One of the more controversial things Packard Motor Car Company ever did was start building less-expensive cars. In the 1920s, there was no such thing as an affordable Packard. If you owned one, it meant you were somebody of wealth and taste.
Come the Great Depression, however, fewer folks with taste had wealth. Moreover, those with wealth often didn’t wish to flaunt it on the streets they shared with those without. Packard’s answer was a high-quality, six-cylinder car aimed at upper-middle-class buyers. After the Depression and World War II were over, the economy recovered, but Packard continued to build more affordable cars alongside its luxury models
.In 1951, the entry-level range was restyled and renamed the 200 model. Priced like a Buick Super, Chrysler Windsor, or base-model Lincoln, the 200 rode on a 122-inch wheelbase, powered by a 288-cu.in., 135-hp straight-eight backed up with a column-shifted three-speed manual, an over-drive, or Packard’s torque-convertor automatic, the Ultramatic.
The 200 came in standard or Deluxe trim, the primary difference being a toothy grille on the Deluxe. Initially, the standard 200 could be had as a business coupe, two-door Club Sedan, or a four-door sedan. No Deluxe business coupe was offered and for 1952, the business coupe was dropped entirely. A two-door Mayfair hardtop and a convertible were offered on the 122-inch wheelbase, but with a 150-hp, 327-cu.in. straight-eight. The Mayfair and convertible were grouped as the more-expensive 250 model and while they are a part of the “junior series” Packards, they are not included in this evaluation. The 200 sold well enough during its two years of production and served as the basis for the Clipper models that followed. For 1951, counting all body styles, over 70,000 200s were built, about 2⁄3 of which were Deluxes. That number dropped to under 47,000 for 1952, in part because of material restrictions caused by the Korean War. Only about 15 percent of 1952s were built with Deluxe trim. Attrition has been hard on the Deluxe cars, too, as some of them have wound up as parts cars to restore more valuable 250 models.