The Last Packards: June 25, 1956

anaglyph-img_0030To view the entire photo gallery in 2D or your choice of stereo 3D formats, click here for a Flash playerhere for an HTML applet, or here for an HTML5 viewer

On this date 57 years ago the last true Packards rolled off an assembly line in Detroit. Merging with Studebaker was supposed to give the luxury car maker the financial resources it needed. If anything, though, Studebaker was in even worse financial shape than Packard. At least Packard went out on a high note. Though they suffered from quality control issues (caused by moving all Packard production out of the huge factory on East Grand Blvd to Packard’s Conner Ave plant, also in Detroit) the 1955 and 1956 Packards were good looking cars that were technically interesting as well. By then Packard had moved away from their venerable straight eight to a modern high compression OHV V8. Packard also was the only independent that developed their own automatic transmission, the Ultradrive. The last Packards also featured “torsion level suspension”, which replaced traditional leaf and coil springs with an interlinked system of torsion bars that resulted in a superior ride, better handling and even active self leveling when carrying heavy loads. Packard was also the first car company to offer air conditioning, in 1939, so in ’55 and ’56 Packards were more likely to come with that feature than Cadillacs and Lincolns. Though the basic body shell dated to 1951, designer Richard Teague did a masterful job giving it a contemporary look.  Sitting next to the 1955-56 models from GM, Ford and Chrysler, the last Packards don’t look old fashioned. Considering that they’re pretty cool cars as well as their historical significance, most of the last Packards can be bought for reasonable money. It’s only the sportier Caribbean models, particularly the convertibles, like this one, that start getting into six figures, though for what you’d pay for an average ’57 Chevy Bel Air ragtop, you can probably get a superior Caribbean. Tri-five Chevys can be seen at just about every car show. Show up in one of the last Packards and I’m sure you’ll draw a crowd.

anaglyph-img_0034To view the entire photo gallery in 2D or your choice of stereo 3D formats, click here for a Flash playerhere for an HTML applet, or here for an HTML5 viewer

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