The Studebaker-Packard Corporation was the entity created by the purchase of the Studebaker Corporation
Studebaker Corporation was a United States wagon and automobile manufacturer based in South Bend, Indiana. Founded in 1852 and incorporated in 1868 under the name of the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company, the company was originally a producer of wagons for farmers, miners, and the...
of South Bend, Indiana
South Bend, Indiana
The city of South Bend is the county seat of St. Joseph County, Indiana, United States, on the St. Joseph River near its southernmost bend, from which it derives its name. As of the 2010 Census, the city had a total of 101,168 residents; its Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 316,663...
, by the Packard Motor Car Company
Packard was an American luxury-type automobile marque built by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, and later by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indiana...
of Detroit, Michigan
Detroit is the major city among the primary cultural, financial, and transportation centers in the Metro Detroit area, a region of 5.2 million people. As the seat of Wayne County, the city of Detroit is the largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan and serves as a major port on the Detroit River...
, in 1954.
Packard acquired Studebaker in the transaction. While Studebaker was the larger of the two companies, Packard's balance sheet and executive team were stronger than that of the South Bend company.
It was hoped that Packard would benefit from Studebaker's larger dealer network. Studebaker hoped to gain through the additional strength that Packard's cash position could provide. Once both companies stabilized their balance sheets and strengthened their product line, the original plan devised by Packard president James J. Nance
James J. Nance
James J. Nance was an American industrialist who became president of Studebaker Packard. Later, he was chief executive of the Central National Bank of Cleveland, chairman of the executive committee of Montgomery Ward and chairman of the board of trustees of Cleveland State University and a major...
and Nash-Kelvinator Corporation
Nash-Kelvinator Corporation was the result of a merger between Nash Motors and Kelvinator Appliance Company. The union of these two companies was brought about as a result of a condition made by George W...
president George W. Mason
George W. Mason
George Walter Mason was an American industrialist. During his career Mason served as the Chairman and CEO of the Kelvinator Corporation , Chairman and CEO of the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation , and Chairman and CEO of American Motors Corporation .- Early life :George W. Mason was born in Valley...
was that the combined Studebaker-Packard company would join a combined Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson Motor Car Company
Hudson Motor Car Company
The Hudson Motor Car Company made Hudson and other brand automobiles in Detroit, Michigan, from 1909 to 1954. In 1954, Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation to form American Motors. The Hudson name was continued through the 1957 model year, after which it was dropped.- Company strategy...
in an all-new four-marque American Motors Corporation.
Had the complicated set of combinations gone through as planned, the new company would have immediately surpassed the Chrysler Corporation to become the third of America's "Big Three
Big Three automobile manufacturers
The Big Three, when used in relation to the automotive industry, most generally refers to the three major American automotive companies:Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler...
" automobile manufacturers. However, the sudden death of Mason in 1954 (succeeded by George W. Romney
George W. Romney
George Wilcken Romney was an American businessman and Republican Party politician. He was chairman and CEO of American Motors Corporation from 1954 to 1962, the 43rd Governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969, and the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1969 to 1973...
) and disputes over parts-sharing arrangements between the companies doomed any chance of completing the proposed merger. This failure to combine the companies effectively sealed the fates of all four.
Packard executives soon discovered that Studebaker had been less than forthcoming in all of its financial and sales records. The situation was considerably more dire than Nance and his team were led to believe; Studebaker's break-even point was an unreachable 282,000 cars at a time when the company had barely sold 82,000 cars in 1954. Furthering the new company's problems was the loss of about 30% of Studebaker's dealer network by 1956.
Alas, Studebaker-Packard tried a company reorganization in which Studebaker took the part of the volume and commercial car and truck seller from South Bend while Packard was to re-occupy the luxury market - one of Nance's targets since he took over Packard's presidency in 1952. The gap in between was filled by a new make, the Clipper
Clipper was a stand-alone make of automobile produced by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation in 1955–1956 for the 1956 model year only. Clipper was aimed at the middle price field of American automobiles which included Dodge, Oldsmobile, and Mercury....
. Technically, it was a lighter Packard, built in Detroit alongside the senior cars. Next generation of cars would have to be concentrated on one location, and there was a detailed program for sharing as much sheet metal as possible. Although Nance was presumably right, dealer's resistance against the Clipper as a new entry in the intermediate field was big.
Following a disastrous sales year in 1956, Nance resigned and Studebaker-Packard entered a management agreement with the Curtiss-Wright Corporation
The Curtiss-Wright Corporation was the largest aircraft manufacturer in the United States at the end of World War II, but has evolved to largely become a component manufacturer, specializing in actuators, aircraft controls, valves, and metalworking....
. Curtiss, led by Roy T. Hurley, insisted on major changes. All of Studebaker-Packard's defense contracts and plants where defense work was carried out were picked up by Curtiss, Packard production in Detroit was stopped and all remaining automotive efforts were shifted to South Bend. The Packards (for 1957 and 1958) were essentially Studebaker Presidents with large amounts of bright work. The vehicles were referred to as Packardbaker
Packardbaker is a derisive slang term applied to 1957 and 1958 model year Packard automobiles. The word's origin came from detractors of Studebaker-Packard Corporation's attempt to continue the Packard brand with models that were derived from the Studebaker President body shell and running...
s by comedians. The final Packard rolled off the assembly line in July 1958. That year, Studebaker instructed company personnel to sell their Packards and use only Studebakers.
The one bright spot to come of the company's troubles was a distribution agreement, brokered by Hurley, with Daimler Benz. The agreement was looked on as a necessity both for the income that Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG...
could add to the company's bottom line and as another product that the increasingly disgruntled Studebaker dealer network could sell in the event that the company quit building its own cars.
Studebaker-Packard Corporation made one last stab at resurrecting the Packard nameplate. The Franco-American Facel-Vega four-door sedan, which was powered by a Chrysler V8 engine, would have been rebadged as a Packard. The plans fell through when Daimler Benz demanded that Studebaker-Packard drop the plans or risk termination of its sales agreement to sell Mercedes-Benz cars.
In 1960, the company began diversification efforts by buying:
- D. W. Onan & Sons - Generators & engines
- Cincinnati Testing Labs - Plastics Research
- Gering Plastics - Plastics Manufacture
- Clarke Floor Machine Company - Floor cleaners & buffers
- Gravely TractorGravely TractorGravely, of Brillion, Wisconsin is a manufacturer of powered lawn and garden implements which it describes as "walk-behind, zero turn and outfront mowers".-Foundation:...
s - Quality lawnmowers
- Chemical Compounds Company - Maker of STPSTP (motor oil company)STP is an American brand and trade name for the automotive additives, lubricants and performance division of Armored AutoGroup.Founded in 1953 in Saint Joseph, Missouri, the company’s name, STP, was derived from “Scientifically Treated Petroleum”...
In 1961 Sherwood Egbert
Sherwood Harry Egbert , born Easton, Kittitas County, Washington, July 24, 1920, a burly former U.S. marine, served as president of the Studebaker-Packard Corporation and Studebaker Corporation from February 1, 1961, to November 24, 1963.-History:...
was appointed company president. He was expected to help diversify the company. In the spring of 1962, four years after the last Packard car rolled off the assembly line, and eight years following the merger between Packard and Studebaker, the company dropped Packard from its legal name and reverted to the Studebaker Corporation name.