MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By: Robert Tate, Automotive Historian/Researcher
Images: Courtesy Robert Tate's collection
Posted: 05.29.2015

The 1954 Packard models were introduced to the public on January 15, 1954 with the Clipper Special four door sedan added on in March. One of the rarest models produced in 1954 was the Packard Caribbean. The Packard Caribbean was a luxury six passenger vehicle with a handsome design model inspired by the show car the “Pan American”. Designed to be direct competition for Buick's 1953-54 customer market base, The Caribbean was thoroughly enjoyed by Packard's customers. In 1954, Packard price leaders included the Clipper Special, a $ 2544 dollar model with a 288 type engine. The 1954 Patrician, which was a highly refined automobile, offered the consumer a new dash along with a new interior for the consumer market.

file 20150529121731 packard interior1954 Packard Interior

The 1954 vehicles offered few but distinct design changes from their 1953 predecessors. The Packard Motor car company had been among the first to introduce air conditioning in 1940, and it was brought back in 1953-54 for the first time since the war efforts during the 1940's. The backup tail lights were built into the taillight assemblies, the straight-eight Patrician engines were enlarged to 359 cid, and the rear fenders were redesigned on some models. The 1954 models were offered in many great colors including Varsity Gray, Sahara Sand, and Bellevue Green. They were also equipped with wire spoke wheel covers along with a continental tire carrier and a great looking two toning strip.

file 20150529121838 54 Packard1954 Packard

Some samples of Packard advertising called its line of motor cars “Packard the name that's in the news! “. As an Automotive Historian, I can attest to Packard's rich history and tradition of manufacturing quality motor cars for consumers.

file 20150529121948 54 packard sedan1954 Packard Sedan

A press release statement on Tuesday, August 17, 1954 expressed that “Stockholders of the Packard Motor Car Company and the Studebaker Corporation voted overwhelmingly to approve the proposal for the combination of the businesses in the Studebaker- Packard Corporation." The two businesses were combined as a result of their June 30th, 1954 vote. Together the companies had assets of some $251,400,000; working capital of approximately $85,700,000; and a net worth of approximately $178,736,000”. Following the announcement of the stock holders vote, a joint statement was issued by the late Mr. James J. Nance; Packard’s president, Mr. Paul G. Hoffman; Studebaker’s Board Chairmen; and Mr. Harold S. Vance, Studebaker President. On October 1st, 1954 history was made with the stockholders approval of the merge and Packard purchased the Studebaker Corporation.

file 20150529122059 proving grounds

Unfortunately, 1954 was not the greatest year for Packard sales. Packard's motor car sales for the first quarter in 1954 dropped 53%. Mr. Nance, company president, said that 1954 would be the company's turn-around year a period of modernization and tight cost controls he also described the year 1954, as a very rough year of competition in the automobile industry. In 1954, Packard was ranked as number 16th among US car sales in the United States. The 1954 Packard automobiles were tested at the famous Packard Proving Grounds in Shelby Township, Michigan which is still around today to admire and enjoy the great history of Packard automobiles and standing as a real treasure within our automotive community and culture.

For further information on Packard's history, or club information, please check out these particular sites as follows: The Packard Club founded 1953 – www.PackardClub.org or packardsinternational.com

A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating the story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program. Photographs are courtesy of Bob Tate’s Collection. (Bibliography: Kimes Rae Beverly/Contributing Authors. “Packard a History of the Motor Car and The Company” Automobile Quarterly Publications. 1978. Packard Public Relations Studebaker-Packard Corporation, Detroit Michigan. 1954)

Please do not republish the story and/or photographs without permission of MotorCities National Heritage Area.

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