: Packard: Any comments or memories?

07-06-13, 09:20 PM
My Dad was a Packard man, I grew up riding in the back seat of Packards until I was eight years old when my dad's 1950 Custom Eight was broadsided in the parking lot of Ciro's restaurant in Hollywood. Cars was never the same and Dad gave up on Packards.

The 1940 Packard 120 carried our family from coast to coast four times and was Dad's daily driver during the years he was installing the new TV stations on top of Mount Wilson. It served him and our family well till it was traded for a new 1950.

To be honest I never liked the 1950 much either; it looked like an inverted bathtub and while the interior was luxurious by the standards of the day I preferred the sportier Chevy Bel Airs that my friend's dads had.

Later in the fifties I was chaffered around Panama in a very nice 1950 Custom Eight and really appreciated what a fine car it was (loved the sound and smoothness of the straight eight engine). But Packard was in its' death nell at that point and Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles filled the families needs.

Do you have any memories of Packards?

07-07-13, 12:14 AM
I think someone on my mothers side if the family had one, a '50's model, a long time ago.. Personally, I'd like to have a late '30's Packard one day, preferably needing mechanical restoration.

07-07-13, 12:16 AM
My dad's 26 Model T roadster used a Packard Transmission.

07-07-13, 12:16 AM
I have a question, Orconn! The guy in your profile picture is you, right? :p

07-07-13, 12:40 AM
^^^ Yeah the guy with the pith helmet, not the guy with the fancy turban! That was a long time ago when I was young and adventurous.

07-07-13, 01:43 AM
Thanks Orconn, and thanks for the clarification! I was going to say nice mustache! :D

07-07-13, 03:45 PM
my High School auto shop instructor had a '36 Packard convertible -

for a little "extra credit" -
the shop teacher and two of us rebuilt the motor -
a straight 8 - man - that head weighed a TON -

just before my parents were married - Dad bought a new '48 Packard - 4 door hardtop -

on their honeymoon they drove from Chicago to southern California -
via the southern states -
then up to my Uncles mountain cabin in northern California -
then to Pennsylvania via the northern states -
then back to Chicago -

when they got back - Dad traded it for a new Buick convertible -


07-07-13, 04:07 PM
The last "straight eight" that I have heard running was an Alfa Romeo (don't know if it was OHC or not) going around the course at VIR (Virginia International Raceway). It had a different, but great sound. I had never heard one in a marginally muffled state before. To be honest, at the time I didn't know that Alfa ever made a straight eight. But I do remember how smooth those old Packard (pre 1955) and pre-1953 Buicks sounded. The exhaust note was quite different from the V-8's that became the norm after 1955.

07-07-13, 06:32 PM
Good ol' Packard 440 - that was some good spark plug cable. (Non-EMI, of course).

cadillac kevin
07-07-13, 06:42 PM
Good ol' Packard 440 - that was some good spark plug cable. (Non-EMI, of course).

My 350 came with packard spark plug cables. I'm sure they were original to the motor, and they still worked really well (at least 7 of them did...one lost a boot and caused a miss)

07-07-13, 08:26 PM
The thought of a straight eight is very appealing to me. How did they compare to a V8 of the same era in terms of power and sound?

07-07-13, 09:58 PM
I've always thought the late 30s-early 40s Packard 180 was one of the best designs ever. Handsome, dignified, perfectly balanced. I've read the straight 8 was a marvel of smoothness and poise, and performed well for it's day, but the advent of higher compression and higher octane fuels rendered it obsolete. I really want to drive one one day.

07-07-13, 10:12 PM
The thought of a straight eight is very appealing to me. How did they compare to a V8 of the same era in terms of power and sound?
high torque - low rpm motor -

idled so smooth you couldn't feel it running -

you want to hear one?



and to show HOW smooth -

07-07-13, 11:02 PM
The straight eights were really smooth and seemed effortless, by contrast the V-8's that came to dominate the American marketplace after 1953 seemed rather crude and rough in comparison. The inherent imbalance of the V-8 was always a problem when it was called upon as a power a source of a luxury car. The lighter weight and smaller size of the V-8 configuration plus the ability to put out more power than the heavier bulkier straight eight made the V-8 configuration preferable when Detroit was going toward lower bodied more performance oriented cars.

As a teenager I used to occasionally ride to school in a chauffeur driven 1949 Buick Roadmaster sedan that good friend' grandfather had. The car hand a manual transmission instead of the sloppy Dynaflow that was almost standard equipment on senior Buicks in the 1950's. The old black man who drove us was a very smooth driver and I remember how really smooth that car was, smoother than the 1956 Cadillac Fleetwood my dad had.

When I was older and hankering for a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud (in the early 1970's) I drove several of these cars, both the Cloud I's with straight six engines and the Cloud III's which had Rolls' version of the Kettering V-8. I have to say I preferred the straight six in these cars; they were much smoother and refined than the V-8's, even in a Rolls-Royce. On down through the years when I had Jag XJ6's as my business cars I never missed not having a V-8. The Jag DOHC straight six was plenty powerful enough and smooth as glass.

By the mid fifties Buick, Chevy and Pontiac had all switched to V-8 engines, Cadillac and Olds already had them. In 1955 even old Packard had surrender to the craze for V-8's. And of course Chrysler and Ford had their V-8's. I believe the 1954 Packard straight eight was the last of the American straight eight engines.

07-09-13, 03:31 PM
I can understand how Packard lost out to Cadillac in the 1950's. A friend of mine's dad ( a funeral director) had a 1955 Packard Patrician. I used to ride in it a lot back then. It was a nice car but lacked the style, especially the interior, of the competing Cadillacs and Lincolns of the period. I don't know what it was like to drive, but it seemed "old fashioned" compared to my dad's '56 Fleetwood Sixty Special, and was not near as nice to be in as my mom's '57 Olds Ninety-Eight four door Holiday. 1957 was the year that really separated what had gone before with what was to come and by 1957 Packards were just really gross Studebakers. The '55 ands '56 Packard Patricians had some neat features like self leveling rear ends and I have heard the new V-8 was good, but over all in my 14 year old mind they were stodgy old looking cars that were really left behind when the 1955 model year came in. I personally liked the 1955 and '56 Chrysler Imperials, but all the good parts were let down by really stodgy old style interiors.

But, all in all, I still remember the luxurious smoothness of that 1950 Custom 8 that I rode in Panama in 1957. The 1949 straight eight Buick Roadmaster that used to carry me to school was pretty special to for its stately smoothness!

07-09-13, 04:23 PM
I can understand how Packard lost out to Cadillac in the 1950's.

It was the fins, orconn!

07-09-13, 07:03 PM
My dad had a new 53 straight 8 Buick, last year for the engine. He traded it in on a 56 Buick and was forever missing his straight 8. To this day he says it was the last GREAT car he owned! He also recalls the fact that the horn button had a gold 1903 Buick set into it to commemorate their 50th anniversary.

07-09-13, 10:56 PM
It was the fins, orconn!

Hey, the 57 Packardbakers had fins. Not good fins, but they had fins! God, those were some hideous cars. :vomit:

07-09-13, 11:07 PM
Senior Packards were design and built to please the taste and inclinations of an upper class clientèle. Even the junior Packards, the 110 and 120's were design and built to appeal to an affluent upper middle class professional. Cadillacs were always flashier than Packards and appealed more to "new money" types. Since there was plenty of new money around after the second world war Cadillac had a market that ready for Harley Earl's chrome and glitz in the form of the Eldorados of the mid to late fifties. The 1956 Cadillac line was the real turning point when the glitz really won out over what Packard's clientèle sense of taste and decorum. The volume market belonged to Cadillac from that point on! When the fins grew bigger so did the inclination to seek cars from Europe.