The Revolutionary 1951 Packard: A New Era Begins


In 1951, Packard, a name synonymous with luxury and prestige in the automotive world, embarked on a bold new journey. With a fresh design and a simplified naming convention, the 1951 Packard sought to blend its proud heritage with contemporary appeal. “It’s more than a car,” the company proclaimed, “It’s a Packard.”

A Fresh Start

On August 24, 1950, the 1951 Packard lineup was unveiled, marking a significant departure from the past. Gone were the Eight, Super Eight, and Custom Eight designations. In their place came the straightforward and modern 200, 300, and 400 series. This shift aimed to streamline the brand’s image and appeal to a broader audience.

Embracing Heritage with Modernity

While the iconic slogan “Ask the man who owns one” remained, Packard introduced a new catchphrase: “It’s more than a car, it’s a Packard.” This tagline evoked memories of Packard’s golden days when it was the epitome of quality and prestige. The goal was to remind buyers of the unmatched legacy they were investing in.

Innovative Design by John Reinhart

Chief stylist John Reinhart spearheaded the exterior redesign, bringing Packard in line with the latest trends from Detroit. The previous “inverted-bathtub” design, popular in 1948, had lost its charm by 1950, earning unflattering nicknames like “pregnant elephant.” Reinhart’s new design featured a terraced grille surround, a nod to Packard’s tradition, and the largest diecast trim component of its time.

Modern Mechanics

The transition to modernity wasn’t just skin deep. The outdated 356 cubic-inch L-head straight eight engine was replaced by the more efficient 327 CID inline eight, available with 150 to 155 horsepower. Packard’s Ultramatic automatic transmission, first introduced in 1949, became standard on the flagship Patrician 400 and available across all models.

The 1951 Packard Lineup

Packard 200

At the entry level, the Packard 200 was priced between $2,300 and $2,600, competing with the Buick Super. It featured a 122-inch wheelbase and a 277 CID straight eight engine, making it distinct from its pricier siblings.

Packard 300 and Patrician 400

Both the 300 and Patrician 400 shared a 127-inch wheelbase and were powered by the robust 327 CID engine. The Patrician’s engine boasted nine main bearings, compared to the 300’s five, and its body included a distinctive three-piece backlite. Both models were offered exclusively as four-door sedans.

Introducing the Packard 250

In response to market trends, Packard expanded its lineup in March 1951 with the 250 series. This series combined the 200’s shorter wheelbase with the 300’s more powerful engine. Available in two sporty body styles a convertible and the Mayfair hardtop the 250 also featured stylish chrome trim from the deluxe Patrician.

Sales Success and Decline

The comprehensive makeover paid off initially, with sales more than doubling to nearly 101,000 units. However, the majority of sales came from the lower-priced 200 series. The Patrician 400 contributed about 15,000 units, while the 250 series sold 4,640 units. Unfortunately, 1951 was the last year Packard would see such high sales numbers, marking the beginning of its decline.


The 1951 Packard was a bold attempt to merge the company’s illustrious past with a forward-looking vision. Despite the initial surge in sales, the changes couldn’t stave off the challenges that lay ahead. Nonetheless, the 1951 Packard remains a testament to the brand’s enduring legacy and innovative spirit.

Our mission is to take you on a thrilling ride down memory lane, exploring the history, design, and unforgettable moments that define the golden era of automobiles.

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