The 1942 Packard Clipper models, including the limousine shown here, were produced over a matter of just a few months. As it turned out, this was the last year in which Packard would offer a rolling chassis for limousines and it's custom coachwork on such extended chassis. After that, limousines were built by simply stretching a sedan's chassis.
The Packard Clippers had a very short production lifespan during the Pre World War Two years. The 1942 models began production in August of 1941 and stopped in February 1942 due to President Roosevelt's prohibition of civilian car production during the war years. When America entered World War Two, the Packard Motor Car Company built military vehicles in it's factories.
The Packard Motor Car Company
The Packard Motor Car Company was formed in 1903 by Ward Packard. By the year 1909 Packard was considered among America's major automakers. Packard had built a reputation as a luxury auto builder and was one of the premiere luxury automakers prior to 1937. In fact, by 1925 Packard was the American leader in luxury automobiles. The company which actually built it's first car in Warren Ohio in 1899 as the Ohio Automobile Company had outlasted several of their competitors during the 1930's. The Great depression nevertheless had a strong impact on Packard. To give you an example, Packard sold about 7,000 vehicles during the 1934 model year compared to more than 50,000 during the 1928 model year. Big vehicles took a big hit during the Depression years.
The Start of the Popular Packard Clipper Models
In 1941 Packard introduced what was called the "Clipper" model with the most powerful production engines of the time. The Packard Clipper was one of those models introduced mid year in April of 1941. There were only a bit over 16,000 1941 Clippers built and then with the start of World War Two and the civilian vehicle prohibition put into effect by President Roosevelt, only a few thousand of the 1942 Packards were produced.
To give you an idea of the pent up demand unleashed after the war, there were over 30,000 Packards built for the 1946 model year with over 1,200 of these being Packard limousines. The sales of the Clipper series were very successful. Clipper outsold both LaSalle and Cadillac. That was quite an accomplishment.
The 1942 Packard Custom Limousine shown in this article is on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque New Mexico. This particular car was built between August 25, 1941 and February 7, 1942 at the Packard factory in Detroit Michigan. This car was the sixty-sixth of the Clipper Six Twentieth Series. The automobile was then sent to the Fitzjohn Coach Company in Muskegon Michigan to be made into a limousine. Fitzjohn cut the Clipper in half and added six feet to it's length using ash wood. The coach builder added three bench seats and side doors. Out of the very few 1942 Packard models built prior to the war, the Fitzjohn Coach Company converted one hundred into limousines.
The Fitzjohn Coach Company was founded in 1919 for the purpose of building bus and truck bodies. The company offered an eight door limousine as early as 1935. The company had also built the coach works for a twenty-one passenger bus built on a Ford AA truck chassis. The bus had a wheelbase of 157 inches.
1942 Packard Limousine Specs
The 1942 Packard Clipper had sleek modern lines which was a carryover from the new styling that took hold in 1941. The body of the Clipper had been designed by the legendary automobile designer Howard 'Dutch' Darrin. The limousine models had a fixed divider with a retractable privacy window. The front seat had leather upholstery for more durability. The back had a fixed bench seat as well as a jump seat. The interior typically had wood grain paneling. The 1942 Packard Clipper was the most luxurious of Packard's pre-war models.
The Packard Clipper limousines had a 148 inch wheelbase and a length of 236.5 inches. The 1942 Packard Clipper had an eight cylinder inline engine. Vehicle weight came in at about 4,900 lbs.
(Photos from author's collection)