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Packard Concept Cars at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

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Soon to be celebrating its twentieth anniversary, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance can always be relied upon to attract some of the best automobiles in the world. Besides the customary stellar line up of cars and events, a truly unique group of vehicles was displayed on the field this year. A special class was created for the sole purpose of exhibiting the concept cars belonging to Westfield, New Jersey Packard collector Ralph Marano Sr. Marano has been collecting Packards since the late nineteen-seventies and now counts fifty-eight in his inventory.

His ten exceptionally rare show cars included the pre-war Packard 120 based Vignale, the 1952 Macauley Special Speedster also known as the Panther or the Phantom II, a 1952 Pan American, the 1953 Balboa and 1955 Request designed by Richard Teague, a 1953 Monte Carlo, one of the 1954 Panthers, the Dick Macadam-designed 1956 Predictor and two Henney-built one-offs. This was the first time his freshly restored Request and Monte Carlo were shown. You can find more of the fine cars seen at this year’s event on The Old Motor. Photos courtesy of Richard Michael Owen at Supercars.net and Alan Gosley of OverDriveImages.com. Learn more at AmeliaConcours.org.  

  • PC2      PC3      PC4
  •                                  1954 Packard Panther-Daytona 

  • PC5      PC6      PC7
  •                                           1953 Packard Balboa 

  •   PC9      PC10      PC11
  •                                     1952 Packard Special Speedster

  • PC14      PC15      PC17
  •                                     1952 Packard Pan-American

  • PC18      PC19     PC20 
  •                 1953 Balboa – 1954  Panther-Daytona – 1955  Request  

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7 responses to “Packard Concept Cars at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

  1. WOW! Gene. Beautiful, beautiful and beautiful. Especially the ’54 Panther Daytona hard top. How the hell did Packard lose the market? These were and are truly beautiful automobiles.

  2. I am an admirer of pre-war Packards, but not of post-war Packards. I agree that several of these concept cars are really interesting. How did they lose the market? A number of reasons, but if you look at what they were actualy producing, rather than their show cars, they were not particularly attractive designs. Even the Request, which is greatly admired by Packard people for its melding of the traditional Packard grill shape to more modern body lines, has a clumsiness to its profile and side line (surely that brown band from front to rear was a mistake0 that detracts from Teague’s imaginative front end). In Key Largo, Florida, is a motel that has a mid-50s Packard parked in front with “Truly Nolen” (a local pest control company) painted on its side; the rear end of the car sits on the ground the way Packard’s flawed suspension system too often left them–the company ultimately also paid in lost market share for mechanical deficiencies. A nearly stock 1950 Cadillac placed very well at the 24 hour LeMans race, and the 49 Cad I had was a revelation to drive. Packard couldn’t keep up with GM engineering and style in the early postwar years and never recovered.

  3. You could write a book on why Packard failed – and some people have. ( I have owned five, all the way from 1933 to 1955. ) Here are some thoughts:
    1. Far too long a reliance on an outmoded flathead straight 8.
    2. Weak Ultramatic transmission – folks restoring Packards in which they were installed often substitute Chrysler Torqueflite.
    3. Bulbous styling in ’48 – ’50 models.
    4. Troublesome torsion-bar suspension.
    5. Loss of Briggs body as a supplier ( Chrysler bought Briggs ) so Packard
    spent valuable resources on their own facility to the detriment of development and promotional efforts. Quality problems, one after the other.
    6. Merger with Studebaker, a financially dead-in-the water company that Packard management found out about only after the deal was done. More $$ down the drain.
    7. Difficult-to-restyle 1951 et seq body style, although 55’s, with the “cathedral” taillights were striking in a way.
    …and lots more.

  4. Two quibbles with the otherwise excellent Stewart list above:
    Torsion level was relatively trouble free once the company installed an off switch to keep small boys from jumping on the bumpers and running the battery down. I have a 56 and will put it up against anything from that era. Smooth, a wonderful road car with excellent manners. Never wallows, doesn’t sway or lean excessively on turns yet is smooth and quiet.
    A much bigger problem was v-8 (1955-6) engine failures, many catastrophic from a poorly engineered oil pump (made by GM). Not good from the “master engine builder…”

  5. Back in the early 1950’s my best friend and his family bought a new Packard and headed for a long trip from Missouri to the far reaches of the Alcan Highway. After a summer of traveling they returned to Missouri and home. The Dad took the car to trade it in on a new Packard but the dealer would not take the one used for the trip due to extreme wear and tear. Still sold a new Packard to the family and the dad took what was left of the Alaska Packard and sold it to the local scrap yard.

  6. I’ll go along with Stewart Crawford, adding my two cents’.

    The Christopher production-over-product policy from the 1935 120 days into the 1940s made luxury car leadership in the market easier for Cadillac. Christopher also forced the re-panelling of the 1947 body into the ‘pregnant elephant’ rather than a complete re-body.

    The 1951 ‘high pockets’ bodyshell was too high, according to the stylists working on it, who could forsee the coming trends, but management insisted on the height.

    Later, chrome mouldings were slapped onto the sides without much rhyme or reason (check out the front guards of 1953 Patrician/Cavalier). The only thing worse than poorly designed decoration is none, and bright bits were almost totally absent from the flanks of the lower line cars, making them look homely indeed, compared to a Buick, let alone a Cadillac.

    Stylists later had to exaggerate every horizontal line they could find for 1955-6 to hide the bulk. Cruise ship design employs this principle too!

    The Predictor is hot, and the Panther Daytonas only slightly less so. If I could make a replica of the Panther Daytona, I’d limit the hood to the headlamps, and blend the bonnet line into the grille, as I don’t think a single eyebrow works well on car’s faces – or people’s!

    I’m gratified that the concept cars are in good hands.

  7. two important assets that packard should have used from the amalgamation with studebaker were:–1) borrowed the raymond loewy design team under robert burke to design the 55-56 packard and clipper range[ only feature i would have used were the tailamps} 2) used studebaker engine guys to iron the bugs out of the packard v8 –nearly forgot FIRE the egotistical NANCE//

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