Both the iconic Packard Plant and the historic Packard Proving Grounds buildings were built by the Detroit Architectural icon Albert Kahn. For decades the 40 acre Detroit Packard Plant was manufacturing one of the world’s most superbly engineered luxury vehicles. Their well deserved slogan “Ask the Man Who Owns One” was created by the President of Packard, James Alvan Macauley, and backed by many royal and influential families across the country and throughout the world. Post WWII the Packard company was never able to recover to their previous glory.
In 1954, Packard bought out Studebaker in hopes to create the fourth largest automotive company in the US. Due to financials and not knowing Studebakers full circumstances, production and testing was ended in 1956 when the Studebaker-Packard Corporation was forced to file bankruptcy. Currently the historic ruins of the Detroit based Packard Plant are considered the largest abandoned factory in the world.
The buildings and the proving grounds were purchased from a private owner by the Ford Motor Company in 1961 to expand manufacturing needs and used the location for those purposes for several decades. Eventually Ford wanted to demolish the buildings, and after a large outcry of local city officials, fans and car enthusiasts, permit denials by the city, The Ford Motor Company ended up donating 7 acres of land to the Packard Motor Car Foundation in an attempt to preserve some of more historic and significant portions of the Proving grounds. The Lodge building, garage, water tower and Chrysler Defense building were part of the 7 acres. It wasn’t until 2000 that the work of the Shelby Township Historical Commission, car enthusiasts and fans were paid off and the Packard Proving Grounds was added to the National Register of Historic Places.