Werner Gubitz 1899-1971

    Born in Germany in 1899, Gubitz emigrated to the US in 1905. Started working immediately after WWI and worked for Fleetwood, LeBaron Carrossiers, Dietrich Inc., and Ohio Blower & Body Co. where he designed both custom boies plus production bodies for the Moon, Jordan, and Gardner. He went to Packard in 1927 and was responsible for for most of their body designs through 1947, when he retired.  


Among the more prominent members of the New York staff was Werner Hans August Gubitz. Gubitz was born on July 29, 1899 in Hamburg, Germany. An only child, Gubitz moved with his family to New Jersey in 1905. Young Werner liked drawing at an early age and in 1919, soon after his twentieth birthday, he found work with the Fleetwood Metal Body Company Design staff drawing automobile bodies under the supervision of Ernest Schebera. Gubitz was not with Fleetwood very long and after various other jobs with LeBaron, Dietrich, The Ohio Body Company and others. By 1922, Gubitz was working with famed designer J. Frank de Causse as a design consultant. By 1927, Gubitz finally landed a job with Packard in Detroit. After being with Packard during the peak of the Classic era, Gubitz retired in 1947 at age 47.


Gubitz joined Packard in 1930 left in 1947

Gubitz, Werner (Packard) When the Packard Custom Body Shop is opened in 1927, it is under the direction of Archer L. Knapp. Raymond Birge, the ex-manager at LeBaron, is hired to develop the new line of Packard made Custom Bodies. Berge attracts Werner Gubitz who had worked for Dietrich. Gubitz finds a home at Packard where his great skill and abilities are very much appreciated. Ed Macauley, the son of Packard's president, Alvan Macauley, recognizes Gubitz skills and advocates his advancement at Packard. In the 1930s Gubitz becomes the Chief of Design at Packard under Edward Macauley who is by then the Manager of Styling. It is an artistic and often flamboyant group, but they produce some of the most outstanding cars of that era. Only the Depression limits what they were capable of accomplishing at Packard. In September, 1929, Birge takes over control of the Packard Custom Body Shop. Gubitz, recruited by Birge, is extremely prolific and produces many designs with the free hand given him. The collaboration of Gubitz, Birge and Dietrich produces the 734 Speedster. Inspired by Colonel Vincent's 626 Speedster, the new Speedster is brilliantly designed. The cars, produced in Packard's own Custom Body Shop all bear the "Custom Made by Packard" label. The Depression takes its toll, however, and the days of the Packard Custom Body Shop are numbered, and Dietrich is on his way to Chrysler. Gubitz remains at Packard. His design work is seen on most of the cars being produced by Packard, and in 1940 he is a key member of the design team that produces the Packard Clipper. Darrin, of course, is the major talent in the project, but Darrin is an outside contractor. The internal team of Gubitz, Nowacky, Wright and Yeager will convert Darrin's ideas into a car that Packard can mass-produce. While it is difficult to produce a totally new design, it is even harder to update an old one. Gubitz's talents were very much needed to update the Clipper design which originated in 1941 and which was updated for the 21st Series in 1946 and 1947 and then again for the 22nd and the 23rd Series in 1948, 1949 and 1950. In reality the design will be updated again for 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1954, and even then again for the 1955 and 1956 Packards. For 15 years Packard managed to keep the Clipper design in production, and that is a true measure of the ability of the people who were involved. In 1947 Werner Gubitz departs. He had served Packard faithfully for 20 years. His place at Packard was taken by John Reinhart.

1932 Packard Light Eight

Body styling was all-new with low windows and high body sides. The rear of the bodies gracefully blended into the shroud covering the gas tank. But the most distinguishing design feature of the Light Eight was the "shovel nose" or "snowplow front" design of the radiator shell, with sweeping sides meeting at a "v" in the splash apron. The entire design, by the company’s highly talented Werner Gubitz, came through as being smooth, modern and yet unmistakably Packard; and it is just as pleasing to the eye today as it was at its debut in 1932.

Werner Gubitz, who had worked for Dietrich. Gubitz produced some stunning cars and later became chief of design in the 1930s.

Packard introduced the Hypoid Differential in 1927. This made it possible to lower the car body and greatly improve styling. Raymond B.Birge was hired to develop a new line of Packard made custom bodies. He brought on Werner Gubitz, who had worked for Dietrich. Gubitz produced some stunning cars and later became chief of design in the 1930s.

1929 Packards featured some unique styling. Small doors were added to the hood to replace louvers. Taillights had three lenses including one that was a backup light. The Model 443 could be ordered in all kinds offabrics, colors, and combinations. Many cars were built with three and four color combinations. Mechanical changes included a four-speed transmission. Also in 1929 the new Packard Proving Grounds were opened. Leon Duray set a world record at 148.7 mph. The Packard Testing Groundtrack was hailed as the "World's Fastest Speedway". The record and title weren't beaten until 1952 at a new track in Monza, Italy. The authentic Packard family crest was adopted by the company as its emblem and appeared for the first time on the 1929 Sixth Series cars. The central figure in the emblem was a Pelican. A cormorant was accidentally used in an advertisement in 1953.

On August 28, 1929 the stock market took a hefty dive. Billions of dollars were lost and all custom auto body makers felt the effects. Packard sales held for a short time, but by December, sales had dropped to 1537 cars. For the year, Packard did well. Net sales for 1929 were more than $107,000,000.

1930 saw the 734 Speedster. This car was a collaboration between Dietrich, Gubitz and Birge. The auto wascalled as a boat-tail speedster. Packard also made a Runabout, Phaeton, Victoria, and Sedan model. The Speedster, despite it's unique design, was not a popular seller.


In 1927 Dietrich's consultant relationship with Packard is made more formal. Packard has been planning to expand further into the custom car business, and to that end Archer L. Knapp attracts Raymond Birge, the ex-general manager at LeBaron. Birge, in turn, attracts Werner Gubitz, who had worked for Dietrich. The team, at that point, is Knapp, Birge, Gubitz and Dietrich. They are the best in the business, and they develop a line of Packard cars that bear the label "Custom Made by Packard". Some bear a "Dietrich, Inc." plate. They are semi-customs and are known as the "Individual Customs", but they represent the combined talents of Dietrich, Gubitz and Birge. In 1931, as reward for his efforts and also to take advantage of his reputation, Packard decides to include Dietrich's cars in its catalog. It is a first, and it fulfills a long-held wish of Dietrich's. The Depression, however, has hurt the custom car business, and thus, in 1931, Dietrich sells his interest in Dietrich, Inc. to the Murray Corporation, and he also ends his consulting relationship with Packard.


    For more information please read:

From Packard Cormorant:

"GUBITZ" by John F. MacArthur                                            90:14

Gubitz, Werner

      Artwork                                                                             sp77/CS

"GUBITZ"  John F. MacArthur                                          90:14

      Rendering of "12-45" Monoblock Twelve                          su74/7

      "The Meticulous Art of Werner Gubitz"                             sp77/18

"Werner Gubitz and the Golden Age of Packard Style"  Michael Lamm and Dave Holls                   85:24


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