Packard Model 1-48 Custom Runabout

All Packard histories open with the Packard brothers, James Ward and William Doud, in Warren, Ohio. James Packard is said to have been dissatisfied with a car he bought from Alexander Winton, so he set out to outdo the earlier automaker. History records that he certainly did. The fortunes of the Packard Motor Car Company, however, are attributed to Henry B. Joy, son of a Michigan railroad magnate, and several “celebrated associates from Detroit.” Key among these but seldom mentioned were Russell A. Alger, Jr. and his brother Frederick M. Alger.

The sons of Russell Alexander Alger (1836-1907), Governor of Michigan from 1885 to 1886 and U.S. Senator from 1902 to 1907, Russell Jr. and Frederick briefly dabbled at building a car under their own name in 1902. They had a prototype built to their design and touted it to the trade press, announcing that production was imminent, though nothing came of it. Russell also met with Henry Joy and James Packard at the Grosse Pointe Country Club that April. As a result of that meeting, the Packard brothers’ Ohio Automobile Company became the Packard Motor Car Company on October 23, 1902. Henry Joy was the first investor with $50,000. Russell Alger matched his $50,000 and Fred Alger put in $25,000. Another $125,000 was raised from Joy’s brother Richard and six other Grosse Pointe investors. The following October, the company relocated from Ohio to Detroit, a move that has been attributed to Russell Alger’s influence.

Russell Alger, Jr. became vice-president of the new Packard company, under James Packard, while Henry Joy was general manager. Frederick Alger was named a director of the firm. Russell remained as vice president under the subsequent administrations of Joy and Alvan Macauley, while Frederick remained on the board into the 1920s, when he brought back some custom bodies from Europe and is credited with popularizing the coachbuilt Packard.

By 1907, the launch of the new Model 30, which would prove a mainstay of the catalog, put Packard at the forefront of the luxury market, a member of the “Three Ps” with Peerless and Pierce-Arrow. With sales exceeding 1,400, however, Packard considerably outpaced the prestige competition.

By 1910, however, the six-cylinder engine was beginning to dominate the upscale car market. Although Ford’s brief flirtation, the 1905-08 Model K, had come to naught, other manufacturers like Franklin, Oldsmobile and Winton, Packard’s old nemesis, were making hay with large-displacement sixes. Predictably, Packard joined the parade.

The new Packard Six, as it was called, was introduced in April 1911. A T-head engine, rated at 48 hp, was cast in three blocks of two, mounted on an aluminum crankcase. With bore and stroke of 4.5 x 5.5 inches it displaced a whopping 525 cubic inches and developed 74 horsepower when measured on a brake. Bosch dual ignition, both magneto and battery, was used, along with Packard’s own float-feed carburetor with automatic mixture control. The designation “1-48” was retrospectively applied when the model’s successor, the 2-48, was introduced in June 1912.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in March of 2011 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida.

74 bhp, 525 cu. in. L-head six-cylinder engine, rear-mounted three-speed transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and two-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 121.5"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel

Gallery: Packard Model 1-48 Custom Runabout