The Packard 180 was introduced for the 1940 model year (18th series) by the Packard Motor Car Company to replace the discontinued V-12 as their top-of-the-line luxury model. The correct name of the model was Custom Super Eight One-Eighty. The car was derived from the Packard Super Eight One-Sixty with which it shared the complete running gear including the in-line eight-cylinder, 356-cubic-inch (5,830 cc) engine that developed 160 horsepower. It was advertised as the most powerful eight-cylinder engine offered by any automobile manufacturer in 1940. (By contrast, the Cadillac 346 cubic inch V-8 developed 150 hp).

Packards of all series (110, 120, 160, 180) shared similar body styling in 1940 (which some later said led to a "cheapening" of the once-exclusive luxury marque), using the same bodies with hoods and front fenders of different length to meet their respective chassis. Thus the 160 and 180 got identical bodies. However, the 180s featured finer interior detailing with the best fabrics, leather and carpeting available. Packard used a special woolen ceiling in these cars only which was sewn longitudinally. Packard built the partition in its Limousines in a way that there was no hint of it when the partition glass was louwered, allowing the owner to use the car by himself as a sedan (thus the designation "Sedan Limousine" by Packard).

There were minor styling changes in the 1941 and 1942 models (19th and 20th series). In 1941, Packard made air conditioning a (very expensive) option. It was developed by the Henney Motor Company with whom Packard had a long lasting business connection. It was the first time that A/C was available on a stock automobile.

Henney's main business was building ambulances, formal hearses and flower cars, plus special body work. Thus, many Packard Custom and Super Eights were bodied similarly until 1954.

The final 180s rolled off the Packard assembly line in February, 1942, as World War II brought a halt to civilian automobile production. There have been rumors that machinery was transferred to the Soviet Union, and production continued until 1959 as the ZIS-110. However, according to James Ward's book The Fall of Packard, page 46, he found no supporting evidence in the Packard archives of such a transfer. Also, the ZIS-110 shares no sheet metal with any Packard, despite the fact that its external decor elements were intentionally designed to heavily resemble pre-war Packards, favoured by Stalin.

The Packard 180 was also the first car to have power windows.