1937-1947 Packard Six

1945-1947 Packard Six

Surely, in 1945, Packard had a choice: Continue with high-volume medium-priced cars or return to exalting what Max Gilman once called "that goddamn senior stuff." What would have happened had Packard come out with a new overhead-valve Twelve? Would it have trumped Cadillac's 1949 ohv V-8, just as the Twin Six had trumped Cadillac in 1916? What about air conditioning?

Packard introduced it in 1940-1941, but didn't resurrect it postwar until 1954. Grande luxe models? Packard had no postwar convertible until 1948, no hardtop until 1951. Its limousine output was pitiful. Cadillac covered all these niches, then dropped the "near-luxury" Sixty-One after 1951.

Packard was flush in 1945. What if the millions of government and company money available for peacetime conversion had been used to structure a leaner plant building freshly styled, all-out luxury cars? Most anything on wheels would have sold in 1946-1949 (and did). Then, when competition returned, Packard still would have been the "Soft-Spoken Boss of the Road."

Such a program would have called for almost divine clairvoyance, not to mention the stomach to resist inevitable howls from thousands of stockholders, employees at East Grand Boulevard, and salesmen at the dealerships. Henry Joy, or Alvan Macauley in his prime, might have been up to it.

And it probably would have worked, If nothing else, it could have made Packard a highly desirable property for a merged independent or one of the Big Three. (Ford and Chrysler were approached, but only after the rot was far advanced.)

Granted, this wasn't the Mercedes-Benz game plan (though generations were accustomed to Mercedes taxis, trucks, and buses). But it sure worked for Rolls-Royce.

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