Monday, February 7, 2011

1957 Packard Clipper Town Sedan

"If you believe that fine styling must be matched by superior workmanship in your next car . . . if you expect engineering advances beyond horsepower alone – the Packard Clipper Town Sedan is your kind of car. Behind its proud Packard grille is cradled not merely high horsepower, but a totally new performance for every driving situation. Within its trim, taut lines is a degree of luxury and spaciousness that only a Packard Clipper provides for your personal comfort. Every detail, down to the thickness and strength of the steel body panels, carries with it a Packard Clipper quality that is unsurpassed by even the most expensive luxury cars!"

This catalog statement would certainly suit earlier postwar Packards, but in 1957 it was just hollow marketing speech, because the 1957 Packard simply wasn't a Packard anymore.

Since Packard had merged with the financially struggling Studebaker Corporation in 1954, things were rapidly getting worse: Packard could deliver only a few 1955 models because of limited manufacturing capacity after Packard's long-time body supplier Briggs was bought by competitor Chrysler. In 1956, the buying public was well aware of Packard's troublesome situation, and opted for other luxury makes, while Packard's shareholders backed off. The ailing company was finally bought by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, to be a tax write-off, as some sources suggest.

New chairman Roy Hurley's first action was to close the Packard plant in Detroit. From now on, all Packards should be built by Studebaker in South Bend, Indiana. And, surprise: the new Packards for 1957 were merely Studebakers with a different front- and rearend styling. These "Packardbakers" were anything but desired, and just over 5,000 Packards left the production line in 1957, which makes our pictured car a pretty rare sight. 

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