Founded in 1899 and becoming America's first preeminent luxury automaker, the Packard Motor Car Company made the most prestigious cars and best performing engines. James Ward and William Doud Packard, the brothers who founded the company in Warren, Ohio USA, were not just visionary entrepreneurs whose stream of automotive inventions and standards changed the world. They were altruists, whose enduring philanthropy has left an enduring mark on their local town that goes far beyond auto-making.
The story of the beginning can be found in Ward and William's personal diaries. Ward was visiting Will at Caulfield Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio as William was having his eyes checked for poor eyesight. After the visit, Ward purchased a Winton Motor carriage. 

On Friday, July 22nd, 1898 Ward noted in his personal journal: "To Cleveland tried Winton Motor carriage - fine price $1000.00 - immediate delivery." Ward journaled the following month: "Saturday, August 13, 1898 went to Cleveland came down in new motor carriage - hard trip, towed in...winton carriage balance pd. $800."

Ward had multiple problems with his Winton Motor carriage. There was much interaction between he and Mr. Winton as many repairs were made to the car. Fed up, Ward visited Winton again on June 10th, 1899 and gave multiple suggestions to improve the quality. Mr. Winton responded "..if you're so smart, maybe you can build a better machine yourself." Ward thrived on inventing things and was a mechanical genius. He had much more in mind than building a better car and recruited one of Winton's top investors to assist him, Mr. George Weiss.

In a letter to Mr. Weiss on April 11, 1899, Ward wrote "It is a branch of work which has great fascination for me and it is not impossible that I may go into it someday. With his possibility in view I should like to talk matter over with you..." By October 30, 1899 Ward journaled: "Auto engine on new machine tests out 7.1 h.p." as he had been inventing his own engine for his car, the first Packard.

On November 6, 1899 the first Packard car was driven around town for road testing. The locals who witnessed the road test noted the quality and elegance of the car and word spread quick. The local newspapers picked up on the story  and Packard was introduced to the public. Ward went on to make many improvements and patents while applying his own artistic styling. His inventions and artistic style flourished and created a unique superlative quality for their company. Doud maintained the business matters.
James Ward PackardWilliam Doud Packard
(From left to right: James Ward and William Doud )

Packard thrived on Ward's inventiveness, quality standards and elegant designs. The company went on to create the world standard for luxury cars and was often referred to as "the American Rolls Royce". Its hand-finished attention to detail, automotive firsts and durable high-quality became legendary and impossible to beat. Dignitaries and distinguished families across the nation and around world enjoyed the luxury and durability only Packard could provide. After surviving two world wars and the swings of the auto market, the last true Packard rolled off the assembly line on June 25, 1956. The company closed in 1958 after a failed strategic takeover of Studebaker Corporation.
Ward's inventive engineering capabilities was fascinating to many as he carried his creativity to all aspects in life from his homes to his watches. He had a high interest in watches and owned a comprehensive collection as he frequently commissioned Swiss watchmakers to make his designs, including one of the most complicated pocket-watches ever made which sold at auction for $1.8MM USD*. He also had a fondness of motorsports together with the company's top engine designer, Colonel Jesse Vincent. His goal, whether cars, watches or otherwise, was to prove his inventions superlative.


The legend has returned to the marketplace focusing on it's founding values of  engineering marvels, durable fine quality and quintessential American hand-crafted finishes. Innovative automaking remains the cornerstone of Packard's heritage as it is inspired by timekeeping, our conquests on the race track, our advocacy on behalf of worthy organizations and our enviable roles in elegant style, marketplace firsts and timeless trend-setting. The legacy continues to be preserved and revered across the world through the official National Packard Museum, car aficionados clubs, auto publications, personal car collections and concours events**. We have begun a new journey of horological and automotive discovery, and invite you to join us in making history again.

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** View Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance