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Images Taken on the Packard Assembly Line

Today’s photos were taken on various assembly lines at the Packard plant located on East Grand Blvd. in Detroit, Michigan. The lead image shows workers on the frontend assembly line working on 1940 model Packard grille shells complete with the Packard signature grille insert. The shells are mounted on wooden jigs and the workers tighten fasteners with power tools suspended overhead when not being used.

Share with us what you find of interest in these photos courtesy of the Detroit Public Library. View 100’s of Packard photographs in earlier posts here on The Old Motor.

  • Spotlights at the end of the 1941 Packard final assembly line help inspectors find flaws on finished cars ready to be driven off of the line.

  • Workers at the body drop station lower a club sedan body onto a 1928 model 533 six-cylinder chassis.

20 responses to “Images Taken on the Packard Assembly Line

  1. Love these photos ! I am a “wanna-be” Packard guy, all I ever owned was a 38 two door sedan that we loved, but Packardless now. Thanks as always David.

    • I have a 1937 Packard belong to the president of the Philippines they rolled it so the butler brought it to the USA he died but the sister told me a little history on it. I’ve had for 30 years I’m thinking of restoring it. The windshield still has the sticker from the Philippines but it looks like it won’t be original. Sad

  2. Oh,man Already theyre narrowing that great grille into the awful ones you see in the later postwar models.
    The beginning of the end.

  3. Interesting how the 1928 photo shows the cars going down the assembly line sideways instead of nose-to-tail, so the overall line is shorter (though wider).

  4. Interesting the 1920’s assembly line were rail tracks on which a carriage transported the chassis sideways to the line direction. It appears these were moved by manual power, not a moving assembly line apparatus, unless I’m missing the device that moves it.

    Once the 120 production started, assembly line machinery were consistent with the rest of the industry. The ’41 Clippers are at the end of the assembly line for final checks before being driven to the storage lots for the transporters.

    • It looks like there’s a chain running in the middle of the space between the rails. Possibly there was some means to hook the carriage to the chain to move it between stations and then unhook it to stop it for work, similar to how cable cars work?

      • Roy Gullickson attempted to bring it back in the 90s, but the revived Packard built a single prototype car in 1999 and then shut back down. The car was sold at a Sotheby auction in 2014. To the best of my knowledge he still owns the trademark.

    • All the help you need can be found through both the Packard Automobile Classics (PAC) and Packards International (PI) clubs and their websites. Joining either club will open a world of resources for your restoration.

      Additionally, there is a very active forum found at PackardInfo where a group of enthusiasts stand by to assist and answer every question. Its free to sign on and you will be glad you did. Come join us.

    • Hi Paul, I’d check this Kanter in NJ. They have everything for Packards. A quick check on their website shows a 48-50 service manual for $62 bucks. They have everything from that little rubber high beam pad, to complete motors. My grandfather bought a new Custom 8 in 1948, and I had a 1950 Standard 8 for many years.

  5. The ’41 models are my all-time favorites. I mean every manufacturer’s 1941 lineup, not just Packard. All the ’41 cars looked newer than the previous year, lower and more aerodynamic with nice compound curves replacing the boxy designs that (with only a few exceptions) held throughout the ’30s. The new grilles were quite a contrast from the old. Examples: ’41 Cadillac vs ’40; ’41 Studebaker Skyway series vs ’40; ’41 Dodge appeared a totally different car than a Plymouth-like design of the prior year. Running boards were all but gone, even on Fords. Fastback styling in two tone colors was an attention getter in GM’s lineup. Packard seemed to do pretty well with the newer “non-Packard” look with minor facelifts through the 1950 model year. The wonderful straight 8 was a mainstay through ’54, and with a 359ci/4bbl combo held its own competing with the Big Three in the early ohv” V-8 craze” years. I drove a black ’37 One Twenty coupe my years in high school. The head had some re-work done for higher compression and 100 octane gas. It seemed to get off as fast as my mothers big ’51 Olds 98, although the Olds was faster top end.

  6. Does anyone know what the workers in the 1st pic are doing? They look like pre-painted fronts with radiators, and have some pretty big power tools for whatever they are doing. 2nd pic, these Packards probably never looked this nice again. War was a few short months away, and last, could these be completed chassis’ at the body supplier? I read they had several body makers around that time.

  7. I worked 30 years in a factory and the last place I’d want to be is under a bunch of incandescent lights. I don’t see any fans either. The way the workers are dressed hints at a winter month.

    In the last pic of the body union, I see a lot of potential for marring the paint finish. I’d think the lowering jig would be padded. I always assumed Packards were hand built, at least to some extent.

    Great images David. Thanks for posting!

  8. Grew up in Detroit in the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s. Lived 3 blocks from the Plymouth plant and about 6 blocks from the Packard plant. As a kid used to ride my bike to the storage lots and just stare at all the beautiful new cars. I t was awesome.

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