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.
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.
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)...packardclub.org...packardinfo.com...
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.
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)