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Packard had a problem in the early 1950s. Actually they had a whole raft of problems, most of them related to not having enough money. They didn’t own their own body making facilities and were dependent on outside suppliers, so as the Big 3 and the other independents were making annual restylings, Packard scrambled to make their existing body shells look more modern. They also didn’t have a modern high compression overhead valve V8. Cadillac, Packard’s chief competitor, introduced its own V8 in 1949. GM’s near-luxury brands, Buick and Oldsmobile, were also developing their own V8s. Starting in the 1930s, Packard had tried to increase volume with the lower cost Clipper line, which went head to head with Olds and Buick. Many people feel that the volume the Clipper line generated wasn’t worth the cost to Packard’s exclusive brand image. The Clipper brand went away when Packard resumed automobile production after the end of World War II, replaced by the 200 Series cars. Though the 1948 “bathtub” Packard sold exceptionally well, it was Packard’s swan song – the styling quickly became dated. Packard restyled their cars in 1951, but though they had modern “envelope” styling, they looked dowdy when compared to the new Olds and Buicks. Also, the Packards had a relatively ancient straight eight engine while the Olds had it’s impressive “Rocket” V8 and Buick developed their “nailhead” V8. Even Desoto offered their own version of the Chrysler corporate OHV V8. For 1953, Packard reintroduced the Clipper brand, replacing the 200 series cars, and the car got a new front end and grille, a new treatment out back and freshened trim with new, brighter exterior colors. They’re not bad looking cars but again, the lack of a V8 hurt them in the marketplace. Actually I think the mid 1950s Packards get overlooked compared to the Big 3’s offering. Those Clippers, Carribeans and Presidents are handsome cars.
Here are two ’53 Clippers leaving the judging stand at the 2012 Orphan Car Show, followed by an AMC Gremlin being towed by an appropriate tow vehicle, an early 1970s AMC Ambassador station wagon, plus a classic era air-cooled Franklin.