Packard's series of Fifties two-seaters, the Panthers and Pan Americans, were strongly encouraged by a nepotist appointee of the chairman of the board: Alvan Macauley's son, Edward. Nepotism is a bad policy for running governments or corporations, and it's particularly dangerous in the car business. With automobiles, as Joe Frazer once put it, "there's so much money going out the window every day that if you're not careful, you'll lose your shirt."
But they really didn't cost the company its shirt because they were, at best, a sideshow. Packard folk haven't much credited Ed Macauley for them, as they were largely the work of professional stylists and engineers. Nevertheless, without his enthusiasm, they probably would never have been built.
Alvan Macauley's presidency and board chairmanship dominated the great luxury-car producer through its grandest years, from the big Six of 1912 through the Twin Six of 1915, and on into the Classic era of the late Twenties and 1930s. He retired, a scion of Detroit, in 1948.
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Born into this milieu, son Edward grew up surrounded by such magnificent machines -- the veritable wonders of their age -- along with a spate of go-faster types that Packard warmly supported in its glory years. He had known the likes of Barney Oldfield and Ralph DePalma, and had admired the fast specials built with their encouragement by company chief engineer Jesse Vincent. He was also on close terms with Packard's various coachbuilders.
With all this, it was only natural that Ed Macauley would go to work for his father's firm. He first served as a salesman for the diesel engine department. Then, in January 1932, his father appointed him head of the newly formed Styling Division. Here he would remain, ostensibly in overall charge, through 1955.
"He was no designer," Ray Dietrich recalled. "He was a playboy." (This sharp attitude may have had something to do with Dietrich's not being retained as a Packard consultant after his ouster from Dietrich Inc.) But Ray Dietrich was one of the few designers who had anything negative to say about young Ed. Most of his colleagues respected him because, like many a great leader, he never overrode the final opinion of his professionals.
In Packard: A History of the Motorcar and the Company, contributing author George Hamlin described Ed Macauley as "a fine coordinator and administrator, a good manager...He had a good 'eye' for design, and was personally responsible for Packard's offering some of the finest custom bodies during the Thirties. He knew, and insisted upon, quality...was universally liked...and was always referred to as a gentleman in a field not noted for a preponderance of same."
Ed's most important accomplishment, wrote C.A. Leslie in the same book, was to "unify Packard body styling. Previously, there was no correlation between open, closed or convertible designs...Macauley [changed] all this, and eventually coordinated Packard's body styling so that phaeton, convertible, sedan or town car would each contain the same design elements."
Once installed at Packard Styling, Ed quickly appointed Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky as a consultant. With the Count's help he fashioned a number of personal specials, and developed the line of speedsters that came to define the Classic sporty Packard in their day. Though Macauley played more of a background role after the war, the first car called "Panther" was indubitably his own.
On the next page, learn about the design process for the Packard Panther.For more information on cars, see: