Packard automobile was a luxury brand produced by Packard Motor Car Company from Detroit and later by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation. The first models were produced in 1899 and the last Packard in the late 50s. Packard was founded by James Ward Packard, William Doud Packard, his brother and by George Lewis Weiss. The company plant was considered the most modern manufacturing facility in the world. With prices starting at $2,600, the marque targeted wealthy buyers in the U.S. and overseas.
Although the stock market dramatically crashed in the 20s, Packard was still in a good financial health after many years of dominance over the industry. However, the company leaders were concerned about the impact of the crisis on sales, so they doubled their efforts and produced Twin Six, a new Packard automobile generation. The Twelve remains the signature of the Classic Automobile Era, because of its evolved chassis and detailed lines.
In attempt to keep the brand alive for the car-buying public, the company built 7 dream cars during the 50s. The Pan American designed in 1952 led to the development of the Panther and Caribbean concepts in 1954. A car with a hardtop prototype and a reverse slant rear window that could be lowered called Balboa followed the Panther. This feature was also introduced in Mercury, a Packard automobile produced in 1957. The Request concept car featured a classic upright Packard fluted grille and the 1955 Four Hundred hardtop. Only ten models were built and four sold to showrooms.
The Predictor was the last concept car designed by Ghia of Turin in 1957 under Packard design chief Bill Schmidt. The hardtop design is based on the 1957 platform. Moreover, the Packard automobile had many unusual features, including seats that rotated out to allow an easy access, a roof section that opened by activating a switch or opening a door, opera windows and overhead switches, a design that that followed the hood lines, centering dials. Because of the retractable rear-window and sliding roof-panels, the ventilation was similar to one in a convertible. The roof panels, windows and decklid were operated by electric servos. Reading all these specifications it seems like you’re reading some 2014 car reviews, isn’t it? Well, the Packard was very expensive even then, and one might add that all these electric and technological elements didn’t add much to the safety features of a car. But since nowadays there are manufacturers which make new automobiles with vintage carcasses, perhaps in the nearby 2014 car reviews we’ll be reading about a Packard with all the right details
Turin created features that aimed to impress the Packard clients, such as hidden headlights behind clamshell doors, ribbed bodyside mouldings, look-through-tail-fins and a vertical grille. The Packard automobile had a push-button automatic transmission introduced by the manufacturer in 1954 and was powered by a 300-hp V8 engine. Although the car was fully drivable, activating the servos caused a short circuit followed by clouds of smoke, a problem that would have been fixed for production models.
Despite the fact that this Packard automobile concept was ahead of its time and predicted future trends, the doom of the company was predicted by financial analysts. The dream Predictor still survives at the Studebaker National Museum, where it is on display.