The 1948 Packard Custom Eight / Specs, Photos

The automobile featured in this article is a beautifully restored 1948 Packard Custom Eight. This story really begins when Packard first introduced it’s modernized Clipper model in 1941. The U.S. entry into World War Two halted all civilian car production and Packard began again producing it’s Clippers after the war coming out with a 1946 model which for obvious reasons was extremely similar to the 41 model. This styling continued with some changes until 1948 when Packard introduced the all new Custom Eight.

1948 packard custom eight specs

1948 Packard Custom Eight

The Packard Brothers

Similar to some other automobile manufacturers, the Packard brothers, James and William, initially worked on motorizing the horse carriage. Packard Motors was founded in 1899 and successfully motorized a horse carriage one year later in 1900 with a one cylinder engine. Their automobiles were originally produced in Ohio (then known as the Ohio Automobile Company) but later moved the company to Detroit. Much later in the 1950′s when Packard merged with Studebaker, production was moved to South Bend, Indiana.

Packard’s New Streamlined Clipper…Prelude to the Eight Series and Custom Eights

The Packard Clipper’s were lower and wider than previous Packards, and had the distinction of being the first streamlined Packard.This was no little change for Packard Motors. The modernization was a necessity. This was a company that stuck solidly with tradition. Up until 1941 styling was not Packards forte. In fact styling was considered an extension of engineering and the new 1941 design was a milestone for the company. Packard really had no choice but to update their styling considering that competitors like General Motors were doing precisely that.

The 1941 Clipper design had to suffice until a re-design could be done for the 1948 model production run. New styling had to start from scratch after the war and this took a lot of time. The 1947 Packard Super Clipper Eight Club Sedan (top of the line at the time) was built on a model 2103 127″ wheelbase, 7″ more than the lower-priced Packards. It featured wraparound grille extension bars, upgraded wheel trim treatments, a different looking rear deck and a single level door signature script reading.

packard series eight

New rounded look for 1948

In regards to interiors, Packard had it’s finest interiors in it’s Custom Super Clipper models.

Wood grain was used on the upper and lower portions of the dashboard and on window moldings. The Super Clipper’s headliner was woolen and the seams ran front to back. This way of running the seams had the effect of making the interior seem longer.

Replacing the Clipper

The 1948 Packard Custom Eight replaced the Clipper as Packard’s top of the line model.  No longer was the Packard Clipper name seen. Total restyling was done for 1948 since the Clipper had been around since 41 and required an updating. The updated model became the Custom Eight. Packard’s Eight Series came as a Standard, Deluxe, Super and Custom.

Howard ‘Dutch’ Darrin

Bodies for the Packard Clipper were designed in a large way by Howard Darrin. As mentioned above, these Clipper automobiles were stylish for their time and were really the first modern looking Packards to hit the showrooms.

Darrin spent about forty years in the automobile business that spanned both sides of the Atlantic. Darrin had his hand in models from Renault in France to Packard and Kaiser in the U.S. One of Darrin’s first efforts in the U.S.was a 1937 Packard 120 four-seat Victoria with a rear-mounted spare, designed for the film star Dick Powell.

Howard Darrin joined Packard Motors in 1935 and turned out some fine cars. His first effort with Packard, aside from the 37 Victoria mentioned above, were the popular 1940 Packard Darrins. As mentioned above, Darrin also is credited with major styling input of what became the first Packard Clipper in 1941 and of the war shortened model year of 1942 as well. When the war ended Darrin went to work for Kaiser-Frazer as a freelance consultant

1948 Packard Custom Eight Specifications

The 1948 Packard Custom eight received an in-line, 356 cubic-inch straight-eight engine. The engine was rated at 160 HP. This was Packard’s largest engine and was reserved for the Custom Eight.

Transmission for the 1948 Custom Eight was a three speed column shift.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.

Suspension consisted of independent front suspension with coil springs, solid rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs.

Wheelbase on this automobile is 127.0 inches. Curb weight is 3780 lbs.

Thed Packard Eight Series prices ranged from $3,700 for the lowest price model to about $4,900 for the Limousine model. The Custom Eight was the top of the line non-limousine and priced at about $4,200.

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References for this article include…Packard: A History of the Motor Car and the Company (Automobile Quarterly Magnificent Marque Books)…packardclub.org…packardinfo.com…

The Packard Clipper and Custom Eight Collector Cars

Immediately after the war Packard was hampered by a shortage of steel and for both the 1946 and 1947 model years the company fell short of production goals.

It’s a fact that car collectors sought out these first post war models which were very similar to the 1941 and very limited production 1942 models. These post war models had low production numbers and are in good demand by Packard collectors.

1948 packard custom eight

48 Packard dashboard

When 1948 came around the first absolutely new post war design models were in dealer showrooms and the Eight Series including this Custom Eight were milestone cars for Packard and are excellent collector automobiles.

The Eight Series Packard’s were really a modernized extension of the popular Clipper models. Prices will be all over the place depending on condition and degree of restoration if any, Depending on the Series Eight model you’ll likely see asking prices today from the low teens for unrestored  to the $30,000-40,000 range for fully professionally restored vehicles.

Regarding the 1946 Packard Clippers, we see a Packard 7 Passenger Limousine Custom Super Clipper 8 Series with an asking price of $36,000…a 1947 Clipper Sedan in good condition for $37,000.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)

The 401 Cubic Inch 1960 Buick Invicta Wagon / Specs, Photos

The automobile featured in this article is a 1960 Buick Invicta Four Door Wagon.

1960 buick invicta wagons

1960 Buick Invicta Wagon

The Buick Invicta model (also referred to as the Buick 4600 Series) was introduced in 1959 replacing the Buick Century.

When the Buick Invicta Wagon came out in 1959 the vehicle received some positive press. Motor Trend magazine named the 59 Buick Invicta Estate Wagon as “The best looking wagon“.

The Invicta model had a five year run. The Buick Invicta was positioned in the middle of the 1960 Buick line up. The Invicta was placed between the LeSabre and Electra. The Invicta was a full size automobile with several body styles including two wagons. These were both two and four door station wagons.

1960 Buick Invicta Wagon Design

There were significant design changes with many cars for the 1960 model year. The latter 1950′s saw the modernization of most every model along with the aggressive introduction of rear fins. The fins and designs in a lot of cases reflected the nations fascination with the jet age and this was seen in both designs and model names.

The year 1960, and Buick was included in this, was transitional from the big rear fin era of the late 1950s to the smoother lines of the 1960s. The ‘angry’ angled headlights on the Invicta were changed from diagonal to horizontal. The “Delta Wing” fins were kept but they were less extreme, as were the fins on most General Motors cars for the 1960 model year. Inside, the Invicta was equipped with the same features as the basic LeSabre.

1960 buick wagon specs

Delta Wing rear fins

Buick’s Station Wagon production was not of the high volume that other GM brands, both Chevrolet and Pontiac produced. In addition, the 1960 Buick wagon bodies were built by the Ionia Manufacturing Company of Owosso Michigan.

This was an independent company that made bodies and trim for the auto industry. The Ionia Manufacturing Company built Buick Wagon bodies from 1946 through 1964.

1950 Buick Invicta Estate Wagon Specifications

The engine in this model is a Buick Nailhead 401 Cubic Inch V-8 with a four barrel carburetor delivering 325 HP. This engine fit well with Buick’s reputation of producing performance oriented automobiles.

The engine was referred to as the Nailhead because of it’s long, thin-stemmed valves with small diameter heads that resemble vertical rows of nails. This engine is also referred to as the Wildcat 445 which can be confusing. . The 445 represented it’s 445 lbs torque.

Transmission is an Turbine Drive automatic two speed. Buick’s Turbine Drive transmission had a variable pitch fluid control mechanism that actually replaced gears. A Buick transmission engineer was quoted as saying…”you don’t shift gears, you shift a constantly flowing stream of oil “. As a side note, General Motors developed the Triple-Turbine, but dropped it in 1960 as too expensive to produce.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum

The front suspension included independent coil-spring and wishbone stabilizer bar. The rear had an independent trailing link, stabilizer bar, coil springs as well as ,tubular shock absorbers.

Wheelbase is 123.0 inches with an outside overall length of 217.9 inches, width of 80.0 inches and a height of 57.2 inches. Curb weight is estimated at 4,825 lbs.

1960 buick estate wagonU.S. production numbers for the 1960 Buick Invicta model were 45,400 vehicles. Out of that number there were 3,479 Six Passenger Wagons built and 1,600 Nine Passenger Wagons produced.

To give you a perspective of Invicta’s production numbers compared to the LaSabre and Electra, the numbers look like this…total LaSabre 1960 production was 152,200 units and the Electra 56,300 units. Overall, Buick had disappointing sales for the 1960 model year. Sales were less than 1959 numbers but some of this was attributed to a steel strike that caused a significant loss of production time.

New car price for the 1960 Buick Station Wagons averaged $3,950.

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1960 Buick Invicta Wagon Collector Values

The family station wagons of the 1950′s and 1960′s are cars some of us experienced sometime during our childhood. The Buick Invicta Wagons are rare finds today simply because not a lot of them were produced as mentioned above. Locating parts for a restoration project are available but may not be easy to find.

60 buick invicta photos

60 Invicta dash

As of this writing the average value of a 60 Buick Invicta Four Door Wagon is about $13,000. For those that have been fully restored to pristine condition or are originals in excellent condition the prices average in the $28,000 to $30,000 range. There are of course examples above and below those figures.

Not surprisingly, the highest valued 1960 Buick Invicta model is the convertible. Current top values on it are in the $55,000 area.

Reference material for this article included GM Archives, Collector Cars of America, Hemmings Motor News, BuickV-8.com

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)

 

Classic 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air / Specs, Photos, Model History

The Car of the Year for 1955

The 1955 Chevrolet was a milestone car and represented a major move forward for the Chevrolet Division of General Motors. The automobile featured in this article is a 1955 Chevy Bel Air. This model which was new from the ground up was named car of the year for 1955. Marketed as the “Hot One” to appeal to America’s youth, the 1955 Chevy was an instant success.

1955 chevy bel air specs

1955 Chevy Bel Air

It was in 1955 that the Chevy Bel Air was equipped with a V8 engine, and won the reputation of “The Hot One” among car enthusiasts. The style of the 1955 Chevy Bel Air  is what makes it one of the most sought after classic cars  today. The design of the 1955 Chevy was considered by many to be far superior to any Ford or Plymouth produced at the time.

For 1955, buyers had the option for a new and smaller 265-cubic-inch overhead valve V8 Turbo Fire if they wanted something more than the 236 Cubic Inch Six, Chevrolet built a 150, 210 and Bel Air model.

The history of Bel Air started in 1953 when he became the new name for the high-end line of Chevrolet cars. It is in these first models appeared the unique characteristics of the car body.

The 1955 Chevy Bel Air

Collector cars from the 1950′s are thought to be the most coveted by many classic car enthusiasts. Many cars from that decade remain popular with collectors fifty years later. Among the top of that list is certainly the 1955 Chevy Bel Air, one of the most iconic cars of the era. Some would say that the 1955 Chevrolet is THE car of the 50′s.

chevrolet bel air specificationsWhen the 1955 Chevy was introduced, certain auto people were fixing up cars from a generation ago, such as the Model T, as a hot rod or track car. To compete with these improved retro cars, the major car companies had to come up with equally impressive automobiles. Thus, the 1955 Chevy was born.

The 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air is today an iconic vehicle many times referred to simply as the ’55 Chevy. This 55 Chevy remains a sought after Chevrolet model for car collectors.

The 1955 Bel Air was not the first model year of the Bel Air. Interestingly enough, Often, it in many cases the first model year of a new vehicle ends up being remembered the most. In the case of the Chevrolet Bel Air things were different. The Bel Air was first produced by Chevrolet in 1950 however the 50 Bel Air was not the hit that the 55 ended up to be and therefore doesn’t have nearly the the collector demand the latter model has.

Chevrolet’s 50′s Tail Fins

The 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air represents the first model year of a redesigned second generation. It introduced many features that would become popular in cars from the 1950′s. One of the things that the 1955 Chevy Bel Air did was add tail fins to the Chevy line. These fins were not nearly as large as fins would eventually get. The model years afterward would see car fins become much larger. The stylish tail fins of the 1957 Chevrolet make it a real competitor for the top spot with the 55 model.

The Bel Air design was so strong and popular that the line itself would sell in the United States until 1975. Much of the Bel Air’s appeal throughout the years had it’s roots going straight back to those second generation Chevy’s.

1955 Chevy Bel Air Specifications

Available engines on the 1955 Chevy were a 235 cubic inch Inline Six and two V-8′s, one with a double barrel carburetor and one with a four barrel. The Bel Air model came only with a V-8. Horsepower in that order was 123, 162, 180.

1955 chevy bel air dashboard

55 Chevy Bel Air dashboard

Transmissions available were a three speed manual and a Pwerglide automatic.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.

Dimensions included a 115.9 inch wheelbase, an overall outside length of 195.6 inches and a weight of about 3,300 lbs.

New car price range for the 1955 Chevy Bel Air (excluding wagons) was $1,950 to $2,300.

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The 1955 Chevrolet Collector Car Popularity and Values

Nostalgia is one big reason that the second generation Chevrolet Bel Air’s are some of the most popular with collectors. Many of these owners are people who grew up during the 1950′s.  Some will also tell you that they believe that automobiles in general were made better during that era. Many old cars, including the 1955 Chevy, were bigger and had bigger engines. This is a big plus for collectors.

55 chevy bel air

The 55 Chevy’s small rear fin

As far as design goes, most automobiles produced during the 1950′s have very distinctive. styling. Today, many automobile models look visually the same as their competitors. In many cases today styling takes a back seat to fuel economy. The decade of the 50′s, before safety regulations and emission controls were mandated, was an era of very creative design innovation by some top stylists, such as Harley Earl and Virgil Exner to name just a few, and as a result most people can identify a 1950′s brand automobile by simply looking at the car from a distance.

As of this writing, top valuations for the 1955 Chevy Bel Air ranges from about $25,000 to $95,000. This is for a professionally restored model. The much higher valued Bel Air would typically be the two door convertible.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)