Packard was one of the oldest car companies in America, with the first Packard built in 1899. The company began life as the Ohio Automobile Company based in Warren, Ohio, and became the Packard Motor Car Company in 1902. In 1903 the company moved to Detroit. The early cars were powered by large displacement six-cylinder engines until Packard introduced a V-8 in 1915. Packard's response in 1916 with the Twin-Six which would remain in production until 1924 when it was replaced by the straight eight.
It was true that during the 1930s, 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times' as stated by Charles Dickens' novel, A Tale of Two Cities. The world was consumed by the Great Depression leaving few with resources to indulge in automobiles. Yet during this time, some of the most elegant and memorable vehicles were created. Among the most famous and prestigious was the Packard Eleventh Series Twelve.
Packard introduced their first 12-cylinder in 1916 as the Twin Six. The V12 engine had its cylinder banks angled at 60 degrees and a displacement of 424.1 cubic inches, with a rated 88 brake horsepower. In 1932, Packard responded to Cadillac's introduction of its V-12 and V-16 lines with the re-introduction of a new V-12, again called the Twin Six. Despite sharing its name with its predecessor, it was an entirely new design with a 67-degree block and a 445.5 cubic-inch displacement offering 160 horsepower. Realizing it needed to distinguish this new engine from its predecessor, the new Twin Six was soon changed to Twelve.
Prior to the Packard V12 of the 1930s, the company's efforts had been focused on another revolutionary project which did not work out as intended. Packard had been inspired by the Cord L-29 and the Miller-engined front-drive race cars. This configuration offered several benefits when compared with the traditional front-engine, rear-drive layout. Packard commissioned the construction of a prototype car and a prototype 12-cylinder, as the shorter length of a V-12, compared with Packard's inline eight, allowed for greater flexibility in packaging the front-drive chassis. Development and testing highlighted inherent weaknesses with the design, and after development costs skyrocketed, Packard was forced to abandon the project. By this point, the cylinder wars were in full effect, and Packard chose to further develop the experimental V-12 engine into a production product.
By 1933, Packard had changed the name from the Twin Six to the Packard Twelve. The 1933 and eleventh series cars were the last to be fitted with flowing fenders, vee-shaped radiators, and classic lines, before the introduction of the streamlined look. 1934 Packards were given front fenders that now curved down reaching nearly to the front bumpers, which were wider, with stabilizing dampers fitted to the Twelves. Other notable changes included a higher seat back, more luxurious upholstery, trunks integrated into the closed car bodies, an oil filter, and motor oil cooled by circulation through a core surrounded by radiator water. By this point in history, Packard had re-engineered their vehicles with shielding wiring, changes in coils to prevent interference, a larger air-cooled generator, and a radio head integrated into the dashboard design.
New for 1934 was the first Packard radio option which could be installed into the new dashboard. Packard had experimented with radios since 1929 when Los Angeles Packard dealer Earle C. Anthony led a delegation to talk to radio companies. In 1929, 50 owners had radios installed, though no factory-approved radios were sold until 1932.
The 1934 Packard 1108 was powered by a 445.5 cubic-inch L-head, 67-degree V-12 engine fitted with a single Stromberg EE-3 downdraft carburetor, and offering 160 horsepower. They had a three-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel vacuum-assisted mechanical drum brakes. In the front was a beam-axle suspension with a live-axle setup in the rear, along with semi-elliptical leaf springs. They had a 147-inch wheelbase and could reach top speeds of 90 mph.
Production of the Packard V12 lasted from 1932 through 1939 and helped Packard continue as a leading luxury marque.
by Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2019
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1934 Packard 1108 Twelve
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Performance and Specification Comparison
|1939||Chevrolet (577,278)||Ford (487,031)||Plymouth (423,850)||46,405|
|1938||Chevrolet (465,158)||Ford (410,263)||Plymouth (285,704)||55,718|
|1937||Chevrolet (815,375)||Ford (765,933)||Plymouth (566,128)||122,593|
|1936||Ford (930,778)||Chevrolet (918,278)||Plymouth (520,025)||61,027|
|1935||Ford (820,253)||Chevrolet (548,215)||Plymouth (350,884)||31,956|
|1934||Ford (563,921)||Brewster (563,921)||Chevrolet (551,191)|
|1933||Chevrolet (486,261)||Ford (334,969)||Plymouth (298,557)||4,800|
|1932||Chevrolet (313,404)||Ford (210,824)||Miller (210,824)||16,064|
|1931||Chevrolet (619,554)||Ford (615,455)||Buick (138,965)||15,450|
|1930||Ford (1,140,710)||Chevrolet (640,980)||Buick (181,743)||7,989|
|1929||Ford (1,507,132)||Chevrolet (1,328,605)||Buick (196,104)||55,062|