1915 Packard Twin Six

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It’s a stunning car, the 1915 Packard Twin Six stands out among all the cars of its time. Imagine – in 1915, Cadillac launched the luxurious Type 51 – the first American car with a 5.1 liter V8 and 70 horsepower. It was a sensational car at the time. At the time, the V8 engine was considered innovative, and most manufacturers favored in-line engines with six or eight cylinders.

Packard’s chief engineer, Jesse Vincent, was proposing a very special engine for the new car. I found information on the Internet that this Vincent was inspired by a British aircraft engine. He assured the Packard management that his 12-cylinder engine would be 50 percent more thrusty than the eight-cylinder engine, and compared to the six-cylinder engine, the thrust would be twice as good. Incidentally, the predecessor to the Twin Six, the Packard 30, was a six-cylinder engine that produced 40 horsepower.

Later, the twelve-cylinder Packard engine was inspired by Enzo Ferrari himself, studying the design from photographs. And Jesse Vincent had a hand in creating the Liberty V12 aircraft engine. Many journalists noted the excellent traction of the Packard. So in 1922, 7 years after the release of this car, The Motor magazine noted that the highest – third gear on the Twin Six could be switched on already at 7 kilometers per hour. At the same time, the car continued to accelerate and climbed uphill without strain.

1915 Packard Twin Six was the first serial automobile in the world with a twelve-cylinder engine. It was the first car in the world to have aluminum pistons. Today, this seems quite commonplace, but previously the pistons had been cast iron! Of course they were much heavier, and therefore minimized the power output. It was equipped with an electric starter, which only 6 years earlier had appeared on the Cadillac Model 30. It even came equipped with towels that could be used after a tire change.

In my opinion, this is the most successful and most iconic car in Packard’s history. In 1921, it was the Twin Six that was used for the first time in U.S. history as the inaugural car for a president, Warren Garding. This Packard sold so well that the Detroit manufacturing facility was expanded from 40 to 100 acres and the number of employees increased from 5,000 to 11,000. You may know that several dozen of these machines were shipped to pre-revolutionary Russia. Later, the Twin Six ended up in the possession of the Soviet leader, Stalin. He was very fond of Packard cars, and Soviet ZIS cars were copies of American cars. Twin Six was at the Emperor of Japan and the King of Belgium. The latter driving the car decided to check the map and unfortunately crashed to his death.

Price and value of 1915 Packard Twin Six.

Depending on the body modification and equipment, the price of a new 1915 Packard Twin Six varied from 2750 to 5000 dollars. Surprisingly, on average, the new, twelve-cylinder car cost $100 less than the previous six-cylinder model. The aforementioned Cadillac Type 51 in its top-of-the-line version sold for $3,600. Only for the first year of sales were realized – 7746 cars. By the time it was discontinued in 1923, 3,046 Twin Sixes had been sold. Considering the high class and cost, – it was a very high sales figure.

Body, dimensions and photos.

The basis of the Packard body was a ladder-type frame. This is a common solution for cars of that time. There were two variants of wheelbase: 125 and 135 inches. There were a lot of body variants, I will try to list them: – seven-seat Touring with a tilt roof, two-seat Runabout, 4-seat Cloverleaf Runabout, Brougham, Town Car, Landaulet, Imperial Limousine.

As was often the case with cars of those years, the wheels here were made of wood, but the rims were metal – in case of a puncture, they were replaced along with the tires. On the wheel hub caps you can see the inscription, – Detroit Packard Motor Car Co. By the way, – note that the tires here are not so narrow, which was typical for most cars of that time.

On the left side of the body there is a klaxon, – note that on its rear part there is a plate with the inscription – Klaxon. In the additional headlights, installed under the windshield, there is a special window, – which served as a side marker of the car. On the footrests there are duffel boxes, which was the norm for large and expensive cars of that time.
Note the logo mounted on the radiator grille. It is a functional gauge with a moving arrow that indicates the temperature of the engine at the moment.
The spare tires along with the metal rims are mounted in the rear of the body. Between the spare tires and the body there is a fuel tank with a special tap for shutting off the fuel supply.

Interior and equipment.

Earlier cars, produced in 1915, were characterized by the gearbox and parking brake lever located to the left of the steering wheel. By the way, the steering wheel is mounted on the left side of the steering wheel. At that time it was a novelty on American cars and recently most of the cars were right-hand drive. A little later, for more convenient control the gearbox and parking brake lever was moved under the right hand. In this way the Packard resembles modern cars.

Pay attention to the location of the speedometer – it is in the area of the front passenger’s feet and has a ribbon design. A clock was installed above it. Fuel level gauges and an ammeter were mounted in the front panel. Note the device attached to the steering column – it is a manual pump for pumping up the fuel. By pumping with this lever, pressure was created in the upper part of the fuel tank and fuel was delivered to the carburetor.

As on many cars of the time, the windshield could be angled and opened to provide better ventilation in the cabin.

I can’t describe the unusual procedure for starting the engine on this Packard, but there is a special starter button under the driver’s feet. Pressing it was supposed to be the final action in the engine starting operation.

You can see from the photo that there are two small, extra seats in the back. They could have been used for security. In the rear, there are lighting placards mounted on the back of the front sofa. At the time, such equipment seemed like a weighty option, as cars had only recently switched from kerosene-powered headlights, to electric ones.

Engine and specifications of the 1915 Packard Twin Six.

The two cast iron blocks were inclined 60 degrees relative to each other. With a displacement of 6950 cubic centimeters, the engine produced 85 horsepower, which for 1915 was an impressive output. The engine used aluminum pistons, and the crankshaft was mounted on three supports. The Packard Twin Six had a top speed of 112 kilometers per hour. This was very high for a production car at the time.
The exhaust manifolds were mounted between the engine heads, saving space on the sides of the engine. A carburetor was mounted above the exhaust manifolds. In order to protect it from excessive heat as much as possible, a heat shield is present under the carburetor.

Like most cars of those years, the 1915 Packard Twin Six was equipped with semi-elliptic leaf springs. But notice that this car’s springs are wrapped in thick leather! I don’t remember ever seeing such a solution on any other car. In addition, there are transverse leaf springs. The manufacturer has done everything possible to maximize comfort. Brakes have a mechanical drive, drum design and are connected only to the rear wheels.

From the photo you can notice that the ignition distributor here has two covers – for each engine head. There is an oil can on the steering crown, for servicing the mechanism.

This is an iconic car. Yes, – first of all, it’s notable for its twelve-cylinder engine. Some manufacturers may have made bigger engines by 1915, but they weren’t V12s. This engine is characterized not only by its power, but also by its quietness during operation and pleasant pull at any rpm.

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