Did You Know… Packard Historic info

  • Packard (USA). Formed in 1899, taken over in 1901, Packard became established as a leading manufacturer of luxury cars during the Edwardian period. That position was held through to World War II, but never regained after it. Studebaker was acquired in 1954, then the ailing group was taken over, and the last Packards were sold in 1958.
  • The first reinforced concrete building erected for motor car manufacture was the Packard factory constructed in Detroit in 1903 and designed by architect Albert Kahn, who was to become the leading designer of car factories for the American motor industry.
  • The first wind-up window mechanism (the “Perfect”) was introduced on 1919 model Packard and Pierce-Arrow cars. Before that, railway carriage-type leather strap window lifts were used.
    Air conditioning was first offered on the 1940 model Packard Super-8 One-Sixty (‘cooled by mechanical refrigeration’) launched in August 1939. Nash’s much publicized 1938 ‘Weather-Eye’ system was merely controlled heating and ventilation of filtered air, even though Nash had just purchased the Kelvinator refrigerator company.
  • Powered operated seats were first used on the 1947 Packards. Electrically controlled door locks were fitted to 1955 Packards. Electrically controlled self leveling suspension was used on 1955 Packards.
  • The first car to be fitted with automatic ignition advance was the 1900 Model B Packard (the Packard brothers were in the electric lighting business before branching out into car manufacture). Centrifugal fly-weights varied the ignition timing in relation to engine speed, a principle which was universally used into the electronic era.

There are many Packard symbols that we are all familiar with, but many of us do not know how these symbols originated

The information below was gathered from Packard historical records, Packard World and the Story of a Living Legend and find it interesting.

  • The Packard Family’s coat of arms was adopted by the Packard Motor Car Company in 1928 after the death of James W. Packard, builder of the first Packard in 1899. He was also first president of the Packard Motor Car Co.
  • On the Sixth Series Packard in 1929, a decorative emblem of the Packard coat of arms was placed on the radiator shell. The Packard Motor Car Co. did this to honor the memory of its founder.
  • The Packard Pelican hood ornament was first used in 1932 on the ninth series cars. There were many different variations of this design from 1932 until it was last used in 1957. This hood ornament evolved from the pelican on the Packard coat of arms.
  • In 1939, Packard Motor Car Co. called the pelican hood ornament on the seventeenth series a Cormorant for the first time. Many owners sent letters to Packard in 1939 and during the years after, disapproving of the name Cormorant. In 1951, Packard changed the name of the hood ornament back to Pelican because of all these letters from loyal Packard owners.
  • The most popular version of the origination of the famous slogan, “Ask the man who owns one”, is that James Ward Packard, who was president and general manager of Packard Motor Co. received a letter from a man interested in buying an automobile. He wanted more information about the dependability of a Packard. There was no printed sales literature and Packard was too busy to write about those details. He told his secretary to tell the man to “Ask the man who owns one”. This was the birth of perhaps the most famous slogan ever to originate in America. Since it was first published in an ad in Motor Age on October 31, 1901, it has been used in many more advertisements for Packard automobiles.
  • The Red Hexagon is one of the automobile industry’s earliest marks of quality. This design was first used on Model L Packards in 1904. In those early days, the hexagon was black on the hubcaps of Packards in 1904.
    There are several interesting stories about the Red Hexagon. Years ago, owners of the first Packards were in the habit of sending their Packards back to the factory to be overhauled. When Packards were overhauled at the factory, the hexagon-shaped hubcaps were painted red. This was to signify the “final OK” after rigid factory inspections. For some reason, the idea caught on the many buyers of new Packards requested red hexagons on their cars, also. This is why the red hexagon is on Packard Hubcaps today.

Another story goes:-

  • The origin of the Packard hub cap hexagon had its beginnings when the famous indentation was provided as a tool aperture for hub grease cap removal. This maintenance practice was frequent in an era when grease broke down quickly because of its high animal fat content At some time in Packard history, a harried mechanic probably inadvertently packed the same bearings twice. So that he would not make the same error the next time, he identified his completed work with a dab of red paint in the indent. The effect was dramatic, and soon owners did the same or demanded it on their new cars. The red hexagon was formally adopted by Packard in 1913.
  • Another distinctive design feature was the famous hood spear that suggested forward motion. It came into being on the 7th series 1930 and only on the 745 long wheelbase cars. Expensive dies and extra handling added measurably to the cost, but hood spears were a design feature of all senior cars until 1939. Later the spear evolved into a bolt-on stainless steel stamping or die casting that was either plated or painted with red centres in most series. The last 1947 Clippers used silver paint, and thereafter it was seen as a Packard styling motif on fender and door protector mouldings. The famous spear was absent on the 1955 and 1956 cars, but was revived feebly for the very last Studebaker-built cars in 1957 and 1958.