"Jesse Vincent : Packard's Master Motor Builder" Exhibit Opens June 1, 2023
The National Packard Museum is proud to present a special exhibit honoring Col. Jesse Vincent, Packard Motor Car Company’s chief engineer from 1915 until 1952. Vincent is a towering figure in American industrial history and was largely responsible for Packard’s unmatched reputation for automotive, aviation, and marine engine design and manufacturing excellence. The exhibit will feature a re-creation of the special race car Jesse Vincent designed for testing Packard’s speedster engine.
Vincent and others, including Charles Lindberg, drove the car at the Packard Proving Grounds and in exhibitions to impress visitors and dignitaries. This faithful re-creation of the famous 1929 Packard Vincent Speedster was built by Trumbull County native Jerry Miscevich, now residing in Temecula, California, and is on loan from owner Gordon Logan’s Sport Clips Collection, LLC of Georgetown, Texas.
The exhibit will also feature an original Packard Merlin airplane engine on loan from America’s Packard Museum in Dayton, Ohio. In June 1940, after Henry Ford refused their request, the US government awarded Packard with a contract to build the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine for the British Royal Air Force. Packard tasked Vincent with the responsibility for mass-producing the highly complicated, hand-built engine. Vincent assembled a team of more than 200 expert engineers and draftsmen to redraw Rolls-Royce’s original blueprints with far greater precision. Vincent then re-designed the engine for simplicity of production while generating additional horsepower. Packard delivered its first Merlin engine in August 1941. Vincent continued to finesse the Merlin Engine throughout World War II. He and his team designed 23 upgrades, each more powerful than the last. Packard’s Merlin engine was so muscular, it replaced GM’s Allison V-1710 in the North American P-51 Mustang.
After the war, automobile production resumed, and Vincent was elected to Packard’s Board of Directors in 1946. His final patent was for Packard’s “Ultramatic” four-speed automatic introduced in 1949. He retired as Packard’s Vice President in 1952 and retired from its Board in 1954. After his retirement, he taught an occasional engineering class at the University of Michigan before his death in 1962. The exhibit will also feature several personal items that belonged to Col. Jesse Vincent that were donated to the museum by the late Packard historian, Robert Neal of Kent, Washington.