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      Car History: Car History Year 1938
    Posted on Sunday, September 26 @ 23:28:37 UTC by Cars
      Cars Unlike the previous year, 1938 proved a good one for aviation when millionaire Howard Hughes made history by flying his twin-engined Beech airplane around the world in a record time of 3 days, 19 hours and 17 minutes. He wasn't the only one remembered for achieving a remarkable feat that year. Orson Welles caused mass panic across the US, with his broadcast of The War of the Worlds radio play, and thousands of Americans truly believed their country was under attack from alien spaceships. They need not have worried because, as anyone picking up Action Comics' first edition would have found, Superman also made his debut.

    Among the technological achievements that year was the invention of the Xerox photocopier by Chester Carlton, and the development of nylon products by Du Pont. Teflon and fiber glass also made their appearance. Although some auto makers were noted for technological innovation, Packard was not one of them. Nevertheless, their cars offered refined luxury, a timeless appeal, and good performance. During the Thirties, the bodies of their cars had become more streamlined in keeping with general styling trends but, even in 1938, they were still using an upright grille design that had been introduced in the early part of the decade. However, that did not matter, as it suited the elegant image of the cars. Packard were at the top end of the market, producing low-volume, carefully-built cars for the wealthier, more discerning buyer. Given their potential market, the Packard range of 1938 was surprisingly comprehensive, offering a wide choice of models and body styles. These included a six cylinder series, two eight cylinder series and a twelve cylinder series. Although in styling the cars appeared similar to the 1937 models, there were substantial changes. The previous flat, one-piece windshield was replaced with a two-piece V-shaped windshield on all series and, in addition, all body styles had pontoon fenders, which partially enveloped the sidemount spares where these were fitted. At the bottom of the Packard range was the Packard Six which, for 1938, received a 7 inch increase of wheelbase taking it to 122 inches. The chassis was fitted with a completely new, all-steel body, rather than the composite wood-and-steel of previous years. Although eventually all car bodies would be built totally from steel, this method of manufacture caused problems when first used. Until advances were made in sound-deadening materials, all-steel bodies sounded cheap and tinny when doors were slammed. Wooden framed bodies had a more solid-sound and so were retained for more expensive cars in order to exude an air of quality. Compared to 1937, the Six was offered in fewer body styles, with five in total: business coupe, 2+2 club coupe, convertible coupe, and 2- and 4-door sedans. All were powered by Packard's flathead, in-line six cylinder engine, which had been bored out to 3 inches to give a displacement of 245 cu.in. While there was no increase in horsepower (100), torque was improved and giving a top speed of 78mph. To aid cooling, the engine was also equipped with an improved water pump and fan, and radiator capacity was increased. Like all other Packards that year, the Six featured three-speed synchromesh transmission, Safe-T-flex independent front suspension and hydraulic brakes, the last two having been introduced for 1937. A step up from the Six was the Eight, which had been known as the One Twenty in 1937. This also received a 7 inch increase in wheelbase (to 127 inches), while long wheelbase limousine and sedan versions were set at 148 inches. Eleven body styles were offered in this series, three of which featured beautiful custom coachwork by Rollston: an all-weather cabriolet, an all-weather town car and an all-weather brougham. The remainder comprised two coupes, a convertible coupe, a convertible sedan, a 2- and a 4-door sedan, a limousine and a Song wheeibase sedan. The 4-door sedan came in standard and Deluxe versions, although a wide list of optional accessories made it possible to give any of the body styles a Deluxe specification. The Packard Eight had a flathead in-line eight cylinder engine that displaced 282 cu.in. and developed 120 horsepower at 3800rpm. This engine had been used in 1937 but, for 1938, the compression ratio was raised from 6.5 to 6.6:1. An optional aluminum head increased compression to 7.05:1. A similar, but larger, engine was fitted to the Super Eight series which, together with the Twelves, provided the top-of-the-range models. In the Super Eight, the straight eight engine displaced 320 cu.in. and produced 130 horsepower at 3200rpm. Otherwise, it was similar mechanically to the other Packards. Based on three sizes of chassis, with wheelbases of 127, 134 and 139 inches, the Super Eight offered a choice of 17 body styles. These included four custom-built models by outside coachbuilders: Rollston produced an all-weather cabriolet and a town car, while Brunn made another all-weather cabriolet and a touring cabriolet. The remainder of the range included a variety of sedan specifications, among them a touring sedan with a removable roof section over the driving compartment. There were also coupes, convertibles and limousines. A wide variety of accessories was offered with the Super Eight, with some provided in packages such as the Custom Accessory Group and the Deluxe Accessory Group. One new accessory for that year was the guest speaker - a radio speaker which fitted into the back of the driver's seat to ensure a perfect reception for back-seat passengers. An extra $10 bought the company's pelican emblem for the top of the radiator grille. The twelve cylinder cars had much in common with the Super Eight, having the same body changes compared to the 1937 models and sharing the same three chassis. These were the really expensive Packards -not only to buy, but also to run with their 473.3 cu.in. 175 horsepower, flathead V12 engines. The cheapest Twelve - a 2+2 coupe, cost $4135, while the equivalent Super Eight went for $2925. Not surprisingly, relatively few Twelves (566) were sold. By 1939, the car would only be built to order and, thereafter, was dropped from the Packard line-up. Despite the fact that Twelves were expensive cars, 14 body styles were listed, including the same custom packages offered by Rollston and Brunn on the Super Eight. Their mechanical specification was much the same as the other Packard series, but because of the extra weight of the V12 engine, the braking system had vacuum assistance. The Twelve, originally designated the Twin six, had originally been considered a candidate for a front-wheel drive automobile, on the basis that, designed from scratch. A prototype was produced, designed by Cornelius Van Ranst, who had been involved with the Cord L-29, but it never progressed to production and the design reverted to a conventional layout. The thinking behind the front-wheel drive design was that it might be produced at more reasonable price but the need to produce a completely revised chassis design made this impractical. Post-war, Packards would lose much of their regal look as the company strove to move into mass production. Although there would be technical innovation, and production levels would recover from the catastrophic dip in the early 'thirties, the glorious years of Packard style would always remain pre-war, and the 1938 models are typical of the era. Specification PACKARD SIX Engine Cast iron - 6 cylinders in line Displacement 245 cu. ins Bore and stroke 3 1/2 x 4 1/4ins. Horsepower 100 Body styles Business coupe; Club coupe: Convertible coupe; 2 door touring sedan; 4 door touring sedan No. of seats 2-5 Weight (lbs) 3,425 Ibs-3,525 Ibs Price $975-$1,070 Produced 30,050 Specification HUDSON TERRAPLANE Engine Chrome alloy - 6 Cylinders in line Displacement 212 cu. ins Bore and stroke 3 x 5 ins. Horsepower 101 Body styles Coupe; Brougham; Convertible; Sedan; Tourer; Victoria No. of seats 3-6 Weight (lbs) 2,725 Ibs - 2,930 Ibs Price $789-$1,034 Produced 100,000 Specification DODGE Engine Cast iron - 6 cylinders in line Displacement 217.8 cu. ins Bore and stroke 3 1/4 x 4 3/8ins. Horsepower 87 Body styles Coupe; Rumble-seat coupe; Convertible coupe; Fastback sedan; Touring sedan; Limousine No. of seats 2-7 Weight (lbs) 2,875 Ibs - 3,380 Ibs Price $808-$1,275 Produced 114,529
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