Motoring Trailblazers - Packard Super Eight One-Eighty

Sat 6th Jul 2019

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Packard Super Eight One-Eighty

Apart from a starring role in the original The Godfather movie of 1970, the Packard 180 holds a place in the history books as being the first production model auto to have electric windows.

Built in Detroit, Packard Motor Car Company had been building cars since 1899, and were said to be the favoured motor of Stalin.

Launched in 1940, the Packard 180 was designed to replace the Twin Six as the company’s most luxurious model and was advertised as the most powerful eight-cylinder engine offered by any automobile manufacturer in 1940.

Despite being Packard’s top of the range model, the 180 shared the same bodywork as the company’s other 110, 120 and 160 models, with only the hood and front fender changing to accommodate the larger engines.

Those who got the chance to sit inside the ‘180’ though will have instantly seen the difference, with a finer interior design showcasing the best fabrics, leather and carpeting. The Packard Super Eight One-Eighty also featured air-conditioning, though it was the electric or ‘power’ windows which made it a groundbreaker.

The Lincoln Continental arrived with vacuum operated power windows in 1941, but it was the 180 one year earlier which claimed it as a first. First is not always best though and the system which used brake fluid to move the windows up and down was slow and prone to damaging leaks if not properly maintained.

Due to the Second World War, the Packard 180 had a very limited production run and the last example came in February 1942. Rumours that the 180 machinery was sent to the Soviet Union in the early 1950s is without foundation, though Stalin’s love for the car gives the stories some credibility.