of the Sceptered Isle motor industry, even as Briggs bodied Chryslers and Fords.

However, Crewe, despite disassembling a new Buick Limited annually in the years just before War II to glean the latest Detroit production tips, was not being run by former GM production men, and remembered how to market upscale.

Posted on: 3/13 1:05
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Re: Comparing Packards
#4
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bkazmer
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I wouldn't say the Clipper was the last hit with the public. As you say, fashion was a big deal, and envelope/fuselage bodies were the new thing post-war. The "bathtub" cars sold well initially. 1949 was a high sales year (2nd most for Packard, I believe). The 1950 carry-over instead of the new 24th series bodies put Packard behind.

Posted on: 3/13 5:46
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Re: Comparing Packards
#5
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su8overdrive
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Had war not intervened, the '41 Clipper, despite not introduced 'til midyear, in April, would've far outsold the less expensive One-Twenty, 16,600 Clippers sold in five months vs. 17,100 One-Twenties over 12 months.

Traditionally styled '41 Packards looked shopworn, their sales down 24% while Buick and Cadillac up an accordant amount, Dutch Darrin recalling the preceding year, "Packard was so afraid of GM they couldn't see straight." The Clipper used some of the new GM C-body cues.

The tubs may've echoed a look shared with others at the time, but they received at best mixed reviews, hardly a hit. Consumer Reports chided "Packard, having dropped its distinctive hood design some time ago, has now simplified forms throughout to the point where its body could easily be cast in rasberry Jello."

Selling chiefly Oldsmobile/Buick-priced product in a sellers' market while bleeding your name white does not make your cars hits. The '51-on Packards were not universally admired, again, mostly Olds/Buick-priced fare. Packard was now selling to middle-class, mid-America folk who could now own a "Packard," while Cadillac owned the coasts and much between, industry polls showing Chrysler popular with educated professionals; engineers, scientists, professors, editors. Chryslers had better breathing, shocks, brakes amd quicker steering than Cad, Packard and the others; 16.2:1 steering gear vs. Cad's clumsy 25.5:1.

John Reinhart, stylist of the '51 Packard, lamented the "high pockets" look, the result of ex-GM production men running Packard penny-pinching, steel being cheaper than glass. Reinhart and company were told to use the roof and cowl heights of a Chevy-bodied '49 Olds as their guide.

I long ago had a 48,414-mile, sound '51 Packard owned by an older woman in Hawthorne, CA. All you had to do was crawl under, compare how the bumpers were attached with an Oldsmobile's nicer Fisher body, or examine a finely wrought Hudson Hornet. The Packard's sole qualities ergonomics and smoothness, Consumer Reports deriding the it-crawled-from-the-sea grille shared with much of Detroit: "....the largest and probably the homeliest grille die casting in the industry."

You don't have hits following the leader. Packard was a leader their first four decades. Not after.
Doesn't make them bad cars, just not hits.

Middle-of-the-road competency through the end in 1956 does not make a car "a hit," despite buff adherents 70 years later.

We like what we like, but that does not render such hits in the day. As Tim Cole reminds, 1929 was Packard's most profitable year. The former Hudson and cash register execs guiding Packard through the teens into the '30s ensured Packard's durable engineering refinement delivered via smart tooling, returning hefty profit margins, Packard's chiseled styling allowing them to own the tiny slivver of the car biz that was the fine car market (above $2,000 FOB) through '36.

The One-Twenty, enabled by recruited GM big B-O-Pers, was a hit by dint of low price--even Chevrolet's sales manager Bill Packer brought onboard to teach Packard dealers how to sell to the middle-class on credit. The One-Twenty was not only a hit, but became the basis of all Packards 1939-on save the 446 leftover Twelves. 1937 was a big year only because Packard unleashed a six for the price of a bottom-rung Buick, Olds, Chrysler six. 1940 was a good year thanks to cost-cutting, quality down a notch from '39, lower-than-ever prices, but the '40 side louvers were cribbed from the '38 Buick which had ended Packard's three consecutive wins of the annual Gallup Poll's Most Beautiful Car.

If not for Pearl Harbor, largely Clipperized 1942 would've been Packard's biggest year.

Rolls-Royce's postwar, downmarket, assembled fare, Silver Dawns/Bentley Mark VIs & R-types with GM components, bodies by Pressed Steel, who supplied much of England's motor industry as Briggs did Chrysler, Ford, Packard, were not hits, but like many postwar Packards, have their fans.

We're here to share info to enjoy what we have, keep them running. Terming everything someone likes "a hit" serves historic accuracy no better than deeming everything out of Kelley Blue Book a "classic."

Posted on: 3/14 1:33
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Re: Comparing Packards
#6
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Wat_Tyler
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The Clipper was a winner, period. Not a fan of the name, but they could have named it Fred and sold some. It's a spiffy design and put Packard in a great position after the war when everyone had to put their five-year-old designs back out there. Best looking girl at the homecoming dance.


That said, the Clipper was Gilman's baby. But he dipped his pen into company ink, and got caught and railroaded when Father Alvan showed the world his puritanicalism. One wonders what he, Gilman, might have come up with post-war if he'd had the chance. Instead, Packard got George Peter-Principle Christopher, a production guy with virtually no other redeeming features.


Christopher, in all of his cluelessness, built the Hell out of sixes after the war when a monkey could sell cars, squandering the luxury car customers and the company name. Then the bathtub facelift for '48, while mechanically adequate for the era, was a nausea-inducing styling cluster%$#@. But his biggest disaster was in his celebrating Packard's 50th with another "re-styling" of the tub. His towering home run would have been an all new V8 in an all new car, but instead he acted on every fear he owned and fumbled the opportunity and then kicked the ball out of bounds. And the dottering old fools on the Packard board allowed this. As long as the dividend checks kept rolling in . . . . It hurts my mind.


I'm with the CCCA. The last classic Packard was the last super/custom Clipper. Speaking of, there's an article in their latest rag on the Darrin Packards. All seven paragraphs and five pictures. :rolleyes:

Posted on: 3/14 19:57
If you're not having fun, maybe it's your own damned fault.
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Re: Comparing Packards
#7
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39Rollson
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I have always believed that loosing Max Gilman was the beginning of the end for Packard. He was very successful with his importing business and sports cars after leaving Packard. I've always wondered where Packard would have gone had he stayed.

Posted on: 3/15 7:23
1954 Cavalier (export model)sold

1941 Clipper

1939 120 Rollson all weather cabriolet

George
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Re: Comparing Packards
#8
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su8overdrive
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Wat's right. Calling their new style other than Packard relegated the Clipper to a lark, a foray, which of course it was, new products often launched midyear when used car inventories at their lowest, as did Ford their re-skinned Falcon in 1964 1/2, despite both turning out bellringers.

Italian motoring journalist Enrica Aceti and English author Kevin Brazendale in their comprehensive tome, Classic Cars: "Fifty Years of the World's Finest Automotive Design: "Packard introduced a very handsome new body for its Clipper model, unveiled in March 1941" (debuted March 4th, on sale next month) "on a 127-inch wheelbase as competitor to Cadillac in the upper-medium-price class. Its tapering forms were subtle and delicate, flowing back from a high, narrow grille. This was the style with which Packard resumed production after World War II, with both six and eight-cylinder engines."

So while understandably giving the new styling a subname, this also suggests a sub line. Wat's right. Simply calling the new aerodynamic, "Wind-Stream," "Speed-Stream" version Packard would've given them more cachet out of the gate.

But such daring the conservative firm lacked, continued by the increasing clout of the former GMers among Company management. George Christopher was a myopic GM B-O-P production man bereft of marketing savvy. Packard's insular chairman, Alvan Macauley, earlier GM of Burroughs Adding Machine Company, before that with National Cash Register Company, rubber-stamped Christopher.

From the late '30s, certainly 1940-on, Packard advertising increasingly shrill, a Deanna Durbin/Mickey Rooney "Hey kids, let's put on a show in the barn" against Buick's light-hearted Constance Bennett/Cary Grant confidence and Cadillac's posh tone. Whether invoking Clipper ships or the new trans-Pacific flying boats, the new name too close to "Joltin' Joe Dimaggio," for upscale buyers not glued to pop culture.

There'd been a 1939 Chevrolet "Royal Clipper," and a '40 Chevy Deluxe Sport Royal Clipper/Special Deluxe "with Royal Clipper styling."

Packard said it all. The new subname only opened the door to all 1948-on product reminding people they were no longer getting the real thing. It was already telling that both the cutthroat-priced, Pontiac-bodied 1941 Cadillacs and '41 traditional bodied Packards shared the same silly front and rear fender "speed strips." The clean limbed Clipper avoided such nonsense, all the more meriting the stand alone, august name, Packard.

Silver Dawn, Silver Cloud, Silver Shadow harked to the early years of the Silver Ghost. Clipper had no such Company connection. Postwar Crewe product also lesser cars by a concern more focused on aero engines, but at least retained genteel advertising.

Again, it'd been a long time since Peter Helck's sublime 1933 "Hush!"

Posted on: 3/17 0:20
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