Curtis Perry Outtake: 1948-1950 Packard – Toxic Vanilla Pudding

This is not a vanilla pudding from a mold; it’s a genuine Packard. And a deadly one, at that. I’m not sure of its exact year, but it’s from that time frame. It’s a car we haven’t yet paid tribute to in our CC style, so here’s the extremely short version:

In 1941, Packard wowed the world with its new Clipper, styled by Dutch Darrin in 10 days. It was met so positively, that for 1942, all Packards wore Clipper-inspired styling. Packard had found its new look.

The Clipper is a gem; although undoubtedly inspired by Bill Mitchell’s 1938 Cadillac 60 Special, it was hardly a copy, as it pushed the state of the art up again by several notches. Elegant, and managing to be both lithe and formal.

In 1946 and 1947, like most of the industry, the prewar cars resumed production. But like everyone else, Packard needed a new post war car. Instead of biting the bullet and investing in a totally new car, like the competition, Packard’s conservative management decided to keep the old body for three more years, since the tooling was not yet fully amortized. So the Packard stylists packed on the pounds; 200 lbs of bulging hips, to be precise, in an effort to modernize the Clipper. Needless to say, it was a bust, especially against the new 1948 Cadillac. It was dubbed the “pregnant elephant”.

Packard lovers endless debate about what killed Packard; most commonly it’s the decision to go down market with the 120/110 in the 1930s. I strongly disagree, as that was essential in the Depression era. This is Packard’s Deadly Sin. Packard was flush enough after the war to have come up with a new post war car. Failing to do so handed the baton to Cadillac, which never looked back.