Packard - Packard Automobile Engines

Packard Automobile Engines

Packard's engineering staff designed and built excellent, reliable engines. Packard offered a 12-cylinder engine—the "Twin Six"—as well as a low-compression straight eight, but never a 16-cylinder engine. After WWII, Packard continued with their successful straight-eight-cylinder flathead engines. While as fast as the new GM and Chrysler OHV V8s, they were perceived as obsolete by buyers. By waiting until 1955, Packard was the last U.S. automaker to introduce a high-compression V8 engine. The design was physically large and entirely conventional, copying many of the first generation Cadillac, Oldsmobile, and Studebaker Kettering features. It was produced in 320 cu in (5.2 L) and 352 cu in (5.8 L) displacements. The Caribbean version had two 4-barrel carburetors and produced 275 hp (205 kW). For 1956, a 374" version was used in the senior cars and the Caribbean 2x4-barrel produced 305 hp (227 kW).

In-house designed and built, their "Ultramatic" automatic transmission featured a lockup torque converter with two speeds. The early Ultramatics normally operated only in "high" with "low" having to be selected manually. Beginning with late 1954, the transmission could be set to operate only in "high" or to start in "low" and automatically shift into "high". Packard's last major development was the Bill Allison-invented "Torsion-Level" suspension, an electronically controlled four-wheel torsion-bar suspension that balanced the car's height front to rear and side to side, having electric motors to compensate each spring independently. Contemporary American competitors had serious difficulties with this suspension concept, trying to accomplish the same with air-bag springs before dropping the idea.

Packard also made large aeronautical and marine engines. Chief engineer Jesse G. Vincent developed a V12 airplane engine called the "Liberty engine" that was used widely in entente air corps during World War I. Packard powered boats and airplanes set several records during the 1920s. For Packard's production of military and navy engines, see the Merlin engine and PT Boats which contributed to the Allied victory in World War II. Packard also developed a jet propulsion engine for the US Air Force, one of the reasons for the Curtiss-Wright take-over in 1956, as they wanted to sell their own jet.

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