March 20, 2006

Today in Automotive History

1928 Packard founder dies

James Ward Packard, founder of the Ohio Automobile Company and the Packard Motor Car Company, died in Cleveland, Ohio, on this day, at the age of 64. A native of Warren, Ohio, James Packard and his brother, William, started their industrial careers manufacturing electric lamps. They entered the automobile business after James Packard purchased a Winton Motor Carriage. He was so dissatisfied with Winton's machine that he decided to build his own. Using the shops of a Packard Electric Company subsidiary, J.W. Packard completed his first automobile in 1899, driving through the streets of his hometown of Warren. Wishing to keep their automotive and electrical interests separate, the Packard brothers, along with fellow engineer George Weiss, started the Ohio Automobile Company in September 1900. That year the Packards boosted their company's profile by selling two cars to William D. Rockefeller. In 1901, an Ohio Automobile Company employee was arrested for speeding through the streets of Warren at 40mph. The nationally publicized speeding arrest also raised the company's profile. A shrewd promoter, Packard developed one of the car industry's first widely recognized slogans. Responding to a customer's inquiry about the performance of his car, Packard said, "Ask the man who owns one." Packard's deft promotion left the company with more customers than cars. A Detroit financier named Henry Joy volunteered his services to raise capital in order to raise the company's production capabilities. In 1902, the reorganized Ohio Automobile Company was incorporated as the Packard Motor Car Company. Packard cars would be the first to carry a steering wheel in the place of a tiller and the first to utilize the H-gear-shift configuration.

Posted by Quality Weenie at March 20, 2006 08:07 AM | TrackBack