The 1942 Packard was the last car I collected, and it is most remarkable for its styling. It is the last of the big square cars of the 30's era, and I think that it is the ultimate in styling, although many others prefer the "friendlier face" of the 1941 model. Production of this car was planned in 1939 when war clouds were gathering in Europe, and nobody could predict our entry into the war in 1941.9. So a new style was prepared and put into production for a very short model year, beginning in August 1941 and ending on December 7. Thus the 1942 is the rarest model.
I remember these cars as a boy, when I would occasionally see the handsomest car I could remember seeing, and when I would read the lettering on the side of the hood, expecting to read Cadillac or something, it would say One-Eighty or One-Sixty. You had to look hard to find the Packard name on the car; it did not appear on the grille or hub-caps either. But I remember being so often struck by the superior styling of this model, that I consider it a great priviledge today to own one.
My car is the One-Sixty model, and is on the 148" wheelbase with 16" wheels. This is the last year in which the Packard factory would offer rolling chassis for limousine and custom coachwork on such extended chassis; in subsequent years the big cars would be produced by stretching a sedan, as is the practice today. My car has a slightly lower level of trim for a family seeking a very conservative car. The One-Eighty models had additional trims around the window reveals and on the backs of the front and rear fenters, for a snappier look. My car also lacks the fender-mounted spare tire. Many owners have over-restored these cars with the fancier parts taken from junked sedans, but I have left the car as it was supplied by the factory.
The car has an interesting history related to the war period. Packard had already introduced the Clipper model in 1941, and it was a successful car with wide acceptance, as I discuss in the context of my 1947 Clipper model. So the big square car was out of date and the factory had no further use for it. But Stalin had always loved the American Packard automobiles. In newsreels from the era you can see him arriving at Malta in a Packard. It is reported that President Roosevelt arranged for the Packard tooling to be sent to Russia during the war as part of Lend-Lease, and production of the car as the ZIL limousine was established in a factory just outside Moscow. However some experts report that the Russian Version has many differences in dimensions, and was not an exact copy from the complete set of Packard tooling. The ZILs had a slightly modified grille, and were built as limousines or 4-door convertibles on the 148" wheelbase chassis, and are very rare. In post-war newsreels you will occasionally see the Soviet commisars arriving in these ZILs.
I have always found this car a great delight to own and drive. It is an impressively agile car for its bulk, and the basic ride is still very nice. It is imposing in stature and commands respect because of its very powerful and elegant styling - the ultimate statement of the 30's-era square-box styling trend. I especially like the interior appointments, with wood mixed with specular and rough gold patterns shouting "Empire State Art Decco".
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