Last post on Oct 07, 1999 at 10:35 PM
You are in the Classic Cars - Archived Discussions
This discussion is ARCHIVED. To reactivate the discussion, post a request in the Lost In The Town Hall... discussion.
Jun 12, 1999 (1:12 am)
I think the customers all went to Cadillac, which was building very good-looking (at least until 1957 or so) and competitively priced cars, and, for American-engineering standards of the time, "modern" in features and powertrains. Packards in the late 40s and early 50s were old-fashioned, convservative and very expensive. They were dumpy in an age that wanted sexy, splashy and fast.
#36 of 44 Triple Color Carribean-
Jun 14, 1999 (4:06 am)
I'd definitly agree with you about dumpy Packards except for the triple color Carribeans. Remeber that these cars even had reversable seat cushions so that you could basically change the entire look of the interior of your car.
So was it the Cad V-8 that really did in Packard? I do love the 50's Cads just because they are so out on the endge with ther styling.
#37 of 44 rust
Jun 14, 1999 (7:13 am)
I owned a 1949 Packard Super (22nd Series)4-door sedan which I bought in 1956. It was a relatively low-mileage car in very nice shape, so I think I got a pretty good feeling for how the car performed when new.
To evaluate a car like this you have to consider the standards and values of the manufacturers and customers at that time.
Then, a large percentage of buyers still regarded size, weight, engine smoothness,interior finish and "ride" as highly desireable characteristics in an automobile and a sure sign of quality and value. Sure, looking backward, we can see now that those 1949 values were on the way out, and that performance, handling and up-to-the-minute styling were on the way in. But that Packard satisfied a lot of buyers in 1949...and there were many more people who wished that they could afford one. It was a sucessful product,but the car was more a look back to the past rather than a peek of the future --like the fins on the '49 Caddy, or the '49 Olds Rocket engine.
That's the way you have to look at and own this car...get it back into a condition so it can do what it was supposed to do. Get that exceptionally smooth engine running again, shoe it with those soft low-pressure tires, make sure you have all that sound deadening material in place, get that 8-tube radio working and just go and drive it (in a straight line)...and be prepared to lose most of the money you throw into it..(like a new car).
Some of the better characteristics of the car?....Well, my '49 had a very low-geared rear end (a 'four-eleven' rear used commonly in the taxi 6-cylinder version of that car) The high torque engine and the low gearing allowed me to pull smoothly away from a dead stop in third gear...at idle! Nobody I knew, in any other car could match that trick. The car was an exceptional "boulevard idler" and could coast smoothly at the speed of the slowest walking female -- clutch out...at idle. As noted by Frederick, that engine was really quiet and another favorite game was to close the windows and challenge passengers to guess if the car was idling or shut off...simple enough, but I would allow them to place an ear against the dash! Half the time they were wrong..just guessing against a really fine engine.
Also, in those days, the '49 Mercs were hot dragsters and always willing to take a bet against a big green bathtub. I never lost a race(unless the car tore out a rear end or clutch--the trans was indestructable)...the secret of course was the torque and low gearing on the Packard. I just had to make sure that the drag course was short enough that we would not hit high final speeds. I also found that leaving the air cleaner at home helped the car's asthma a lot...the hissing noise also added to the drama. Much of that talk about Packards being sluggish is based on reading raw statistics. Your attitude depends on your own experiences,not on the experiences of some expert road tester. A lot of people knew how to make their Packards do what they wanted them to do. New York City Stock car drivers of the 40's and early 50's will remember that the two fastest cars in the area were the Packards of Zeke and Rocco. Those were my experiences. I always thought of Packards as fast, powerful cars and I treated mine that way. It ain't what you got...it's what you do with it.
Jun 15, 1999 (7:44 am)
Thank you for your input and experiences with your 49 Packard. I bought my 49 a year or two after I was out of college because I found its sheer mass and the smooth curviture of its body to be completely captivating. To me the car seemed totally old and yet very modern at the same time.
I'd never seen an old car like a 49 Packard and didn't even know anything about the marque, it was dead long before I was born. I bag a lot of my 49 because I know that the market for this particular car is very limited and they are not well loved by Packard aficionados. I still love the car for exactly the same reason I originally bought it but I guess I wish now at least it was a two door.
I hooked up with the Packards International Club and was taken under several of the members wings along the road to restoration, appreciation, and understanding exactly what the roots to my Packard were. I attended numerous shows and events put on by the club and have met really nice and interesting people at every one of them.
My car was not running when I bought it but the length of that straight 8 was truly a sight to be seen. I pulled the engine and trans together myself in order to have them rebuilt. I nearly bent the engine puller just lifting it out of the car and once I got it out the puller's legs could barely compensate for the length of the trans and motor together.
The engine was completely rebuilt by Custom Auto in Santa Ana and the trans was opened cleaned and determined to be in excellent condition. After I re-installed the engine in the car I can't tell you the joy I had taking the car for a spin out on the free way. This car is as smooth as silk and I can attest to at least 2nd gear starts.
I'll end up doing what ever I want with this car because I know that at this point it'll only be passion that is my reward. I've been involved with automotive restoration long enough to know that it a hobby first and fore most.
Never fear that my Packard is just one more car sent off to the scrap heap. I love my car and will likely enjoy it until gasoline is no longer the standard fuel of transportation. There has been murmerings of interest in the 22nd and 23rd series within the club since I first joined.
Believe me there is nothing wrong with these cars they just haven't hit their stride within the collectors market. They may not for another 20 years but meanwhile I'll enjoy the one I have and I even aspire towards another, the Packard Woody Wagon. If I can't get that I'll go for a 30's business coupe, now that baby has back!!!!!!!!!!!
#39 of 44 Studebaker Packard
Sep 26, 1999 (3:58 am)
I have been reading some of the months old postings that indicate that the joining of Studebaker and Packard was a merger. In fact Packard bought Studebaker.
Sep 26, 1999 (4:30 pm)
Yes, that's true, but it was a name-merger. It was a huge mistake for Packard, since Studebaker was in fact a less healthy company than anyone ever thought at the time, and soon Curtis-Wright Corporation took the group over as a tax loss in 1956, the year of the last true Packard. Most of the 30 year Packard personnel were fired and the company's historical records were thrown in the trash. It's an ugly story really.
#41 of 44 Question for Mr.S
Sep 28, 1999 (1:00 am)
Why did Packard change the roller tappets that were installed in the 1938 and prior Super 8s for the "regular" tappet in 1939 and beyond?
Sep 28, 1999 (4:37 am)
That's for the flattery dranoel, but that level of esoteria would need to be asked of a real Packard nut. I can say that Packard always put great engineering effort into making their engines quiet, so perhaps that may have been the reason. They were a conservative company and never did anything suddenly or radically.
#43 of 44 Ask the man who owns one!
Oct 04, 1999 (10:47 am)
The answer to your prior question does have an answer and I know exactly who the people are that could answer it. Unfortunately they are not Internet active. There is a wonderful old Packard mechanic named Cliff at a restoration shop in Santa Ana, CA called Custom Auto that I'll call to see if he can give me an answer.
This kind of information is quickly disappearing as the generation that knew and worked on Packards are passing away. Hope to get back to you soon.
Oct 07, 1999 (10:35 pm)
Thanks for your interest in my inquiry. I've always been a Packard fan although it's been years since I've owned one.