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Thursday, September 5, 2013

The National Packard Museum - Warren, Ohio

We spent Friday night in Youngstown, Ohio, not far from the Pennsylvania-Ohio border.  Saturday morning we headed out for nearby Warrren.  We had plenty of time to rest because the National Packard Museum in Warren doesn't open on Saturday until noon.

It's not too hard to find the museum in Warren.  It's on Packard Street in Packard Park and has a rather prominent hood ornament facing the street.
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In 1900, a few people in Detroit, like Ransom Olds, the Dodge Brothers and Henry Ford were tinkering with their first cars.  But the real action was in Ohio.

The Winton, manufactured in Cleveland, was considered a nice automobile.

James Ward Packard of Warren bought one.  James and his brother were sons of Warren Packard who had been a very respected and very wealthy hardware merchant in town.

J. W. Packard had an engineering degree from Lehigh University and thought the Winton could be improved in several ways.  He pointed this out to company president Alexander Winton.  Winton suggested that if Packard knew so much, perhaps he should just build his own car.  He and his brother did just that.  The demonstration of their first car is shown in this painting.
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The county court house still stands in the town square.

For the first few years, the Packard was built in Warren and soon became the standard "high-end" automobile.  Three of these early Warren Packards are in the museum.
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This ad that ran in "The Horseless Age" in 1900 lists a few of the specifications and features for both the 9 horsepower and 12 horsepower models.

The 1903 "Pacific" model was one of three cars to make the first coast-to-coast run in that same year.

Of course, the Packard evolved into quite a luxury car.  Models like these are from the time when Packard dominated that segment of the market.


A couple of Packard's technical highlights include the invention of the steering wheel and the smooth-running 12 cylinder engine.
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The Packard was only manufactured in Warren until late in 1903.  The company moved to Detroit and evolved to fill this huge plant.

You may have seen pictures of that plant in recent years.  Abandoned in 1956, it still stands, idle, empty and a symbol of Detroit's gradual decline.  You can take an interactive tour by following this link.  And this story says that you might be able to buy the entire thirty-five acre site for as little as $21,000.

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