Packard is an American brand of luxury cars built between 1899 and 1958. The company was founded by two brothers, James Ward and William Packard, accompanied by George Lewis Weiss in Warren, Ohio. At that time the Winton Motor Carriage Company developed an automobile prototype (horseless carriage) and James Packard, who was skilled in mechanical engineering, had a strong motivation to create a better vehicle than Winton’s. His perseverance resulted in both, the first car completed on November 6, 1899, and with financial capital from investors who were highly impressed by Packard’s invention.
From the early models which cost over $2,600, Packard meant to compete with exclusive foreign brands such as Mercedes Benz or Rolls-Royce, not with locally manufactured vehicles for $500 or less, and, as a result, the brand was perceived as lavish and luxurious. They also were the first cars to drive using Ride Control, a hydraulic shock absorbing adjustment in suspension for uneven road condition. Packard mobiles were driven even by the royal family in Japan.
In 1935, the company broadened the production lines with less expensive cars, so called Juniors, to meet the needs of the market during the Great Depression. In 1942 Packard focused entirely on building airplane and marine engines for wartime contracts. After the war, in 1945, the company continued the lines of Juniors but the Senior series were not re-established. During the following years, the buyers of high-end cars loyal to Packard before the war could not find new models there and low-priced Juniors could not fill the gap.
Packard tried to win the customers’ attention one more time in 1951 when major changes in design were introduced with models 250, 300 and 400, but the engines were weaker than the ones originally planned for them and that move disappointed buyers well acquainted with what Packard brand used to represent. In 1952 the company tried to regain the esteem with a new president on board and a new policy to build exclusively luxury cars like in old days, and later by buying another automobile company, Studebaker, but eventually, in 1958 Packard discontinued the car production.