The first Packard car -- a single-cylinder Model A -- is assembled and driven on Nov. 6, 1899, in Warren, Ohio.
James Ward Packard, an engineer, was disappointed with the performance of his Winton, so he wrote to the Cleveland company in 1898 with a set of complaints and suggestions. When Alexander Winton rebuffed those ideas and told Packard to build his own car instead, Packard did — and on Nov. 6, 1899, the first Packard Model A rolled through the streets of Warren, Ohio, with James Packard at the controls. It had two forward gears and reverse and a top speed of 20 mph.
It was chased by so many dogs on the streets of Warren that Packard quickly invented an novel accessory: an ammonia squirt gun.
The body was made of wood by a Warren coachbuilder and the mudguards, dashboard and upholstery were crafted from leather.
Packard used his engineering skills to launch the Packard name as an American builder of luxury cars to match Britain's Rolls-Royce.
In 1902, the company was awarded a patent for the 4-speed "H" gearshift. It was developed and engineered by James Packard and William Hatcher, a design engineer.
Packard also pioneered the modern steering wheel, the first production 12-cylinder engine and air conditioning in a passenger car.
A group of investors persuaded Packard to move his car company to Detroit. In early 1903, architect Albert Kahn was hired to design a factory on 40 acres along Grand Boulevard in the fledgling Motor City. For the 10th building in the complex, Kahn used reinforced concrete. It was a first for plant construction and made Kahn the auto industry's go-to guy for new factories.
In 1930, the Model A was donated to Lehigh University, Packard's alma mater.
The Packard manufacturing complex in Detroit eventually grew to about 80 buildings spread across 80 acres. It continued making cars for decades, as well as engines for World War II, but the company ran into trouble when it acquired Studebaker Corp. in 1954.
The merged company -- facing pricing pressure from bigger rivals General Motors and Ford -- never turned a profit. The Detroit plant closed when the last unique Packard was produced in 1956. And the Packard name was discontinued two years later.