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Packards looks, not quality killed Packard


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You don't have to go far down the isles of cars at any major antique auto show to see that in the 1925-1940 era, Packard had the looks! They look better than any other car in the era with perhaps the exception of a few models from ACD. And looks is what sells. Now look at the 1948-1958 period. Maybe Packard looked better than Nash, or Dodge (but not after 1957) but not much else. So why buy a car that doesn't have great looks? By 1941, GM mastered the ability to make cars that looked good, and were dependable. I have seen thousands of cars from the 1950's in junkyards. Two things have always stood out in my mind. 1). These junked cars still have the seat covers on them. What were people saving the seats for? and, 2). Very, very few cars have over 80,000 miles on them, and I don't recall ever seeing one of any make with over 100,000 miles on it! So, quality was not a big issue in American built cars of the era. After all, they only had to last two years, and have some trade in value so that the buyer could trade the car in for another. Now I know that stylists can get excited over a 1955 or 56 Packard taillight, and that piece has been used successfully in many custom cars. But there isn't much exciting about anything else, including that class decal on the dashboard by the key on 1950 era Packards. Now think of the years that Packard had "The Look." 1925 to 1947, exactly the same years honored by the Classic Car Club of America. So the CCCA is really saying, and recognizing, that when Packard lost the styling edge, the Classic Era was over. Too bad that this best years of styling of American automobiles went down the drain; a drain in a Packard bathtub. Dave Fields (for some reason the site is not letting me use my user name.

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Who told you cars only had to last two years in the old days. What gets into you young people...anyway...is there something they put in the water in your high schools..?

Pete Hartmann

Big Springs AZ

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Petie, That is about when most people traded in their cars, 2 or 3 years max in those days. BTW, the man who made your V-12 heads was in may garage looking at my Packard yesterday.

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I'll agree with you only about the fact that the Bath Tub or sometimes called Pregnant Elephant 22nd and 23rd Series Packards were not the best looking car ever made. As a convertible they were not bad. As a 2 and 4 door Sedan they were kind of Grim.

As far as cars being only made to last a couple of years. I doubt it. People would have been outraged then as now. Engine and running gear construction has improved quite a bit since the 1940's and 50's. There again, Go Out West young man and see the "Old Cars" that are still running strong in areas where the corrosive effects of salt has not taken their toll on the "all steel" bodies.

Years ago could identify every make of Car from a distance. A blind man could tell you the make by the sound of the car. They were that distinctive.

Bob Bosworth

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Well...Bob....NOW how do you feel...now that you are on MY end, the receiving end of utter nonsence.....where did this guy get that nonsence about "cars lasting two years" in the old days...? From the SAME place you got that nonsence about "route 6 ending at the Santa Monica pier"....!

Incidentally,,,SOMEWHERE around here I have in storage the box with my car advertisement collection...and the early 1920's Packard advertisement about Packard being "THE TEN YEAR CAR".....!

Pete Hartmann

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Bob, I was thinking the same thing about the bathtubs, the convertible looks so much better than the sedans. Those few years hurt Packard but then the 51's came out and they were back with an up to date design.

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To start with, the measure of a cars endurance is MILES NOT years!. Prior to the late 50's most owners rarely drove more than 2K or 3K miles/year. THAT will probably start an argument. One thing is for sure, its not like they were driving 15K to 25K miles like today.

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I have YET to find anyone not impressed with the styling of my 56 Executive. That includes both young and old and everything between. Especialy young women like it. THATS all that counts. The tubs were in their styling era with other manfacturers. HELL, if u dont like tubs then u probably dont like Taurus' et-al. The Taurus is just smaller. How 'bout the new Chrysler???? Looks like a big elongated tit going down the road.

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Hi Bob:

You still havnt explained why you "popped off" about "Route 6 Going To Santa Monica Pier".....!

In any event...there is no arguing with me. I am always right. I am the smartest, cleverest guy in the world ! I am also rich...incredibly charming and good looking....(and if you believe ANY of that...I have a hell of a "deal" for ou on a slightly used bridge in Brooklyn......cash up front...please......!)

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I do know personally that Route 6 did end in the L.A. area at one time. I was always lead to believe it was in Santa Monica. It could be that was some bad info. How about Long Beach? Anyway why did the California authorities decide to cut it back to Bishop?

Anyway, No one seems to have much to comment on the Packard styling in the 50's. I'll take a stab at a few faults. One was that the side bright mouldings on the '51 and '52 Patricians and 300's was to conservative. Had a nice chrome spear been applied to the side of the car there could have been some interesting 2-tone combo's. The side spear on the '53 Patricians could have been done better also. Then there is the sore thumb tail lights on the '54 and '55 Clippers which could have been done better. The 1956 Clipper tail lights were a big improvement.

Bob Bosworth

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JT,

Thanks for the enlightening info on Route 6, I now can say I had my wires crossed it was Long Beach where it ended. See Peter, you were right, darn it.

I was right about it ending on both ends facing west. I've lived on or near that road my whole life. I would like to go Coast to Coast on it Someday for a trip. That would be an interesting ride, especially if I drove my Packard to the West Coast.

Bob Bosworth

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Bob:

If you will scroll up and read your "post" that led to my correcting you, you will, again, see that I was not making fun of you personally - again, I was pointing out this obnoxious HUMAN trait so many people have...of fabricating whatever comes into their minds, that they think will support some absurd prejudice they have.

In your case, I did not go into details about the geographical lay-out of U.S. Highway 6 after it left California....for a very good reason - I would not know what I was talking about, because I never drove on it north of my summer-job truck truck route from Los Angeles up to the eastern side of the High Sierras.

What I DID make fun of, was your absurd nonsence about 35 mile an hour highway speeds in the old days( again, except during World War Two, when the cops had a field day enforcing a "war-time" speed limit of 35 mph all over the country ). And, your nonsensical comment about the major highways being in terrible a terrible state.... Again..what possesses people to come up with such nonsence. I suspect that in some LIMITED areas, such as New England (the old Boston Post Road, for example) your comments may be valid... by the time I drove it one summer on vacation in the mid 1950's, it was pretty clogged with traffic, but was in fairly good shape.

I tried to give you a "break" by suggesting perhaps you'd confused U.S. Highway 66 with U.S. Highway 6. Perhaps your experience is limited to the "poor people's cars" such as old Fords and Chevrolets. By the beginning of World War ONE, most of the big "upper class" cars could do 50 mph or more... all day long. And they DID.

Again, by the early 1930's even STUDEBAKER was bragging in its advertising that its cars had crossed the North American continent in less than three days.

Think about it...how fast did they have to be going on the open highway...to make up for the traffic jams in the cities they had to pass thru....! You REALLY want to stand by your nonsence that people only went 35 mph ?

How would YOU feel if I, a westerner, started telling YOU about William T. Morrisy Blvd, and Quincy Shore Blvd. and Whallaston Blvd..... ( for those of you who dont know...this is a running joke in the area of Boston known as the Quincy Bay area....)( my memory of my trip to New England in the 1950's isn't clear enough to argue about detail on this).

Incidentally, for those who are too young to remember - in the 1940's, a musical group came out with a silly song " GET YOUR KICKS ON ROUTE 66". They picked "Route 66" to avoid any technical-legal problems by discussing a REAL road. But the term "caught on".... the kind of people who listen to "popular music" started this nonsensical babbling about "Route 66".

The FACTS are that until the creation of the Interstate Highway system and its new and different sign design and alignment numbering, there were TWO classes of major highways in the United States. STATE SIGN ROUTE was the CORRECT term used for state highways...and HIGHWAYS was the term used for U.S. Highways (replacing the original "Lincoln Highway System" ). By law, each state set up its STATE SIGN ROUTE numbering system, AND designed its signs, so that it could not be confused with the numbering system and signs marking the U.S. HIGHWAYS.

That is why I cringe when I see how everybody...parrot like...is repeating this nonsence about "Route 66"....THERE WAS NO SUCH ROAD...THERE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN ANY SUCH ROAD...IT NEVER EXISTED....There was a U.S. HIGHWAY 66..! There were "STATE SIGN ROUTES".

For those of you who are thinking of arguing with me about this...PLEASE...save your breath...If my telling you I was THERE...and been ON the damn roads (first as a child with my parents in during World War 2, and then as a summer-job/truck driver starting in the mid 1950's) ..if that dosn't quash your silly desires to argue over an aera that most of you only READ about from some OTHER crack-pot who only knows what they WANT to believe.....I have a copy in front of me of the COMPACT OF OF THE AMERICAN ASSOICATION OF STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSIONERS, MANUAL AND SPECIFICATIONS - DISPLAY AND ERECTION OF U.S. STANDARD ROAD MARKERS AND SIGNS.

The above's technical specs. was incorporated into all state's vehicle code laws. My own copy is "Second Edition - April 1929.

Any questions...?

Pete Hartmann

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Peter,

Ok so I made an honest mistake. Look as far as William F. Morrisey Blvd. in Boston, Mass., forget it you wouldn't want to drive over it today. There is just too much traffic.

If you saw some of the country roads around here in the 50's you wouldn't have wanted to drive over most of them with a good car. Some of the state highways weren't too much better either.

Now as far cars go, I know I've said this before I have been around Packard cars for over 50 years. Sure there was an occasional Ford or Chevy beater here and there. The Ford pick-ups did last. I have a nice 1965 Ford F-250 pick-up that just like the one I had 30 years ago. Twin I Beam and all.

Nothing beats a Packard, nothing.

Bob Bosworth

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Of course cars didn't rust out in 2 years in the south, but after two years in the rust belt of Ohio where I was growing up, most cars looked pretty shabby. There was often rust through in year three or four. The managers of the car companies knew this, because they lived in the middle of the rust belt. Certain models of cars seemed especially designed to grab and hold salt and slush on their undersides. But, even if they held up because of extra care, a two or three year car looked old. Styles changed dramatically in those days. Now, you can buy a car and own it for 10 years, and the current issue model looks just like yours.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Greetings from the cold north Pete

If recorded history is correct then a hostile stock market take over by Curtiss Wright killed Packard. They bled its resources like Dracula on Haloween. Packards bath tub was not much different than the look of a Hudson or a Merc of that era. We won't bear down too much on the Baleen Whale look of the Buicks or the blob Cadillacs running around either. Packard did have one thing the others did not and that was the ability to build an engine you did not hear run at a traffic light. it was silent and smooth. Contrary to popular belief it was also comparitively powerful. It just was not a V8. My 54 Patrician was a good looking car by any standard and comfortable to boot. My 55 Constellation was also good looking and bloody well powerful for having the smallest V8 engine built by Packard that year. Both had two tone paint and a reasonable application of chrome where needed. My 31 Packard is still a sight to behold and a joy to wander out to the garage after supper just to have a look at when the snow piles too high to drive it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder me thinks and there are still a few hundred thousand owners of Packards who would agree. Since the car has not been in business for 55 years that is a fair comment on what we desire to own and drive.

The idea of design is no longer a function of the automobile business. The bloody things look like someone forgot to cut the umbilical cord before they were put in the show room. The only exception is the Aztec which look like it was hewn out of tree stump with a broad axe and there were no files around to finish it off. Gawd awful looking collection of stuff being passed off as design. Packard may have done better on some of its cars but looking around today at what is being flogged as the latest, Packard could have done a lot worse and still been in business. Coffee break is over. Thank for the rant space.

Norm Sparks

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Norm:

How do you get around the fact that people bought more and more GM luxury products...and less and less Packard products....after World War Two.....?

Stock conspiracies......interference by the Space Monkeys.....Elvis Presely married Amelia Earhart...?

Pete Hartmann

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Check your facts, 1n 1948 98,897 Packards were built, second best year on record, 1937 having been the best. Personally I think they're ugly with a capital Ugh but heh, I've even heard of people who collect Studebakers ! Of course after the war about anything even remotely resembling a car was saleable. Over the years I've made a minor hobby of looking at parts cars to see if they still had license plates and if so, the last year of registration...I've seen many early 30's cars, rusted beyond hope, but still showing plates from the early 50's.

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FACTS ? In a chat room...c'mon......!

Seriously, you are correct..Packard did well in the first years after the end of World War Two....and that is the problem....they "coasted" on their great name, but got progressively sloppier in all phases of the design, engineering, and manufacturing process.

By 1954, when I sat on a curb munching a sandwich with the shop foreman of Beverly Hills Packard (in So. Calif )...their reputation was so bad...that when a big transporter rolled in with a bunch of then new Packards, we all just sneered when the mechanic said "gawd....another bunch of do-it-yourself kits.....referring to the Packard factory's shoving out the door a bunch of parts that had to be practically re-built by the dealer to be able to sell them.

You may have noticed discussion about a sales "spike" when the 1955's were introduced. At the risk of repeating myself, this shows the Packard name, tho badly tarnished, could STILL sell cars...a LOT of cars. The 1955's were introduced with a flurry of very effective promotion. The high speed endurance run, and lots of 1930's style advertisemendts saying something to the effect that with the then-new V-8 "Packard Was Back" in the high-permance luxury car business. So many of these cars were so full of "bugs", that once they were out in the public's hands, they failed so miserably to meet the expectations of the new car buyer ( again...folks...get it thru your heads...new car buyers dont want to "tinker"...that is for us "gear heads") that by the mid year of '55, you couldn't GIVE a new Packard away.

Bottom line - the old advertisment Packard used in its "golden years", was bitterly true in forcasting what would happen to Packard, or anyone else who tried to sell a "fake". (some of you may recall the famous Packard

sales theme....

REPUTATION IS A CRUEL MASTER....ONCE YOU HAVE IT..

YOU MUST CONTINUALLY STRIVE TO DEFEND IT...

REPUTATION IS A REWARD, TO BE SURE, BUT MUST ONLY BE

THE BEGINNING OF A FIERCE DETERMINATION TO CONTINUALLY

RE WIN RECOGNITION, WHICH MUST NEVER BE RELAXED....

THERE IS AN IRON TYRANY THAT COMPELS MEN WHO DO GOOD WORK,

TO CONTINUE TO DO GOOD WORK.....

and then...the prediction itself....

"ONCE YOU CREATE A REPUTATION FOR EXCELLENCE, IT IS AN IRON

LAW THAT MUST BE DEFENDED.....YOU DARE NOT DIS OWN WITHOUT

DRAWING DOWN DISASTER.....

yeah...you guessed it....the article was signed by non other than

by Alvin Macaulay, President

Packard Motor Car Company

Detroit, Michigan, USA

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Pete, this is off the subject but what the h..I always did ramble. The Alf we're doing (for a customer) is, and this is just between you and I, hope no one else is listening, a SPEEDSTER !!!! I figure if the guy lets me work on his Silver Ghost we'll work on the speedster. We lathed 97 lbs of excess metal from the flywheel, reducing its weight to a mere 103 lbs or so, doubled the size of the drive sprockets...if you calculate it out the top speed at 1800 rpm should be somewhere North of 100 mph. Plan is to take it to Bonneville and see if we can set a record for 6 cyl., 980 cu. in. 2 wheeled brake, wooden wheeled cars...somethings ARE worth risking your life for

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Hey...Restorer...how DARE you call me "old"......! Oh...all right...if you must know the truth...when I was in the service...they were still issuing the troops ROCKS ( later on...they went high tech...and starting issuing us STICKS....)

Yeah....to us fire engine fanatics...that Speedster stuff....castration time ! Hope you arent nuts enough to drive it at high speed...I have NO condfidence in wooden wheels....and those "collector tires"...gawd...you are scaring me !

Hope you guys dont get carried away hopping up that "T" head. Remember, those old cyl. barrels and crank-cases were not designed for the much higher cyl. pressures you can get if you up the compression to take advantage of the slower flame travel of modern fuels. And dont forget those dinky little rod bearings and spindly crank-shafts.....in those days...since all they had was poured babbit rod bearings, they HAD to keep the bearing diameter small...so as to keep the surface speed of the bearing down to survivable limits. Sure you can modify them to take modern "inserts"...but then you have the problem of weak cranks and rods, and too small bearing area.

BUT I BET YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE A HELL OF A LOT OF FUN.....! Keep us posted on your "doings".....!

Pete Hartmann

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Re ALF Speedster...the firetruck had already been chopped when the project came to me..otherwise I would not have taken it on. Engine is completely rebuilt, no changes to the engine. Using a bit of "reverse engineering" we started with the tires manufactured for the WingFoot Express tour, the only ones heavy enough to carry the weight safely, about $500 each, glad it isn't my money, then had new 24" trailer rims cut in half, rewelded to the correct width with rings lathed to adapt the new rims to the original (and extremely strong) wood wheels...that consumed maybe another $2500. I fgure, having eliminated about 5000 lbs from the thing we should be ok...anyway, probably another year away from completion...

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Just out of curiosity, what size tires are you talking about. I have Coker / Bf Goodrich tires on my '36 La France which uses standard "ten hole Budd" wheels. Oh - yes...the RIM size is the standard truck tire in use BEFORE the 10:00 x 20's came out...in those days..it was called "38 x 7" or 7:50 24. I bought em about ten years ago - they were around TWO hundred bucks each.

I have had VERY good service out of them - drove my '36 La France ( it has a high geared rear end - so it will cruise all day long at insane speeds) to New York and back...crossing the desert in August. Funny...with all the problems I and my friends have had with most "collector" tires, these have been fine !

Pete Hartmann

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