Packard began in 1899 and was founded by two brothers by the name of William and James Packard. The company was an elite brand within the automobile world all the way through the 1920s. In the beginning, it was called the Ohio Automobile Company but the brothers received new investors in 1902 and renamed the venture, the Packard Motor Car Company.
During the time when Ford was making cars for just over $400, Packard targeted the more luxury end of the market with vehicles that cost nearly $3,000. State leaders and members of royal families were more often the Packard buyers.
As was similar with many car companies, Packard had a rough time during the Great Depression. Many other luxury car creators failed during that era, but Packard remained within the industry. During the Depression, Packard aimed their cars to an even higher end in the market and the competition soon fell away. Once the management decided that their products had to be affordable for the lower end market too, they began to release cheaper versions of the higher priced models. The expensive, senior models were still built by hand but the inexpensive versions were built in a new manufacturing facility using the assembly line. The cheaper vehicles outsold the luxury version by a ratio of ten to one.
In 1937, the company released a model with a 6-cylinder engine called the Packard 110. The timing seemed perfect, but the release actually damaged Packard's good reputation. The 6-cylinder vehicle along with the cheaper automobiles eroded the elite image of the brand.
Packard also suffered following World War II when it created several styles that did not sell well to the public. Nash Motors attempted to merge with the company, but failed and eventually forged a merger with Hudson instead. After Hudson and Nash merged in 1954, Packard decided to make a similar move and bought the Studebaker brand in the hope of increasing the number of dealers that would sell Packards. This theory, however, did not pan out as Packard discovered that Studebaker was suffering serious financial problems of its own.
Packard sales went up in 1955 due to the V8 engine that was placed in vehicles that year, but the overall engineering of those cars was rather disastrous. Hundreds of vehicles needed to be repaired in order that they could even be sold and that caused future sales to go down. Packard dealerships started to sell and close all over the country. The final year that the company produced cars was 1958.
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