Video: the Packard Merlin story

Don’t miss it! This great newsreel film provides a priceless look inside the Detroit Packard plant in World War II and the production of Merlin aircraft engines. You’ve seen the plant in ruins—now see it in its finest hour, helping the allies win the war. 



Here at Mac’s Motor City Garage, we’ve been beating you up pretty regularly with all the gloomy photo features and drone video of the old Packard complex on East Grand Boulevard. Now we’re going to change course 180 degrees and show you the plant in its finest hour—manufacturing Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engines to win the Second World War.

Less well known today are the Packard PT boat engines of the company’s own design. These were also exceptional, well-engineered powerplants, and this film covers them as well.


Gen. James Doolittle inspecting a Merlin engine at the Packard plant


There’s a lot to see here, so Packard fans may want to view the film multiple times to catch all the historical details. By the way: The Packard marine engine plant, on East Grand across the Michigan Central tracks from the main complex, is still standing, and still in decent shape. The Packard Merlin building at the north end of the plant still intact as well, and the film provides great views of these structures—and the entire manufacturing process, too.

Packard built over 50,000 Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engines before the war was over—a stellar achievement given the technology of the day. This video is a valuable piece of history, and a powerful one. Please enjoy.

Don’t miss these similar newsreel stories on the amazing Ford Willow Run bomber plant and the Dodge Chicago engine plant. 


10 thoughts on “Video: the Packard Merlin story

  1. Thanks for sharing great video with us. I think it’s important to remind us folks that weren’t there, what we were capable of doing. When watching old war movies, being a motor head, I always think of the powerplants churning away. Watching the video, I think of all the related industries involved. The people that built the carts to move the engines around, the lumber industry for packing, and being an old trucker, the transportation industry, all so crucial to make the final product. My grandfather bought a new Packard in 1948. I wondered why he chose a Packard, but after seeing this, he must have been proud to own one, after what they did for the war. Just can’t believe in 15 years after this, the once mighty name would be no more.

  2. It’s comforting to know that if we ever need to ramp up for a war again, all we need to do is give the Chinese the blueprints for all our weapons and they’ll be able to build them for us.

  3. Thanks for sharing the Packard marine and aircraft engine story. My father was one of the engineers working at Packard in Detroit that modified the original Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. He always considered that one of the high points of his life. He want on to work for Packard until 1950 when he went to work for North American Aviation in southern California. We always drove Packard Motor Cars with the last on being a 1950. Even though my father has been gone for 10 years I always feel a bit of pride when I see a Packard Merlin engine in an air museum. Good looking engine that helped to win the war.

  4. I wish there was away all of these vidios could be seen by all of our youg people. If we could show these at all movie houses before the movies that we pay to see. Or at polling places around the world before we vote, may make us stronger in our vote. Just to see what once was maybe again could be. GOD BLESS EACH AND EVERYONE OF US.

  5. I know the Dodge Plant well. My Grandfather was a cement finisher, working for George Fuller the main contractor. On Saturdays he would bring me to the plant. When Tucker took over, my friends and I would have our own little tours. Thanks for bringing this film to us masses.

Comments are closed.