Thursday, January 14, 2016

1948 Packard Super Eight Touring Sedan

"Here's a car that makes distance disappear ... a motor car so agile, so roadworthy, so smoothly spirited that it stirs your imagination and steals your heart. Here's performance ... with the greatest power heritage in all motordom. Performance so spectacular that it almost overshadows the exciting new Free-flow styling and jewel-like luxury of this great motor car. Overnight, the Packard Super Eight has become the most discussed car in the fine car field. By all means, make a detailed inspection of its incomparable values."

A Twenty-Second Series Packard is always an impressive sight, even if it looks fairly ungainly in this unflattering off-white color scheme.

Packard, by then America's most prestigious car manufacturer, steered clear of yearly design changes and instead presented a new model only when it was ready. In lieu of model years, the Packards were since 1920 classified into Series. The Twenty-Second Series of Packard cars, introduced for 1948 and built until 1950, was largely based on the previous Twenty-First Series: to save development costs, Packard president George Christopher commissioned Packard's body supplier Briggs with a redesign of the successful Clipper styling. Briggs chief stylist Al France simply connected front- and rear fender bulges of the Clipper to create a, theoretically, modern "Ponton" body. Practically, the restrictions imposed by the Clipper's curvy basic volumes made the car look quite clumsy. The public soon found connotations like "inverted bathtub" or "pregnant elephant" — an absolute no-go for a sophisticated luxury brand like Packard. Besides, the new "Ponton" look didn't bear any package advancements, as all the added volume was in the bulging doors.

The chrome stripes of the pictured 1948 model still extended right to the wheel arches, as the drill holes, being once the fixing points for the trim, indicate. For 1949 and 1950, these stripes ended shorter at the parking lights. Otherwise, the Packard's styling remained virtually unchanged over three years. Too bad that arch-rival Cadillac introduced three updated designs in the same time. Even if Packard still outsold Cadillac through 1949, the company should soon discover the hard way that even the most conservative clientele wasn't immune to the fashionable styling changes that made Cadillac the shooting star in the 1950s luxury car market. Only a few years later, the Packard brand would have lost its prestigious aura — and its customers — to Cadillac, and dwindle down the path to insignificance.

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