“For those who love speed coupled with utility features of general motoring, Packard builds its Speedsters. Perhaps it is the inherent flow of speed joined to the swift grace of smooth design that suggests these interesting body treatments. But Speedsters they all are, from test car to Runabout. For those who thrill to the maximum speed of an open car on an open road.” —Packard Motor Car Company
Performance may be described as “comfortable.” Zero to 60 must take 20 seconds, and we've not pushed her over 70. But at 60, 1950 Eight is just cruising. Gas mileage averages about 15 mpg. But hey, remember, this is 1950, and gas is only 15 cents a gallon. (A fun feature at gas stations: Packard’s “whistling gas tank” stops whistling when you’re nearing full, captivating locals. Nothing like that on an Audi A6.)
In reality, Packard’s crucial mistakes were made years before. After the war, when a company could sell anything on wheels, Packard could have reverted to type, rebuilding its reputation as a luxury automaker. Instead it pursued the lower-priced markets that had saved it in the Depression. Stemming from this marketing mistake was a series of product decisions that flew in the face of Packard’s proud heritage.
James J. Nance's efforts to supplement the Patrician with more luxury Packards paid off in 1953—a testimonial to his determination. Advertising assumed a decided up-market look, and the results were agreeable. Calendar ’53 saw 81,000 cars, up by a third and the best since 1950. Sofari sogoody, as Churchill once said. But what next?
Clarence B. “Bud” Juneau, the Packard Club’s longtime Vice President for publications, passed away March 25th, leaving his many friends bereft. This was my contribution to a special edition of The Packard Cormorant, Fourth Quarter 2021, published in his honor. —RML
Memories of Bud
Bud Juneau gave me my first real job. I don’t mean “work,” the things we do for some entity which pays us. I mean what we do individually, hoping for pay and solely responsible for success or failure. For me, this began with Bud.
Today its old yellowed pages are an infinitesimal microcosm of what was a great company at the height of success, more valuable than the sterile if luxurious sales brochures. The last page of the last issue showed a majestic Deluxe Eight, pictured front-on, a testimonial to Packard integrity. Beneath it was a two-line statement that summarized the work of those who had created the finest automotive house organ in history: “This magazine reaches you as another evidence of our interest in your Packard ownership.’’
The Q&A column ended with a confessional: "After this severe mental strain the Query Editor is working on the higher mathematics and differential calculus as a mild form of relaxation." And that was the whole idea, wasn't it? The Packard was a celebration—of all that was best in a young, dynamic company. The grand marque couldn't have had a better champion.
Don Weber of San Antonio, a sterling gentleman of the old school, died December 10th at the age of 90. Those who miss him may like to leave a few words on his permanent legacy page. There you will also find details of his extraordinary life.
In Don Weber’s memory, we thought it would be a nice thing to reprint my article on storming Pikes Peak in his 1914 Packard Six Model 1448 on the 1976 Glidden Tour. It first appeared in my sixth issue as editor of The Packard Cormorant, Spring 1977.…