1940 Packard Super Eight One Sixty Convertible 4-door Sedan
Owners: Bernie and Janice Taulborg Collection
Original price: $2,050.00 (In 1940: average car cost $825; average household income: $1,725; average home cost $3,920; gallon of gas cost 18 cents)
Number made: 5,662 (all nine 160 Series styles, model year production)
Engine, etc.: Super Eight 160, Model 1803, 5-passenger, Body 1377; L-head straight eight, 356 cu. in., 160 hp; 127 in. wheelbase; 3,990 lbs.
By the late 1930’s Packard Motor Car Company faced a dilemma. The new Junior Series had grown in popularity while the Senior Series cars languished because of their higher price. Under the direction of George Christopher, the company decided to create even more of a price difference between the two lines. Prices went from less than $700 to over $6,000 for the top-of-the line 180 series. Both series had the 160 hp engines which were powerful enough to carry the large bodies. The One Sixty’s were highly desirable and the open styles generated the greatest interest and commanded the highest prices.
The 160 series was set apart visually by hubcaps and hood louvers. The line also had a “flying lady” Goddess of Speed mascot. It was Packard’s top-of-the-line open car and was equipped with a three-speed transmission with overdrive. The shifter went from the floor to the steering column in 1940 and was called the “Handishift”. It became notorious for sticking in gear.
In 1940 Packard introduced the sealed-beam headlamp and fender-mounted parking lamps. The 1940 Packard was the industry’s first production model to offer air conditioning, the most significant new feature, and considered revolutionary in the automotive industry. “Cooled by Mechanical Refrigeration in Summer” was the phrase used in Packard advertising. Another innovation in 1940 was the introduction of a plastic instrument panel. While it looked elegant when new, the dashboards soon began to discolor and warp from exposure to sunlight and heat. In time, most instrument panels began to dry out and crack.
Packard used various custom (bespoke) coachbuilders. One was Bohman and Schwartz of Pasadena, Calif. that customized the cars. (The 1940 Packard in the Classic Car Collection was built by Bohman and Schwartz.). Packard was one of only a handful of coachbuilt cars produced in the early 1940’s.
Packard introduced the Eight in 1924 and it was the first Packard to use four-wheel brakes.
James Ward Packard had complaints about his Winton automobile and challenged Alexander Winton to build a better car. So he did. Packard ran his first automobile in 1899 and, with his brother and two other men, founded the Ohio Automobile Company, selling Packard automobiles in 1900. It became Packard Motor Car Company in 1902. They introduced a number of innovations including the modern steering wheel, which helped Packard become a favorite among the wealthy.
A popular story reported on a letter received by James Packard. The potential customer asked about the dependability of his cars. Having no time to respond to the letter, he told his secretary to tell the gentleman to “Ask the man who owns one.” The slogan was first used in an advertisement in Motor Age on October 31, 1901 and became one of the most famous to originate in America.
The last Packard produced was on June 25, 1956.
Packard, Dennis Adler, Motorbooks International, 2004 https://books.google.com/books?id=9VByLctg5UAC&pg=PA4&lpg=PA4&dq=packard+dennis+adler+motorbooks+international&source=bl&ots=cO9sgI6xl4&sig=MmKOxyfjWeLsJ1fRyKdYj5wqB3M&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiHwKap7-bLAhVIqx4KHQVXDxAQ6AEIMTAE#v=onepage&q=packard%20dennis%20adler%20motorbooks%20international&f=false (Selected pages from this book)
See also: http://oldcarbrochures.com/new/021110/1940%20Packard%20Prestige/dirindex.html (Original sales brochure)