1952 Packard Patrician Convertible

The Packard Patrician carried a complete new design as opposed to the 1940’s. In fact, the 1952 Packard Patrician was advertised as a car with no comparison.

1952 Packard Patrician
1952 Packard Patrician

The Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit Michigan urged buyers to test drive the 1952 Packard Patrician 400 to fully realize just how advanced and luxurious the car is. Packard called their 1952 models the most exclusive cars in America. If you were familiar with Packard then you were most likely familiar with their popular slogan…”Ask the Man Who Owns One“.

Early on the Packard Motor Car Company earned a reputation as the country’s premiere luxury automaker and a respected innovator. In 1916 the company launched a “Twin Six” engine with it’s new sixty degree V-12 configuration. The engine was built with two cast iron blocks of six cylinders each.

The early 1950’s was a volatile time for the American auto industry. Packard had been struggling for years ever since the end of World War Two against Cadillac that had the marketing muscle of GM behind the nameplate. The Korean War also didn’t help Packard although the company had some fairly healthy defense contracts and this helped with the cash flow.

1952 Packard Patrician Convertible trim
1952 Packard Patrician Convertible trim

The company’s redesigned cars lost some of their momentum because of the war. Packard really tried to make an effort to shed the image of an automaker who produced cars for old people.

That and the media’s “bathtub” description of some Packard styling didn’t help with it’s public image. On top of that, Consumer Reports evaluation of the 1951 Packard as opposed to the Cadillac wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either.

The Mergers of the 1950’s

The Big Three, GM, Ford and Chrysler were battling for market share and those other independent automakers were caught up in mergers. Mergers were really necessary to rein in costs and compete with the Big Three’s sales organizations. As far as Packard was concerned, after rumors that it might become a unit of American Motors, and it was well known for it’s quality engines, it merged as Studebaker-Packard.

Packard Patrician square styling
Packard Patrician square styling

This merger created the fourth largest U.S. automaker. It made a lot of sense for Packard by reducing it’s production costs. Sales nevertheless were disappointing and production ended at the Detroit plant in 1956 and the last car rolled off the South Bend Indiana factory in 1958. The Packard nameplate was pulled from the market by 1959.


A good book regarding Packard and it’s last years is The Fall of the Packard Motor Car Company by author James A. Ward. Another book detailing the company’s product line over the decades is Packard Automobiles 1920 – 1958 : A Brooklands Portfolio by R.M. Clarke.

1952 Packard Styling

The Packard Motor Car Company was known as a producer of prestigious automobiles. One flaw the company had was that it appeared that many Packard buyers had previously owned a Packard. That meant that not enough new car buyers were drawn from the competition. The name of the game in the automotive industry was to increase market share and this was a problem with Packard, particularly in the 1950’s.

New styling came forth on 1951 from designer John Reinhart and beginning that year Packard would offer four series of vehicles on two different wheelbases. Reinhart is best known for his designs of the Lincoln Mark II and the Packard Patrician but also had a hand in designing several others. The fairly squared shape and more formal design given to the 1951 and 1952 Packards was named “high pockets” by Reinhart himself.

1952 Packard Patrician convertible dashboard
1952 Packard Patrician dashboard

The 1952 Packard Patrician 400 offered the car buyer new interiors and fresh exterior color combinations. The highest trim level offered by Packard was on the Patrician 400 models and you could easily tell the difference from other Packard models by the trim.

New Interiors for 1952

The Packard Motor Car Company employed Dorothy Draper to redesign their car interiors beginning in 1952. Packard finally came to the realization that women of the household had a lot of influence in what automobile would be bought. Drapers interior color combinations and fabrics were an effort to appeal to the 1950’s woman. In a way, automobile mechanics were not all too different from car to car and the designers touch to the interior was one way to create a big difference, at least on an advertising standpoint.

The company advertised Draper’s creations as real “show stoppers“. They invited car buyers to come see the stunning new touches and decorative magic created by Draper, an internationally known stylist and decorator.

1952 Packard Patrician Specifications

The five passenger 1952 Packard Patrician came with a 315 cubic inch displacement eight cylinder engine delivering 155 horsepower. Packard advertised this engine as the highest compression eight cylinder available. The only engine it was said with a nine main bearing crankshaft.

Transmissions available were an automatic and three speed manual.

The car’s suspension system was called broad beam and self controlling.

If you owned one of these Packard Patricians you would have enjoyed Easamatic Power Brakes. This was a vacuum assisted brake system

The Packard Patrician had a lengthy 126.5 inch wheelbase. Overall length was 218.6 inches. Width was 77.9 inches and height 61.9 inches.

Total Packard production for 1952 was 62,900 vehicles. As a comparison, both Pontiac and Oldsmobile had production of over 220,000 vehicles.

The links below are to additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles that you might want to compare to the 1952 Packard Patrician…

1951 Studebaker Commander Convertible

1954 Pontiac Star Chief

Classic Packard hubcap
Classic Packard hubcap

The 1952 Packard Patrician Collector Car

The 1952 Packard models are significant in as much as they represent a new styling. The interior work by Dorothy Draper is also a plus.

A 1952 Packard Patrician Sedan in showroom condition should see prices well north of $25,000. Convertibles should see more. A “Pacifica” 1952 Packard concept car sold for $88,000. This was an exceptional automobile with a lot of history. The “Pacifica” was a concept car that won the competition in 1952 for the magazine “Saga” and featured on the cover.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)