LIFE SPAN: 1899-1958
RISE TO POWER: When James Ward Packard was dissatisfied with the Winton car he just purchased, he wrote a complaint letter to the company. Winton challenged him to build a better car. And so he did. Along with his brother William Doud Packard, and engineer George Lewis Weiss, he went on to found Packard. Thanks to their innovative ideas, such as the modern steering wheel, Packards became popular despite their high price. Since they could not get their prices down to match more mass-produced vehicles, they focused on luxury models. Packard was able to capture and dominate the luxury automotive market all the way into the '40s.
NOTABLE MODELS: One Eight, 1958 Packard
DEATH KNELL: Packard was unable to smoothly transition into the new era of car design. It also began to market itself more to lower-income buyers, diminishing the luxe image it worked so hard to garner. As the Big Three automakers began to dominate the market, Packard was left trying to restyle its old models until 1958 when it was purchased by Studebaker.