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Packard Clipper

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Clipper
Vehicle Model

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Wikipedia: Packard Clipper

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History
Photographs
Documents
1955 Specifications
A car produced by Packard.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Packard Clipper page on 6 May 2018, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Packard Clipper is an automobile which was built by the Packard Motor Car Company (and by the later Studebaker-Packard Corporation) for models years 1941 to 1942, 1946 to 1947 and 1953 to 1957. For 1956 only, Clipper was classified as a stand-alone marque. The Clipper was introduced in April, 1941, as a mid-model year entry. It was available only as a four-door sedan. The Clipper name was reintroduced in 1953 for the automaker's lowest-priced lineup. By 1955, the Clipper models were seen as diluting Packard's marketing as a luxury automobile marque. It was named for a type of sailing ship, called a clipper.

For only the 1956 model year, the Clipper became a stand-alone make of automobile produced by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation. The Clipper lineup was aimed at the middle-price field of American automobiles that included DeSoto, Oldsmobile, and Mercury. Following the closure of Packard's Detroit, Michigan factory in 1956, the Clipper marque was discontinued, although the Clipper name was applied to 1957 Packards that were built at Studebaker's South Bend, Indiana, factory.

By the end of the 1930s, Packard president Max M. Gilman realized that his best efforts to improve profitability during the last lean decade had not been enough. The Packard One-Twenty had arrived in 1935 and saved the company from immediate demise; the One-Ten had followed, achieving even higher volume. But despite a strong performance in revival year 1937, Packard sales had plummeted as the depression returned in 1938, and the 76,000 sales for the calendar year 1939 were hardly past the break-even point. To be precise, they netted the company a scant half million dollars. This precarious financial state combined with the new model developments among Packard's rivals, GM's LaSalle and the Lincoln-Zephyr, meant that Mr. Gilman needed something radically new, and that he needed it in a hurry if he wanted to save the company.

Introduced just eight months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Packard's hopes for the future rode on the new car design. The Packard Clipper represented a break from traditional styling and embodied an abrupt change in construction techniques. However, World War II intervened. It made the investment to produce one of the only all-new 1941 American cars impossible to realize in a normal marketplace.

The Clipper's market timing could not have been worse. After only 16,600 of the 1941 models were made, and a few thousand 1942s, Detroit stopped building civilian automobiles to concentrate on defense production. By the time cars began rolling off the lines again in late 1945, the still sleek Clipper's impact had been diminished by four years of war. The bright promise of its debut was limited by late introduction; what should have been its solid sophomore year was weakened by World War II. Its third and fourth years were postponed until 1946–47. Though Packard designer John Reinhart and other Company insiders wanted to retain and "sweeten (in Reinhart's word)" the Clipper's svelte lines, Packard management felt pressured by new postwar designs throughout the industry, introducing the mixed review "bathtub" or "pregnant elephant" 1948–50 Packards.

There were only two other auto makers that introduced all-new 1941 models which were stopped short by the American entry into World War II and thus rendered obsolete before their time. Besides Packard, Ford brought out a much changed design for the 1941 model year — the restyled Ford and its Mercury clone. Nash also produced all-new 1941 models, using monocoque "unitized" construction for the first time. General Motors redesigned for 1942, arguably a piece of bad timing even worse than Packard's, but the 1942s were so relatively few in number that they still looked reasonably new when GM resumed automotive production in 1946. The Ford/Mercury comparison is not apt either, primarily because these were quite different cars from Packards, with no pretence of luxury. Nor did their design history mirror the Clipper's. The 1941 Fords and Mercurys were evolutionary developments, clearly related to the 1940s they replaced. The Clipper was such a dramatic break with previous Packard design as to preclude comparisons.

After the war, while Packard opted to improve the Clipper, Ford chose a total restyle for Ford and Mercury in 1949. And, while the bulbous 1941–48 Fords, Mercurys and Nashes were replaced by superior modern designs, the elegant Clipper was replaced by a bulbous 1948 upgrade that, while well received in its initial year, aged quickly in comparison with the new models from the Big 3 and Nash. It is not entirely coincidental that a 1949 Mercury Eight which had cost $2,000 new was still worth $430 five years later, while a 1949 Packard Eight which had cost $2,200 new was worth only $375. Motor Trend's Tom McCahill, who had raved about the Packard Clipper, called the 1948 Packard "a goat."

The Clipper's timing was unfortunate. The state of the world being beyond Packard's control, Clipper production came to a halt February 9, 1942, just as it was hitting its stride—just as Clipper styling had spread through the entire Packard model lineup.


Documents

DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
1942Suggestions for the Operation of Your Packard Clipper
Source

PDF
- 8.3MB - 24 pages


Photographs

1954 Packard Clipper 1954
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
2018 Gilberts Spring Car Show
View photo of 1954 Packard Clipper - 2.1MB
1954 Packard Clipper 1954
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
2018 Gilberts Spring Car Show
View photo of 1954 Packard Clipper - 1.9MB
1954 Packard Clipper 1954
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
2018 Gilberts Spring Car Show
View photo of 1954 Packard Clipper - 3.7MB
1954 Packard Clipper 1954
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
2018 Gilberts Spring Car Show
View photo of 1954 Packard Clipper - 1.5MB
1954 Packard Clipper 1954
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
2018 Gilberts Spring Car Show
View photo of 1954 Packard Clipper - 3.2MB
1957 Packard Clipper 1957
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Crandall's Breakfast Cruise and Car Show
July 27, 2008
View photo of 1957 Packard Clipper - 3,677KB
1957 Packard Clipper 1957
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Crandall's Breakfast Cruise and Car Show
July 27, 2008
View photo of 1957 Packard Clipper - 3,297KB
1957 Packard Clipper 1957
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Crandall's Breakfast Cruise and Car Show
July 27, 2008
View photo of 1957 Packard Clipper - 3,918KB
1957 Packard Clipper 1957
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Crandall's Breakfast Cruise and Car Show
July 27, 2008
View photo of 1957 Packard Clipper - 3,241KB
1957 Packard Clipper 1957
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Crandall's Breakfast Cruise and Car Show
July 27, 2008
View photo of 1957 Packard Clipper - 4,138KB
1957 Packard Clipper 1957
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Crandall's Breakfast Cruise and Car Show
July 27, 2008
View photo of 1957 Packard Clipper - 3,370KB
1957 Packard Clipper 1957
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Crandall's Breakfast Cruise and Car Show
July 27, 2008
View photo of 1957 Packard Clipper - 3,169KB
1957 Packard Clipper 1957
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Crandall's Breakfast Cruise and Car Show
July 27, 2008
View photo of 1957 Packard Clipper - 3,450KB
1957 Packard Clipper 1957
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Crandall's Breakfast Cruise and Car Show
July 27, 2008
View photo of 1957 Packard Clipper - 4,294KB
1957 Packard Clipper 1957
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Crandall's Breakfast Cruise and Car Show
July 27, 2008
View photo of 1957 Packard Clipper - 3,806KB
1957 Packard Clipper 1957
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Crandall's Breakfast Cruise and Car Show
July 27, 2008
View photo of 1957 Packard Clipper - 2,584KB
1957 Packard Clipper 1957
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Crandall's Breakfast Cruise and Car Show
July 27, 2008
View photo of 1957 Packard Clipper - 3,682KB
Packard Clipper Photo ©2003 Heidi Walczak
June 12, 2003
View photo of Packard Clipper - 429KB


1955 Specifications

Body StyleFour-Door Sedan
Exterior Dimensions
Length215"
Width78"
Height62"
Wheelbase122"
Engine
TypeV-8
Displacement352 cu. in.
Bore & Stroke4.00" x 3.50"
Compression Ratio8.5:1
ValvetrainOverhead Valve (OHV)
Horsepower (Advertised)245hp @ 4600 rpm
Torque (Advertised)355 lb.-ft. @ 2400-2800 rpm
Transmission & Final Drive
Axle Ratio3.23
Engine Revolutions Per Mile (High Gear)2361
Piston Travel Per Mile (High Gear)1377'
Suspension & Steering
Turning Circle, Wall-to-Wall45'
Ground Clearance6.1"
Brakes, Wheels & Tires
Tires7.60x15in.
Weights & Capacities
Curb Weight4305 lbs.
Weight Distribution45% rear
Performance
0-60 mph12.1 seconds*
45-65 mph7.4 seconds*
Quarter Mile19.0 seconds*
30-40 mph on 9% grade3.2 seconds*
30-50 mph on 9% grade7.9 seconds*
30-60 mph on 9% grade16.1 seconds*
Maximum Speed on 9% grade64mph*
Economy
At 30mph19.2 mpg*
At 40mph18.3 mpg*
At 50mph16.8 mpg*
At 60mph15.2 mpg*
Consumer Reports Simulated Traffic Test8.3 mpg*
Oil Consumption (after break-in)500 miles/quart*
*=As tested by Consumer Reports

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