James Ward Packard

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James Ward Packard
JWPackard - photo.png
Born(1863-11-05)November 5, 1863
DiedMarch 20, 1928(1928-03-20) (aged 64)
EducationLehigh University (BS)
EmployerPackard Motor Car Company
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Gillmer

James Ward Packard (November 5, 1863 – March 20, 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]

Packard was born in Warren, Ohio on November 5, 1863, to Warren and Mary Elizabeth Doud Packard. After attending Lehigh University, he joined his older brother William Doud Packard (1861-1923) in founding the Packard Electric Company there in 1890 where they manufactured incandescent carbon arc lamps. His sister Alaska P. Davidson (1868-1934) later became the first female FBI agent.

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. The James Ward Packard Laboratory of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at Lehigh University was funded by him and completed in 1929, the year after he died.[5][6]

In 1927, Packard commissioned to Patek Philippe the world's most complicated watch to never be outdone, but banker Henry Graves Jr. surpassed his rival in 1933 to become the owner of the most complicated watch ever made, spending 60,000 CHF, nearly five times the price paid by Packard.


  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. Archived from the original on November 21, 2010. Retrieved October 9, 2010. 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 October 9, 2010. 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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