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What Is a Packard?

A Packard is an iconic piece of automotive history, a luxury car brand that once set the standard for American elegance and engineering excellence. Known for their innovation and quality, Packard cars were the choice of celebrities and presidents alike. Curious about how Packard shaped the luxury car industry? Join us as we explore the legacy of this classic American marque.
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Packard was an automobile brand that originated in the late 19th century and stayed in production until the mid-20th century. The company produced numerous models of cars, all manufactured in Detroit, Michigan, in the United States. In its latter years, the Packard company produced cars in Indiana as well. The original cars featured one-cylinder engines, and the company created the first version of the modern steering wheel. Later on, the company would produce the first 12-cylinder engine, as well as other developments that would give the company a reputation as a high-quality and innovative brand.

Early on in its existence, the Packard company began producing cars that were considered luxury vehicles. They were exceptionally popular in the United States and Europe among wealthy motorists, and it was not until the 1930s that Packard began producing more affordable cars as a response to the Great Depression. The company also began making high quality trucks that were popular among business owners and workers. When the new, more affordable car hit the market, Packard's sales soared and a new production factory had to be built for the first time in the company's history. Until that time, all Packards had been built in one factory on one line to keep costs of production low.

All Packard cars were made in Detroit, Michigan.
All Packard cars were made in Detroit, Michigan.

After World War II, the Packard name was still associated with quality, and the company itself was still in good financial standing, but over the next decade or two, the designs of the cars stagnated somewhat. Other brands began producing luxury automobiles that directly competed with the Packard brand, and the differences between high end luxury cars produced by the company and the lower-end models were hard to distinguish. Luxury owners did not respond well to this, as the Packard brand had always been associated with luxury and prestige.

The company met its end in the late 1950s as sales began to taper off. The company bought the Studebaker brand and manufactured cars under that name, but sales did not pick up. The cars were plagued by transmission issues, which further damaged the company's reputation, and by the end of the 1950s, the cars were no longer being manufactured under the once-illustrious label.

Today the cars are collector's items, frequently being shown at auto shows around the world. They are still known for their innovative styling and components, as well as visual appeal. Early models are especially sought after among the collector's market.

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    • All Packard cars were made in Detroit, Michigan.
      By: Floki Fotos
      All Packard cars were made in Detroit, Michigan.