What an ignoble end to a storied marque. It would have been better for Packard to have gone out on its own two feet, bloodied and battered, but still keeping a small amount of self-respect, ending with the 1956 models. The 1955 and 1956 Packards were clearly not huge market successes (or Packard might still be with us) but they were still fine automobiles, worthy of the Packard name, with advanced technical features and styling by Dick Teague that many find attractive. After the merger with Studebaker, Packards ceased to exist in everything but name and I mean everything. The ’57 and ’58 “Packards” were obviously redecorated Studebakers, with tacked on fiberglass parts. While the last true Packards were nice looking cars, the ‘Packardbakers’ were hideous, fish-mouthed cars and the wagons were even worse. You know how some enthusiasts like station wagons because of the long lines and nice proportions? The Packardbaker wagons have about the worst proportions I’ve ever seen on a car. From a front 3/4 view, at first it doesn’t look terrible, until you start moving around to the side fo the car and you see how it was pasted together. The dropped fish-mouth snout just doesn’t work with the Studebaker’s upright windshield and rounded roofline, and nothing about the car’s front end except for the lettering says Packard. Just about every Packard made for a half century had Packard’s distinctively shaped grille. Even the 1955 and 1956 models evoked that classic shape in a more mid-’50s expression. After the merger that look was abandoned. In back, trying to come up with acceptably large for the late 1950s fins, and some kind of Packard styling on the car, taken from the ’55-’56 models’ “cathedral” taillights, they ended up with a gargantuan crazy salad that’s simply hideous. Packard deserved better.
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