James Ward Packard

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James Ward Packard (5 November 1863 – 20 March 1928) was an American automobile manufacturer who founded the Packard Motor Car Company and Packard Electric Company with his brother William Doud Packard.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Born in Warren, Ohio, James Ward Packard attended Lehigh University and with his brother founded Packard Electric Company there in 1890 and manufactured incandescent carbon arc lamps. The brothers then formed a partnership with Winton Motor Carriage Company investor George L. Weiss called Packard & Weiss in 1893. The first Packard automobile was released in 1899.[2] In 1900, the company incorporated as the Ohio Automobile Company and was renamed the Packard Motor Car Company in 1902. The company relocated to Detroit in 1903. The company eventually merged with the Studebaker Corporation in 1954, and the last Packard was made in 1958.

Following the company relocation to Detroit, the Packard brothers focused on making automotive electrical systems via the Packard Electric Company. General Motors acquired the company in 1932, renaming it Delphi Packard Electric Systems in 1995. The company was spun off and became independent of GM in 1999.

Packard fell ill three years before his death and spent his last 16 months at the Cleveland Clinic Hospital.[2][3]


James Ward Packard attended Lehigh University, enrolling in 1880 and graduating in 1884 with a degree in mechanical engineering.[4]


Packard Park in Warren, Ohio is on land donated by the Packards. Packard Lab at Lehigh University was funded by him and completed in 1929, the year after he died.[5][6]

In 1927, Packard commissioned the world's most complicated watch but not to be outdone, Henry Graves Jr. surpassed his rival in 1933 to become the owner of the most complicated watch ever made, spending 60,000 SF, nearly five times the price paid by Mr. Packard. It took over three years, and the most advanced horological technique in engineering this truly one-of-a-kind timepiece; only one watch was ever built. Complications included a perpetual calendar with phases and age of the moon, indication of sunrise and sunset, and a celestial chart depicting the constellations of stars in the sky over Packard's home in Ohio. Called "the Supercomplication" and designed and built by Patek Philippe, an ultra-complicated (with 24 functions) pocket-watch for Henry Graves, Jr. who entered into a friendly horological competition with James Ward Packard, which resulted in the production of the watch (known as "The Supercomplication") sold to Mr. Graves in 1933. This pocket watch, "the Supercomplication" was held in the Museum of Time near Chicago, IL for years until it was sold at Sotheby's for a record breaking [1] $11,002,500 to a secretive anonymous in New York City on December 2, 1999. WebCitation archive. The watch currently resides in the Patek Phillippe Museum in Geneva, Switzerland and is the most expensive single piece on display.[2]


  1. ^ Adler, Dennis (2004). Packard. MotorBooks/MBI Publishing Company, ISBN 978-0-7603-1928-4
  2. ^ a b "Death of Packard". Time magazine. April 2, 1928. Retrieved 2010-10-09. James Ward Packard was 30 years old when he began to make automobiles. Before that he had experimented with electrical devices and organized two companies to manufacture them. In 1893, having studied the motor plans of Daimler and Benz and the body-building methods of Levasseur, he had drawn the plans for the first Packard; the financial depression of the next few years prevented him from manufacturing cars for the several years afterward. It was not until 1899 that the first Packard rolled out upon the roads, a high, sloping car, followed by children and stared at by scornful farmers. ... 
  3. ^ "James W. Packard, Auto Pioneer, Dies; Founder of Manufacturing Concern Bearing His Name. Gave $1,000,000 to Lehigh, His Alma Mater". New York Times. March 21, 1928. Retrieved 2010-10-09. James W. Packard of Warren, Ohio, founder, first President and later directing head of the Packard Automobile Company, died today at the age of 64 in the Cleveland Clinic Hospital. He had been in ill health for three years and underwent an operation two years ago for a malignant growth. 
  4. ^ Packard's 100th Anniversary http://www.lehigh.edu/~inmem/packardcar.html
  5. ^ Staff report (January 15, 1927). J.W. Packard Gives $1,000,000 to Lehigh To Provide 'Finest' Engineering Laboratory. New York Times
  6. ^ Staff report (June 7, 1929). Lehigh Laboratory Ready; Gift of James W. Packard Will Be Used for Alumni Homecoming. New York Times

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