History of Packard between 1931 to 1936
The 1930s was the period of the stock market crash and Great depression. Packard manufactured more expensive and opulent cars as it attempted to deal with this time’s economic conditions. For years, the company’s top seller has been the Eight five-seater sedans, but the company introduced the Twin Six in 1932. This starting price was $3,650, which by today’s value is around $68397. This car was renamed the Packard Twelve in 1933.
In 1931, the company pioneered the Ride Control system, which made it possible to adjust the hydraulic shock absorbers from inside the car. In 1932, Packard produced the Light Eight which had a starting price of $1,750. It was an upper medium-priced car which costs about $700 below the standard Eight. While Packard could not compete with its rivals Lincoln and Cadillac who had the support and resources of automobile giants Ford and GM, they have made significant positive returns in the 1920s and had about $20 million in assets in 1932. Thus, while several luxury car manufacturers were close to bankruptcy, they were still solid. For example, Peerless stopped producing cars in 1932, and its plant was converted to a Carling Black Label Beer brewery. By 1938, other luxury car manufacturers such as Franklin, Stearns-Knight, Ruxton, Stutz, Marmon, Pierce-Arrow, and Duesenberg had closed.
Another advantage that Packard had many other luxury car manufacturers was that it had a single production line. This enabled the company to keep down its costs. It didn’t interchange models as often as other automakers, and instead of having new models of cars every year, it used a Series formula for distinguishing model changeovers. Some series lasted for months while others lasted for years, but on average, it debuted one new series every year. Thus, it was in the 7th series by 1930 and Twentieth series by 1942. The manufacturer omitted the thirteenth series.
In the face of depression, the company produced more affordable cars. This was necessary because there was less demand for hand-built luxury cars, and even those who could afford them didn’t want to buy them at a time when the rate of unemployment was above 20%. The automaker introduced its first car below $1000 in 1935. The Packard 120. Packard constructed and equipped a separate factory of The Packard 120. It also divided its workforce almost evenly between its Junior models that were medium-priced and Senior lines that were high priced. Even though the production of junior lines was about ten times that of senior, it was produced using mass production techniques as opposed to the traditional craftsmanship and hand labour of senior lines.
Without the junior lines, it is unlikely that Packard would have survived the depression, but it affected the brand as it diminished the exclusive image that the senior models have among those who could still afford it.