Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
FREE Admission & Parking

1942 Packard Clipper Army Staff Car

Packard: A Car Worthy of Admirals and Generals
Known for its luxurious, durable, well-engineered cars, Detroit’s Packard Motor Car Company outsold all other domestic luxury automobiles combined in the late 1920s including Cadillac. Unlike many luxury brands, Packard survived the Great Depression and proudly introduced its all-new Clipper in April 1941. Just ten months later, the US entered World War II, which put the brakes on all automobile production. But the US Armed Forces, alert to the situation, smartly snapped up 487 Packards before they were gone. Most Packards were used by high-ranking officers, including Generals Douglas MacArthur and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Although the future president had used a Cadillac in the North African Campaign, Eisenhower opted for a Packard Clipper in Europe after being named Supreme Allied Commander.

This automobile is loan courtesy of America’s Packard Museum, Dayton, Ohio

The Arsenal of Democracy and the Automobile Industry
How WWII was Won on the Drawing Boards of Detroit Weary from World War I, the US Armed Forces’ rank fell to 18th in the world as military production declined in the 1920s and 1930s. But as Nazi Germany began to march across Europe in 1939, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt realized military production must escalate—and fast. The need became more urgent as the war spread and America entered in December 1941. The US Government could not itself mass-produce war machines—but Detroit’s auto companies could. In January 1942, General Motors President Bill Knudsen became head of the War Production Board. He knew from experience that automaking was a flexible and fast process—ideal for making complex new machines like airplanes, tanks, and engines – President Roosevelt’s “Arsenal of Democracy.” Nearly all manufacturers retooled for war production, including Packard. They were tasked with re-engineering and mass-producing PT boat engines for the Navy and Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engines. Soon, US industrial production doubled, the Great Depression’s mass unemployment dwindled, and employment for minorities and women hit an all-time high. Text by Stu Morris, Curator, America’s Packard Museum, Dayton, Ohio

Did You Know?  
1. Packard’s intercooler innovation technology added to Rolls Royce’s supercharged
Merlin allowed fighter pilots to reach 30,000 feet, higher than German flak bursts.

2. Packard was the first car company to have a steering wheel in a production car in
1901 AND the first company to offer air conditioning in 1939?

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