Packard 200

Packard 200
Packard 200
The Packard 200 was produced from 1951 through 1952 and was the company's entry-level vehicle at the time. The car rested on a short 122-inch wheelbase and was powered by a 327 cubic-inch eight-cylinder engine that produced 135 horsepower. The Series 250 was very similar, except it was powered by a 327 cubic-inch eight-cylinder engine that raised horsepower to 150.

The Packard 200 was available as a two-door Business Coupe, two-door club sedan, and a four-door, six-passenger sedan. Prices ranged from $2300 through $2470 on the Standard Series. A Deluxe Line was available which added chrome wheel rings and turn indicators. Body styles available included a four-door sedan and two-door Club Sedan.

These entry-level Packard's were similar in design to the larger, 127-inch wheelbase, Packard 300, and Packard Patrician 400. The larger cars had a cormorant hood ornament and horizontal taillights while the junior series had vertical taillights.

Standard equipment on the Series 200 was a spare tire and jack set, front and rear bumper guards, dual horns, and two sun visors. Optional equipment included full-wheel covers and white-wall tires.

The Packard 200 and 250 models were later replaced/renamed as the Clipper Special and Clipper Deluxe. James J. Nance had been responsible for this change in an effort to spin-off a new company that would focus on these junior-level cars. This would regain the Packard name as a producer of luxury, sophisticated, and elegant automobiles. Not to say that the 200 and 250 did not live up to the Packard reputation, but it did dilute the exclusivity of the Packard brand.
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2007'Ask the man who owns one'. It was a time when the definition of automobile luxury was far different from what it is today. A time when the focus was on reliability, mechanical quality and refinement, and the Packard was highly valued. Though an important factor, size, and comfort, definitely weren't the deciding factory when it came to choosing an automobile for the distinguished Packard owner.

Introduced in 1951, the Packard 200 was a model range produced by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan. The least expensive Packard model range and the entry-level vehicle at the time, the 200 drove in on the shortest Packard wheelbase, 122 inches. The 200 range was powered by the least powerful 288 cubic inches (4.7 L) 8-cylinder in-line engine. The Packard 250 shared the same basic body and wheelbase as the 200 but was equipped with Packard's larger 327 cubic inches (5.4 L) 8-cylinder in-line engine producing 135 horsepower.

The Packard 200 and 250 range were introduced as the least expensive model range offering from the Packard line in 1951 and both ranges were very similar except the Series 250 was powered by a 327 cubic-inch eight-cylinder engine that bumped up horsepower to 150. They took the place of the low-line Packard Standard models, which were deleted for the 1951 model year. In March of 1951, the 250 model range was introduced in an effort to fill the gap left in the Packard range without a hardtop or convertible in its 1951 range. The 250 models featured nicer trim and fabrics on the inside and three jet-louvers on the rear quarter panels.

The designer behind the 200 line was John Reinhart who received acclaim for his 'High Pockets' design that replaced the bulbous '48-'50 Packard models in the 22nd and 23rd Packard Series. This design would continue until the end of 1956 when Packard production ended. Considered 'junior' series cars, both the 200 and 250 range were separate from the Packard 300 and Packard Patrician 400 models and easily distinguished by their shorter wheelbases and much more basic trim.

The 200 base models were introduced as a four-door six-passenger sedan, two-door Business coupé, two-door club sedan and a three-passenger business coupé (without a rear seat). The junior Packard's were twins to their big brothers except for the distinguished company cormorant hood ornament, and vertical taillights instead of the normal horizontal units on the senior models. Senior models also had a wrap-around rear windows that junior models didn't.

The Packard 200 range came standard with front and rear bumper guards, spare tire and jack set, dual horns and two sun visors. Full-wheel covers and white-wall tires were optional on the series. Other optional equipment was typical industry extras during the late 1960s like radio, tinted glass, heater and carpeting. In 1951 Packard became the first carmaker company to offer power brakes, 'Easamatic' which was a Packard exclusive and a product of Bendix. The Standard Series was priced starting at $2,300 and ranged to $2,470. Packard offered a Deluxe Line that featured chrome wheel rings and turn indicators. Available body styles were the two-door Club Sedan and a four-door sedan.

In 1951 Packard's total sales were more than 100,000 units, with a total of 24,310 of these being the 200 Standard range, and 47,052 units the 200 Deluxe range. In 1952 not many updates were made except for the necessary annual trim updates. The Business Coupé was deleted this year in a move made by several other U.S. automakers at the time. A total of 39,720 Standard 200 units and 7,000 200 Deluxe models were sold in 1952.

During this time the low-line models were surpassing the Senior Packard's, which had previously ruled the lineup during the '20s and '30s. It didn't help that the Senior line was only available as two models, the 300 and the Patrician 400, which were both only available in a single body type, the four-door sedan. In an attempt to pacify customers, dealers were quick to sell the Packard 300 and Patrician 400 model trim and applying it to lesser Packard 200 and 250 models. This robbed the Senior Packard models of their exclusivity and higher price range.

The Packard Motor Company employed James J. Nance, the CEO of Hotpoint to fix this issue and rebrand the company as an automotive frontrunner as sales were slumping badly by 1952. Nance remedied this by renaming the entire range of models and dropped the numeric model designations. Other tricks that he used included remodeling the Senior line by adding broader visual cues and trim to differentiate the range from the lesser models. In an attempt at revitalizing the Packard brand Nance began creating different specialty and show cars for the automatic public and a retreat from the low end of the range and rather focus on competing with the higher end Cadillac's.

During the designation change period, the 200 and 250 models were renamed the Packard Clipper Special and Clipper Deluxe. Nance envisioned a spin-off of the cars into their own line, the Clipper, which would hopefully return the Packard Company to an exclusive maker of elegant luxury vehicles once again.

Models in 1955 featured more flair and chrome along with an all-new OHV V8 engine that was closer to the competition. The new models featured the first active suspension, a radical 'Torsion-Level' suspension option that put Packard in the lead as a strong contender. The lower-priced Clipper became a separate brand from Packard in 1956. Unfortunately sales dropped drastically by 1956 and the Packard line had reached the end of its run.


By Jessica Donaldson