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What's a Packard?

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I am constantly surprised by how many people have never even heard of a Packard. <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" /> When I order parts by phone or go to local parts stores, poeple that should know about cars, ask things like "Is that made by Chrysler", when I say Packard. Makes me realize how Old I'm really getting. <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />

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Hahaha yeah! It's realtive to the age. It works in reverse as we get older and don't know what the hell car they're talking about when they talk about a Outback or Tacoma. What's that from, Nissan which used to be Datsun. Or is it the restaurant and the city? And I could give a hoot what the difference between the Volvo 740 and the 760 is.

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The best one I hear about the 1955-56 Packard models from non enlightened people is "oh that's the one with air shocks" Joel

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I teach at a small college in upstate New York, and have a photograph of my 1926 236 Phaeton on my laptop computer. By far, there's no interest among the students (which is sad) but one kid did ask what kind of car it was. I said "Packard". He looked at me strangely: "Packar?". "No", I said. "PackarD!. Like Hewlett Packard". Then he understood.

It's odd how what was arguably the most recognizable brand name in America equating to luxury and quality for so many years has all but disappeared from common language.

--Scott

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I can only speak for my own daughters but they are at least passingly conversant in the things I enjoy- combat aircraft and cars. Packer, huh? They named a car after the football team? Eeeeeek.gif

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When stopped at a fast food pickup window, most people think that my 55 Pat is a 55 Chebby. But that's somehwhat understandable since the wrap around front windshield is similar.

But when I tell them it's a 1955 Packard and the first Packard was made in 1899, usually I get a look from him/her that says "...isn't that around the time the dinosaurs went extinct???" <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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I kinda chuckle at the cruse night's when the husband is talking tho the wife, and says that the father had a "Ford/chev just like it" or when you open the hood of the straight 8's and they ask if GM made the motors when it has in nice BIG letters PACKARD THUNDERBOLT right on the head. It was funny when I brought the 54 Patrician in to Canadian Tire to have the tires balanced, (would not fit our balancer) and when they asked for the make and model, I had to repeat myself 4 times, and they did'nt think the frame would be solid enought to put on the hoist. When I finally drove it in, the mechanics in the shop wondered what it had for a motor, so like all the rest of us do I opened the hood up. Thats when one of them said "Oh it has a straight SIX in it" thats when I said I think you had better recount the spark plugs, but they dont make a straight 8, But they did....They they asked me where I get parts for a car that old, reply Canadian Tire... You just don't tell them what your going to put the parts on. To really confuse the parts guys, I went in there one day for some 1/4 brake line to replace the vaccuum line for the wipers, and he wanted to know what type of flare fittings I needed. Told him Does not matter, and I was going to cut it up an put rubber gas hose to connect it up for the Windshield wiper motor to the fuel pump, I really got a puzzled look then...

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I have British friends who refer to mine as a "Pack Hard" but for all I know this might be the proper pronunciation.

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In response to the ignition wire question, Packard Electric near Warren, Ohio is a division of GM and makes wiring harnesses.

Jim Showers

1921 Stanley 735B touring

1953 Packard Cavalier

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And it was Packard Electric (the Packard brothers) who founded Packard Motor Car Company. That's why Warren, Ohio is home to the Packard Museum, Packard Park and the residents can listen to really good music in the summertime from a real live band because of the trust fund set up for that by the Packard brothers. A great town with a great history.

(of course I'm prejudiced <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />)

YFAM, Randy Berger

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If anything I'd think folks would figure the 55-56 Packard was a Lincoln. I think it leans more thant way than a Ford or Chev. Thing is there are few REAL afficianados that can name the brand and the year of 50's cars as we all probably can. All anyone knows is 55-56-57 Chevy and 57 Ford (the 55 and 56 Fords are too close to call for them)

I remember as a kid the games we'd play when bored. Car spotting. You had to name the brand and year model soon as you could get an ID on the cars going by. Try that with anything built after about 1980 and you're left with a visual blur of ho-hum, bla cars. Doesn't matter what they are cause they're all lackluster lumps of crap. <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

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For my money, the closest anyone came to a knockoff of the 55-56 Packard styling was Mercury and, to a lesser extent, Plymouth, with their similar front fender treatments. At least, they were the ones that could almost fool me for a second when I was a kid. I couldn't say who really had this style first, because all three of them came out with it in '55. A little corporate spying, perhaps? The work of Dick Teague seems pretty well documented, so that leaves the question of how Lincoln Mercury and/or Chrysler Plymouth got their hands on it. Or was it a strange coincidence??

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If we look back almost all eras of design have fishy similarity. I'm a combat aircraft historian and have noticed that design progression has generally been similar between whole countries even enemy ones.

There is a confluence of design thinking where equal minds in the same fields reach the same general conclusions at about the same time without collaboration.

All that said, I know that industrial spies were at work then and before as they still are today. I can remember the secrecy that surrounded new year model debuts in the 50s. There was no preview in the auto magazines of the day. Commercials on TV had cars with covers over them touting the soon-to-come auto wonder.

And I can still recall the thrill of seeing a new 1957 Pontiac in 2-tone light green and sea foam green go by my grade school. I was the first of my group of geeks to see one.

All that hoopla is gone, replaced with the sterile corporate common sense of safety and virtual styling that is pretty much the same as last year's model...and the year before that...and the year before that....

No.gif

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I have been reading this thread with some interest.

1. How would you expect alot of people to know about a car manufacture that went out of business nearly 50 years. I will bet you that I can name alot of car manufactures that have went out of busines that none of you people could give any kind of information about.

2.If you have a good general interst in autos then you should be able to talk about the current cars produced or what has been produced in the past.

3. The person whom called the current generations of cars produced since 1980 (LUMPS OF CRAP) is totaly mistaken on this. In the last 25 years there have been many outstand designs, and many advancements that have made cars safer and mor reliable than the cars produced in the past. The reason for sticker shock and recalls today are because of how complicated the automobile has become over the last twenty five years. Anybody that says that the don't build cars like they used to, meaning that the older cars are better, are totaly wrong.

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I have had people ask "is that a Lincoln?" or that looks like a

Lincoln or Mercury. John Reinhart, who led Packard styling, supervised the 1951 body re-style, went over to Ford. That could perhaps explain some of the simularities. Look at the '55 Packard senior cars against the Dearborn products. Not quite the Packard look, still the older L-M body shell.

Then look at the '56 L-M products--the front fenders, headlight "eyebrows" all of a sudden, they Look like Packards!

As far as modern cars, amen to 53 Packard! I love cars from the teens through the 60's, but the cars of today have it all over the cars of the past. Think about your Taurus, LeSabre, Impala, that you drive every day. How many oil cups do you have to lube monthly? How many of us own 3-4 year old cars with over 100,000 miles and still going? How many repairs have you had in those miles? Do we have selective memory, or am I the only one who remembers 3 year old cars rusting out?

Oh, sure there are lemon horror stories out there, but by and large the modern everyday car is durable, gets great gas mileage, is a lot better on the air we breathe (not as much a problem back when Packards ruled the roads--but we've multiplied the number of cars on the road almost ten-fold since then) My 1990 Olds Trofeo went 205,000 wonderful miles before I sold it. In the ten years I owned it I replaced an oxygen sensor and two water pumps. That's it. Oh yes, a few brake jobs. By the time most 50's cars hit 80-100,000 miles the front end is completely shot, the engine (depending on maintenance) is getting tired, the auto trans is becoming worn (except for the Hydramatic, they were all still learning). the better grade of cars of today still feel like new at 100,000 miles. They will not last decades the way our Packards and their contemporaries have. That's not a design requirement. The pre-60's American car is amazingly durable(in a multi decade sense), and renewable. That's why we love them, preserve them, and drive them. Yea, newer cars kind of look alike. The late Gordon Buehreg warned of this at a dinner I once attended. He was the guest speaker. He opined that the wind tunnel had become the judge of style, and the teardrop (AKA "jellybean") was the perfect aerodynamic shape. He winked one of his classic GB smiles and said "and we knew that in 1936!). Here in the four season midwest, I'll take my modern wheels for the day to day grind driving, and save my old cars for pleasure driving (a difficult thing to do with today's drivers!) John

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Packard53:

You make some good points. However, I prefer to make a different distinction between the "common" (not specialty or exotic) cars made in the last 25 years or so and our beloved collector cars, especially Packard, to wit:

Today's common cars are essentially an expensive appliance. Collector cars are automobiles.

You're right that no collector in his/her right mind would put hundreds of thousands of miles in any kind of weather or driving conditions on their collector car. But the [color:"red"] expense of buying and dealer maintaining one of these modern appliances that you can do that too makes no economic sense to me, particularly since I don't have to abuse one like that anymore.

The biggest gripe I had with my BMW M6 was the "Bring Money With" to the dealer for service part of the deal. A friend of mine with a 500SL Mercedes just spent over $5,000 getting it fixed and serviced (it was running rough due to a problem with the FI). <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

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Brian- I agree with you on most thought there. I have a '96 ETC- Eldorado touring Coupe. It is to other Eldos like the Z-28 is to other Camaros. Best car i ever had in performance, comfort and looks. But worst- as are all other computer-controlled, over sensored, mechanically user unfriendly cars of today- in the area of diagnosing any problems.

Direct port injector replacement- you could buy 6 Edelbrock carbs. An airflow sensor- $200. Change an alternator- $500+ due to transverse engine mount requiring labor time up the kazoo and removal of radiator, trunk lid and spare tire almost!

Computer tells of a vague problem- "emissions system problem." That can mean any of the many sensors, catalytic converter, muffler, fuel pump, fuel regulator, fuel injectors, low fuel pressure, loose gas cap or bad gasoline.

Long gone are the days when I drove my car into my independent mechanic's driveway as he talked on the phone, looked at me and said, cam bearing- about $175 and continued his convo on the phone. Now it's $85 for computer diagnosis before anything and even then they don't always know EXACTLY what thing is malfunctioning requiring more trips.

We won't even talk about dealers in any era- a bunch of crooks that pad the rates to pay for the carpet in the showroom. But now dealer "mechainics" have become parts replacers since they don't repair anything. They just turn nuts and bolts all day.

Mechanics I've known have told me of a college course they've taken to understand the way auto engineers design in obsolesense. Surely you have all worked on a more modern car and cussed the engineer for making, say, a starter removal very difficult when with simple observation you notice how it could have been done for easier access.

I recently had an instance where I HAD to go to the dealer for something and they tell me the Northstar need a cylinder head gasket replacement due to a tiny bit of collant redidue at a block to head seam. Only $4500 too. Hell I can buy a new Northstar for $7000 and a low mile used one for less that $2000. My independent mechanic told me "every car with aluminumin head and/or block looks like that. Its probably the car's lifetime seepage seen there."

Point is if I'd spent that where would I be financially, up or down compared to old technology? There are obviously enough people that would have spent the $4500 otherwise they wouldn't have buffed up their brass balls and boldy said my cars needed that. $2500 will get you a rebuilt-like-new Ford or Chevy long block from the 70s installed in Southern California so do the math.

Mechanics have told me "cars today are good for a 100-150,000 miles and then have nothing worth rebuilding." They are junk. Every honest wrench I've known has basically said the same things- cars today are engineered to be obsolete after their acceptable lifespan(sometimes before). They are not renewable in sensible economic terms!

No I don't want to go back to changing plugs, points, condensor and timing every 10,000 miles either. But there is a very strong case for the fact that other now normal repairs far outweigh what you would spend on "tune-ups" before.

Cars today are built for convience. No one wants to go to a garage to get something repaired- it's inconvenient and time consuming. Couple that with the fact that many folks just ignore problems or stretch out regular service intervals to silly lengths and we see more poorly maintained cars in used car lots. Cars with poor maintenaince histories are ticking time bombs that the new buyer will pay for- and more now than ever before due to the complexities of the mechanics and high cost of the parts involved.

As you said Brian, about 1975 was the dividing line. Remember about that year was the beginning of the drastic horsepower reduction era which lasted 20+ years. Along with it came stagnant yearly model design complicity. The Euro trend of perpetual body design year after year after year fell into place in the US. I mean look at cars like the Taurus as an example. Is there any meaningful designing difference for some 10 years in the 80s-90s? It was the Mercedes trend to make cars the same for a decade. That does 2 things though. 1) your older car looks like the newer ones. 2) why should anyone buy a new one when they can buy a 2 year old one that looks the same as the new one but is lots cheaper?

In the 80s I heard nothing but complaints from people of all walks of life with all types of cars. Even Detroit admits these to to be the "black years" for auto quality. They allowed imports to get a foot hold and flourish.

But when I say more recent cars are lumps of crap, tell me the year model and even marque of that 'foreign' car 300 feet in front of you on the turnpike. You couldn't mistake a 61 Chevy for a 63 Dodge back in the day.

Is there ever going to be a time when people in general ever say things like "man those mid 1980 Nissans were cool." No.

And let's not even get started about hardtops. Geez, most dumazzes today literally do not know the definition of hardtop since all they corporate-goons do is feed us sedans! In the 50-60s sedans were considered old lady cars even if they did have 300 HP. Don't tell me there is no way to produce a true hardtop and make it safe enough. And what is safe enough? By who's definition? All the eco-green-safety-nazis have done is try to make nerf cars with inert exhausts not craing that every percentage point closer to their 100% goal in those areas costs billions which is, of course, passed on to the consumer.

As I write this I can see some dozen cars from my window. What year is that Escort? What brand is that Japanese car? I don't know and for sure don't care. The sad part is no one else does either. Guess which one I can tell the exact year and model? Yeah the distinctive-looking 1970 Ford Torino. That about says it all and I'm not even a Ford fan. Everything else is just background filler.

Let's take a 56 Packard with every luxury option in a car that is reburbished so as to be in new condition. Buy a similar equiped/weight/hoprsepower new car and use both as daily drivers. You can bet the cost to maintain the Packard will be less than the "new" car. And folks will ask you about it and drool over it. Ain't no one drooling over the new Impala.

So I score it- new cars are most excellent and sweet when they're running well with less maintainence. Hard to diagnose, expensive to repair with very expensive parts.

Old cars- visually more distinctive and easy to work on but parts are getting more scarce and costly though overall lower to maintain than a new car.

It comes down to "you pays your money and takes your choice." Neither old or new is "better." That's in the eye of the user. Just know that the overall cost of your new car in daily use will be high when everything is factored in. And contimplate- now 20 years later- is there anything cool about an 84 Ford Granada? Will it be sought after in another 30 years by collectors?

Felix.gif

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">in regard to the way service parts are made available in more recent years that will preclude these cars from preservation, let alone restoration.</div></div>

IMHO: That's because this generation of cars was built with RECYCLING in mind. The mindset of the motoring public and the automotive industry has changed from "built to last" to "built to use and recycle."

The pride in making and owning a car (such as the collector cars mentioned here) was that it was a substantial piece of machinery--not a comfortable, serviceable "appliance" that ran like a refrigerator and every so often needed to be replaced. They're still building some nice cars that escape that awful appliance look and feel, but I'm afraid that recycling in the not-too-distant future is still part of the equation. Is this necessarily a bad thing? I don't know. But it takes even exceptional cars out of the "collector" category and puts them into the category of transitory status symbols.

There are undoubtedly exceptions to this, but you could go on forever trying to predict which current cars will be deemed to be worth preserving... darn few, I suspect. I don't think my '89 IROC 5.7 is depreciating too much, and I think that's simply based on looks that seem to always appeal to a certain group of boy (and men) racer types. And a few women, too. <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I am constantly surprised by how many people have never even heard of a Packard.</div></div>

I guess I am definitely not surprised about this. When I was a kid and Packard had only been out of business about 10 years, NONE of the kids I knew had any idea what a Packard was. Those people are now in their 40's or 50's, and I doubt any of them have learned much more about Packard over the years.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Then look at the '56 L-M products--the front fenders, headlight "eyebrows" all of a sudden, they Look like Packards!</div></div>

I believe the "eyebrows" appeared on the '55 Mercurys, same year as the Packard. I think that "following" a styling trend always looks bad, especially for a "big three" manufacturer. So if they can't come out with it the same year, they shy away from introducing something later or give the impression that it's a "me too" product.

Chrysler is said to have delayed introduction of their front torsion bar suspension because Packard was coming out with the TL in '55, and of course Packard could say theirs was "twice as good" or was "immitated but not equaled" or whatever.

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We had a new Audi in for an over heating problem, found the fan clutch bad, $300, found it was better, but figured it needed a new thermostat, easy job on the Packard, maybe 15 min if your slow. My problem i could not find the thermostat in the Audi, found it's buried behind the timing belt, book time 7 hours to replace!!!, the front clip has to come off to remove the timing cover, like who thought of this?? or the cadi northstar, they put the starter under the intake manifold, theres no tapping this baby with a hammer to get a few more starts out of it, or ford tempo's the fan belt runs around the front motor mount, you have to support the front of the motor, remove the mount, relace the belt, another pia.. can't do this one on the side of the highway. Sometimes I would like to get both hands around the enginers neck that came up with some of these ideas.

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