The contributions made by the Packard Motor Car Co. during World War II are well known. Less is known, however, about the small role that a single Packard automobile played in the Mexican Revolution. This image is part of a series which depicts a Packard automobile, driven by an American driver, surrounded by armed Mexican revolutionaries. Two letters accompanying the photographs shed some light on the circumstances surrounding the images, and the reception of the photographs by a Packard executive.
The first letter, from Herbert M. Dawley to the Sales Manager at the Detroit Packard office, states that “These pictures were taken at the time of the overthrow of Diaz and this old Packard” was used “for reconnaisance [sic] and swift raids.” A reply from H.F. Olmsted, the Publicity Director at Packard, indicates a possibility that Packard “will be able to use” the photographs “to good advantage in a publicity way.” It is difficult to envision these images emblazoned with the iconic Packard slogan, “Ask the Man Who Owns One.” It is interesting, nevertheless, to consider the possibilities, and to be thankful that Mr. Olmsted did not choose to follow one of the suggestions made by Mr. Dawley to “consign [the photographs] to oblivion” and prevent these unique artifacts of the early international exploits of Packard automobiles from entering the Detroit Historical Society’s collection.
The full set of photographs documenting the Packard’s role in the Mexican Revolution can be viewed here as part of the Detroit Historical Society’s growing Packard Motor Car Co. digital collection.
-Dallas Pillen, Wayne State University Graduate Student