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I've grown to love the '48-'50 bathtub Packards. I think that body style is the best of the post-war, especialy in the fastback coupe form! Don't get me wrong, I love the pre-war Packards as well but the new post-war design is perfect. Anyone else share my addiction?

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Sorry. You are incorrect. The bathtubs are always going to be a less then desirable body style. they are not a well designed car. The 2 door fastbacks are especially bulbous and ungainly.

But here's the deal: they are stamped in time. They are historically significant. ANY old car, well restored with shiny paint, chrome, and interior - is pretty neat.

The Victoria convertibles are beautiful because they received an extra $1.5 million in development and the angle of the top (up or down) helps the body.

There is evidence - worse of all - that this was a purposefully compromised design with too many irons in the fire. So no, as stewards of Packard we can at one point say they are not well designed and at another state they are collectible and interesting as Packards to purchase and preserve.

I know where there is a 60,000 original running and driving 1948 Custom 8 with the pre war 356 motor - 4 door - for $4000. You can't buy that kind of value in a drive now, restore periodically car elsewhere. But I always hesitate (and apparently so have others since it has been offered for 7 years) when it comes time to pull the trigger on a purchase decision.

I was at a project car auction in 2007 that had 3-4 of these bathtubs, all complete and restorable including one of your 2 door models. It went for $550, or about $200 above crusher price. And probably was slated to be hot rodded - only to never have anything even started on it once the owner realized how ungainly it was.

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I have one and like it as well, not a bad car. Years ago I had a 23rd series Custom 8 and a 50 Cadillac at the same time, I remember thinking the Packard was better built,less rattles but that is only an opinion.

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I look at the 22nd & 23rd Series Custom Eight Packards as the last US luxury cars built that had all the pre war quality in them. The Custom Eight bathtub Packards are basically a pre war chassis with streamlined sheetmetal on them. The interiors far outshine Cadillac's of the 1948 - 1950 era. By 1950 they were woefully outdated styling-wise, but quality-wise were above Lincoln & Cadillac in my opinion.

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My $.02: while a lot has been written about Harley Earl and P38's and Caddy fins, other companies had aircraft-influenced bodies already. There are a couple of pre-war examples like the Chrysler Thunderbolt and Newport. The Frazer, Hudson, Nash and Packard designs had full envelope bodies - no separate rear fenders. The GM designs were both later to market and watered down in streamlining.

I like the bathtub fastback too, but there is a real compromise to its appearance driven by costs. The greenhouse is much narrower than the body, because the Clipper center section is reused and so the doors got fatter to eliminate the fender lines. On the convertible with the top down this is no longer visible - it won styling awards at the time.

While the 1951 restyle was an up to date design, I feel the car is not so readily identifiable as a Packard - the resemblance is to a contemporary Mercury or Pontiac in overall shape

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He can't be wrong in telling us what he likes, that is an indivdual's perogative. However, my comment was meant to be more of asterick to his concept of these cars being well styled. He does not offer much except a general notion that he is addicted to them. Why?

On a forum such as this, marque specific, it is very easy for subsequent posters to be simply cheerleaders saying "Yea, I love em' too - ye hah". But I find that the longer you study styling the less any of us truly feel pleased about the 48-50 Packards. Most of us love the Clippers and can eagerly point out why, but the bathtub Packard wear a person down to the point where they lose interest or express loyalty as the overridding reason for ownership.

I love the bathtub Packards, Nashes, Lincoln Cosmos, etc but more for their historical snapshot aspect. I can own a car that is not well received as long as it delivers "old car-ness" and is just fun to own.

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K8096 notes "The interiors far outshine Cadillac's of the 1948 - 1950 era."

I don't think so. The Cadillac dash, and Chrysler dashes, were more opulant then the basic 2 gauge Packard dash. Buicks also had nice dash work. The placement of the gauges, the size of the gauges, the radio placement, color choices, chrome touches - Cadillac/Buick/Olds/Chrysler had more detail and style.

Packard's dash was meant to manufactured with as little cost as necessary - an easy stamping that could be used from Supers on up to Custom 8's.

Buicks 48-50 dash had recessed gauges that gave depth to the dash and was a difficult stamping. Seperating the guages cost more to make the dash stampings but there was no mistaking the post war Buick dash.

The 49 Cadillac Dash had a beautiful gauge cluster in a stamped rise on the dash, and the Cadillac insignia in inlaid colors in the center of the dash. The stamping too was expensive to make so it had to get styling dept approval to green light.

Look at the Cadillac dash below and note how the stylist integrates the dash with the upper door panel. By the mid fifties it became a styling given to integrate the dash to the balance of the interior. Again, this was expensive and required a new level of commitment to dash styling that GM was willing to move on.

Chrysler had the industry's first leather padded dash and an expressive jewel toned half drum instrument cluster with the jeweled Chrysler insignia.

Packard's simple 2 gauge in a pod layout was functional, but if you are trying to sell a luxury car, then your dash should reflect that market. It made no attempt to express depth and size and was likely an inexpensive dash to stamp.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/riels/3086954509/

http://public.fotki.com/oldcars/1949_packard_custom/23.html

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The so called bathtub Packards were well received in their day. Their style was right in fashion along with the similar looking 1946-1950 Kaiser and Frazer, the 1949-51 Mercury and Lincoln, the 1948-54 Hudson, and 1949-51 Nash.

Packard deserves extra credit for cleverly creating an up to date style on the cheap by revamping their 1941-1947 body.

Unfortunately the style did not age well. None of the above cars are considered classic or desirable. But this does not take away from the quality of the Packard.

It also means that the Packard enthusiast on a budget has a chance to be the man who owns one.

One more odd quirk. I notice since the new cars went to a similar rounded or bean shaped look in the 80s and 90s the old bathtub cars look a lot better.

I agree that these are a desirable car for their time, especially the convertible and fastback coupe. But don't think they will ever catch on with the collecting public.

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Rusty,

I would love to own a bathtub Packard. I didn't want my comments to reflect on the special "cool factor" of these cars and the fact that they are so affordable give thema special place in our hobby. A bathtub Packard with new paint / chrome is neat. I see most of these cars with worn out tired paint and interiors. I am watching an ebay auction with an opening bid of $1,000 (no reserve) that looks like it will go without bids. It says 25,000 miles and looks solid.

***

The 48 Custom 8 with eggcrate grille with low original mileage that I featured in the above dashboard analysis, you get for $4,000 OR maybe $3,500 if the timing was right. That's ridiculous money for what the Custom 8 represented. A similar original mileage/condition Cadillac 60 Special would probably cost $7,000 to $10,000. So the Custom 8 is about half the cost.

I see Victorias go for prices that I could afford if they were my only car ($10,000 to $18,000) while similar GM cars would go for $25,000 to $60,000.

I am pretty sure a bathtub Packard is in my future, I just want to make sure they are not compared to other cars that are better styled and compared as apples to apples.

I also love to be corrected, because that is how I learn about this hobby, so if someone can offer counterpoint I will gladly be corrected. I almost never come back and say "Yes, but..."

Packard, Kaiser and other independents had some talent on styling, but often farmed out styling as well. Cadillac and Harley Earl got to hand pick many of their stylists and had a pipeline to young talent. They could tell a guy to just design a grille and that's all he would do.

That's one of the reasons we should collect the bathtubs and all postwar Packards. They are collectible and they did not have the resources of GM. As we see now, be careful of losing your tradition and purpose or you will become extinct. GM only has to look to the recent past of Packard to understand this concept.

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Absolutely agree Steve. Of course, I will keep the forum posted when I do get one. I have posted in the past on the Bathtubs, most recently on the Station Sedan wagons, which are cool in themselves.

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I can't say I think they're beautiful, but I think the '50's side molding and bigger taillights help the design. I like the fastbacks probably best, after the convertibles.

I was born in '58, and to me, a bathtub Packard is what I thought a Packard was when I was a kid. I knew of no other Packards afterwards. Could be because that's what our Studebaker-Packard-Benz dealer in town drove into the '60's---a military green '49 Packard which he later told me kept coming back to them as a trade-in, and that it was so solid and good-running he liked to drive it himself. (Incidentally, he also told me they sold a new yellow '48 Packard convertible new in our little town. He later sold '56 Caribbean convertible no. 1258, which survives in N.C.).

Bill

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a 1950 Custom 8 Sedan. I think it is a prime example of a unique car style that lasted for just a very short time (4 years?) and as such, is a car I'm proud to own. Is it bulbous? You bet it is. Is it big? Yep. Is that enormous chrome Cormorant perched on the hilltop of a hood kinda 'over-the-top'? Yeah, I'd say so. But you know, the car always draws an appreciative crowd at all the local car shows I've taken it to. The dash may not be as stylish as the Cadillac of the period, but the classic highly polished woodgrain is a knockout.

I think what Packard accomplished with the Clipper facelift was nothing short of amazing. As has been pointed out by others, the bathtub Packards represent a style that was used by many car makers during the post-war period but the style lost popularity (kinda like tailfins). The bathtub Packards may not qualify as beautiful in the minds of some, but I personally feel that they qualify as an impressive example of the bathtub style and as such, are a visual slice of US automotive history.

Beautiful? Maybe not... but it's sure fun having one.

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JD,

You have a nice one-two punch there. Isn't 1950 also the last year for the 356?

I made an offer on a 49 Super 8 that had no bids on ebay - for $1000 - then in the last few seconds it was bid to about $1600. It was a solid low mileage car that suffered from recent bad storage. But still, $1600 for a cool running 60 year old car. That's a bargain.

Meanwhile that 56,000 mile Custom 8 I know of remains for sale. Can you post photos of your car here or send them to me?

abc.moran@netzero.net

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"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"..You seem well educated on your cars,but just because one car is maybe more popular to the masses,does'nt make it any more valuable to an individual!! I firmly believe the cars that are not as popular to the masses,therefore not collected and preserved as often,will one day be the most valuable collectables!!!! My personal opinion is that I love the "Bathtub" Packards and would have one any day over a junky ass Cadillac!!!!No offense intended to Cadillacs or there collectors I appreciate all old cars,I just personally prefer to have something unique that everyone else don't have!!! Packard and Lincolns would pass any ole Cadiliac anyday in all aspects!!! GO PACKARD!!!!

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While I like both 1950's Packards & Cadillacs, and have owned v8 examples of both, to say that Packard beats Cadillac in all aspects is a bit blind. For one, the Cadillac V8 did not suffer from the oil pump problems the Packard v8 did, and I would have to say the Cadillac Hydramatic is more reliable than a Packard Ultramatic. No one rebuilding a Cadillac V8 has to drill a hole bigger in the right hand cylinder head to allow for better oil drainage because the factory didn't do it right either. I have an all original 1955 400 with 49XXX miles on it and I'm afraid to drive it on a long trip because the oil pump hasn't been rebuilt yet. The 1955 Caddy I used to have had over 80XXX miles on it and I had no fear driving it long distances. Once the problems with the Packard V8 are fixed they're fine, but the point I'm making is that with the Cadillac V8, there are no problems to fix in the first place.

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I've never been a big fan of the '48-'50 bathub models, but I too have grown to appreciate them for what they were--quality cars from a company which was begining to lose its focus and market share. Someday I too may park one in my garage between my '41 Clipper and '52 Mayfair to complete the continuum. Here is an article on the Clipper that helps to explain the design changes made in '48:

http://packardinfo.com/xoops/html/modules/article/view.article.php?c3/234

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post-53383-143138033493_thumb.jpg

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Here is the part of the article I mentioned above which focuses on the "bathtubs"!

<span style="font-weight: bold"> </span> <span style="color: #3366FF">Almost immediately after production got rolling in 1945, chief stylist John Reinhart was told, much against his judgment, to update the Clipper. If Dutch Darrin had thought Packard loaded “gobs of clay” onto his original model in 1941, what must he have thought of the 1948 models? Furthermore, there was no change in market orientation, still rooted firmly in the medium price field. Indeed in 1948, the final year for President George Christopher, senior Packard production dwindled from 30 percent to 11 percent of total production, training Cadillac by tens of thousands. Packards, as a later president, James Nance, stated, “just handed the luxury car market to Cadillac on a silver platter.”

Professional designers have contemplated continuations of the Clipper into 1948-49, with a broader range of body styles including hardtops and convertibles. Their designs were beautiful and would have kept pace with the all-new Cadillacs and Lincolns of 1949, allowing Packard to come back with its first postwar redesign in 1950. But this is the lesser point: the key failure was to reorder the corporation’s priorities and establish it once again as the American luxury car it had been so successfully for forty years.

Hindsight does suggest that Packard lost its battle for survival at this point, although it wouldn’t be evident immediately. Since the company couldn’t achieve high volume, it would have been more logical to maximize the profit from each car it could build. Not only were customers standing in line, but by putting top-of-the-line Packards on the road, the public’s image of Packard as a luxury car builder would have been enhanced. Worse still, the 1948 facelift lost the design continuum the Clipper had so brilliantly offered. These elegant and inimitable lines dating back to the early years of the century, so laboriously maintained by countless Packard designers over the years, almost instantly departed. Though it retained the Clipper’s basic shell, the 1948 model bore no resemblance to its predecessor. Although it was as brilliantly engineered and was as fine a performer as before, the latest Clipper no longer looked the part of a luxury Packard. The bulbous “up-side-down bathtubs” owed nothing to modernity and never gained much popularity. Market share suffered at a time when Packard should have, and could have become the luxury car leader again. They could have been ahead of the styling curve, not behind it. If the release of the Clipper had been saved until after the war, and if it would have been in a style closer to the one Howard “Dutch” Darrin proposed for the styling team in 1940, Packard would have been in a position of styling leadership and the 1948 “pregnant elephant” Packards could have resembled the “high-line” style released in 1951. The designs of the ’51 cars were on the drawing boards shortly after the war, but instead, Packard management settled for facelifts.

The money spent on the facelifts, John Reinhart and many others always maintained should have gone into an expansion of Clipper body styles to compete with Cadillac. Packard recognized this too late when it brought out a convertible as the first ’48 body style—a model it should have had by 1947 at the latest.</span>

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I'll disagree with one point - Packard as a luxury producer for an affluent clientele was rarely ahead of the styling curve and didn't want to be. Their designs were focused on seeming tasteful and current but not avant garde. Too many customers viewed really new looks as odd. Compare a 36 Cord, Lincoln Zephyr, and a 1940 Packard. Don't get me wrong - I love the Packard's look, but not because it is ground breaking.The Clipper was probably the most "new" design, but about even with the GM torpedo. The Chrysler Thunderbolt and Newport certainly "predict" the 48 Packard (as of course the Brown Bomber does.

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There is another angle on this. If you want a 40s car you can drive and use, the bathtub Packard is an unbeatable buy.

Packard quality, and the big straight eight engine, mean you can drive your Packard on today's hiways up to 70 MPH without undue strain. This kind of driving would soon beat the brains out of the typical car of that era such as the splash oiled Chev or 6 cylinder Plymouth. Only the V8 Ford among low priced cars would stand up to it.

Yet the Packard is not expensive to buy or to maintain. They did not have power steering, power brakes, air conditioning and all the accessories that came a few years later and that cause such nightmares today.

A friend rebuilt his 1954 Packard a couple of years ago and he tells me all the parts to rebuild a straight eight cost only about $1000.

So if you are a vintage car fan on a budget the bathtub Packard won't soak you ha ha.

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Since we are covering the waterfront, I will put in my two cents worth. I don't hate the bathtubs, and the convertibles are gorgeous, but they are nowhere near as good looking as the 41 through 47 Clippers. When one compares the quality of the top-of-the-line bathtub Packards with Cadillac, I believe Packard comes out on top in comfort, upholstery and appointments. True the dash was not as impressive as Cadillac and must less so than Chrysler, but the dash on the 51 through 54 Packards was even less impressive (the 55 and 56 dashes are sensational). What I never understood about Packard was their concentration on the middle price field after WWII. When they could sell anything they built (and were limited on how many cars they could build) in 1946 they built taxicabs to compete with DeSoto. Strange management decisions.

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Just a note regarding air conditioning and cruising speeds:

Packard had AC as a special installation in 1939 and in '41 as a regular option.

The contemporary ('46-48) Dodge and Plymouth 231 ci six had full pressurized oil system and a well-maintained example will cruise at 70 just fine. I wouldn't recommend those speeds in traffic for Packards or any other car of the era due to long stopping distances and single master cylinder.

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I thought we were talking postwar Packards. I was referring to the postwar (46, 47, 48) Dodge and Plymouth (Models D24 and P15) with the 231 six (not available in '41--in fact, the largest available Plymouth 6 of that year was a 201 cid!) as opposed to the "Bathtub" Packards.

More to the point, I was answering the previous post suggesting that no lower priced car from those years is able to cruise at 70 without pounding its guts out. The cars I actually referred to could and did cruise without undue strain at those speeds-- and still do when in regular good operating condition.

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Let's put it another way. If you had your choice of a bathtub Packard or the same year Plymouth for the same price which would you choose?

I'm just saying the bathtub Packards are a lot of car for the money. If you can see past the looks, they have a lot to offer.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> [Y]ou can drive your Packard on today's hiways up to 70 MPH without undue strain. This kind of driving would soon beat the brains out of the typical car of that era such as the splash oiled Chev or 6 cylinder Plymouth.</div></div>

I'm not putting down the "Bathtub Packards." In fact, I don't like referring to them like that, and I like some of the models very much.

Just taking issue with the above example.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Let's put it another way. If you had your choice of a bathtub Packard or the same year Plymouth for the same price which would you choose?</div></div>

For the same price? Of course I'd take the Packard. But a nice P15 or D24 in better shape for much less money? I sure wouldn't turn up my nose to it. Especially for a driver, which is pretty much the scenario that led to this discussion. Now if the Plymouth were up against a '55 or '56 two-door with TL suspension in similar condition for the same price, there'd be no question! Heck, I'd even pay a little more for the Packard! wink.gif

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The P-15 Plymouths could not cruise at Packard speeds for one reason, no overdrive. Plymouth finally offered overdrive in 1952 and my Mother's 53 Plymouth would cruise all day at 70mph. Look at the little prewar Studebaker Champion, which offered overdrive. It would also cruise at 70, but not uphill. I currently have a 1940 Chrysler Saratoga (eight cylinder)with overdrive (and Fluid Drive) and it is perfectly happy at 70.

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The P-15 was available with 3.9:1 rear axle ratio, and the D-24 with 3.73:1. A lower numerical axle ratio and/or overdrive can be helpful in increasing "cruise" speed. But with relatively "high RPM" engines, for their time, putting out maximum horsepower at about 3600 rpm (as did the Packards of those years), once again, they could and are able to cruise at 70 without overdrive. I'm not sure what you mean by "Packard speeds" which ultimately would have been higher. I've only been discussing a steady 70 mph.

Also, there is a weight differential of right about 1000 lbs between the "bathtub Packard" and the Plymouth and Dodge products.

I notice you mention some nice 1952 and 1953 overdrive Plymouths, a 1940 Chrysler and the prewar Studebaker Champion. Those are interesting cars, but the only comparison I'm talking about is between P-15 and D-24 Plymouth/Dodge cars of 1946, '47 and '48 and Packard cars of 1948, '49 and '50.

There are limitations to any vehicle's cruising speed. Overdrive can help, but there is a law of diminishing returns, as you note going up hills can require a downshift. Also speed is diminished when trying to overcome wind resistance with less mechanical advantage. Overdrive is not a "cure-all" for cruising or top speed.

As far as "cruising all day" it depends on a lot of things, including how long your day is and how hot, etc., but under normal conditions, including hills, you could cruise for about as long as you'd care to in a P-15 or D-24 with the standard 3-speed or Fluid Drive (Dodge only), and not downshift for the hills.

If numbers are your thing, the 230 Dodge/Plymouth 6 puts out about 2/3 the horsepower of the Packard 8 of the late 40's, but it also weighs only about 3/4 as much. They both put out maximum horsepower at 3600 rpm, (about 100 vs 150 hp) .

So take a Dodge, for instance, with a 3.73:1.00 axle ratio, 205x75x16 tires (16" wheels were common). At 3200 rpm, your speed would be about 69 mph. Give or take a mph. Sustaining 3200 rpm is very feasible for long distances in a car weighing it at a little over 3000 lb. So the numbers, as well as experiences, bear it out.

Overdrive is helpful, but not a necessity. It is a common retrofit on these cars, although not available from the factory in those years. Not until the D-25 of '49--which, come to think of it, would be a more direct comparison with the Packards, being in the middle year of the production of the models in question.

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I think that the bathtub Packards are very underappreciated. The 1949-50 Mercury enjoys icon status, and even the bathtub Hudsons are more appreciated. I think it was amazing that Packard was able to update the Clipper on a limited budget, and offer a car that looked similar to and just as modern as Fomoco's, Hudson's, and Nash's all new designs. I also think that the grill is great. It looks much more prestigious than the Lincoln or Hudson grill, was contemporary, yet still looked like a Packard grill. The eggcrate version is especially attractive.

It is a shame that Packard didn't focus more on high end luxury with these cars and chose to go after the middle price field. However, I think the cars that really lowered Packard's prestige were the 1951-1954. The design was very ordinary, and looked more like it should be a Mercury or Pontiac rather than a Packard. They did have the senior models, but emphasis did seem to be more on the cheaper ones. They even lost the traditional verticle grill and shape. I especially like the description from one of my Packard books that calls it the "it crawled from the sea grill". Yes the oxyoke is barely visible after someone points it out to you, but Packard buyers were unhappy with it even when the car was new. That is why they developed the Request with verticle grill. The bathtubs were well received and even won styling awards when new.

In any case, I think something is an excellent design if generates a love it or hate it response. It has to have a lot of character to get people to passionately argue both sides. Something like a Honda Accord is just too bland to generate that kind of response.

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I can't believe Packard stuck with the same grille from 1951 to 1954.

Everyone knew back then that the second year you made a car, sales would drop 30% no matter how good it was. That is why most makers gave their cars a face lift every year. They would change the grille if nothing else.

Packard did improve their bodies in subtle ways those years but nothing to catch the eye. And they did not change the grille or tail lights when those were the 2 parts everyone changed.

This must have backed off a lot of buyers who did not want the neighbors to think they were driving a 1, 2, or 3 year old car when they just shelled out the $$$$$ bucks for a new bus.

Meanwhile other makes had new styles every year to catch the public eye.

The public was very style conscious back then and a new car was a big deal. Not like today when they can get away with making practically the same car for 10 years.

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I don't like the myth that Packard was ruined by the cheap models. Packard started making a cheaper smaller line in 1924 or 25 when they introduced the 6 cylinder companion to their big straight eight. Why didn't that car "ruin" them? Why did it take 30 years to cheapen their image?

Rolls Royce and Pierce Arrow introduced cheaper, smaller cars about the same time. Why didn't they "ruin" Rolls Royce and Pierce Arrow?

What about Cadillac? Why didn't the LaSalle ruin them? Or, when they dropped the LaSalle in the early 40s and replaced it with the Cadillac 61 at the same price? Or when they dropped the prestigious 12 and 16 cylinder cars? Why didn't that kill Cadillac's prestige?

Or what about Lincoln? Why didn't the Ford like Zephyr kill the Lincoln name? For years they made no "senior" Lincolns at all. What about the 1949-51 Lincolns with Mercury bodies or the 1952-57 models which were closer to an Olds 98 than a Caddy? Why didn't those cars permanently destroy Lincoln?

How about Chrysler? They made far more Chrysler 6s than Imperial and New Yorker 8s yet Chrysler is still in business. Why didn't all those cheap cars ruin them?

This business about cheap cars "ruining" Packard is a load of hooey. It is a myth started a long time ago by antique Packard snobs who looked down their nose at anything but a senior car from the prewar period and who never bought a new Packard in all their lives.

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Cheaper models were needed during the Depression to help all manufacturers survive. However, after the war, when everybody could sell anything, they were not needed anymore. Cadillac was about $500 higher than Packard's cheapest models. A big deal since The price of a Cadillac started at about $2800.00. Lincoln was about $200-$300 higher than Packard, but suffered their own identity crisis until 1961. Cadillac then dropped its Series 61 and was about $1000 higher than Packard. This probably hurt Packard in 2 ways. First there wasn't much difference between the high and low priced Packards other than a smoother little bigger engine and longer hood. So the buyer of a high end car probably didn't want to pay more for one that looked little different than one costing $1000 less.

Second, since Packard was always a luxury car, the cheap models probably didn't attract new buyers because they probably figured they were out of their price range.

Also Packard was always innovating before WWII, but did nothing postwar until 1955. Cadillac and Lincoln both had V-8's. Even if they weren't as reliable or powerful, V-8 was the buzzword everyone wanted to hear. With the lower price, lack of V-8, a/c, and other innovations, it probably made people think Packard was an inferior car even if it wasn't.

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It was tough for Packard to innovate after WWII, due largely to their being by far the largest contributor to the war effort of any independent car manufacturer. "War profits" were nothing compared to the cost of completely revamping the manufacturing line, much of the equipment actually having been stored outside during the war.

It would have probably helped keep dealers excited if they had a V8 by '52 or '53 to sell against those in the premium GM, Chrysler and Ford products, and maybe Packard would have kept more of them on board.

However, rather than innovations or styling, I think it's sales that make or break any car company in the long haul, and the sales figures of '48-53 were the best ever for Packard. The new '48 body style outsold the '46 and '47 model year sales COMBINED.

As for 1954, it was a big slump for all car sales following the boom years, partly due to a price war between Ford and GM because Ford wanted to regain its #1 sales position.

After that? A series of unfortunate events. frown.gif

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If you look at sales figures for Packard and Cadillac, both were around 90,000-100,000 1948-1953. So it looks like Packard was holding its own against Cadillac during that time. But this is not really the case. Packard's volume was from the low end cars, whereas Cadillac's volume was from the Series 62 which cost $500-$1000 more than Packard's low end cars. Packard's cars at that price range sold way less. So Packard was not really competing with Cadillac, but with the higher end Buick, Olds, and Chryslers. Packard was holding its own there, but as the others got V-8's and more innovations and accessories, Packard started losing those buyers too. They started correcting that by 1955-56, but unfortunately it was basically all over by with 1956.

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Only pointing out the sales figures for the "Bathtub" years of Packard vs other years, to try to set aside the popular notion that these cars somehow eviscerated Packard's sales because a couple of unfortunate nicknames were attached to them.

The "fish-mouthed" Reinhart Packards that also got into this discussion thread were not the styling debacles they were portrayed to be, either. Again, the nickname is remembered, but does not necessarily reflect on the popularity or public acceptance of the car.

I don't have access to Cadillac sales figures, and really only the top line senior Packards were the only ones that competed directly with Cadillac. Had there been more of these models, such as the Patrician and later the 400, produced, it would have been much more of a horse race. The Packard models selected as competitors of Cadillac for automotive press testing, generally came out doing pretty well.

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Rusty O'Toole wrote:

"Everyone knew back then that the second year you made a car, sales would drop 30% no matter how good it was. That is why most makers gave their cars a face lift every year. They would change the grille if nothing else."

Wasn't Packards philosophy always that they made styling changes if it improved the car and not for the sake of change. I believe I read in an advertisement that "A buyer of a Packard could rest assured his purchase and investment would not be outdated the following year." It went on to mention other manufacturers following the latest trend of the day, obsoleting all prior efforts or offerings at a whim and leaving purchasers always with "last years model".

Of course, always having last years model might be why so many buyers chose a new car every year or so keeping those other manufacturers in business.

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