By Rod Ward
In its heyday a Packard was an esteemed luxury car built by hand to the highest standards, and it became one of the top three American car marques, in its early years as one of the three posh Ps (Peerless, Pierce-Arrow, Packard) and between the wars it ranked alongside Cadillac and Lincoln. In 1927 three times as many Packards were sold as Cadillacs; a Packard signified power and glamour. Buyers included US Presidents and the cream of American high society; Rockefeller, Morgan, Vanderbilt and the rest. Unfortunately a Packard was also the getaway car of choice for gangsters and murderers, which made the cars less attractive to high society. But then the marque was discovered by Hollywood, and a Packard was often seen with a movie star at the wheel. By the mid-1930s, the era of the big flash car was over, and Packard had to introduce medium-price cars. The company was struggling, but it was saved by wartime contracts for aero engines and marine engines. The Clipper, introduced just before the war, was revived in peacetime, but Packard went into a downward spiral postwar, then it amalgamated with Studebaker in 1954. This story is driven by a number of charismatic personalities; James Ward Packard of course, plus Henry Joy, Alvan Macauley, Jesse Vincent and others. Sadly, in its last years nothing could save Packard, and 1958 was the last time the famous badge was seen, just 60 years after the first Packard car was made.