The Packard 400 is a rare automobile and a beautifully restored one like the car 1955 Packard 400 featured here is even more rare.
The Milestone Year of 1955
The year 1955 signaled a design change for Packard. It was a milestone year. The car was considered a technological marvel.
Ushered in was an elegant design which included a new more modern styled grille. Included were hooded headlight housings and cathedral styled taillights. The new trim allowed for both two and three tone paint schemes and also made it appear that the car had a new roof line.
A new wrap around windshield also gave the car a more modern appearance and looked more like what the competition was producing. All in all the 1955 Packard 400 had a very impressive presence and was also considered a very well engineered automobile. Packard's 1955 models gained a new sharp look.
Available accessories included power seats, power locks, power windows, air conditioning and wire wheels. Packard's were considered one of the American automobiles representing the ultimate in luxury and comfort.
The 1955 Packard Models
The Packard Patrician was available as a four door sedan. The Packard Clipper came a Deluxe and Standard trims. The Packard Caribbean was a convertible offering and the Packard 400 Series was it's hardtop model.
The Packard Motor Car Company was one of America’s luxury automobile manufacturers known for quality engineering. Packard, as an independent automaker, stayed in business much longer than many of it’s peers. The company which actually built it’s first car in Warren Ohio in 1899 as the Ohio Automobile Company had outlasted several of their competitors during the 1930′s.
Packard bought the Studebaker company of South Bend Indiana in 1954. Studebaker was actually larger than Packard at the time but it's financial position was not as strong as Packards. In fact, at the time of the merger it was reported that Packard was unaware of just how bad Studebaker's financial position was.
This merger created the fourth largest U.S. automaker. It made a lot of sense for Packard by reducing it’s production costs. This was necessary for any automaker trying to compete against Detroit's Big Three. Regardless, overall sales were disappointing and Studebaker lost a good portion of their dealer network and production ended at the Detroit plant in 1956. The last car rolled off the South Bend Indiana factory in 1958. The Packard nameplate was pulled from the market by 1959. Interestingly enough, because of their precarious financial condition, Packards of 1957 and 1958 were basically Studebaker President models.
1955 Packard 400 Specifications
The 1955 Packard 400 came with a 352 cubic inch Overhead Valve V-8 delivering 260 horsepower with a four barrel carburetor. This was a switch from the straight eight engine of 1954.
The 1955 Packard offered the Twin Ultramatic automatic transmission. Ultramatic was a trademark name for Packard's transmission. This hydraulic torque converter transmission was produced from 1949 through 1956. In 1956 a touchbutton Ultramatic was unveiled. Probably the biggest problem with this transmission was having it serviced when the Packard dealer network started to disappear.
The 1955 Packard was built with torsion level suspension which many feel offered superior handling and an excellent ride. Torsion level suspension has the vehicle floating on four points of two long torsion bars. Essentially bumps or potholes the car encounters on a road are transmitted from that wheel to the opposite wheel and not the frame.
The Packard 400 Series was built on a 127.0 inch wheelbase. Total outside length was 214.8 inches, width was 78.0 inches and height 62.0 inches. The automobile's weight was 4,250 lbs.
Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.
The new car price for the 1955 Packard 400 series Hardtop was about $4,500. As a comparison, a 1955 Cadillac Eldorado sold new for about $6,900 and a 1955 Buick Roadmaster had a price tag of about $3,500.
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1955 Packard Production
For the 1955 model year production for the Packard 400 Series totaled 7,206 vehicles. Packard Caribbean models totaled 500 units, Packard Patrician's totaled 9,127 units and the Clipper model accounted for 6,670 vehicles.
1955 Packard Collector Cars
As mentioned above, 1955 was a milestone year for Packard. The 1955 Packards received both a styling and engineering change. The new high output V-8's were just one of the changes for 1955.
Because of the low production figure of 500 units for the 1955 Packard Caribbean it is the rarest of the 1955 models. This was also the top of the line model in 1955. The new car price for the 1955 Packard Caribbean was about $6,000. Today, you may run across a fully restored, mint condition 1955 Packard Caribbean with an asking price tag approaching $90,000 and more.
Packard 400 original models might be found in the $30,000 range, plus or minus, depending on condition and degree of restoration.
(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)