It's interesting to consider various ways in which the Packard Motor Car Company might have survived, such as with the Studebaker/Packard body-sharing program planned for 1957 with an all-new exterior or perhaps buying sheetmetal shells from Lincoln. I think that under the right circumstances the Packard Executive might have helped save Packard. There's a good reason why it didn't.
Packard was in decent shape when it introduced its first all-new postwar cars for 1951. The company was profitable and had socked away a good amount of cash. Although its reputation as the ultimate luxury car was rapidly deteriorating— Cadillac's posh barges were capturing the fancy of younger buyers—for many, the Packard name still had a certain magic.
Packard's problems began when the company moved into the medium-price bracket in 1935. Its new One Twenty Series four-door sedan was priced at $1,060— previously, the cheapest Packard sedan was $2,585. The new cars sold like hotcakes, but, because the company didn't create a separate marque name for its lower-priced cars, the Packard brand was devalued. The company compounded the problem with the introduction of the One Ten series, priced down in Pontiac territory. With thousands of ordinary schmoes owning Packards, the brand's cachet was being watered down. A Packard was not necessarily special anymore.
Cadillac had similarly entered the medium-price range for the same reason—to grow its sales volume. But rather than call its cheaper products Cadillacs, the wise men at General Motors used the La Salle name instead. Cadillac remained "The Standard of the World," while La Salle served its role as the volume brand slotted as an "entry-luxury" make.
James Nance realized all this when he took over as head of Packard in 1952 and he quickly laid out plans to fix the problem. In 1953, he provided a bit of separation by splitting the lineup into two groups: Packard and Packard Clipper. The company even used different font sizes in brochures and corporate communications to drive home the point that the two weren't exactly equal. The plan was to eventually drop the "Packard" part of the Packard Clipper moniker for the lowest-priced cars, thus having two distinct brands: the medium-priced Clipper, and the luxury-class Packard. It was a good plan, and exactly what was needed.
A 1955 Packard Clipper Custom with an emphasis on the Clipper badging.
But as they say, execution is vital. Although initially Nance moved quickly as to reintroduce the Clipper name (it had been used in the recent past), his follow-up to that was just a bit too leisurely. He should have made a complete break between the two brands when he had the cars restyled for 1955 by dropping the Packard part of the Clipper name, making Clipper a separate brand. He could have provided more brand separation by retaining the veteran straight-eight engine for the Clippers, while reserving the new V-8 for Packards only. He might have even reserved the new styling just for Packard, leaving Clipper with the older design for another year.
But Nance worried he might alienate Clipper buyers, who were critical to Packard sales volume, and that was a valid concern. The company needed to offer a lower-priced Packard.
In 1955, Packard Clipper prices began at $2,586 for the lowest-priced four-door sedan, climbing to $3,076 for a Constellation hardtop. Packard prices ranged from $4,040 to $5,932. This left a $1,000 gap between the two series.
Image via <a href="https://wildaboutcarsonline.com/cgi-bin/pub9990448202528.cgi?categoryid=9990448202528">The Automotive History Preservation Society</a>.
For 1956, the lowest-priced cars were finally dubbed Clippers, completely separate from the Packard line that now was focused on its very attractive high-priced cars. To bridge the gap between Clipper and Packard, Nance created a new upper-medium car, the Packard Executive, by grafting a Packard front clip onto a Clipper body and chassis. The Executive's $3,465 price (for a four-door sedan) was high enough to justify the Packard brand name, yet low enough to encourage people to make the jump from Clipper to Packard. It was the best move the company could make, all things considered.
However, Nance had waited too long. By the time he got around to separating the two brands and introducing the Executive, time had run out for Packard. If he'd done it in 1955 or, better yet, 1954, it might have made all the difference in the world.
Article courtesy of Hemmings, written by Pat Foster.
Full set of Allegheny Ludlum stainless steel-bodied Fords put up for sale by the company that built them
Photo courtesy Worldwide Auctioneers.
For decades, Allegheny Ludlum and its successor company have held on to the bulk of the 11 stainless-bodied Ford products that resulted from three different collaborations between the two companies. A source of pride for the company and for the Pittsburgh region in general, it seemed that the cars would forever remain in possession of the specialty metals company. However, in the face of a tough economic climate, Allegheny has decided to sell three of the cars, apparently the first time a complete set of the stainless Fords has ever hit the market.
"We didn't make the decision lightly," said Natalie Gillespie, a spokeswoman for Allegheny Technologies Inc. "But we decided it's only appropriate to utilize every lever we have...as we're faced with this extraordinary economic challenge."
Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Allegheny started out 2020 downsizing its salaried workforce "to align cost structures to demand levels," according to its first-quarter shareholders report. With sales down five percent year-over-year and with tougher times ahead due to the pandemic, the company has temporarily idled some of its facilities, cut executive pay by 20 percent, furloughed non-essential workers, and made various other cuts in expenses.
While it didn't seem like the five stainless Fords that Allegheny had held onto until just recently cost much to keep around - they'd been relegated in recent years from regular parade duty to the occasional car show and recruiting fair - the cars also weren't doing much for the company's bottom line. After all, most of its business these days comes from the aerospace, defense, and energy sectors with automotive sales accounting for just 7 percent of its business.
In the Thirties, however, Allegheny envisioned entire cars built from its stainless steel. The company was already supplying Ford with stainless for trim and radiator shells so, as Walt Gosden wrote in Special Interest Autos #60, December 1980, Allegheny took the next logical step of stamping entire bodies out of stainless. Six 1936 Ford Tudor Touring Sedans - which used standard Ford chassis and running gear - resulted, and by the end of the run the tougher stainless had reportedly ruined Ford's dies. Each of the six went to Allegheny district offices around the country and remained on the road as demonstrator vehicles well into the 1940s, by which time the bodies remained intact and in good shape but the chassis had racked up hundreds of thousands of miles and had worn out like any other 1936 Ford with that many miles would.
Postcard photo of three of the Allegheny Ludlum stainless-bodied Fords. Hemmings archive image.
The two companies didn't collaborate again until 1960 when Allegheny stamped body panels, bumpers, grilles, and exhaust systems for two Thunderbird coupes out of T302 stainless and then sent those to Budd for assembly. Then again, six years later, Allegheny and Ford collaborated to build three Lincoln Continental convertibles, two of which went on to receive updates to 1967 Lincoln Continental appearance. According to Gosden, both the Thunderbirds and the Continentals somehow ended up weighing about the same as their production counterparts. (According to Frank Scheidt of the Early Ford V-8 Foundation, the stainless 1936 Ford weighs anywhere from a couple hundred pounds to 500 pounds more than a comparable production 1936 Ford.)
Allegheny made the latter five easy to keep track of: It held on to the two Thunderbirds and two of the three Continentals and eventually bought back the third Continental before the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland obtained one of each.
The six 1936 Fords, however, Allegheny sold off after their use as demonstrators. Allegheny re-purchased two of the six over the years and the Crawford tracked down another to compile the first complete set of the three for public display. A fourth passed through a number of private owners before it was donated to the Early Ford V-8 Museum in 2016. Two remain unaccounted for.
The 1936 Ford that has since been donated to the Early Ford V-8 Museum. Photo by Jeff Koch.
Of the five remaining in Allegheny's possession, the company recently donated one to the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. "It was our way of ensuring that a piece of Allegheny Ludlum's legacy is retained in Pittsburgh," Gillespie said. One of the Lincoln Continentals will remain with Allegheny Technologies, but the three others - one 1936 Ford, one 1960 Thunderbird, and one 1966/1967 Lincoln Continental - will head to auction this fall at the Worldwide Auctioneers Auburn sale.
"They're fantastic," Gillespie said, "but we want to make sure these three are kept and maintained by somebody who loves them."
At what is perhaps the only time any of the 11 stainless cars has previously come up for auction, the 1936 Ford that has since joined the Early Ford V-8 Museum's collection bid up to $550,000 at the 2009 Mecum Monterey sale. Leo Gephardt, the owner of the car at the time, later told Hemmings Classic Car that he valued it at about triple that price.
According to Worldwide, the three will cross the block as one lot with no reserve. Worldwide's Auburn sale is planned to take place September 5. For more information, visit WorldwideAuctioneers.com.
UPDATE (10.September 2020): The trio of stainless cars sold for $1.045 million.
Article courtesy of Hemmings, written by Daniel Strohl.
In the ’60s, American Motors worked to shed its dowdy image with fun and sporty offerings like the Rambler Rogue.
What’s in a name? For little Amerian Motors in 1966, quite a bit. The smallest member of the Detroit four was then busily updating its image from producer of modest and economical granny cars to a full-line auto manufacturer. To signal that it was hip to the times, AMC adopted two sassy and anti-establishment model names for 1966: Rebel and Rogue. (The Rebel badge was first used by the company on a one-year high-performance model. Read about the 1957 Rebel here.)
The Rogue’s first appearance was as a mid-’66 special edition to call attention to the automaker’s newly redesigned 290 cubic-inch V8. (One might never know to look at them, but the first and second-generation AMC V8s share some basic architecture.) Based on the Rambler American 440 two-door hardtop but with an upgraded interior and some badge and trim changes, the Rogue was available only with the new V8 on the first 1,700 vehicles produced, which also sported distinctive two-tone gold paint combinations. After this initial production run, a more complete Rambler American catalog of drivetrain and paint choices was made available, and more than 8,700 Rogues were sold in that first half-year. As things turned out, ’66 would prove be the Rogue’s biggest year.
In 1967 the Rogue lineup was expanded to include a convertible body style, but it was not a big seller (fewer than one thousands units) and was quietly dropped at the end of the model year. A larger 343 CID second-gen V8 was also made available in ’67 (on all Americans, not just the Rogue) but barely a handful of these little monsters were built. More commonly, Rogues were equipped with the 232 CID inline six or the 290 CID V8. Arguably, the pinnacle of the Rogue model line was the ’69 Rambler SC/Rambler, which was not badged as such but was built upon the Rogue package. (More about the SC/Rambler here.) An interesting bit of AMC lore: For 1969 the American name was dropped and the AMC compacts, Rogue included, were marketed simply as Ramblers.
While the Rogue was no Ford Mustang in terms of styling or sales, it was an attractive little pillarless coupe (and briefly, a convertible) with decent equipment and a fun personality. Frankly, we were a little surprised to learn that in its four-year model run, the Rogue sold fewer than 22,000 units. It seems as though the Rogue’s impact on the market was greater than its sales numbers, so in that regard it accompished its mission, we could say. When the venerable Rambler American platform was dropped for 1970 in favor of the Hornet, the Rogue name disappeared as well.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.
Best known as a co-founder, songwriter, singer, and guitarist for the heavy metal band Metallica, James Hetfield has also gained recognition in the automotive world for his unique collection of entirely bespoke vehicles. While the vast majority of collectors acquire vehicles by purchasing pre-existing examples, Hetfield elected instead to build his from scratch, channeling creativity often reserved for his music into the production of rolling sculptures.
While November 3rd might not be the optimal time of year to hold a car show when the Automobile Club of America chose this date to hold their first event, there wasn’t much of a precedent— the year was 1900. The term “automobile” hadn’t caught on yet, so the show was dubbed the “Horseless Carriage Show,” to help folks relate to the up-and-coming mode of transportation. Since the event was being held in New York City, Madison Square Garden was the designated place to hold the event and keep attendees out of the cold.
The week-long event featured goods from fifty-one vendors, thirty-one of which had some form of the new self-propelled carriage to try and sell to the auto’s well-to-do, early adopters. It is estimated that up to 40,000 people attended the auto’s first indoor car show event. Of those trying to move ahead in this highly-vertical sector was Ransom Eli Olds’ prototype for a new body style known as the “runabout.”
The first car show was held at the beginning of the last Century at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The horseless carriage was new and exciting to many. It is reported that up to 40,000 people flocked to see the show.
The Oldsmobile nameplate has established itself in racing and automotive lore throughout history, but did you know that its creator, Ransom Eli Olds, holds other accomplishments beyond the company that bears his name? Before Oldsmobile, the company was called the Olds Motor Works, which through Ransom’s persistence of driving his creations and attending shows such as North America’s first one in 1900, had increased production of their horseless carriage to around 4,000 units a year in just a few short years.
By 1905, Ransom became disenfranchised with investors and left the company to start another. Of course, there was already a company bearing the name Olds, and a quick lawsuit from those who held title to it helped draw the point home with Ransom. He decided to use his initials “REO” to draw from a distant-enough well to avert further legal action.
The REO Motor Car (and truck) Company existed from 1905 through 1975 in various forms, its most famous contribution to pop culture in the form of “REO Speedwagon,” using the title of one of REO’s early trucks as their band’s name.
What’s Olds Is New Again!As is the case with many of the early automotive nameplates from the dawn of the automotive age, Both the REO and Olds monikers were absorbed into larger entities, with REO going the way of heavy haulers and Olds being absorbed into General Motors. And that is where history circles back around to November 3rd, 1911.
Famed French racer, Louis Chevrolet and Flint, Michigan’s William C. “Billy” Durant joined forces in 1911 to form the Chevrolet Motor Car Company. Only years before that, Billy Durant founded and ran what would become the massive General Motors Corporation. After forming GM by numerous acquisitions of companies such as Oakland (Pontiac), Olds (Oldsmobile), Buick, and Cadillac, Billy Durant was tossed from the cash-strapped corporation and looking for another endeavor to scratch his entrepreneurial spirit. The Chevrolet automobile’s sales had increased to a level where Durant could again, leverage his way back into the General Motors board room. By 1916, Billy Durant had purchased enough GM stock to re-establish himself as President of the corporation, a title he would hold until 1920.
What started out as a joint venture between Durant and Chevrolet has withstood the test of time, becoming a world-famous brand which has changed throughout the years, but stayed true to its original intent.
Billy Durant would eventually leave the corporation for the last time, and reportedly spent the remainder of his days in Flint, Michigan, where he tended the grill of his bowling alley/restaurant. The company he founded with the famous French racer still stands as a cornerstone of the world-wide corporation called GM. Holding true to its early values of, “a car for every purse and purpose” has secured Chevrolet as a world leader when other marques (and their founders, such as Durant) have fallen between the dusty pages of the history books.
For over 100 years, car shows and Chevrolets have become major components in the automotive scene. It is interesting to note that while both were officially started years apart, they both have the same birthday this day in history.
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written by Andy Bolig.
The first El Camino from General Motors wasn’t a Chevy pickup but a one-off Cadillac show car created for the 1954 Motorama.
General Motors has gotten plenty of mileage out of the El Camino name over the years, primarily on a familiar series of passenger car-based pickups produced by Chevrolet in 1959-60 and from 1964 to 1987. (The nameplate was inspired by El Camino Real, the King’s Highway, a 600-mile road in Spanish California.) But a few years earlier, the name was first used on a 1954 Cadillac Motorama dream car.
The design of El Camino the first is attributed to Cadillac styling manager Ken Glowacke, leading a team of young stylists that included future GM design star David Holls, and it’s said that Holls was a major contributor to the final design. A rakish, close-coupled two-place coupe, the car foreshadowed a number of styling futures that would soon appear on Cadillac production vehicles.
+ The brushed stainless steel roof panel that later featured on the 1957 El Dorado Brougham.
+ The sharply tailored tailfins, which next turned up on the 1955-56 El Dorado Biarritz Convertible, followed by the rest of the Cadillac line for 1957-58.
+ Quad headlamps, which also were featured on the El Dorado Brougham in 1957, then adopted for all Cadillacs across the board from 1958 on.
The 1954 Motorama tour, which opened at the Waldorf Astoria on January 26, also included a sibling to the El Camino: La Espada, similar in most respects but with some trim variations and constructed in a convertible body style. La Espada is shown above at the luxurious Key Biscayne Hotel in Miami, a popular destination for GM photo shoots in the Harley Earl years.
Like most of the Motorama show cars, El Camino and La Espada were constructed on modified production car chassis with fiberglass bodies. But unlike many of the idea cars from the Motor City in the ’50s, the El Camino was reportedly fully functional and road worthy, sporting a 331 cubic-inch V8 and Hydra-Matic transmission. The eventual fate of the original El Camino has never been officially verified, but after all these years the car is lost and presumed to be destroyed.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.
At the Chrysler Corporation for 1966. the emphasis was on performance and style. Let’s check out the freshly redesigned Plymouth Satellite.
At Chrysler in 1966, the Plymouth division had all the right ingredients to conquer the muscle car category, one could argue, including the brutish 426 CID Street Hemi V8 and the equally beefy Torqueflite 727 automatic and New Process A-883 four-speed manual transmissions. All the carmaker lacked, really, was the proper badging and branding to sell the muscle. The badging would come a little later with the GTX in ’67 and the Road Runner in ’68. But for ’66, Plymouth’s B-body intermediate models were limited to the Belvedere I, Belvedere II, and Belvedere Satellite, with the Satellite perched at the top of the product line.
While the ’66 Satellite was not marketed as a muscle car per se, as we will see, it did feature snazzy vinyl bucket seats and a chrome-covered center console (a floor shifter was optional). Body styles on the 116-inch wheelbase platform included a two-door hardtop and a convertible, while the powertrain options included a 383 CID V8 Commando V8 with 325 hp and the aforementioned 426 Hemi brute. The exterior sheet metal was all new for ’66, too, providing a crisp, clean look that still holds up well. See the ’66 Satellite in closer detail (and relive your awkward teen years) in the original Plymouth spot below.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.