- 1 of 500 Caribbeans produced in 1955
- Presented in original condition including paint and interior
- Rare original wire wheels
- 352-cubic-inch overhead valve V-8 engine with dual four-barrel carburetors
- Ultramatic automatic transmission
- Formerly of the Tupelo Museum Collection
Selling on Friday
1955 Packard Caribbean Convertible
When veteran industrialist James J. Nance became president of the Packard Motor Car Co. in 1952, he immediately set about rebuilding the storied automaker's prestige and profits, which had eroded in the years following World War II. Although its cars continued to be built to exemplary standards, Packard in the post-WWII years failed to match the pace of styling change that its customers, and the rest of the U.S. auto industry, had come to accept as the norm. Nevertheless, Packards of the late 1940s and 1950s are amongst the most collectible of post-war U.S. automobiles, representing the final flowering of that magnificent straight eight.
An ultra-luxurious sporting model newly introduced for the 1953 season, the Caribbean Convertible had been inspired by the 'Pan American' show cars of 1952 and was intended to rival the Cadillac Eldorado. Only 750 of these expensive and exclusive models were built in 1953, and a further 400 in 1954, before the Caribbean was extensively restyled on a new chassis for 1955 with a total of 500 produced.
The 1955 models showed the world Nance's vision for a modern, fully competitive, V-8-powered Packard - a car that took on archrival Cadillac head-to-head in style, prestige, and performance. Riding on a long wheelbase chassis, the Caribbean was powered by a massive 352-cubic-inch V-8 rated at an impressive 275 horsepower, thanks in part to its dual four-barrel carburetors, and the new Torsion-Level rear suspension was a feature not available on even the most expensive Cadillac.
Costing more than $5,932 at delivery, the Caribbean was well-equipped. Standard luxury equipment included an Ultramatic automatic transmission with pushbutton controls, gold-tone "Caribbean" scripts, power windows, and a Wonderbar radio. Accents throughout use 'V' motifs to signify the new V-8 power. While at its rear, the cathedral style taillights were a novel feature immediately appreciated as a classic, and clever details such as symmetrical radio antennae, albeit only one was active, showed how much had gone into its design. The 500 Caribbean Convertibles built for 1955 represented less than one percent of Packard's total production of just 55,517 cars for the model year.
By the time the mildly restyled 1956 models appeared; Packard was in trouble. Sales were sputtering, and a two-year-old merger with Studebaker had both companies drowning in red ink. By the end of the '56 model year, Packard's Detroit assembly and engineering operations were shut down. The proud American luxury brand was effectively finished, although lightly disguised Indiana-built Studebakers would carry the Packard marque forward for two more years.
The Caribbean offered here is particularly unique due to its exceptionally high degree of originality. This example retains virtually all of its original paint, interior and mechanical components. It is finished in the striking color combination of White Jade, Rose Quartz, and Gray Pearl (Paint Codes MUH) over White, Fuchsia, and Dark Gray leather (Trim Code 97) with black carpets. The car has been lovingly maintained its entire life while under long term family ownership. For some 30 plus years, this Packard was a fixture at the Tupelo Auto Museum. Following acquisition at the museum liquidation sale, the car was treated to a mechanical freshening to ensure drivability. Recent work includes rebuilding the fuel system, including the dual quad carburetors, the power brake system, the hydraulic system suspension, and the power convertible top. This rare and luxurious Packard Caribbean would bring glamour and style to any automotive gathering.