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Largest Abandoned Factory in the World: The Packard Factory, Detroit

Packard was once a premier nameplate in the United States, mentioned in the same breath as Duesenberg, Cadillac, Pierce-Arrow, and Lincoln. The crown jewel for Packard was the Packard Factory, a 3.5 million square-foot complex sprawling across 35 acres.

In the years following World War II, the Packard Motor Car Company struggled to keep pace with the larger automakers that had been buying-up the smaller companies to form “the Big Three.” Those not part of the Big Three had to merge to stay competitive: Kaiser and Willys formed Kaiser-Willys, Nash and Hudson formed American Motors, and Packard joined forces with Studebaker. The experiment was short-lived, however, and Packard plunged into bankruptcy soon after.

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Unfortunately for Packard, Studebaker was considered by many of the time to be of lower prestige and quality; the effects of the merger had a negative effect on the marketplace’s perspective of Packard cars.

The 1950’s were not kind to Packard; they went from being one of the premier car builders – outselling Cadillac up until 1950 – to complete bankruptcy.

(click thumbnails to enlarge)


An entrance to the Packard factory: then and today

In 1957, no more Packards would be built at the Detroit plant. For the next two years a handful of Studebaker models continued to wear the Packard badge until Studebaker itself could no longer carry the brand. By the turn of the decade, Studebaker would begin to pull the Packard nameplate from its models. By the early 1960s, Studebaker dropped the Packard name altogether.

Studebaker would go on to meet the same fate several years later, having survived longer only due to the differing lower-price/higher-volume sales model.

Upon liquidation, the remaining pre-war Packard designs and tooling were sold to Russian car companies. For decades Packards would continue to be built under the ZIL and ZIM nameplates, catering to the Communist elite. Post-war Packard designs would continue to appear around the Soviet Union into the 1970s.

At least the Packard name would survive. General Motors’ electrics division – now known as Delphi – was originally Packard Electric when the auto manufacturer purchased it in 1932. The company was later renamed Delphi Packard Electric Systems, and coincidentally would be the only profitable division within parent company Delphi during the late-2000′s auto crisis.

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The Factory

The crown jewel of the entire Packard story, however, is the factory. Designed by Albert Kahn and opened in 1903, the factory was world-class in its day. The Packard factory occupied 3.5 million square feet of space between 47 buildings. It employed over 40,000 skilled workers on a campus that spanned 35 acres.

The facility was the most modern plant of its time – the first to use reinforced concrete in industrial construction.

(Click for larger version)

 

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After Packard

The plant was closed in 1956, leaving the factory vacant. Since there was no company at the time in Detroit that required 3.5 million square-feet of space, the city considered parceling the factory out to multiple tenants – but there wasn’t enough interest.

Only one tenant other than Packard has ever occupied the factory long-term: Chemical Processing Company moved into a small part of the factory in 1958. To put the footprint into perspective, Chemical Processing’s operations required 57,000 square feet – less than 1% of the entire factory complex.

Chemical Processing would move operations in 2007. Ironically they would ultimately be a tenant of the factory longer than Packard itself, even though their lease started two years after Packard vacated. The owner of Chemical Processing admitted part of the reason for his move in 2007 was due to vandals and break-ins around the factory.

Not realizing a business is still operating there, scavengers would often break-in to cut power and phone lines for scrap copper. Vandals seem to be in a race with Mother Nature to see who can destroy the building the fastest.

Vandalism of the lobby over time: 2001 (left), 2010 (middle), 2014 (right)

Packard_entry_2014_TabulaRasa


Packard Panoramic

panorama circa 2010

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The Future

The Packard factory isn’t going anywhere soon. It would likely cost the city of Detroit over $10 million to properly raze it. With low property values and no immediate needs to re-develop the area, financially-strapped Detroit can’t justify the expense.

For decades the city offered the land for sale but there were no suitors. Finally the only ownership group that ever expressed interest purchased the land – but they haven’t paid any property taxes since they bought it in 1987 and have no plans to develop it.

Packard Factory then & now

In 2011, the Packard Factory stands as the largest abandoned industrial complex in the world. In a country where nationwide property values have increased dramatically over the last century, it is amazing to see a several billion dollar facility left to rot for over 50 years in a major city.

The façade from the main entrance recently sold at auction for $1.5M

 

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Video Tours:

Satellite image and map: click here

Interesting note on the map: a newer Cadillac factory – sitting just across I-94 from the Packard complex – dwarfs the old factory in size. Everything south of I-94 and north of Gratiot Avenue is mostly vacant: this is the run-down area of old industrial Detroit.

Despite being central to the overall area, the land here is very undesirable due to crime, decay, and the city’s complete lack of tending to the area. Plots of land sit vacant all over the place; some homes in the area have sold for as little as $7,000.

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Above: Mean-spirited ‘Packard Crushathon’ in late 70′s decimated the remaining Packard population

Below: Packard in its heyday

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  1. zootshooter
    August 30, 2011 at 04:35

    Very interesting post with some real nice pictures. I do find something really intriguing about how hubs of commercial activity can just be left to rot, great background info provided too. Nice one!

  2. September 4, 2011 at 12:04

    Unbelievable how well-written and informative this was.

  3. Torn
    September 5, 2011 at 13:20

    Thanks for sharing. What a pleasure to read!

  4. king_hil
    November 20, 2011 at 16:47

    one would think it would be in the gov’ and private interest to recycle some of that old concrete. the whole old factory structure and i’m sure many more structures would have provided a great base for the monstrous parking lots across the freeway

  5. zachary wetzel
    January 10, 2012 at 12:35

    does any one know who owns it and how to contact them?

    • James M
      December 5, 2013 at 11:05

      Bill Hults bought it at auction but was unable to pay for it. He defaulted, and it went for auction again but no buyers. You can probably have it lock stock and barrel for $2 million.

      You’d want to contact David Szymanski, the Wayne County Treasury officer, if you were serious. You can’t buy something like this without credibly demonstrating that you’d be capable of either demolishing it or developing it (or both) without creating liabilities for the city.

    • maria
      June 10, 2014 at 08:48

      A guy from Peru just bought it for around 2 million. My husband and I toured it yesterday(June 9th 2014) A man that works at the only business still operating out of the plant (chemical processing) told us

  6. kiara
    January 12, 2012 at 06:59

    very interesting read, and super pictures to go with it….just love those cars!

  7. john nessen
    March 7, 2012 at 11:20

    Packard, like many other car companies died when they did not sell enough cars to be profitable. It is all down hill from that point. This factor could be “condoned”, out to several tenants to be again a productive property. First the tenants would need to be protected from vandals. The city will strive to get taxes and alike and not protect the property owners in a decaying social environment. Build new and have the wrecking ball remove the old is the rule now days. Salvage value could restore this property to a parking lot type thing with the right minds set to do it. It can be done, why not? To many restrictions?

  8. March 12, 2012 at 16:34

    Did you notice the 48 star flag in one photo?
    Car production was stopping to focus on “the war effort”.

  9. Bohdan
    March 26, 2012 at 01:12

    Some of these photos are downright incredible

  10. jenny
    July 12, 2012 at 21:12

    Great spot for Z World Detroit!

  11. August 20, 2012 at 12:43

    sad to see such a great plant in such a state I was a production engineer the body plant of a truck plant in scotland which was closed and flattened I work in a bank now ha ha. All manufacturing is going to only one place china

  12. August 21, 2012 at 14:58

    There are a number of errors in the article and photos that are incorrectly captioned. The “merger” of Studebaker and Packard was more of an outright purchase. Packard paid 54 million dollars for Studebaker stock. It was part of an overall plan to merge Studebaker, Packard, Nash and Hudson together. The new Corporation would have displaced Chrysler from their position as a member of the big three. Packard ceased production of automobiles in the Packard factory (The Grand Avenue plant) at the end of the 1954 model year. Production was moved to the Conner avenue plant for the model years 1955 and 1956. Those were the last of the “true” Packards. Operations were consolidated in South Bend (the Studebaker plant) for the 1957 and 1958 model years. These cars were merely redesigned Studebakers. 1958 was the last year of production for automobiles that carried the Packard name. In 1959 Studebaker sold some trucks to South America that were labeled as Packard trucks to circumvent certain import and contractual restrictions on Studebaker. The Packard name was dropped from the corporate name in 1963; Studebaker Packard Corporation became Studebaker Corporation.

    • August 21, 2012 at 15:49

      Mike,

      Thanks for the input. I’m curious – none of what you say appears to conflict with anything in the article. What conflicts did you see? Again, thanks for your input and feel free to share more information here about Packard and Studebaker.

      • Michael Yesensky
        August 25, 2012 at 16:21

        Sorry to take so long to get back to you. Its extremely difficult to sum up what went wrong at Packard but the following statement gives a somewhat inaccurate  impression.  Unfortunately forPackard, Studebaker was of lower prestige and quality. The effects of the merger quickly manifested themselves on Packard cars: poor build quality, less-innovative design, and horrendous planning. Studebaker’s influence had Packard building the wrong car at the wrong time. The 1950’s were not kind to Packard; they went from being one of the premier car builders – outselling Cadillac up until 1950 – to complete bankruptcy.  Packard was very much aware that Studebaker was a car of a lesser name. The point of purchasing Studebaker was to enter the lower medium price field without diluting the Packard name. It was all part of a larger plan to combine Packard, Studebaker, Nash and Hudson together into a corporation that would displace Chrysler from its number three position in the big three. The plan was hatched by James Nance (new president of Packard) and George Mason (president of Nash) Both Packard and Nash were in very strong cash positions. At this point Packard stock was the second most widely held automotive stock after General Motors.  Unfortunately halfway through the process Mason had a heart attack. His successor, Romney was totally in the dark about the plan and was not interested when informed about it. So Packard continued on with Studebaker and Nash with Hudson. Packard still planned to consolidate production and maximize interchangeability to lower costs and increase efficiency. To this end Packard built a new engine plant, new assembly plant (computer punch card controlled) and also took on government contracts for jet engines and navel engines. Packards quality problems were primarily in the early 55 models due to the move to the Connor ave. plant. They were mostly resolved by midyear except for a problem with the rear axles supplied by Dana, cars were recalled and replacement axles furnished, unfortunately the replacement axles were no better and also had to be replaced. As to innovation, Packard was more innovative in this period than at almost any other time in their history. The 55s featured a new V8 engine, the largest, most powerful in the industry, a new transmission, a revolutionary new self leveling suspension system that had everyone else playing catch-up (air suspension wouldn’t appear for a couple of years and was a dismal failure) safety side marker lights. 1956 saw a pushbutton electronic transmission, reversible upholstery, a bigger engine, aluminum case transmission and offered seat belts and a thicker padded dash and a positive traction rear axle that was within the price range of most car buyers. Packard engines and transmissions appeared in Studebakers, Nashs and Hudsons.  The primary problem was the massive capital outlays that Packard was making, 54 million for Studebaker,  the costs of building a brand new engine plant and new assembly plant (Conner ave) ,the total revamp of the cars for 1955, and a totally new car planned for the 57 model year which would have utilized a common platform for Studebaker Packard cars (cost estimates 57million)  and the cancellation of jet engine contracts (the B 47 was replaced by the B52) Packard was forced to shop for loans which they seldom had to do because of their strong cash position in the past They were quite surprised to find that there were few  people willing to loan to a car company that wasn’t one of the big three. The one source that they had counted on had already committed huge amounts of cash to a risky project, apparently some movie producer wanted to build an amusement park out in the orange groves of southern California. Studebaker Packard fell victim to corporate raiding through a loan, management agreement with Curtis Wright Corporation.  Curtis Wright sold off all of the Packard assets of any value and Studebaker Packard was left to carry on in South Bend. When Studebaker automobiles went under in the 64-66 period it didn’t go bankrupt, they simply closed the automotive division of the corporation but continued on in various incarnations, Studebaker Worthington makers of stationary commercial compressors, Schafer appliances and STP (Studebaker total performance) ultimately various parts were sold or absorbed but they didn’t just go bankrupt.   Several pictures of the interior of the Packard factory are of the Connor ave. plant interior, not the Grand boulevard plant. Again production of automobiles ceased at the Grand blvd. facility in 1954. There were a number of tenants in the Packard property on Grand Blvd. that I am aware of occupying the property for a number of years; a wholesale grocery, a number of small businesses as well as the welfare office located for a time in the administrative building. A Packard’s grave is also its birthplace The car in the picture in not a Packard, I think it’s a Chrysler product.   I certainly enjoyed seeing your article and pictures, I realize that it is no small thing to write a history or even a synopsis of a complex situation like Studebaker Packard in the postwar era. There are a lot of personal opinions and versions of history. I have talked to some of the original participants (James Nance, Richard Teague etc.) and even their versions contradict each other so I doubt we will ever actually know exactly what happened. If I can get to them up in the attic I will see if I can send you pictures (if you’re interested) of the Packard plant in 1974 and 86 at the Packard national meets (I think the years are correct) I also have an article that I wrote for someone (I forgot who and I don’t remember if it was published) called “Packard, what if” if you’re interested I’ll see if I can find it too.   Thanks again  Mike

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  13. dave
    October 25, 2012 at 10:39

    good stuff,good read, great photos,NICE ONE,~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  14. Kenan
    November 7, 2012 at 20:49

    I own a 1949 Studebaker Champion Starlight Coupe. It has the standard 170 cubic inch inline 6, with a 3 speed on the column, with overdrive. (A Studebaker innovation) My great great uncle bought it new in 1949. He gave it to my grandfather in the 80s, and it sat in his garage for years, until I finally convinced him to get it repainted and get the exterior cleaned up. The wheels were cleaned up, he put some white walls on, the dent in the rear fender was fixed, and it was repainted the original dark blue color. About a year later he passed away and left this triumph of American craftsmanship to me…. Im 16 years old. But I grew up in a muscle car museum, and while it doesnt have cowl induction, a 4 barrel carburator, an 8 track, or a 426 Hemi, this car is of better build quality than anything ive ever seen. Studebaker started as a wagon company in 1852, they entered the auto industry in 1902 with electric cars, and started making gasoline cars in 1904. The gas mileage of my Champion blows anything of the time out of the water, with an incredible combined mileage of 23 mpg! Studebaker was also the first company to use foam in their seats, and from someone who has ridden in about any Rolls Royce, Bentley, Mercedes, BMW, Cadillac that you can name, that Studebaker is the most comfortable car ive ever been in. Rose colored glasses in the trash. They also revolutionized the overdrive system, the automatic transmission and the independent suspension system. (As shown in one of their Tv commercials, driving across a rough desert at funny speed. Now, some people thought that Studebakers were not good cars because of a greedy, cutthroats company called E-M-F who tried to put them out of business so they could take it for themself. They decided to build cars and have Studebaker put their name on it so Studebaker could have some of the profit. But emf purposely made horrendously unreliable cars for Studebaker to put their name on. The folks at emf figured that they could make the Studebaker name mud so no one would buy them, then emf could take all their money and business. But the Studebaker people were smart and started selling the emf cars as emf’s instead of Studebakers. So emf’s plan backfired on them and led to their own destruction. But Studebaker went on to make dozens of great models including the Lark, Hawk, Land Cruiser, and the famous Avanti, to name a few. My Champion is all original all the way to the 6 volt system. Even has the original wiring. Not a single thing has been replaced on this car. Original engine would idle all day if I let it, and purrs down the road like a Persian cat in a rich mans lap. 3 speed manual transmission shifts smoother than any manual transmission ive ever felt, which is a lot, because of the muscle car museum. All mechanical components of the car are 63 years old and never seen any kind of problem. It also has an in cabin hood release, a retractable antenna, and a vent on the side that lets cool air in at your feet. Good on a hot night in Alabama. These were all unheard of features at the time. The wrap around rear glass was the secondary big trademark of Studebaker, (the first being the bullet nose, which came a year after mine) and it is amazing to see. And it completely eliminates the blind spot.

    All of that to say that Studebaker and shoddy craftsmanship don’t belong in the same sentence. They, much like Chrysler, (with Diamler) got screwed by another company and got a mark on their name. Studebaker and Packard are both true American heroes, but their quality and innovation are forgotten by so many. It is nice to see car guys like y’all who remember these kings of the road, and I encourage you to keep on Packin/Bakin! And who knows what the future will hold, if Datsun can return from the dead, so can Studebaker and Packard.

    God bless

    • Rick Malecki
      January 7, 2014 at 23:43

      Got any pictures of your ’49 Starlight Coupe? My Mom and Dad bought one new. It was our family car when I was a kid. It was yellow with a bunch of extra chrome (don’t doubt my dad borrowed some of the chrome as it made it’s way home in his lunch pail). My Dad, Grandpa’s and uncles worked there for years. Thanks, Rick

  15. Logan
    December 5, 2012 at 21:44

    I have allways been a fan of Packard since I was 7 years old and helping my dad restore a 1934 Packard 8. Wonderfull pics and sad that the PMCC of today made an super ugly prototype and is now trying to sell not only the car but the company for 1.5 mil.Shamefull..I love old Packards even some of the 50′s packards

  16. Ray
    December 21, 2012 at 22:48

    This is one interesting article. The great “what if” is if Mason and Nance had been able to complete the merger process that stopped when Mason died. I read in some of these postings that it came to the point where Packard had to opportunity to merge with American Motors or merge with Studebaker and chose to go with Studebaker. Who knows how things would have gone if Packard had chosen to merge into AMC. They would have been able to be the Cadillac of the company with Hudson and Nash covering the other two areas like Mercury and Ford did for Ford Motor Company. Maybe then Studebaker would have joined them seeing that they would have been alone in the business and having to compete with four automotive giants.

  17. Scott
    January 18, 2013 at 17:26

    Its a shame that some part of this proud piece of history couldnt be saved as a museum to the Packard line of automobiles.

  18. February 19, 2013 at 16:25

    Times may well change and the plant can get a new life. There is a train station in Manchester England closed since the 1960′s (and since only ever used as a film set for post apopolyptic movies & tv shows and such like). Anyway there is talk/plans to re open it as there are major rail expansion plans afoot and all the other suitable stations are full to capacity. So detroit you never know,,,,

  19. Kip
    February 21, 2013 at 22:33

    Who owns this property? Does someone pay the taxes on it? Has it been repossessed by the city?

    • February 25, 2013 at 19:09

      Kip, to answer your questions:
      the city of Detroit, no, and yes (because of that no. ;-) )

  20. March 10, 2013 at 16:09

    Impressive buildings – and equally impressive story about this automobile factory. Interesting reading – both for a Dane (with an old Volvo!) far from the spot – and for many others, when you read all the interesting comments above.

  21. Nick
    March 30, 2013 at 22:00

    I am not sure who made this statement or where it came from, I am not the source, please check replys. Studebaker is the only car company in existance that discontinued its auto operations while still making a profit. It was the Board of Directors who bailed. The auto division was profitable, but after production stopped in the US and engines were being sourced from GM, there was no attempt to keep design and engineering going. They simply used up spare parts and stopped when those ran out. I myself owned a late ’66 which had 64/65 side molding added when it went out the door. When they ran out of trunk lids in ’66 that was stopping point. The Canadian operation was a good one, and could have continued indefinitley if not for the board. After ceasing auto production, the 1967 Annual report showed a huge profit by the company, 200 or 300 million I believe from all the different divisions. It was by then known as Studebaker-Worthington. The board had wanted to exit autos in 1961 when they hired the new President Sherwood Egbert, but he attemped to reverse course, he was fighting upstream and he became ill with Cancer. He did manage to restyle the Hawk line, the Lark line and introduce the ever alive Avanti, before he was replaced with an old Packard man Byers Burlingame, who almost immediatley shut the South Bend plant down, ending auto, truck, military, postal vehicles in on fell swoop.

  22. April 2, 2013 at 08:14

    Fascinating and revealing article, with some fine illustrations…and amazing commentary that followed. I photographed the interior of the plant in 1999 (for a book I was doing called Abandoned America) and found it haunting. If I’d had the time, I would have spent days inside. I am now planning to use a photo I took of a urinal inside the plant for a photo book I’m doing on bathrooms. This article gave me some great information to include in my caption. THANKS.

  23. Craig Sasser
    May 11, 2013 at 14:07

    There are several Throphy properties in Detroit sitting around vacant even as the city tries to make a comeback. There is a large eyesore right next to Henry Ford Hospital, the Michigan Train Station, the Highland Park Industrial Plant, etc. Can you find out who owns these parcels and how do they profit from letting them sit around like this? Its hard to comprehend.

    • May 12, 2013 at 10:50

      Most abandoned commercial properties around Detroit are now owned by the city; major municipalities usually have legislature written allowing cities the right to seize properties within city limits that have severe outstanding tax bills.

      Since the city owns the properties, they are not collecting taxes on them. There are plans in place for structured demolition and industrial rejuvenation around the city, but it will only happen as funds become available. Detroit is sort-of undergoing a rebirth right now, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of these plans start to unfold over the next 5-10 years.

      One can only hope they are successful and this once-great city can rise again.

  24. Craig Sasser
    May 11, 2013 at 14:16

    Can you find out who owns these properties and why they are not for sale?

    • May 12, 2013 at 09:57

      I wouldn’t say the properties are not for sale. If you approached Detroit with their asking price I’m sure they’d be happy to sell it to you.

      I did try and follow the ownership path but it’s hazy. It appears to be owned by the city of Detroit since the early 1990s at least, if not longer (they seized the factory from the previous owners who were not paying taxes). From what I can tell there is a Detroit businessman named Dominic Cristini who was the property manager when it was owned by the city in the 1990s; as recent as the early 2000′s Dominic was trying to save the plant. It does not appear he owns it, but at one point managed it and according to what I can find he was spearheading the group trying to save the plant.

      You also had a businessman in Phoenix named Roy Gullickson who owned the Packard name (he purchased it for $50k in 1994). Roy has tried to bring the nameplate back but did not appear to originally intend to involve the plant. A Chicago Sun-Times article in 2000 indicates Cristini was reaching out to Gullickson about involving the plant in the Packard redux. Cristini also indicated he was lining up private investors to purchase the plant, but it’s been almost 10 years and the city apparently still owns it. Another article in September of 2000 said Gullickson was teaming up with Kruse International auctions and eBay Motors to sell the Packard name online, but they were unsuccessful.

      Roy released a Packard prototype with a V12 in 2003 that was displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours, but that is where the Packard rebirth would end when there was apparently not enough interest and no additional financing. That prototype was sold at auction in 2009 and Roy tried once again to sell the Packard naming rights and all associated equipment for $1.5M. From what I can tell he was unsuccessful, and is still the owner. An article in 2010 states he now lives in Canada.

      Regarding the plant: the city wants to demolish it but a combination of tight purse strings and numerous Packard aficionados have banded together to try and save it. Until a big enough investor comes along to “solve” the issue once and for all, this might end in a stalemate for some time longer.

    • wycliffewy
      December 5, 2013 at 11:08

      They go up for auction pretty often, and then the buyers fail to pay up, so they revert back to the county (Wayne County). It’s happened three times in 2013 alone.

      You can’t buy something like this without having a credible plan for demolition and/or development. The sale price of the parcels is probably less than you’d think (It’s changed hands for $2 and $6 million that I know about.)

  25. beachbabygirrl
    May 15, 2013 at 23:29

    The state of MI or the Federal Govt should use this property as a prison.

    It is big enough to be able to house hundreds of thousands of inmates and not only will it employ thousands and thousands of people, the trains could be used to transport inmates from out of state to house those who are in over crowed prisons.

    This could be something that would revitalize Detroit.

  26. retrokick
    May 28, 2013 at 10:33

    For those that had asked about the status of the property now: apparently it is going up for sale in fall 2013. A friend just posted an article on Facebook about it…. http://detroit.curbed.com/archives/2013/05/packard-plant-headed-for-auction-as-one-massive-entity.php

  27. Kathy
    June 15, 2013 at 14:10

    My husband restores classic cars and collect bricks from significant old buildings. I wish I knew someone close to Detroit that would ship some bricks to me. We have quite a few from places before they were torn down. I research and get black and white photos with history written up with each set of bricks.

  28. July 22, 2013 at 05:18

    Reblogged this on Black History 360*.

  29. John
    August 9, 2013 at 16:02

    Packards were certainly well made and beautiful cars. I saw a 1935 dual cowl phaeton in a museum in Lancaster PA that was really impressive for its quality and design.
    It seems incredible that this plant was made in 1903. Its hard to believe that there was that much of a demand for cars at that time.
    Does anyone know what happened to the original owners?

    Last, I never heard the v12 motor, or the PT boat motor, but the straight 8 motor had a very nice and powerful sound to it.

    John
    johnheck69@gmail.com

    • wycliffewy
      December 5, 2013 at 11:13

      James Ward Packard (the original owner) died of natural causes and quite wealthy at age 65, young but not surprisingly so for the time.

    • wycliffewy
      December 5, 2013 at 11:16

      Oh, PS., automobiles were revolutionizing society, responsible for some of the most dramatic changes to ever affect society. Of *course* there was incredible demand!

  30. Nick
    August 13, 2013 at 20:41

    Another great article and pictures. To me, it is a misfortune of Studebaker and Packard; they were both really good cars at the time.

  31. Ashley
    October 31, 2013 at 11:23

    Wondering who I can speak to about getting permission to use one of the photos? My husband loves it and I wanted to get it printed and framed for him.

    • John
      October 31, 2013 at 11:53

      @Ashley – Really, the state of copyright in this online era is like this. If you want to reproduce a picture from the internet, you don’t really need permission unless you plan to sell it or mass-produce and distribute it.

  32. Patricia Hamilton
    November 2, 2013 at 06:56

    I wish someone would buy The PACKARD PLANT & have the PACKARD CARS COME BACK.
    The PACKARD CARS are BEAUTIFUL and it WOULD BE NICE and GREAT to see them AGAIN.
    It would be VERY SAD to see The PACKARD PLANT BUILDING to be gone.

  33. Rob
    November 9, 2013 at 22:53

    My father was a body engineer in the final years , or nearly so, at Packard. He came to Michigan to work for Chrysler and jumped to Packard after hearing there were opportunities there. His office was at the proving grounds. I have faint memories of the test track when I was just three or so.

    Many would like what I am about to say, but my own perspective is that Packard like many of the competitors with GMC and Ford, in particular were seen as unwanted interlopers. Only Ford and GM had the financial power to “kill off” the competition. A friend of Billy Durant said that during a conversation with him in 1938 that he had some regrets starting GM for fear that it had used its financial power against competitors. I think this is more than likely.

    My father died at age 32 believing his illness was due to exposure to carbon tet while doing his job. I think it may have saddened him to see the demise of this maker of some great automobiles.

    • November 10, 2013 at 18:02

      I’m sorry to hear about your father, Rob. I can’t imagine it is an easy topic for you to discuss. I’d be curious to hear the workers’ perspective of what happened in those final years.

  34. RVS
    November 25, 2013 at 01:27

    Reblogged this on bubblingpoint.

  35. Remy
    November 25, 2013 at 06:28

    Awesome, now tear it all down and put in a nice 35 acre park for people to enjoy.

  36. wes
    December 9, 2013 at 13:00

    I’m not sure this is the largest abandoned industrial complex in the world. Look up Indiana Army Ammunition Plant in Charlstown Indiana. Over 6,000 acres remain (of an over 12,000 acre facility) with close to a thousand abandoned buildings. I’ve visited it myself and the size and scope is difficult to fathom once you are in there.

  37. Karl D Furrutter
    December 16, 2013 at 12:18

    The abandoned ’40′s car in the pics is indeed Chrysler in origin. It is in fact a ’42 Plymouth or Dodge. Sad to see it like that considering the 1942 model year ended in the first quarter of ’42 due to the US entry into the holocaust of WW2.

    Regards
    Karl
    South Africa

  38. December 17, 2013 at 12:41

    As a former owner of a 1941 Packard Convertible coupe and a current employee of the Albert Kahn Family of Comany’s, this discussion has brought a long tear to my eye. Kahn as it is now referred to, the original designers of the plant, still holds the original drawings to the plant. We have talked to several developers as to what could or could not be done with what is left. Bottom line, large areas are still structurally sound and could be redeveloped. Other areas are beyond redemption and will need to razed. With any large undertaking such as this it wiil take copious amounts of vision and money to make something of the site again. Kahn stands willing, able and ready to assist in any way we can. The recent purchaser from Peruvian has made their final payment and we are waiting to see what their next move is.

  39. Wendy
    December 17, 2013 at 13:32

    Good afternoon. I searched for an update on this and found an article, dated just today 12/17, that it has been purchased: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-17/packard-plant-buyer-predicts-rebirth-for-symbol-of-detroit-decay.html

    • December 20, 2013 at 10:49

      Thanks for sharing, Wendy. Mr. Palazuelo won’t be the first person to have tried to purchase and develop the property, but the article did say he paid the escrow – which is farther than anyone before him has gotten in the process. Nothing finalized, of course, but this offers hope we haven’t had in the past. I’ll keep an eye on this, thanks for the update!

  40. December 27, 2013 at 05:50

    The Packard is one of my favorite automobiles. :) Great article.

  41. Larry Friskopp
    December 28, 2013 at 22:15

    Its too bad this monstrous plant will rot away into history but that can’t really be stopped. Detroit is in ruin and has no money to even run basic services, let alone restore or even demolish this huge complex. I am amazed that people actually think Packard can come back and use these buildings. It would take billions to make this a usable structure again, profits could never exceed costs. A dismal end to an amazing story. We can only restore and admire these magnificent automobiles.

  42. doucettefr
    January 2, 2014 at 16:48

    I’m wondering if Eminem has read this?? LOL

  43. Common commentator
    January 10, 2014 at 22:35

    I truly appreciate coming across this well informed, researched, and presented article. Excellent photos, history, everything! Thank you.

  44. russell
    February 8, 2014 at 19:42

    this is a great story but a sad one to my farther had a packard when i was a kid it was new early 50s and it was a nice car and right hand drive as i live in Australia it is sad to see a great icon as this just go to shit

  45. April 12, 2014 at 20:01

    The images in this piece and the videos reminded me of film footage of Chernobyl.

  46. April 20, 2014 at 20:35

    After this is gone the RINGNECK Pheasants will make their return to the area!

  47. Lou Renner
    June 20, 2014 at 11:30

    My grandmother owned a Packard in the 40′s which was a great auto. Oh what a ride and performance it had. The car will never be replaced.

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  6. August 14, 2013 at 05:48
  7. September 2, 2013 at 10:39

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