The “End” Of Packard; More From The AACA Museum

Thanks to 56packardman for making the effort to post a link to yesterday’s Disaffected Musings entry on the Studebaker Drivers Club forum and thanks to the avid followers of that forum for clicking on the link in such numbers that the number of views yesterday was the highest in over a month. (Yes, that’s a run-on sentence.) As is my penchant and one of my weaknesses I can’t resist poking the world in the eye with a stick; I think that the number of blog views for yesterday should be at the low end of the usual range for this blog and not the high end.


On this day in 1956 the last Detroit-built Packards rolled off the assembly line. From Packard: A History Of The Motor Car And The Company edited by the late, great Beverly Rae Kimes, “On that sad day, June 25th, 1956, twenty-four Clippers and eighteen Packards were run through the body shop and completed. Altogether, there had been 28,835 cars built for the 1956 model year—18,482 Clippers, 10,353 Packards.”

The “official” end of Packard in Detroit came on July 25th when Roy Hurley, President of Curtiss-Wright which had taken de facto control of Studebaker-Packard through a management agreement (that, technically, wasn’t approved by the Studebaker-Packard board until the next day), announced that he intended to recommend the continuation of the automobile manufacturing part of the Studebaker-Packard business, but only in South Bend, Indiana—the Studebaker headquarters. The next day upon formal approval of the agreement with Curtiss-Wright, James Nance, President and General Manager of Packard, and Paul Hoffman, Chairman (he had also been President of Studebaker from 1935 to 1948), resigned. Studebaker-Packard faced the end of operations if the board hadn’t approved the agreement.

How much blame Nance bears for the end of Packard is another topic for another day. 56packardman is free to offer his opinion on the subject as is anyone else reading.



A picture of a 1955 Packard Caribbean convertible that I took during our recent trip to the AACA Museum.

I dare anyone to tell me why this next car looks dated. To me it doesn’t look much different from its contemporaries at The Big Three.



This is a 1964 Studebaker Daytona convertible of which only 703 were made. I don’t remember if this car is owned by the AACA Museum or on loan. I discovered that the museum does sell 3-4 cars a year. Their basic donation agreement stipulates only that they must keep the car for a minimum of three years.

I have asked this question before, but what is the source of my obsession with defunct American car companies? I really don’t know so I am willing to read any answers you might offer.









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7 thoughts on “The “End” Of Packard; More From The AACA Museum

  1. Thank you for marking the end of Packard operations in Detroit with your post today. The final car to come off the assembly line that day was a Packard Patrician, VIN 5682-4775. The fate of that car is unknown.

    Nance was dealt a bad hand. I am not aware of any other executive in any industry who was hit almost simultaneously with so many issues over which he had little or no control. Had just any one of those things not happened, I have long been of the opinion that Nance’s efforts to restore Packard as America’s premier luxury car builder would have paid off.

    I have always thought Nance was just the tonic Packard needed but I also recognize he wasn’t perfect. I believe that his biggest single mistake was the one that (more than the other issues Nance had to confront) led to Packard’s demise was the decision to move production from East Grand Boulevard to the former Briggs body plant on Conner Avenue. That plant was never intended when it was built to be a full production facility. That subject could be an entire blog post by itself, so I will stop with that.


    1. Thank you, 56packardman. Your expert comment is very much appreciated.

      Sometimes people suffer from delusions of grandeur and think they are more powerful than the universe. I am not saying Nance was like that, but sometimes (and I mean sometimes) a person ends up in a bad situation due primarily to forces beyond their control. This is why I am incensed when I hear people say that everyone gets what they deserve. That is just total bullshit.


  2. I remember being at my maternal grandparents’ home in Tulia, TX and hearing the news over the radio, station KGNC, Amarillo. I was 9 years old and already a “Gear Head” and a confirmed Packard “nut”. My grandfather had rescued a 1937 Packard 120 coupe from a barn on a farm outside of town. It sat in their driveway. I was crying because Packard was closing. I gathered some rags and a can of Simonize car wax and went out and started waxing my grandfather’s Packard while bawling my eyes out.


  3. I’ve written here before about Connor, I believe as the only assembly plant in Detroit to replace East Grand Blvd it couldn’t work. As a Clipper assembly plant with the Senior stuff at East Grand it would have worked. As for Nance, I believe he was on the right track. The Utica facilities were first class, with the Senior line in East Grand and a volume Clipper line at Connor, they could have been able to pump out 100,000 units a year +or- and have done fine. The Studebaker thing was the kiss of death, and of course the C-W “agreement” just iced the end.


    1. Many thanks, Michael. Unfortunately, the past is the past and can’t be changed. Even if, somehow, the Packard make were revived it wouldn’t and couldn’t be the same. By the way, very few people actually learn anything from history. Most people say, “This time it will be different.”

      I think those who vilify Nance (I am not among them) simply need a scapegoat and are engaging in an impossible distillation of reality. All we can do, I think, is to enjoy the cars that remain. I may very well buy an Executive at some point in the future.

      Please feel free to visit and to comment often.


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