The 1948 Packard Custom Eight / Specs, Photos

The automobile featured in this article is a beautifully restored 1948 Packard Custom Eight. This story really begins when Packard first introduced it's modernized Clipper model in 1941. The U.S. entry into World War Two halted all civilian car production and Packard began again producing it's Clippers after the war coming out with a 1946 model which for obvious reasons was extremely similar to the 41 model. This styling continued with some changes until 1948 when Packard introduced the all new Custom Eight.

1948 packard custom eight specs

1948 Packard Custom Eight

The Packard Brothers

Similar to some other automobile manufacturers, the Packard brothers, James and William, initially worked on motorizing the horse carriage. Packard Motors was founded in 1899 and successfully motorized a horse carriage one year later in 1900 with a one cylinder engine. Their automobiles were originally produced in Ohio (then known as the Ohio Automobile Company) but later moved the company to Detroit. Much later in the 1950's when Packard merged with Studebaker, production was moved to South Bend, Indiana.

Packard's New Streamlined Clipper...Prelude to the Eight Series and Custom Eights

The Packard Clipper's were lower and wider than previous Packards, and had the distinction of being the first streamlined Packard.This was no little change for Packard Motors. The modernization was a necessity. This was a company that stuck solidly with tradition. Up until 1941 styling was not Packards forte. In fact styling was considered an extension of engineering and the new 1941 design was a milestone for the company. Packard really had no choice but to update their styling considering that competitors like General Motors were doing precisely that.

The 1941 Clipper design had to suffice until a re-design could be done for the 1948 model production run. New styling had to start from scratch after the war and this took a lot of time. The 1947 Packard Super Clipper Eight Club Sedan (top of the line at the time) was built on a model 2103 127" wheelbase, 7" more than the lower-priced Packards. It featured wraparound grille extension bars, upgraded wheel trim treatments, a different looking rear deck and a single level door signature script reading.

packard series eight

New rounded look for 1948

In regards to interiors, Packard had it's finest interiors in it's Custom Super Clipper models.

Wood grain was used on the upper and lower portions of the dashboard and on window moldings. The Super Clipper's headliner was woolen and the seams ran front to back. This way of running the seams had the effect of making the interior seem longer.

Replacing the Clipper

The 1948 Packard Custom Eight replaced the Clipper as Packard's top of the line model.  No longer was the Packard Clipper name seen. Total restyling was done for 1948 since the Clipper had been around since 41 and required an updating. The updated model became the Custom Eight. Packard's Eight Series came as a Standard, Deluxe, Super and Custom.

Howard 'Dutch' Darrin

Bodies for the Packard Clipper were designed in a large way by Howard Darrin. As mentioned above, these Clipper automobiles were stylish for their time and were really the first modern looking Packards to hit the showrooms.

Darrin spent about forty years in the automobile business that spanned both sides of the Atlantic. Darrin had his hand in models from Renault in France to Packard and Kaiser in the U.S. One of Darrin's first efforts in the U.S.was a 1937 Packard 120 four-seat Victoria with a rear-mounted spare, designed for the film star Dick Powell.

Howard Darrin joined Packard Motors in 1935 and turned out some fine cars. His first effort with Packard, aside from the 37 Victoria mentioned above, were the popular 1940 Packard Darrins. As mentioned above, Darrin also is credited with major styling input of what became the first Packard Clipper in 1941 and of the war shortened model year of 1942 as well. When the war ended Darrin went to work for Kaiser-Frazer as a freelance consultant

1948 Packard Custom Eight Specifications

The 1948 Packard Custom eight received an in-line, 356 cubic-inch straight-eight engine. The engine was rated at 160 HP. This was Packard's largest engine and was reserved for the Custom Eight.

Transmission for the 1948 Custom Eight was a three speed column shift.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.

Suspension consisted of independent front suspension with coil springs, solid rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs.

Wheelbase on this automobile is 127.0 inches. Curb weight is 3780 lbs.

Thed Packard Eight Series prices ranged from $3,700 for the lowest price model to about $4,900 for the Limousine model. The Custom Eight was the top of the line non-limousine and priced at about $4,200.

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References for this article include...Packard: A History of the Motor Car and the Company (Automobile Quarterly Magnificent Marque Books)

The Packard Clipper and Custom Eight Collector Cars

Immediately after the war Packard was hampered by a shortage of steel and for both the 1946 and 1947 model years the company fell short of production goals.

It's a fact that car collectors sought out these first post war models which were very similar to the 1941 and very limited production 1942 models. These post war models had low production numbers and are in good demand by Packard collectors.

1948 packard custom eight

48 Packard dashboard

When 1948 came around the first absolutely new post war design models were in dealer showrooms and the Eight Series including this Custom Eight were milestone cars for Packard and are excellent collector automobiles.

The Eight Series Packard's were really a modernized extension of the popular Clipper models. Prices will be all over the place depending on condition and degree of restoration if any, Depending on the Series Eight model you'll likely see asking prices today from the low teens for unrestored  to the $30,000-40,000 range for fully professionally restored vehicles.

Regarding the 1946 Packard Clippers, we see a Packard 7 Passenger Limousine Custom Super Clipper 8 Series with an asking price of $36,000...a 1947 Clipper Sedan in good condition for $37,000.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)

A Collector’s Dream / The 1936 Packard Twelve

Featured in this article is the 1936 Packard Twelve Roadster. Packard built some fine looking automobiles and many of them are coveted by today's car collectors.

1936 packard twelve

1936 Packard Twelve

Packard was founded by brothers James Ward Packard , William Doud Packard and his partner George Lewis Weiss in the city of Warren, OH. James Ward believed that they could build a better horseless carriage that the Winton cars owned by Weiss (An important Winton stockholder) and James Ward, himself a mechanical engineer, had some of his own ideas of how to improve on the designs of current automakers.

By 1899, they were in the automobile building business. The company, which they called the Ohio Automobile Company, quickly introduced a number of innovations in its designs. This included the modern steering wheel (as opposed to a tiller) and a few decades later the first production 12-cylinder engine.

The Packard Motor Car Company was well known for producing quality automobiles with excellent engineering. While Ford was producing cars that sold for $440, the Packard concentrated on more upscale automobiles that started in the $2,600 range.

packard twelve

Packard Twelve Roadster

Packard's Growth

Building higher priced automobiles Packard needed more capital to grow. The answer came in an investment by a very prominent Detroiter by the name of Henry Joy. Joy came from one of Detroit's oldest families.

This largely came about when Joy bought a Packard and was quite impressed by the car's reliability. Henry Joy set up an appointment with the Packards and went out and put together an investor group which included his brother-in-law, Truman Newberry.

packard roadster

Packard Twelve

This spurred a name change in 1902 from the Ohio Automobile Company to the Packard Motor Car Company.  Packard then moved its automobile operation from Warren Ohio to Detroit soon after and Henry Joy became general manager and later chairman of the board.

The Packard's factory on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit was a historic first in itself. Designed by Albert Kahn, the building represented the first use of reinforced concrete for industrial construction in Detroit.

The Auto Market of the 1930's

In the 1930's auto buyers were demanding quieter smoother riding cars and they were expecting cars with lighter steering and better brakes. Even wheels began to shrink  from 20 inches to 17 inches. Fenders took on skirting to hide the space caused by the smaller wheels.

These mechanical changes came quickly and Packard struggled to adapt the whole cars to these changes. Up to 1934 the bodies were basically designed for the earlier 1930-32 era cars and the fenders and noses were changed to blend the two. In 1935 a new line of bodies and fenders fit better on the smaller wheels and lower frames. The 1935 radiator shell design was not a big styling winner but that was taken care of in 1936 with a swept back shell.

packard twelve hubcap

Packard Twelve Wheel

The Packard Twelve

The Packard 12 is a legendary car, most likely the finest car Packard ever produced and probably one of the best cars of all time. Steady and smooth with incredible stability, the Packard 12 was way ahead of its time.

For 1936 everything came together perfectly. A new beautifully designed nose as mentioned above and much better proportioned bodies mated to fenders with stylish lines and a handsome curved lower edge. All of these traits combined into a package that automobile buyers would have expected to see on cars with names like LeBaron or Dietrich. Much of this flair is credited to the excellent in-house coach works Packard enjoyed.

The Packard Twelves came in several body styles. There were ten different models that ranged in price from about $4,000 to $6,000.

The resulting cars have a feel of overall perfection that the 9th series had in 1932 but on a chassis that performed worlds ahead of its predecessors. The steering is was light but positive, the hydraulic brakes were excellent, the transmission shifted fine and the legendary Twelve motor delivers excellent power, smoothness and with notable silence.

packard twelve interior

Packard Twelve interior and dashboard

1936 Packard Twelve Specifications

The Packard Twelve had a very powerful 473 cubic inch V-12 engine. This engine was also referred to as the "Twin Six" and delivered 175 horsepower. Packard discontinued the twelve cylinder engine in 1939.

An interesting note is that during World War Two Packard had modified these engines to adapt them to marine use in PT boats.

The twelve cylinder engine was of course quite large and required changes to the suspension and chassis but was exceeded by Cadillac with it's sixteen cylinder power plant.

Transmission was a three speed manual.

Brakes were four wheel vacuum assisted with the front being disc and the rear drum.

Front suspension independent and rear live axle. Car weight was about 6,000 lbs.

The 1936 Packard Twelve had a 139.0 inch wheelbase.

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A good book on the subject of Packard automobiles is Packard Automobiles 1920-1958: A Brooklands Portfolio by author R.M. Clarke.

packard twelve dashboard

Another view of the 1936 Packard Twelve dashboard

The 1936 Packard Twelve Collector Car

The 1936 Packard Twelve is a rare automobile. These cars were produced during the Great Depression and the Packard Motor Company relied on the lesser costly cars to pay the bills.

Auction asking prices for 1936 Packard Twelve's are strong. As an example of pristine condition models, a 1936 Model 1407 Opera Coupe has an asking price of $195,000. A 1936 Packard Twelve Series 1407 Convertible Victoria sold for $385,000. A 1936 Packard Twelve Dual Cowl Model 1407 Phaeton sold for $594,000. We show that another 36 Packard Twelve Phaeton sold for $176,000.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)



A Restored 1949 Packard Victoria Convertible

The 1949 Packard Victoria Convertible featured in this article is representative of some of the finest post World War Two automobiles built by Packard. Packard came out with their first post war convertible for the 1948 model year. The Packard convertible is a stunning looking classic car.

`949 packard victoria

1949 Packard Victoria Convertible

The Packard Motor Car Company was well known for producing quality automobiles with excellent engineering. The company started in business in 1899 making the 1949 model year a golden anniversary. Beginning with the 1949 model year all Packard automobiles were built with eight cylinder engines.

The New Post War Packards

The immediate postwar period was a critical period for Packard and the rest of the independents.There were two main issues facing American automakers immediately after World War Two.

One was the pent up demand for new automobiles since all civilian production was halted by February 1942. The second issue or challenge was to introduce new designs and technology which had taken a back seat to the war effort. As a result, American automakers started to unveil new models, and this 1949 Packard Convertible is a fine example, mostly during the 1948 and 1949 model years. From late 1945 to the late 1940's the new cars sold to an eager public were essentially rehashed versions of 1941 and 1942 models. At the same time designers were at their drawing boards creating a whole new series of post war automobiles.

1949 packard convertible coupe

1949 Packard Victoria Coupe

The 1948-1949 Packards

You'll probably come across observations that the design for the 1948 and 1948 Packards was non eye appealing. For sure, the "bath tub" design as it was referred to had it's share of critics, but if you look at 1949 sales and production figures the results were good.

An excellent and very well researched book on the Packard automobile is Packard 1948 to 1950, by Robert J. Neal. This is the complete history of the design, production and marketing of these Packards.

The Packard 22 Series and 23 Series

Packard produced the 22nd and 23rd series Packard Custom 8s. Most easily recognized is that the 23rd series have "pod" tailights, whereas the 22nd series are flush with the fender. The 22nd series have 2 stainless trim strips low on the sides. The Packard 23rd series has a single trim strip about mid-door level.

1949 packard dashboard

1949 Packard Series 23 dashboard

The Packard line of 22nd Series cars was introduced in September of 1947 as 1948 models. When the 1949 models first came out they were essentially the same as the 1948's.

It's been said that serial numbers on unsold 1948's were changed to reflect the cars as now being1949's. The Packard 1949 23rd series were introduced in May 1949. They were produced through 1950 therefore the 1950 Packards were essentially the same vehicle as the 1949's.

The 1949 Packard's had the large "Goddess of Speed" hood ornament. The chrome Goddess had arms stretched out holding a chrome tire. Also shown in this article is a photo of the Packard chrome swan hood ornament that came with the 22 Series vehicles.

Packard's Problems Not Far Away

1949 Packard production totaled 116,955 vehicles. This was an increase from 1948's 92,200 vehicles. 1949 was the second best production year for Packard. Unfortunately, the year 1950 was very disappointing for Packard while the automobile industry as a whole did very well. Much of the problem with Packard beginning about 1950 was that their automobiles weren't keeping up with the competition.

1949 packard grille

1949 Packard grille

One example was their continuation of the long stroke straight eight engine. In general, Packard was rolling over the same cars from year to year during the 1948 through 1950 model years seemingly resting on their laurels while competitors were making much more significant changes. As explained above, Packard came out with two different models, the 22nd and 23rd Series, over a three year span.

Ford and GM both started offering overhead valve V-8's. In short, a lot of Packard's problems that began surfacing in 1950 was the result of slow innovation. A good many Packard historians point to the ultra conservative policies of then Packard president George Christopher as being the roadblock to adequate innovation. Dealers had a hard time with Christopher when he heavily promoted the 1948 models when they were still sitting on a very large amount of unsold 1947 models. Over the next several years Packard started losing dealers and this only made their difficulties snowball.

Packard stopped production in 1958 which means not another Packard was built after that time which adds to collector car values.

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1949 packard tail light

1949 Packard tail light

1949 Packard Victoria Specifications

The 1949 Packard came equipped with a 356 cubic-inch inline 8-cylinder engine that delivered 145 horsepower.

Transmission on the 1949 Packards was a three speed manual and brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.

Front suspension was independent coil springs with leaf springs on the rear.

The 1949 Packard Victoria Coupe built on a 120.0 inch wheelbase had an overall outside length of 204.625 inches. Width was 77.5 inches.

The 1949 Packard Victoria Convertible sold new that year for about $4,000. As a comparison, the 1949 Packard Sedan which was the highest selling model sold new for about $3,500.

The 1949 Packard serial number can be located on the upper left side of the engine block.

See our article on Locations of VIN Plates and Stamps on Classic and Vintage Vehicles.

1949 packard hood ornament

49 Packard hood ornament

Popular Packard Collector Cars

All of these new post war design Packard automobiles make excellent collector cars. Some of these 1949 Packard models also made it into the movies. The 1949 Packard Eight Two Door was seen on the movie Gangster Squad with Josh Brolin and Nick Nolte.

Out of the 1949 Packard models the Victoria Convertible appears to be holding up as the highest valued survivor. A mint condition restored showroom quality 49 Packard Convertible might have asking prices into the $60,000 range. The 1949 Packard Sedans of which more were produced and sold as of this writing may have price tags into the $20,000 to $35,000 range. Difference all have to do with overall condition and originality.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)