1955 Packard Caribbean Convertible Classic Car

3 years 4 months ago - 3 years 4 months ago #749 by JP
JP created the topic: 1955 Packard Caribbean Convertible Classic Car

1955 Packard Caribbean Vintage Car
Dreamboat and sinking ship

The Packard Caribbean illustrates the transformation of the American automobile in general and, of course, Packard in particular. The contrast is especially apparent with the Packard heritage reaching so far back. Imagine for a moment the Packard of the twenties and thirties, with the sleek hood and the narrow grille, its classic shape as good as a trademark. Then compare its dazzling cascades of glitter and its multitude of color rivaling a Christmas tree.

From its prewar eminence as one of the world's great marques, Packard's postwar reappearance clearly indicated a slow but gradual watering down of the ideals that had been the guiding light for so long.

By the time the Caribbean appeared, Packard was near the end of its rope. Still, the massive machine was quite a handful. It was longer than most, and, in the public eye, billionaire Howard Hughes liked it enough to add this car to his stable of cars. With his legacy as an eccentric, the Packard he drove only once was heavier than most cars, but it had an engine to match its girth. Power came from a 352 ci overhead­valve V-8 that produced 275 hp. With dual four-barrel carburetors, it was almost a hot rod. But all this power was necessary, as it had to extend not only to the wheels, but to full complement of power accessories.

Keeping the comparison with the classic Packards in mind, the Caribbean brings to mind some of the best adjectives of appreciation-for what it meant to be; a magnificent automobile, an extravagant tribute to the era, and one brimming with nostalgia. Finally, it should be pointed out that Caribbeans are very rare. Only 2,189 units were built between 1953 and 1956.

As a present from Howard Hughes to Jean Peters, the eccentric industrialist's last wife, the Caribbean did not live up to its owner's expectations. First of all, Miss Peters did not like the white exterior-she had told Hughes to order the car painted a special green. Second, Hughes, a perfectionist, found fault with the carburetion, and had his mechanics make some alterations to the fuel lines, but to no avail. The Packard was stored away, but not forgotten.

The Packard Caribbean certainly displayed a frontal view that contained all the fashionable elements of the day: the bullet­like bumper guards, the full-width grille (its Ferrari-inspired egg-crate pattern actually added a touch of class), the browed headlights, the V-8 chevron and a golden crest that rivaled anything that could be found on an aristocrat's smoking jacket.
Although not functional, the twin air scoops decorating the hood gave an impression that ample power was available which in fact was the case.

Although Packard by 1955 was indeed a sinking ship, the attention to detail and the workmanship displayed in its end-of-the­line products still gave a viewer reason to remember the good old days when Packard was the automobile from which other manufacturers took their cue. Even the center of the wheel cover carried a reminder of the classic era in the form of Packard's old hexagon, first used in 1904.

James Ward Packard-who, together with his brother William, was a founding father of the Packard automobile-passed away in 1928. In memory of Packard and his family's contribution to the marque, their coat of arms-which dates back to England and the times of knights-was adopted as a symbol. A cross of lozenges, surrounded by four roses, decorates the shield, while a pelican keeps watch from above. The pelican, sometimes also identified as a cormorant, crowned the radiator of Packard cars for decades, and was still put to good use on the 1955 Caribbean.

Last Edit: 3 years 4 months ago by JP.

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